Rayner called ‘Holo­caust In­dus­try’ book ‘sem­i­nal’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEE HARPIN AND DANIEL SUGARMAN

LABOUR’S SHADOW Ed­u­ca­tion-Sec­re­tary Angela Rayner has apol­o­gised after it emerged she called the The Holo­caust In­dus­try by anti-Zion­ist aca­demic Nor­man Finkel­stein a “sem­i­nal” work.

Ms Rayner made the com­ment about the book — which ar­gues that the Amer­i­can Jewish es­tab­lish­ment ex­ploits the mem­ory of the Holo­caust for po­lit­i­cal and fi­nan­cial gain — in a Face­book post she wrote on Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day 2015. She then re­peated the com­ment on Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day this year.

After Mr Finkel­stein’s book was pub­lished, JC and Guardian jour­nal­ist Jonathan Freed­land de­scribed the au­thor as hav­ing “done the an­ti­semites’ work for them”.

The com­ments by Ms Rayner, who has been in­vited to speak at the Board of Deputies’ Chanukah cel­e­bra­tion next week, were un­earthed by Twit­ter ac­count The Golem.

Ivor Caplin, chair of the Jewish Labour Move­ment, called for her to “apol­o­gise im­me­di­ately. There is noth­ing ‘sem­i­nal’ about ac­cus­ing the Jewish com­mu­nity of col­lec­tively abus­ing the mem­ory of the Holo­caust. “Given Angela’s past en­gage­ment with JLM, she should ab­so­lutely know bet­ter. This is deeply dis­ap­point­ing.” A Board of Deputies spokesman had called for an “ur­gent clar­i­fi­ca­tion” from Angela Rayner and called for a “heart­felt apol­ogy… now that she un­der­stands the con­text of the book”.

In her Face­book post, Ms Rayner, who re­veals she has vis­ited Auschwitz twice, wrote: “As Nor­man G Fin­klestein [sic] writes in his sem­i­nal book The Holo­caust In­dus­try it is im­por­tant to fight for and pre­serve the in­tegrity of the his­tor­i­cal record.”

She later writes about her vis­it­ing the death camps: “My pre­vi­ous visit was in 2003 and I couldn’t help but no­tice the in­creased com­mer­cial­ism and tourism re­lated to the Holo­caust era in the Kra­cow re­gion.”

When con­fronted about her Face­book com­ments on Wed­nes­day, Ms Rayner said: “I was re­flect­ing on my vis­its to Auschwitz and speak­ing about the im­por­tance of re­mem­ber­ing the Holo­caust in or­der to con­tin­u­ally chal­lenge and con­front an­ti­semitism.

“I re­gret the choice of quote I used to il­lus­trate it, and now that I know more about the con­text I would not make that ref­er­ence again. I apol­o­gise for what was a gen­uine mis­un­der­stand­ing, in what was al­ways in­tended to be a mes­sage of sol­i­dar­ity with the Jewish com­mu­nity.”

The JC re­ported last week that a num­ber of Labour MPs with close links to the com­mu­nity had also ques­tioned Ms Rayner’s in­vi­ta­tion to speak at the Board’s pres­ti­gious Chanukah event.

Ms Rayner was crit­i­cised in Septem­ber after she tweeted about Labour’s grow­ing mem­ber­ship with the words “we’re go­ing to need a big­ger smear”, an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to ac­cu­sa­tions of an­ti­semitism within the party amid its stand­off with the Jewish com­mu­nity over the sum­mer.

She sub­se­quently deleted the tweet, but said: “It was smears against Labour Party in gen­eral, no men­tion of an­ti­semitism smears. Our mem­ber­ship con­tin­ues to grow de­spite hos­til­ity from sec­tions of the MSM.”

The book ac­cuses Jews of abus­ing mem­ory of the Shoah

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Un­der fire: Rayner

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