Rayner called ‘Holocaust Industry’ book ‘seminal’
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
Under fire: Rayner