MP Naz Shah says her anti-Semitic posts were "ignorant"


Labour MP Naz Shah, who was suspended over anti-Semitic posts on social media, has said she was "ignorant" about discrimination against Jews and didn't consider it a form of racism

But now she says she is determined to win back the community's trust.

After being readmitted to Labour earlier this month, the Bradford West MP said she had never seen anti-Semitism as a form of racism and did not understand at the time that her comments were anti-Semitic. And she insisted she is not herself an anti-Semite.

Shah is sworn in to the Commons.
Shah is sworn in to the Commons (PA)

But now she accepts that the posts were offensive, she wishes she had apologised sooner - as soon as they came to light on the Guido Fawkes website, rather when there were picked up by national media.

She even said Labour should have moved faster with her suspension, in order to deny David Cameron the chance to demand it at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.

In 2014 - before she became an MP - Shah shared on Facebook a graphic of Israel's outline superimposed onto a map of the US under the headline "Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict - Relocate Israel into United States", along with the comment: "Problem solved".

Other posts used the hashtag #IsraelApartheid above a quote saying "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal".

Shah apologises for her post in the Commons.
Shah apologises for her post in the Commons (PA)

But according to her, the most clearly anti-Semitic comment she made came in a post in which she warned that "the Jews are rallying" to skew the result of an online poll on Israel's military action in Gaza.

Shah told BBC Radio 4´s World at One that her first instinct when the comments came to light was to issue an immediate apology and resign straight away as parliamentary aide to shadow chancellor John McDonnell, but that she was advised to wait and see whether the story was picked up by newspapers.

"I waited for it to be published the next day and I shouldn't have done," she said.

Shah was newly elected in 2015.
Shah was newly elected in 2015 (Yui Mok/PA)

"One of the tough conversations I had to have with myself ... that same day was 'God! Am I anti-Semitic?' I had to really question my heart of hearts. Yes I have ignorance, yes everybody has prejudice and unconscious biases, but does that make me anti-Semitic? And the answer, I was really clear, was 'No, I don't have a hatred of Jewish people'.

"I didn't get anti-Semitism as racism. I had never come across it."

Ms Shah said the posts came about in the context of conversations she was having over Israel's military action in Gaza, and that she was "ignorant" of their wider significance.

Asked whether she now accepted the comments were anti-Semitic, she said: "Absolutely. The language that I used was anti-Semitic, it was offensive. What I did hurt people ... Those people who say 'Naz didn't do anything anti-Semitic', actually no, I did. I used that language."