German Jewish leaders have launched a blistering attack on Sir Keir Starmer, demanding that he apologise after he “erased the Holocaust” and “scored cheap political points” on his recent visit to Berlin.
The Labour leader sparked controversy after he appeared in a party political video filmed with the backdrop of the German capital’s Holocaust memorial while listing Labour’s achievements.
He was criticised for using the site for his own purposes while failing to mention the Shoah, something that is particularly frowned upon in the country.
Now he finds himself under renewed pressure as German Jewish figures launch a powerful broadside against the Labour leader.
Nicholas Potter from the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, which fights antisemitism in Germany, told the JC: “Starmer should apologise and listen to the criticism that people in the Jewish community are making if Labour wants to make good on his promise to follow on from the Corbyn years in a positive way.
“Appropriating a memorial for the six million Jews murdered in the Shoah as a backdrop for an election campaign video is tasteless enough. That the video fails to even mention the horrors of National Socialism is a serious misstep from a party that, given its recent history, simply needs to do better when it comes to fighting antisemitism and regaining the trust of the Jewish community.
“Starmer is posing in front of the memory of Europe’s murdered Jewry in order to score cheap political points, while failing to address not just the murderous legacy of fascism, but also the very alarming resurgence of antisemitism across Europe.”
Sigmount Königsberg, the Commissioner for Antisemitism for the Berlin Jewish Community, added: “UK Labour eliminated the Shoah. Keir Starmer made the Holocaust Memorial just a meaningless backdrop. It added to the sense that Jews are only extras in the memorial theatre in Germany.”
And Volker Beck of Tikvah, an organisation that combats Jew-hate, said: “Kier Starmer needs self-reflection. It’s not just in Germany where you are supposed to respect these places.
“It’s noticeable that someone from the British Labour Party goes to the memorial and doesn’t pay appropriate respect.
“He also wrote an empty statement in the Holocaust book, which was made into a statement about global social injustice.
“He knows why they were killed. Antisemitism is not just a fight for social justice and a good world. Where is the remembrance of the victimhood of six million murdered European Jews?
“What many don’t recognise is that for the Nazis and fascists, antisemitism was defining. They didn’t agree on anything completely, other than that. Hate for Jews was what they had in common.
“Starmer doesn’t understand antisemitism if he thinks it’s just another form of prejudice like homophobia. If you don’t understand that, you are helpless in the fight against it.”
In the video, Starmer and Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy are seen walking through the memorial to the victims of the Nazi genocide in choreographed shots immediately after referencing the war in Ukraine.
Ruth Smeeth, a Jewish former Labour MP, veteran anti-racism campaigner and now chief executive of Index on Censorship came to Starmer’s defence, tweeting: “Keir Starmer has a proud record in fighting antisemitism. He visited the Holocaust memorial and spoke about it at the time.
“This attack is not only wrong, but completely disingenuous and deeply unfair. And attempts to politicise something that simply shouldn’t be.”