MP defends his Holocaust comments after criticism

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A BRADFORD MP has denied comparing the Holocaust to Israel’s actions in the occupied territories in comments described by a charity as “sickening and unacceptable”.

David Ward was also condemned by his own party over the comments made on his website next to a picture of him signing a “book of commitment” ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day which is marked tomorrow.

The statement said: “Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

The comments were taken down from Mr Ward’s website yesterday.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post after attending a Holocaust memorial event in Bradford, Mr Ward said he was “surprised” at the reaction to what was a “pretty uncontroversial reflection”.

“The point I was making is that this was one of the most horrific examples of atrocities against any group of people.

“Within a short space of time atrocities by some members of that community were being perpertrated against another community and through the State of Israel continue to be committed.

“On a day when we reflect on one of the most awful examples of man’s inhumanity to man, is it not also right to think where are we witnessing this in the world?

“I fail to see why that is so controversial unless you are a denier of the facts underpinning what I said.”

The book of commitment, 
which pledges signatories to condemn “the evils of prejudice, discrimination and racism”, is organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust whose banner also appeared in the picture of Mr Ward that accompanied his comments.

Trust chief executive Karen Pollock said: “I am deeply saddened that at this sombre time, when we remember those who were murdered by the Nazis, Mr Ward has deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust causing deep pain and offence.

“These comments are sickening and unacceptable and have no place in British politics.”

A Liberal Democrats spokesman said: “The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable.”

The comments also provoked a reaction from the Israeli Embassy in London.

A statement said: “His decision to make his remarks in the context of Holocaust Memorial Day, and his reference to Auschwitz concentration camp, shows a shocking insenstivity to the 
feelings of both Holocaust survivors and Israeli victims of terrorism.”