EXCL Adviser to Shadow Cabinet member condemned for calling Israel 'apartheid state'

Posted On: 
22nd March 2018

A senior aide to a Shadow Cabinet member has been criticised after he described Israel as "an apartheid state".

Israeli flags flying in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Karl Hansen, a policy adviser to Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald, hit out over an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the demolition of a Bedouin village.

Linking to the story, Mr Hansen tweeted: "How anyone could read this article and deny that Israel is an apartheid state is beyond me."

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His comments are embarrassing for the Labour Party, which has been accused of not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment among its members.

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, told PoliticsHome: "Comparisons between apartheid-era South Africa and Israel are both utterly untrue and part of the wider BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign to demonise and delegitimise the world’s only Jewish state.

"An adviser to a member of the Shadow Cabinet should know better than to repeat such pernicious nonsense."

The row follows the controversy last year over Shadow International Development Secretary Kate Osamor's support for the BDS movement, which says it "works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians".

Her support for the campaign appeared to put her directly at odds with a speech Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry made at a Labour Friends of Israel lunch on 28 November last year.

Praising the Israeli Labor party, she said: "Theirs is a positive vision of how a Labor-led government can build a more peaceful, more prosperous and more progressive future both for Israel and its neighbours.

"A constant rejoinder to all those who somehow believe that opposition to the policies of an individual Israeli government can ever justify a hatred of the nation and its people, or a boycott of its products, its culture or its academics, or a denial of its right to defend itself from military assault and terror attacks. That sort of bigotry against the Israeli nation has never been justified and it never will be."

Andy McDonald's office has been contacted for comment.