Afzal Khan, the former mayor of Manchester currently serving as Labour shadow minister of state for immigration, has said that he is “sincerely sorry” for sharing a Facebook video referring to an “Israel-British-Swiss-Rothschilds crime syndicate” and “mass murdering Rothschilds Israeli mafia criminal liars.”
The video, posted on Khan’s Facebook page four years ago, purportedly featured US Jewish comedian John Stewart, with the above text appearing subtitled under the video. Khan was contacted by the BBC to explain his actions.
“I didn’t read the text below, which contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy about the Rothschilds. I would never have shared it had I seen that,” Khan said.
“I am mortified and sincerely sorry about this genuine accident,” he added.
The post has prompted outrage after being discovered, particularly given Khan’s public record of service to encourage interfaith understanding, and his status as co-founder of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. Khan was awarded the CBE for his work in 2008.
Some Jewish activists and members of the Conservative Party said Khan’s apology wasn’t enough, and have called for an investigation to be held into his behaviour.
Labour Against Anti-Semitism, an inner party group which provided media with the offensive Facebook post, went further and called for Khan’s expulsion from the party, saying that Khan had previously liked a Facebook post about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn being “the target of a relentless smear campaign orchestrated by the wealthy establishment,” a post the group claimed was similarly offensive.
Khan was previously attacked by British Jewish groups over his criticism of the Israeli military during the 2014 war in Gaza, when he compared Tel Aviv’s actions to those of the Nazis. Those comments similarly prompted some Jewish activists and some MPs to call for his suspension from the party after being discovered in 2017. Khan deleted that tweet, apologised “for any offence caused,” and suggested that the episode was used to “smear” him during the 2017 parliamentary elections.
Raphi Bloom, co-chair of North West Friends of Israel, said the 2015 Facebook post was “disgraceful” and that he “would like to see action.” The Rothschilds reference in particular was a “well-known anti-Semitic trope about Jews dominating the world,” Bloom argued.
Shaden Jarad, a Conservative Party politician who ran and lost to Khan in 2017, similarly attacked the MP, saying that “if anything, we have to have higher standards for people who are on the front bench and have been in the game for so long.”
Mohammed Amin, the co-chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester, who has known Khan for 20 years, defended the MP, stressing that he was “not anti-Jewish,” even if his post did show “carelessness” and “poor judgement.”
Khan himself has previously been subjected to anti-Islamic hate, receiving a suspicious package at Westminster with a mystery liquid and a letter advocating violence against Muslims in 2018.
The Labour Party has recently been accused of fostering anti-Semitic elements and of not doing enough to root out the problem in the party. The party has vocally denied the claims, and accused opponents of ‘weaponising’ the ‘anti-Semitism’ claims in a bid to undermine Corbyn and the party.