A senior politician has apologized after saying wearing fur is “the same as wearing a swastika.”
UK Labour MP David Drew said he regretted the comment after holocaust survivors said they were hugely offended by the remarks.
The UK fur trade has been traditionally dominated by Jewish families in the UK for centuries.
Following complaints from prominent members of the Jewish business community Mr. Drew issued an apology less than 24 hours after making the comparison.
He said: “I am sorry for drawing this comparison. I am passionate about animal welfare but this comparison was inappropriate and I apologise.”
Mr Drew, who is the shadow minister for the environment earlier told MPs during the Commons debate on the fur trade: “I do not understand not only why we cannot lean on the retail trade, but why people wear fur. To me it is the same as wearing a swastika.”
Leading Jewish businessmen and women, many of whom lost relatives in the Holocaust, were quick to condemn the Nazi comparison.
Frank Zilberkweit, who owns London-based Polar Furs, said: “Mr Drew will be fully aware as part of his brief as Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, that the fur trade in the UK is dominated by businesses run by Jewish families.”
“It was grossly insensitive and anti-Semitic to try to attack our legitimate industry by comparing it to the sale of swastikas. For my family and many others in the fur trade, the swastika is an emblem of extermination and heartache.”
“To introduce it into a debate about our business is an underhanded and distasteful tactic. The British Fur Trade has always been open to discussions about best practice with animal welfare – to denigrate our industry in this manner is entirely uncalled for.”
Mr Zilberkweit, 69, has been in charge of the family firm for 50 years.
His father and uncle fled Leipzig, Germany, in the 1930s to escape the Nazis, who rounded up many of their friends before herding them into death camps.
Mr Drew, 66, is on the hard left of the party, which critics have accused of being anti-Semitic.
His comments were made on Monday (June 4) to MPs debating a petition entitled “Ban the sale of animal fur in the UK”.
Fur farming was banned completely in the UK in 2002. But earlier this year, the government said it had no intention of banning fur imports or sales in the UK.