Labour MP Harriet Harman.
(photo credit: REUTERS/LUKE MACGREGOR)
Labour MP Harriet Harman angered the TV host she was being interviewed by and Jewish groups when she told a Holocaust joke on BBC last week.
Harman, who has served in parliament for 35 years, appeared Thursday on Andrew Neil's show This Week, where the discussion was centered on the acceptability of Holocaust humor.
Harman recounted her past complaints about a joke that appeared in a magazine many years ago, claiming that "people like Andrew [Neil] say that these things are perfectly alright." Harman's objections to such humor in the past resulted in her being labeled humorless, she said.
She then recounted the offensive joke, which is, "How do you get 100 Jews into a mini? One in the driving seat, 99 in the ashtray," which she immediately followed by "and that is not funny."
Neil cut her off, and expressed anger "that you would dare to think what I would think about that because you have no knowledge of that at all."
The host later took to Twitter to say that it was wrong of Harman "1) Even to tell that so called joke on live TV. 2) Claim I would like the joke. Appalling on both counts."
Harman countered on social media with her original message, that "Anti-Semitic 'jokes/banter' perpetuate discrimination & hatred. No laughing matter."
Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, told the Guardian
that "it doesn’t matter what the context, she should not have repeated this joke." Johnson said despite his admiration of Harman, her comments on live TV were "a staggering error of judgment."