Jewish residents have voiced their fury after disgraced politician Ken Livingstone unveiled a plaque in a Labour council park to commemorate the “catastrophe” for the Palestinians in the creation of the state of Israel.
The former London Mayor, who was suspended by Labour over antisemitism, was joined at the ceremony in Brent by prominent anti-Israel blogger Asa Winstanley.
Also present was pro-Corbyn activist Peter Firmin, former chairman of Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party, who was suspended by Labour in 2020 for tabling a motion in support of the former Labour leader.
The plaque in Gladstone Park marks the “Nakba” – the Arabic word for catastrophe used to describe the displacement of Palestinian refugees in 1948 – and particularly the battle over the village of Dayr Yasin in 1948, in which Zionist forces fought to lift a blockade of Jerusalem.
It reads: “This tree was planted on Land Day, 30 March 2022, in remembrance of the Palestinian village of Dayr Yasin… destroyed during the Nakba.” Jewish groups were shocked to find the event was given the green light by Brent Council without consulting them.
Philip Alexander, who attends nearby Brondesbury Park Synagogue and is standing for the Lib Dems at the local elections, said: “This plaque was laid by people who view the creation of the state of Israel as a ‘catastrophe’ that should never have happened, which is not the policy of any of the three major UK political parties, including Labour, so it is very unclear why the event was approved.
“Gladstone Park is a public space that should be welcoming for the whole community. It was completely inappropriate for Brent Council to allow a group of disgraced ex-Labour members who were investigated for antisemitism to use the park as their personal billboard to promote their divisive politics, without even attempting to consult local residents on the decision first. The council should apologise to the local community for allowing such a gross misuse of a much-loved park.”
Mr Livingstone, who has made notorious claims about collaboration between Nazis and Zionists, resigned from the Labour Party in 2018, having been suspended amid antisemitism claims.
A council spokeswoman confirmed it approved the application. “Earlier this year, the council approved a request by a resident to plant a tree and place a small plaque in Gladstone Park to mark Palestine Land Day. We are an inclusive authority and do not reject requests like this on political grounds.”
Gladstone Park is also home to a Grade II-listed sculpture created by a former Jewish prisoner of war, Kilburn-based artist Fred Kormis. The sculpture commemorates concentration camp internees and was listed in 2016. It emerged on Monday that the Nakba plaque had been stolen by unknown individuals.