‘Intimidation’ as council debates hate


A protest led by hard-left Labour activists against a widely-used definition of Jew-hatred is a further indication that a leading London borough has become “a cesspit of antisemitism”, it has been claimed.

Protesters, thought to be from the pro-Jeremy Corbyn Momentum group, disrupted a Haringey Council meeting on Monday and screamed at councillors who were voting for the local authority to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

The definition was recognised by the government and the Labour Party last year and is now widely-used in the public sector.

One person who was at the meeting told the JC the atmosphere was “horrific and extremely intimidating” and indicative of a wider problem in political life in Haringey.

The local branch of the Momentum group had earlier encouraged supporters to join its protest, which it said it was organising alongside the Haringey Justice for Palestinians group to oppose the adoption of the IHRA guidelines.

“Some of the guidelines equate legitimate criticisms of the Israeli state with hatred towards Jews and therefore have the effect of suppressing support for the national rights of Palestinians,” the group wrote on Facebook.

After the meeting, Joe Goldberg, a Jewish Labour councillor representing the Seven Sisters ward which covers parts of the Stamford Hill community, wrote on Twitter: “Tonight I sat in Full Council threatened by Labour Party members for voting for motion on antisemitism while speakers were shouted down.”

Mr Goldberg wrote that he was “deeply saddened” by the protest, which he said was an “absolute disgrace”.

A furious row between Labour councillors was conducted openly on Facebook, with some, including senior cabinet members, suggesting “local Muslim groups” had led opposition to the motion — rather than Momentum — because of concerns about “suppression of free speech”.

The IHRA motion came at the end of the meeting. When Claire Kober, the Labour leader of the council, began to speak to propose it, she was barracked from the public gallery. One activist shouted “we need a public debate on this”.

When Ms Kober said the motion was about antisemitism, a woman in the gallery shouted “no, this is about Israel”.

The disruption was so substantial that at one stage Stephen Mann, chairing the session, threatened to have the public removed from the meeting. Protesters screamed “shame on you” and “we’ll see you in your constituency Labour parties” as councillors backed the motion with a show of hands.

The JC understands Labour’s chief whip had excused a number of councillors from voting after they indicated they would refuse to back the proposal.

Joseph Ejiofor, Labour’s deputy council leader, last year posted a link on Twitter to a Jewish Socialists’ Group article which claimed accusations of antisemitism in Labour were being “weaponised” to attack Jeremy Corbyn.

As the meeting concluded, the council posted a statement on Twitter which said: “Both parties on the council have proposed adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism as part of wider commitment to community cohesion.”

A Momentum spokesperson said: “Momentum opposes antisemitism in all its forms.

“This council lobby was not organised by Momentum National. The local momentum group in Haringey supported the lobby along with other organisations and some members attended.

“While we haven’t received any complaints about Momentum members present at the meeting, if we do we’ll investigate them and take the necessary, appropriate action.”

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