Jeremy Corbyn-backing shadow minister meets Jewish Voice For Labour in Westminster

Fabian Hamilton – who is also Jewish - was spotted in discussions with JVL’s Jonathan Rosenhead and Richard Kuper


A Jeremy Corbyn-backing shadow minister has met with two of the founding members of controversial, pro-Corbyn Jewish Voice For Labour in Westminster.

Fabian Hamilton – the Leeds North East MP who is also Jewish - was spotted in discussions with JVL’s Jonathan Rosenhead and Richard Kuper, who is also a founder of the Jews For Justice For Palestinians group, on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Hamilton – who has angered Jewish voters in his constituency over his failure to speak out about antisemitism in Labour – arrived at the meeting accompanied by two other staff members.

The two JVL representatives arrived with one other guest, whose identity was not known.

Mr Hamilton’s meeting with JVL took place ahead of a motion to be discussed at the Chapel Allerton Branch of Leeds North East Constituency Labour Party on Tuesday night which “regrets the decision of Leeds City Council to adopt in full the IHRA definition of antisemitism in full”.

There were fears that the motion would be passed in a Labour branch that is increasingly dominated by left-wing pressure group Momentum.

The meeting comes amid fears among Jewish Labour MPs and communal groups that the Labour leadership is increasingly receptive to JVL, a fringe group founded last year, as representative of mainstream Jewish opinion.

Mr Rosenhead has made controversial comments about antisemitism within Labour under Mr Corbyn and on the relationship between Judaism and Zionism.

He suggested antisemitic tweets by Corbyn-supporting Labour accounts could be run by the Israeli state, said Zionists had stopped “hundreds of thousands” of Jewish people leaving Nazi Germany and has supported Labour members who have been suspended for alleged antisemitism.

Mr Kuper has also made controversial statements, recently suggesting it was wrong to describe calling Israel ‘racist’ as antisemitic.

A source told the JC: "We were surprised to see one of Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench holding quite as open a meeting two of JVL’s most well known figures.

“It beggars belief that Mr Hamilton would consider formulating any foreign policy ideas around the thoughts of people like these.”

Simon Myerson, a QC, said he was "furious" about the meeting.

“I am involved with a group of about 15 of his Jewish constituents of all political shades, who have recently met Mr Hamilton to express our anxiety about how the Labour Party is dealing with Jewish concerns," he told the JC.

"We specifically raised the issue of Jewish Voice for Labour as part of the problem. Mr Hamilton obviously does not have to agree with what we say."

"But at no stage did he indicate that he was prepared to engage with JVL or indicate that he was receptive to their views or their behaviour.

"Had he done so we would have made our position clear - the Leeds community does not regard JVL as a remotely representative group. Its members do not speak for us.

"Wherever we are on the political spectrum we utterly repudiate them.

"To see this meeting and hear that Mr Hamilton has not offered an explanation to you or to us is a betrayal of his constituents. To say that we are furious is no understatement.”

At September’s Labour Party conference, Mr Hamilton sparked concerns after he appeared on the panel of a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event alongside anti-Zionist activists including Hazem Jamjoum, who said: “Israel is able to get away with apartheid laws, racist laws, laws that enshrine privilege based on a particular identity category.”

In July, he angered local Jewish voters in Leeds by saying they should be “less hysterical and angry” when they asked why he has kept silent on Labour’s antisemitism crisis.

Mr Hamilton – who was dismissed as an Honorary Patron of the Campaign Against Antisemitism group over his remarks – also said he backed the party adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism but added he was “at a loss to understand the extreme reaction" to the party's previous refusal to do so.

Mr Hamilton - who represents Alwoodley, Moortown and Roundhay, home to most of Leeds' 8,000 Jews - has been an MP since 1997 and defended his seat with a 16,991-majority at the 2017 general election. 

His spokesperson told the JC: “Fabian continues to listen to all voices from the Jewish community on a wide range of topics, and will continue to meet with Jewish organisations to hear their views.

"Dialogue with all sections of the Jewish community is vital to rebuilding the relationship between British Jews and the Labour Party. “

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