Jewish Momentum member resigns citing antisemitism in local branch

Joshua Garfield, the former youth officer of the Newham Momentum steering group, said he sometimes felt "unsafe and untrusted"


A Momentum officer has resigned after saying he feels “unsafe and untrusted” as a Jew among members of his local branch.

Joshua Garfield, a Labour Party activist from Newham, East London, stepped down as the youth officer of the Newham Momentum steering group last night, posting his resignation letter on Twitter.

In it he said he has witnessed “more antisemitism in the past week than in eight years of Labour Party membership”, alleging “deep-seated prejudices” among fellow Momentum members.

Momentum, the left-wing organisation established to support Jeremy Corbyn upon his election to the Labour Party leadership, said it is “committed to stamping out antisemitism across the Labour movement”.

Mr Garfield wrote: “I cannot work alongside individuals who seek to silence the legitimate concerns of Jewish Labour members, or who remain silent in the face of blatant racism.

“Denying that antisemitism exists within the Labour Party, or in its affiliated organisations, factions, and supporters is misguided, ignorant and offensive.

“While some may seek to weaponise the issue, something cannot be weaponised if it doesn’t exist. Our Jewish comrades need solidarity, not faction based infighting.”

Although he resigned from the Newham Momentum steering group, Mr Garfield told the JC that he will remain a Labour Party member, and said that he “fully supports” Mr Corbyn.

He will also represent the Labour Party in next month's London council elections, running in the Stratford and New Town ward of Newham borough.

The antisemitism crisis engulfing the Labour Party has intensified in recent weeks. About 2,000 demonstrators gathered in Parliament Square last week to protest against Mr Corbyn’s record on antisemitism.

Yesterday it was announced that the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council had written to the Labour leader to accept his offer of a meeting over Jew-hate in the party.

Mr Corbyn had responded to the groups on Tuesday, saying he was prepared to meet them and would not object to their proposed agenda or the issues they wish to raise.

A spokesperson for Labour reiterated that the party is "committed to challenging and campaigning against antisemitism", and that all complaints of Jew-hate are taken "extremely seriously".

The party added: "These are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

Momentum’s national coordinating group (NCG) added that discussions had taken place in recent days which had “reinforced the need for a programme of political education across the movement” including training specifically targeted at antisemitism.

It said: “Momentum’s NCG acknowledges the anger, upset and despair within the British Jewish community at the numerous cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party and the party’s failure to date to deal with them in a sufficiently decisive, swift and transparent manner. 

“Momentum’s NCG believes that accusations of antisemitism should not and cannot be dismissed simply as right wing smears nor as the result of conspiracies.

“Current examples of antisemitism within the Labour Party are not only a problem of a few, extreme ‘bad apples’ but also of unconscious bias which manifests itself in varied, nuanced and subtle ways and is more widespread in the Labour Party than many of us had understood even a few months ago.”

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