JVL chair, who denies ever seeing Labour Jew-hate, witnessed antisemitic comments at Momentum meeting

Exclusive: Jenny Manson accusing of being 'disingenuous' for claiming she had 'never' seen antisemitism in the party


The chair of pro-Jeremy Corbyn group, Jewish Voice For Labour, has been accused of being "disingenuous" after the JC confirmed she witnessed antisemitism at a Momentum meeting, despite publicly maintaining since she has never seen Jew-hate within Labour.

Jenny Manson, who set up JVL last year to fight accusations the Labour leader has bolstered Jew-hate, has repeatedly said she has “never seen” antisemitism in the party.

But the JC has learned that, in November 2017, she witnessed a man talk about the history of racism and refer to “the chosen people” at an invitation-only meeting for Momentum, the left-wing campaign group which supports Mr Corbyn and which only Labour members can join. 

She asked the man to stop and later, after he left, she asked the audience if he was a Labour member and said: "This is the first time I've heard such a comment at a Labour Party meeting." 

Since then, Ms Manson has told the press, including the JC and BBC Radio Four, that: "None of us in my group has ever experienced any antisemitism within the Labour Party."

Amanda Bowman, vice-president of the Board of Deputies, said: “After years of antisemitism in the Labour Party, the claim by Jenny Manson that she has ‘never seen any’ antisemitism in the Labour Party is disingenuous.

"JVL and Jenny Manson should stop trying to cover this up and start calling it out.”

Speaking to the JC, Ms Manson said the Momentum meeting, which she chaired, was held for people to hear anti-Zionist activist Moshe Machover discuss his expulsion from Labour and subsequent reinstatement last year.

She said: “I don’t know who the man was (who made antisemitic remarks) but he was making comments about the First World War, bankers and Rothschilds and I asked him to stop and I think he then left.”

Ms Manson added: “At the meeting there were several Jewish members of the audience who were not happy about what a member of the audience was saying. I don’t think Moshe was happy with it either and I asked the man to stop speaking.”

But she argued there was “no way of knowing if he was a Labour member or not” and stood by her comments that she has never seen nor experienced any antisemitism in the party.

“There must be some, and I know some exists online but I have never seen any. I have not experienced antisemitism in the Labour party in north London,” she said.

In an interview with the JC in June Ms Manson suggested stories about antisemitism had been exaggerated to smear the Labour leader.

“There might be very serious evidence. But I haven’t seen any of it,” she said at the time. “If there are allegations they have to be investigated by the Labour Party. I have every sympathy for people who experience antisemitism, but there has been an alarming determination for this to drown out other issues.”

Ms Manson said she had no way of knowing who the man who made the antisemitic comments was at the meeting last year.

“People come to meetings all the time and you don’t know who they are,” she said.

Ms Manson did say that she had experienced Islamophobia within Labour and described the problem as “worrying".

“I have noticed in Labour Party correspondence over the years that there is a quick condemnation of Muslim views on homosexuality or adultery.

“People are quick to put the ill treatment of women and Islam together without referencing other religions practices.”

A spokesperson for Barnet Momentum said: “The man in question was not a Momentum member.

"He was immediately challenged by the chair and from the floor. Invitations were sent to Momentum members but at the time people could sign up to our email list without being a paid up member. We have fixed this now.”

The Community Security Trust said JVL “exists in order to deny Jeremy Corbyn’s antisemitism problem".

“Their antics help no one: not them, not us and certainly not the Labour leadership,” a spokesperson said.

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