JVL founder calls for Labour members to 'resist' Starmer's attempts to tackle antisemitism

EXCLUSIVE: Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi also admitted pro-Palestinian activists had left Jewish people feeling 'defensive and uncomfortable'


Jewish Voice for Labour founder Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi has openly urged Labour members to “resist” attempts by Sir Keir Starmer to tackle antisemitism in the party.

And in a damning admission, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi, the vice-chair of Chingford and Woodford Green Labour Party, also said that as a result the actions of some pro-Palestine activists, “Jewish people are genuinely going to feel defensive and uncomfortable.”

In a further claim, JVL’s media officer said: “In the past year we haven’t just seen victory for the Zionist lobby, we’ve seen a close collaboration between the pro-Israel advocates and the entire political elite and establishment.

“We’re talking about the interests of imperialism and colonialism worldwide, we’re talking about the interest of the capitalist financial system — so we’re up against it.”

Ms Wimborne-Idrissi had been addressing an online meeting of Harrow and Brent Palestine Solidarity Campaign on September 29 when she launched her scathing attacks on both Sir Keir and Labour General Secretary David Evans.

She said: “We should be working to resist the imposition of the IHRA so-called definition — the non-legally binding definition of antisemitism on councils.

“We are also going to have to fight the ban on our constituency Labour Party from even being able to discuss it.

“This is difficult because, as I am sure you all know, in a Kafkaesque twist, General Secretary David Evans has announced that not only may you not discuss the IHRA or the impending Equalities and Human Rights Commission report into the Labour Party —or Starmer’s decision to pay out large sums of our money as Labour Party members to the so-called whistle-blowers in the Panorama programme which vilified Labour over a year ago — it is now impossible to discuss the General Secretary’s letter saying that we may not discuss those specific issues. This has to be resisted.”

Later in the meeting, which was hosted by Labour member Mizanur Rahman and was titled ‘The Labour Party and Palestine’, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi assessed the issue of antisemitism, saying: “I do think it is important to reiterate, antisemitism is a problem, as all forms of racism are increasingly a problem.”

She then added: “There is also a difficulty — to a certain extent generated by the attacks on pro-Palestinian activists — the tendency for some people to say ‘If I haven’t upset a Zionist by breakfast I’m doing something wrong’.

“It’s almost as if there’s an obligation to use offensive and abusive language, as if that helped Palestine. When it doesn’t.

“It does also create an atmosphere in which Jewish people are genuinely going to feel defensive and uncomfortable. That’s not our aim. Our aim is to pursue a political agenda. Help us think of ways of doing it.”

Ms Wimborne- Idrissi also claimed efforts were being made by “comrades up and down the country” to try to force debates over issues such the IHRA definition at Labour meetings.

But she added she had “failed” to do this in her own CLP “so far.

“We have to resist this ban on discussing matters that are important for the Palestinian struggle.”

The JVL official also said “gloves were off” in regards to attempts by Labour to expel or discipline those accused of antisemitism within the party.

She said JVL were “helping people” threatened with expulsion but accepted that there was “fast-tracking” of disciplinary hearings now taking place under Labour’s new leadership.

She blamed a “right-wing cabal who were there under Blair” who are now responsible for pursuing complaints against left-wingers.

Admitting it had been easier to push issues on Palestine under previous leader Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi added, “the people attacking us are not opposing racism, they are attacking the whole political agenda of the left.”

She then poured scorn on the current Labour leader, whom she said was “a man in a suit who speaks the language of the legal profession, has been DPP, has got the ‘Sir’ in front of his name, and he doesn’t frighten anybody who matters.”

She said “this is the sort of Labour Party we are threatened with. It is time to stand up against the lies.”

Picking out Sir Keir’s decision to invite Jewish Labour Movement vice-chair Ruth Smeeth to introduce his speech to last week’s virtual  Labour Party  Conference,  she accused the former MP for Stoke North of having “completely destroyed the career” of hard-left activist Mark Wadsworth.

Mr Wadsworth was expelled from the party over allegations involving antisemitism after disrupting the launch of the Chakrabarti report into anti-Jewish racism in Labour.

An one point, Ms Wimbourne-Idrissi told the online meeting that Pete Firmin, the chair of Hampstead and  Kilburn Labour Party, “wished to speak” during the Q&A section.

Mr Firmin called for Labour member's to oppose Sir Keir's "pro-Israel" agenda - and added support for the leader was not mandatory in the party.

Earlier, the meeting was addressed by Paul Kelemen, a former lecturer at the University of Manchester who is still listed on its website as an Associate in the School of Social Sciences.

Claiming antisemitism is viewed as different than other forms of racism, he said: “The most important way in which this idea of Israeli exceptionalism has been popularized, even elevated, to be a fundamental principle of contemporary liberal thinking has been through Holocaust memorialization/Holocaust education.”


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