Maxine Peake praises ‘wonderful’ JVL conference packed with activists accused of antisemitism

EXCLUSIVE: TV actress was forced to apologise earlier this year after falsely linking the police killing of black American George Floyd to Israel


Actress Maxine Peake has attended the Jewish Voice For Labour group's annual conference and described the proceedings as "wonderful" - even though the event featured a string of speakers either being investigated by Labour or expelled from the party over allegations over antisemitism.

The TV star - who was forced to apologise earlier this year after falsely linking the police killing of black American George Floyd to Israel -  said on leaving Sunday's  JVL AGM, "This has been just wonderful. Thank you all so much. I sadly have to leave, but feel inspired and educated."

Full details of the conference, which have been leaked to the JC, showed that Ms Peake left the all-day event shortly before 4.30pm with Glyn Secker, JVL's secretary, saying: "Thank you very much, Maxine."

Another attendee remarked: “Great to have you on board".

Also at the meeting was Jackie Walker, expelled from Labour over antisemitism allegations; her partner Graham Bash, who has been investigated over comments about "Jewish exceptionalism"; and Jo Bird, the Wirral councillor who was exposed by the JC over her repeated remarks about "Jew process" and an alleged hierarchy of racism.

Alex Scott-Samuel, the Liverpool Wavertree Labour member -  exposed by the JC over his appearances on a radio show once backed by the antisemitic conspiracy theorist David Icke - spoke out in support of JVL members who claimed they were being targeted over their views.

Mr Scott-Samuel said: “It’s time for JVL to raise the temperature."

Anti-Zionist activist Roland Rance made repeated contributions to the meeting, including defending criticism of Israel by saying: “The Nazis didn't kill six million Israelis either."

His remark was praised by another activist who said: "Indeed, Roland" while another JVL member continued: “I think he and we know that."

Mr Rance also claimed "most Zionists in the USA are not Jewish" - a point supported by Ms Walker who added, "Christian Zionists are the bulk of supporters in the US." 

JVL co-chair Jenny Manson then said: “I agree Jackie - but in Florida Jewish votes are crucial for Trump."

Meanwhile, Adam Hurst, a member of JVL's executive committee said: “Younger Jews who are further away from the Holocaust do seem to be taking a more rational view of what's going on."

The online event was frequently affected by sound problems, and also saw internal rows erupt, particularly over the question of support for trans rights.

At one point Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi said: “I’d really request people take the trans rights issue into other forums now."

Mr Rance said: "I repeat, can we please try not to divide JVL over trans rights."

Further disagreements emerged as JVL discussed their approach to "anti-racism" work. 

One attendee, Dee Howard, complained: “I have been a member of various anti-racist groups and I'm white. It just can't be black people who fight racism any more  than it should be only Jewish people who fight antisemitism."

Two attendees then complained that as "non-Jews" the JVL constitution left them unable to vote on anything at the AGM.

A member of Hammersmith Labour Party then said: “Certain BAME groups are oppressed but the males in turn oppress the women."

Earlier, Wirral councillor Ms Bird had attempted to impose her own authority on the meeting by asking for silence amongst JVL's so-called "solidarity members" - those who have joined the group but are not themselves Jewish.

Ms Bird said: “Please could solidarity members respect that this meeting is a rare and valuable space for Jewish members to debate with each other. Your observations would be welcome later."

Later she claimed that solidarity members were continuing to "prioritise their contributions over Jewish members."

Earlier this year Ms Bird had failed in her bid to secure a place on Labour's NEC, and has been suspended from the party twice over her own comments on Jews.

One speaker was criticised after he suggested JVL held civil discussions with the Jewish Labour Movement.

He was told: "JLM will not debate with us. They even had a go against Rabbi Danny Rich for trying to facilitate reasonable debate with us."

During the meeting, Sir Keir Starmer and MPs David Lammy and Lisa Nandy were all attacked by JVL activists over their support for Israel.

At one point Labour General Secretary David Evans was referred to as a "toe-rag."

In July the actress Ms Peake issued a clarification over her comments on Israel and George Floyd. She said she had been "inaccurate" in her claim that US police had been trained by Israel and said she found antisemitism "abhorrent".

The JC has contacted Ms Peake for comment over her attendance at the JVL event.

She had previously campaigned for Mr Corbyn when he was Labour leader.



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