Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi backs ‘diplomatic relations’ with Hezbollah and Hamas

Co-founder of Jewish Voice for Labour makes the remark to the JC following her expulsion from the party


Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, co-founder of Jewish Voice for Labour, has said following her expulsion from the Labour Party that she backed “diplomatic relations” with terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

The pro-Corbyn activist said Hamas and Hezbollah were representatives of “a certain strand of powerful opinion in the Middle East”, and suggested they should be engaged with in the same way that the UK has dealt with the IRA.

It is understood that her expulsion was as a result of her support for organisations that have been proscribed by the party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC). However, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi denies that she has supported those organisations.

Speaking to the JC following her expulsion, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi said: “I can’t believe that they needed a whole year to work out that I had taken part in a panel discussion with the title ‘McCarthyism and Starmer’s Labour Party’. They don't have much of a sense of irony.

“That’s the Labour Party I’m talking about,” she added.

Ms Wimborne-Idrissi was first suspended from the Labour Party in late-2020 after she backed claims about the “weaponisation” of antisemitism allegations within Labour at a meeting of the Chingford and Woodford Green local party, while she was vice-chair. She received a formal warning and her membership was reinstated.

She was suspended again in September this year after speaking at an event held last year by now-proscribed group Resist, founded by disgraced former MP Chris Williamson, one of the four far-left organisations banned by Labour in July last year for downplaying claims of systemic antisemitism within the party.

However, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi said that speaking on a panel does not imply support, and that she does not support the group because “they started to put up candidates and support candidates against the Labour Party, which I think is a mistake.”

She also said that she was not a supporter or member of Labour Against The Witchhunt and the Labour In Exile Network – groups cited by Labour in their letter expelling her from the party: “I think they expressed views that I know the [Party] leadership doesn’t agree with. Some of those views I do agree with, some I don’t, and I’m not a supporter or a member of any of those groups.”

She blames her expulsion from Labour on the way it interprets its rulebook: “I will appeal, but I’ll just say that 'I don’t accept that what I did in any way constitutes support for those groups in any meaningful sense, I don’t believe that you’ve listened to my arguments, I don’t believe that the timing of my suspension and then expulsion was a coincidence'.”

However, she added: “I don't think it's a sinister plot to spoil my birthday party.” She turned 70 on Thursday, the day she was expelled.

But she does think that the investigation was triggered because she was elected to the NEC: “I think they want to draw a line. They don't want me on the NEC. They don't want an articulate, Jewish left-winger on the NEC.”

When asked whether former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, of whom she is an ardent supporter, had sent her a message of support following her expulsion, she said: “I've had messages from lots of people. I can't confirm or deny whether Jeremy is one of them.”

When asked about Mr Corbyn’s previous support of proscribed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi said: “Hamas and Hezbollah are, like it or not, representatives of a certain strand of powerful opinion in the Middle East. We don’t like it, and we don’t like the way it expresses itself.”

When it was put to her that those groups express themselves through terrorism and attacks on Jews, she said: “But as with the IRA in Northern Ireland, people who don’t agree with other people have to have sort of… diplomatic relations with them.”

She added: "Nobody sane is saying ‘blow up the state of Israel, it doesn’t have the right to exist, all the Israelis should be driven...’ Nobody that I have any truck with says anything like that.”

When reminded that the stated goal of Hamas and Hezbollah is the destruction of the State of Israel, she replied: "Do you think that they’ve all got a thought-through position which involves driving Jews into the sea? You've got to meet Palestinians and talk to them.”

"There's a rhetoric which is hateful, and there are individuals who have in the past, less so now because they're aware that it's diplomatically stupid, suggested that Israel should be destroyed, and the Jews should be... It's just not the position that most people who might express some sympathy for Hamas fighters or something like that. It’s just not true.”

The Labour Party has been approached for comment.

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