Sharp exchanges as candidates debate Israel and antisemitism

The Conservative and Labour candidates agreed on the need for a two state solution and combating BDS, but disagreed on pretty much everything else


The Conservative and Labour candidates in a key constituency for the Jewish community have clashed over antisemitism, Israel and the Dubs Amendment on child refugees.

Matthew Offord and Mike Katz, who are standing in Hendon, appeared on the JTV Jewish YouTube channel, where they were quizzed by Dr Alan Mendoza on key issues of concern to Jewish voters.

In at times heated exchanges, Dr Offord said that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, was “guilty by default of antisemitism… [he] seems to surround himself with people who are antisemitic and does nothing about them.

“I’d like to see more action from the Labour Party, because so far we’ve seen nothing.”

Mr Katz rejected the suggestion that the party had not acted.

“We have not seen nothing,” he said. “I have not put myself on the line, not got trolled on social media, for you tell me that we've seen nothing. Has it been good enough? No. but we’re trying to have an honest, open debate”.

Responding to an accusation by Dr Offord that he had been “imposed, undemocratically, to stand for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in Hendon”, Mr Katz said that when he applied to stand in the constituency, he made it clear that he had the support of both the former Labour MP and the chairman of the constituency Labour party.

Mr Katz went on the offensive over the Conservative manifesto, saying he was “surprised there is no mention of Israel or BDS. The Labour manifesto makes it very clear that BDS is not on.”

Dr Offord replied: “We don't need to [mention it in our manifesto] because our actions while we've been in government have been crystal clear”.

He added that Theresa May had been “hoodwinked” when the UK voted in favour of an anti-settlement motion at the UN in December. “We were led to believe that [Britain] wouldn't be voting for it,” he said.

In regards to the Dubs amendment to bring more child refugees into Britain, Mr Offord refused to respond when Mr Katz asked how he had voted in the Commons’ debate on the issue. “I’m not here to be questioned by you,” he said.

Dr Offord voted against the amendment when it was debated in April 2016.

Mr Katz said that electing him as an MP “would send a very strong message to the party and the party leadership, but also to the wider community, of our determination to root antisemitism out of society.

“There would be nothing more inconvenient to those in the leadership who don't want to see JLM and Jewish Labour members prosper… were I to be elected”. 

Dr Offord responded: "We don't need to take a risk with someone who'll be a thorn in the side of Jeremy Corbyn, we don't want Jeremy Corbyn. We want a Conservative government, a Conservative government that supports not only the Jewish community, but also this country, Israel, and trade across the world”.

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