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Confusion over Jeremy Corbyn's roundtable discussion with Jews

‘Respect and Engagement’ event has been postponed

    Sources close to the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn have claimed that a roundtable discussion between the Jewish community and Jeremy Corbyn was never confirmed.

    Mr Corbyn had sent out invitations to a ‘Respect and Engagement’ event on Wednesday, 24 hours after a meeting with the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council.

    The letter, which was sent to a wide range of Jewish community groups, invited them to a meeting “next Wednesday.”

    The invitation said: “The Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, will be hosting a roundtable discussion on the relationship between the Labour Party and the Jewish community.

    “Your organisation is invited to send a representative to this discussion, chaired by the Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn with the General Secretary Jennie Formby also in attendance.”

    The invitation went on to state the date and time of the meeting along with the venue. 

     

     

     

    However, on Sunday, Labour sources said that the meeting, which was supposedly designed to build better relations with the Jewish community, had been cancelled after the Board and JLC called for mainstream community organisations to reject the invitation, which was viewed as an attempt to split the Jewish community by including fringe groups such as Jewish Voice for Labour as counterweights to the Board and JLC.

    There was further confusion on Monday when Labour sources said the meeting had never been confirmed and had been cancelled because it “didn’t work logistically”.

    Labour sources said that the letter, rather than confirming the meeting, was sent “seeking to arrange the meeting”.

    The JC understands that instead of the round table meeting Mr Corbyn will seek to hold separate meetings with multiple groups and individuals in the coming weeks.

    Meanwhile, Labour activist Gary Spedding denied claims he was responsible for coordinating the invitation list for the round table meeting.

    When asked if he had been co-ordinating the meeting Mr Spedding told the JC: "No I did not.”

    But he added: “I, along with other volunteers, have been speaking with the leader's office – and the idea was that it would be good for the leader of the opposition to be in direct contact with members of the Jewish community and stakeholders.

    “The coordination for that is done via the leader's office – it is not done externally. You would have to speak to the leader's office to get further detail.”

    He added: “I made a number of suggestions who they should invite. I suggested organisations such as Jewish Voice for Labour should not be invited – and I think it was a mistake to invite them.”

    Comic David Baddiel had confirmed on Sunday he had been invited to the round-table meeting and on Twitter suggested Mr Spedding had been “driving” the organisation of the event.

    Mr Spedding’s alleged involvement in the meeting with Mr Corbyn angered many in the community – who cited his record as a vociferous pro-Palestinian campaigner who was denied entry into Israel over his involvement in a violent protest at Belfast’s Queens University in which an Israeli official was attacked.

    A subsequent investigation by Queens University concluded that Mr Spedding had not personally been involved in any violent action.

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