An event where Jewish speakers were due to question Labour antisemitism and debate "smears" against Jeremy Corbyn has been rescheduled, after it was pointed out to the organisers that it was due to take place on Kol Nidrei night.
The event in Bristol was scheduled for the evening of September 18, the night of Yom Kippur. Speakers promoted included Rob Ferguson, a member of Free Speech on Israel and the Socialist Workers Party, described in the event’s promotion as a “Jewish anti-racist”, and Jay Blackwood of Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).
JVL is a small pro-Corbyn group, set up last year, to fight allegations of antisemitism within Labour. It has attracted the ire of more mainstream, established Jewish groups, which have been critical of Mr Corbyn's handling of the party's Jew-hate crisis.
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, and Kol Nidrei night is one when even many non-observant Jews attend synagogue. The news JVL was due to attend the event prompted Jewish former Labour councillor Adam Langleben to tweet: "You couldn't make it up."
When contacted by the JC, a JVL spokesperson said the date was arranged in error and was changed.
They said: “The organisers made an error and after JVL pointed this out to them they changed the date so any Jew who wants to can attend and no one is unnecessarily excluded.
"The organisers have told JVL they apologise for any distress caused.”
The event will now be held the day before, on September 17 instead.
At a previous event held by the same groups under the same banner in London two weeks ago, a number of Jews were excluded from the event, with the organisers claiming they would be disruptive.
On social media, both this and the September 17 event were promoted with the claim: "Criticism of Israel is being conflated with antisemitism in ways that threaten free speech and the right to protest while silencing Palestinian voices.
"We must vigorously oppose all forms of antisemitism, but we can’t let smears be used to silence criticism of the Israeli state.”
It also said: “Jeremy Corbyn - a lifelong anti-racist in all respects and prominent figure in the Palestine solidarity movement - is being labelled an antisemite and a racist by those who oppose his politics and leadership of the Labour Party.”
“This meeting will discuss the importance of challenging any attempt at a witch hunt, strengthening the struggle for Palestinian freedom while maintaining zero tolerance for antisemitism and all forms of racism.”
Despite the organiser’s claims not to tolerate any form of antisemitism, videos taken of those queueing to attend the event showed a number of people making antisemitic comments.
“Think of the Dollar – that’s all you care about,” one woman told a Jewish protestor.
“You like silver, you like gold, that’s all you care about.” Another attendee said that “the Jewish people do not exist.”
After the event an attendee was filmed saying: “If you walk around expecting to be treated like Jewish ‘scum’, that’s what’s going to happen to you.”