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Devastated councillors abandon ‘toxic’ party

Two Jewish Labour councillors have spoken out about the antisemitism they experienced from hard-left activists in Haringey

    Natan Doron sounds tired. He is 34, in the early years of his political career as a councillor, and about to become a father.

    You might expect him to be full of excitement and zest for life. But he is in need of a break.

    “I am exhausted,” he says.

    Mr Doron is one of two Jewish Labour councillors who have spoken out about the antisemitism they experienced from hard-left activists in Haringey, North London.

    Along with Joe Goldberg, Mr Doron, who is Israeli but was educated in the UK, is stepping down from the local authority following the abuse from within Labour circles.

    “The party has changed a lot since I joined in 2010,” Mr Doron says, claiming Labour has become “toxic”, with the “relentless” abuse making it “impossible” for him to continue as a councillor.

    Mr Doron was not involved in politics before helping to build the Crouch End Labour branch. But the enjoyment he felt changed suddenly three years ago.

    “I went away for the summer in 2015 and came back to Jeremy Corbyn as leader. It was chaos.

    “A different kind of person had joined the party. They were older, angrier, whiter and fairly hard-left.

    “Before then I didn’t think much about being Jewish or Israeli, then all of a sudden people were obsessed about it.”

    He says Haringey residents now want to “discuss Israel like there is no other foreign country to talk about.

    “It got to the point where you could not avoid it. I could be in a meeting about the NHS at 10am and someone would be talking about Israel.”

    While out canvassing, fellow Labour members were abusive.

    “One of them started having a rant about how Israel was a Nazi country and I had no right to be offended because Israel had no right to exist,” he explains.

    “People regularly conflated Israel and the Holocaust and no matter how much you explained it was offensive they didn’t care. I’m critical of Israel but it’s hard to discuss Israeli policy with people who at the end of the day think the solution to the conflict is for Israel not to be there.”

    Mr Doron says the atmosphere had become “very depressing,” but notes: “I didn’t even have it that bad”.

    In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Goldberg, the council’s outgoing cabinet member for economic development, said one fellow councillor had compared academy schools to Kristallnacht.

    The same Labour colleague was reported to have accused Mr Goldberg of “bagel-barrel politics”.

    “This is not just on social media. Many members have repeated to me assertions about Jews having big noses, controlling the media and being wealthy,” he told the newspaper.

    “It has become impossible to operate as a Jewish councillor in the Haringey party without having your views and actions prejudged or dismissed in terms that relate to your ethnicity.”

    When Mr Goldberg announced he was resigning, Shahab Mossavat, a Haringey Momentum activist, tweeted: “At least [you] will have more time to count your money”.

    Mr Goldberg and Mr Doron are not alone. More than 20 Labour councillors in the borough are either resigning or being deselected ahead of May’s local elections.

    They include Claire Kober, the leader of the council for a decade, who announced earlier this year that she would not stand again due to the abuse she received from the hard-left.

    For many, the turning point was a fractious meeting of the council last summer in which Momentum activists screamed at elected officials as they adopted a new definition of antisemitism.

    Mr Doron said he was not hopeful about the hard-left candidates who are expected to replace him and his colleagues.

    “There is not that much talent coming in. There is a lot of group thinking and it is mostly retired, angry people who are obsessed with Jeremy Corbyn. I joined a political party not a personality cult.”

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