Film-maker Ken Loach has demanded that Jackie Walker, the anti-Israel activist currently suspended by Labour over allegations of antisemitism, be “reinstituted” and allowed to become “a significant figure in the party”.
Mr Loach, a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, compared the treatment of Ms Walker to that he received when he infuriated many in the Jewish community after he directed the notorious anti-Zionist play Perdition in 1987.
He said the “hysteria” surrounding Ms Walker’s alleged antisemitism was similar to the “political agenda” that drove the attacks on his involvement with Perdition – a discredited account of the infamous libel trial of Dr Rudolph Kastner, head of the Zionist Rescue Committee in Budapest.
Ms Walker was suspended by Labour in 2016 after claiming Jews were the “chief financiers of the slave trade” and then for wrongly criticising Holocaust Memorial Day for allegedly ignoring other genocides.
Mr Loach was appearing on a panel at the School Of Oriental And African Studies in London to support a performance of Ms Walker’s one-woman show The Lynching.
He praised the script for questioning “the founding of Israel” insisting: “that’s up for discussion and it’s not antisemitic to say so”.
The I, Daniel Blake director insisted: “Let’s keep on fighting so that Jackie is not only reinstated, but becomes a significant figure in the party.”
Addressing the audience at the event, orgainsised by SOAS Palestine Society, Ms Walker claimed Theresa May’s government had “allocated something like £13 million for fighting antisemitism and “under £1 million for all other forms of racism.”
The former Momentum group vice-chair said she was “sure I’m going to be told I’m antisemitic” for questioning the “political agenda” over this alleged allocation of resources for tackling racism and antisemitism.
In another claim Ms Walker attacked journalists working for the JC as “protofascists”.
She added: “The same people who are Jewish essentialists are the same sort of people who are white nationalists - and they are all our enemy.”
Jonathan Rosenhead, an anti-Israel activist and Ken Livingstone supporter, also appeared on the panel at the event and told the audience that “it was a shame” British Jews supported Israel, which he described as a “state practising apartheid”.
Professor Rosenhead, of Hackney South Labour Party, also said the British had welcomed Jewish immigration to Israel because it had “been convenient to plant them there”.
Like several speakers on the night he attacked the IHRA definition of antisemitism and claimed it was being used to “silence” supporters of the Palestinians.
Graham Bash, Ms Walker’s partner, spoke from the audience, saying he was Jewish and had come across antisemitism only once in 49 years in the Labour Party.
Dave Watson, who was suspended from the party over antisemitic posts on social media, also spoke at the event, claiming: “Yes, I have criticised Zionism and Israel and supporters of Israel and so forth - but I have never criticised Jews or anything about Jewish people”.
Mr Watson, the fundraising co-ordinator for the Walthamstow Labour Party, was suspended pending an investigation after he shared articles on Facebook alleging that Daesh has used weapons made in Israel, comparing Mossad with the Nazis and accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinians.