The vice-chair of the Jewish Labour Movement has hit back at critics in the community who questioned the wisdom of his group’s decision to engage with Jeremy Corbyn over tackling the party’s antisemitism crisis.
Mike Katz said Jewish opponents of JLM “on the right or actually in the Conservative Party” were ignoring the need for “good governance” by launching “partisan” attacks on his group.
Mr Katz delivered a passionate speech at last month’s Labour conference in favour of the rule change making antisemitism punishable by expulsion from the party.
Now he told the JC: “Whatever you think of the party at the moment, we are currently in a place where you could not call the result of any future election.
“There are definitely people within the community who recognise the need for JLM to engage with the Labour leadership and get across exactly why we are not happy, and attempt to get us into a place where at least we are taking steps to move forwards.
“But there are a lot of people to the right politically — or actually in the Conservative Party — who do not want this to happen.
“I understand this from a partisan point of view. But it is just not great for the community if you don’t have an organisation trying to reach out to someone who may well become Prime Minister, or a future Foreign Secretary or a Home Secretary.
“It’s just not good governance for the community.
“I think communal organisations like the JLC and the Board of Deputies understand this. They understand there’s work to be done because we can’t be left high and dry if Labour win the election.”
Mr Katz said many of JLM’s critics were the same people who had attacked him and Jeremy Newmark, the group’s chairman, for deciding to stand for Labour in the country’s two most Jewish constituencies — Hendon and Finchley and Golders Green — in June’s general election.
He said: “It is a sad day when some in the community don’t want to tolerate anybody who wants to get into public life for the benefit of the entire community.
“You can talk the talk about wanting to fight and discuss antisemitism. But when it is actually about engaging with real people, you never change things by running away.”
Mr Katz said the JLM decision to engage with Mr Corbyn’s office and the left-wing Momentum organisation over the implementation of the rule change in no way damaged the group’s ability to fight on behalf of the community.
He praised Shami Chakrabarti, the Shadow Attorney General, for her criticism of Len McCluskey, the Unite union chief, over his claim that antisemitism allegations were “mood music” within the party.
Ms Chakrabarti met JLM officials in the run-up to the rule-change vote.
Mr Katz also praised the role of Rhea Wolfson, a JLM and Momentum group member who sits on Labour’s national executive committee and stood as an election candidate in Scotland, in getting the new measure passed.