Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has shown that she is “totally out of touch” with reality regarding how ultra-orthodox Jews in her constituency feel about anti-Semitism. In addition, she was also accused of deploying “divide and rule” tactics and using the Charedi community “for political gain”.
Meanwhile, disgraced MP Chris Williamson has been banned from standing for Labour as a candidate in the forthcoming General Election in Derby North. The ruling follows his suspension from the party over a “pattern of behaviour” regarding anti-Semitism going back months earlier this year.
Both revelations followed the staggering news that Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson, a popular ally to the Jewish community, is stepping down and will not stand in the elections.
Watson has clashed with the leadership on a number of occasions and survived an attempt to oust him at Labour’s recent annual party conference.
Rabbi Abraham Pinter, a former Labour councillor in the area, made the accusations about Ms Abbott after he told the Today programme yesterday that “it’s not every element of the Jewish community that believes Jeremy (Corbyn) is an anti-Semite”.
In a quite startling interview with presenter Nick Robinson regarding her party’s anti-Semitism issue, Ms Abbott inferred that Stamford Hill’s Chasidic community did not talk about anti-Semitism.
When Robinson pointed out that every Jewish newspaper and Jewish representative body had said it, Ms Abbott countered, “Yeah, well, the Chasidic community in Stamford Hill doesn’t say that.”
Pressed further on Labour’s response to its anti-Semitism crisis, Ms Abbott insisted the Party was “doing everything we can” echoing comments by Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell in interviews with the BBC and LBC radio in recent days.
Rabbi Pinter was scathing on the matter.
“I don’t know who she is talking about because there is no question that the majority of the people I talk to in the community are talking about anti-Semitism in the party, and it is a concern in the community,” he explained. “We have others, but to suggest that we are not concerned about what has happened in the Labour Party or think they have done enough is false.”
Rabbi Pinter added that his experiences of anti-Semitism in the Labour party are well documented.
“She (Ms Abbott) knows about them and yet she has the arrogance to ignore the issue,” he said.
Rabbi Pinter also rebuffed Ms Abbott’s assertion that she speaks to the community.
“We have never heard from her,” he noted. “She (Ms Abbott) doesn’t engage with us and she doesn’t understand our concerns.”
Labour’s National Executive Committee will endorse another candidate following Williamson’s demise. Jewish organisations have welcomed the decision to ban the former MP.
Board of Deputies President, Marie van der Zyl, said the ruling was correct but not enough and has called for Williamson’s expulsion from the Party.
“Labour’s leadership must now stop dragging their feet and act immediately to expel from the party this disgraced politician who has baited the Jewish community for far too long,” she explained.
A Jewish Leadership Council spokesman commented, “Good riddance. A couple of years too late.”
Jewish Labour Movement said several NEC endorsed Labour Party candidates had serious failings on anti-Semitism and the party had turned a blind eye to the issue.
“Once again, Labour only takes action against racists when they become a political liability,” they added.
Williamson caused outrage among Labour MPs when footage emerged of him telling a meeting of supporters the party had been “too apologetic” about handling anti-Semitism.
A Corbyn ally, Williamson was readmitted to the party in June before being “re-suspended” within hours following a backlash at the decision.
Williamson mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge with a crowd-funding campaign.
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor refused to comment on the case in an interview with LBC on Tuesday night regarding Williamson. Jewish groups critcised his stance.
By David Saffer