Jewish representatives have called for an independent inquiry into anti-Semitism faced by Labour councillors in local parties.
Board of Deputies’ president Jonathan Arkush said this would be one of the first items on the to-do list of Labour’s new general secretary – likely to be union leader Jennie Formby – after further revelations in The Sunday Times.
“Over the last few weeks we have seen a number of revelations from Labour councillors about the anti-Semitism that they are facing in their local parties,” said Arkush, who is not standing for re-election in May.
“It cannot have been easy for them to speak out and the anti-Semitism cannot be allowed to continue. There must be a genuinely independent and prompt inquiry backed up by firm disciplinary action that includes expulsions where necessary.”
He added: “This will be a pressing and early challenge for Labour’s new General Secretary as it continues to be for the leader of the Labour Party. They will be judged on how they handle the issue of racism against Jews.”
It follows this week’s criticism of Haringey Constituency Labour Party (CLP) by two Jewish councillors – Joe Goldberg and Natan Doron – who accused it of “institutional anti-Semitism,” ahead of them being deselected or retiring.
Doron said fellow Labour members accused Israel of being “a Nazi country” while Goldberg said he was accused by a fellow Labour councillor of “bagel-barrel politics”.
The latter told The Sunday Times: “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.”
Likewise Phil Rosenberg, a Labour councillor who is also the Board’s director of public affairs, last month accused his local constituency party of “institutional racism” for “singling out Jews and Israel” in seven of the last nine meetings.
He said the Hampstead and Kilburn CLP was “toxic” and “shameful” after voting to retract an award given to a pro-Israel group in the name of an anti-Israel activist.
Writing for Jewish News, Rosenberg described the “nauseating cacophony of jeers and heckling against anyone who dares question permitted groupthink,” adding: “The effect on most Jews will be a clear sign that this is no safe space for us.”