Gerald Kaufman

Jewish communal leaders have lambasted the Labour Party for its “inadequate” response to concerns raised over comments made by two politicians at a recent meeting about Israel.

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter was speaking alongside Sir Gerald Kaufman MP at the Palestinian Return Centre on 27 October, and is alleged to have agreed that Israel “fabricates” reasons to kill Palestinians.

The meeting caused a stir after Kaufman was heard saying “Jewish money” was behind the government’s unwavering support for Israel. 

“It’s Jewish money, Jewish donations, to the Conservative party as in the general election in May, support from the Jewish Chronicle, all of those things bias the Conservatives,” he said.

Andy Slaughter

Andy Slaughter

“There is now a big group of Conservative MPs, who are pro-Israel whatever the government does… They’re not interested in the fact that Palestinians are living a repressed life, and are liable to be shot at any time.”

The Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and Community Security Trust wrote to the Party, asking for “clarification” over the remarks. A Board spokesman said: “It risks encouraging anti-Semitism in Britain.”

Labour’s Chief Whip Rose Winterton wrote back this week, but communal leaders said her response fell well short of the desired reaction. 

“It was disappointing,” said JLC chief executive Simon Johnson. “There is no call for an apology, nor any indication that if similar comments are made in the future there would be consequences or disciplinary sanctions.”

A CST spokesman was even more scathing, saying: “The response is formulaic and inadequate. It lacks meaningful disciplinary action and the ‘Jewish money’ remarks are not even plainly called out as anti-Semitic.” 

He added: “It will do little to calm our community’s growing concerns about how seriously such matters are taken.”