The elder statesman of London’s strictly Orthodox community has said he was “physically sick” after a recent Labour meeting in Hackney, in which a party activist linked Zionism and Nazism.
Rabbi Avroham Pinter, a former Labour councillor, admitted to losing his temper, after the meeting began debating a motion to distinguish between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism.
Describing how the proposer conflated Zionism and Nazism, Pinter said: “I found this hugely upsetting. I acted out of character and started shouting. The chair then went on to apologise to the member who made this outrageous analogy for the interruption.”
Speaking to the Hackney Citizen, he added: “I was so upset and very traumatised. I was physically sick when I came home. I didn’t feel like I was getting much support from other members – although I did [later] get a few supportive calls from members of the party.”
The 12 May motion affirmed that “the rejection of the ideology of Zionism cannot be conflated with or regarded as being anti-Semitism” and that “non-racist protests against actions of the Jewish State of Israel cannot accurately be described as manifestations of anti-Semitism”.
Cllr Michael Desmond, who was at the meeting, said there was an “unfortunate implication that Zionism had a connection to Nazism” which led to “uproar” before the member seconding the motion withdrew their support.
The chairwoman of Hackney North Labour party said no official complaints had been made but an investigation into the incident was underway, adding: “If it turns up anything we will deal with it as a constituency Labour party.”