Activist who daubed ‘Free Palestine’ at Warsaw Ghetto quits Momentum panel event

Activist who daubed ‘Free Palestine’ at Warsaw Ghetto quits Momentum panel event

Jeremy Corbyn support group criticised after inviting anti-Israel activist Ewa Jasiewicz to speak at its conference in Liverpool

Remnant of the Ghetto wall
Remnant of the Ghetto wall

A woman who daubed a Warsaw ghetto wall with the words “Free Gaza and Palestine” has withdrawn from a panel event run by Momentum at a conference in Liverpool this month, Jewish News understands.

Ewa Jasiewicz, 40, who says she is the daughter of a soldier in the Polish army when war broke out, has described the 2010 daubing as “a small act of unarmed resistance”, which she carried out together with a former IDF captain and reservist, Yonatan Shapira.

The action has been denounced by Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, who says “defacing the wall of the Warsaw ghetto where hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women and children were imprisoned, starved & eventually sent to their deaths” was “sickening and shameful”.

The daubing included the words “Liberate all ghettos” and was said by Ms Jasiewicz and Mr Shapira to be a protest against “Israel had “co-opted” the Holocaust to serve “agendas of colonisation and repression”.

Ms Jasiewicz, who is based in the UK, has also been attacked for a 2002 comment on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website in which she apparently called for action against members of Israel’s Knesset,

She now says she wrote a “flippant” remark when she was 24 and that she does not advocate violence against anyone.

She was due to speak at Momentum’s politics and arts festival, The World Transformed, which will take place in parallel with Labour’s conference in Liverpool. Other speakers will include Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor.

Founder of Momentum Jon Lansman told Jewish News: “I do not condone what she did but it was several years ago and, as with any actions that cause offence, it should be judged soberly and she should have the opportunity to defend herself. This lynch mob mentality does nothing to assist a proper debate about antisemitism in the Labour Party or elsewhere. If someone makes a complaint to the Labour Party it will be judged fairly.”

He said on Twitter that “the trial by media of Ewa Jasiewicz for her graffiti is no way to judge anyone. “Libertate [sic] all Ghettos” and “Free Gaza and Palestine” are not antisemitic statements. The whole context, more info than Gilligan provided & her own defence must be considered as we do at Labour’s NEC”.

The CST called the daubing “exactly the kind of obsessive anti-Israel hatred and abuse of the Holocaust that is central to Labour’s problem of anti-semitism. If Momentum have any decency or integrity, they will withdraw their invitation.”

Decisions about programming are made independent of national Momentum.

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