Board accuses Diane Abbott of ‘minimising’ antisemitism in Radio 4 interview
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Board accuses Diane Abbott of ‘minimising’ antisemitism in Radio 4 interview

MP insists that 'it’s not every element of the community that believes Jeremy is an antisemite' as she defends her party's record on tackling Jew-hate

Diane Abbott
Diane Abbott

The Board of Deputies has accused shadow home secretary Diane Abbott of “minimising” antisemitism during an interview with Radio 4.

Speaking to Justin Webb, Abbott was challenged on the row over antisemitism which has engulfed the party.

“Does it reflect an arrogance of the Labour Party that in the way that he [Jacob Rees Mogg] didn’t listen to the [Grenfell] victims, you don’t listen to the victims of antisemitism?” Webb asked.

“You continue to insist, John McDonnell did it at the weekend, that the Labour Party has done “everything we can”; except every spokesperson for the Jewish community says you haven’t done enough”, he added.

“You’ve not had an independent inquiry, you don’t listen to them, you don’t care what they think, because there’s not enough of them to matter”.

Abbott replied: “I couldn’t possibly say that. One of the biggest voting blocs in Hackney is in Stamford Hill which is historically a very vibrant and large Jewish community. I’ve spoken to them about this.”

When asked whether she accepts the party hasn’t done enough, she said: “I think we are still doing everything we can. It’s not every element of the Jewish community that believes Jeremy is an antisemite.”

Webb chipped in to say that “every major Jewish newspaper says it”, to which Abbott responded “well the Chasidic community of Stamford Hill doesn’t say that. I talk to them all the time”.

When challenged again about not listening to the concerns of the community, she says “I listen to my constituents.”

The remark sparked criticism in the community, with Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl accusing the MP of “minimising” the extent of antisemitism.

“Diane Abbot’s minimising of the antisemitism crisis in her party – while attempting to divide and rule the Jewish community – demonstrate the Labour leadership has no intention of owning the problem of anti-Jewish racism or taking the necessary steps to eradicate it,” she said in a statement.

 

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