A local Labour party has rescheduled a meeting to which a Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) activist was invited, after being accused of trying to ‘insult’ the community.
Two rabbis wrote to Enfield Southgate constituency Labour (CLP) party after it asked a pro-Jeremy Corbyn group to give a political education session this week.
Southgate Progressive Synagogue’s Rabbi Yuval Keren, and Rabbi Daniel Epstein of Cockfosters & N. Southgate United Synagogue, issued their “deep concern and anger” about the offer extended to JVL activist Roland Rance, described by the party as a “socialist, anti-racist and pro-Palestine activist for the last forty years”.
Writing to the branch chair and secretary, they say “JVL are not in any way a representative body of the Jewish community or its opinions. They are out of touch with the vast majority of the Jewish community and they lack real understanding of the feelings and concerns of the community. We cannot emphasise the level of pain this causes to the vast majority of the Jewish community.”
Jewish Voice for Labour is a fringe network of Jewish left-wing activists formed in 2017, in part, to oppose the introduction of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, to the party.
Southgate Enfield CLP responded to the two rabbis’ letter by saying: “Due to the interest the session has generated, we have decided to reschedule the topic to our January meeting”, while insisting that it “resolutely opposes antisemitism”.
Calvin Tucker, the CLP Vice Chair wrote they “are aware that there are many different viewpoints and affiliations within the local Jewish community”, and the CLP does “not believe that any one group speaks on behalf of all Jews”.
He added, they are “writing to the JLM (Jewish Labour Movement) to invite them to our January meeting, or if they prefer, to a later meeting where they would provide the only speaker on the platform.”
Speaking to Jewish News, Deputy Leader of Enfield Council, Daniel Anderson, said the CLP “has got Momentum and hard left activists in control” and that “it’s going to be very difficult to stop it because we don’t have control of the executive committee. The chance of us being able to stop this event from taking place is next to non-existent.”
He calls JVL is “an irrelevance and it’s an insult to the extreme to have a group like that being invited to a local party to talk about antisemitism in the Labour Party. They have no credibility. We shouldn’t give them a platform”. The CLP disputed that the meeting was to discuss antisemitism in the party.
After the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), which is the official affiliate group for the community within the party, ran successful antisemitism training in Edmonton, Anderson said the Southgate CLP “rejected” JLM’s offer, and “have gone on this attempt to insult the community by inviting JVL.”
Andrew Gilbert the former chair of Enfield Southgate Labour Party and the official delegate of the JLM to it, said they “have refused to have JLM to their meetings to do training and did not even have the courtesy to tell me or JLM that they were inviting JVL. They say this is education but just from one side and so distorted.”
He added, that it “feels like attack on me, Jewish members of the Labour party who dare to be anything other than virulently anti-Zionist, and thus puts the party locally very distant from the local community”
A spokesperson for the Community Security Trust said: “Local constituency Labour groups in areas with sizeable Jewish communities, such as Southgate, know full well that the concerns expressed about antisemitism are deeply and genuinely held by their own Jewish members and local Jewish constituents. Sadly, if that Labour group then very deliberately shows favour to those who deny antisemitism whilst fostering contempt against mainstream Jewry, then it tells us all we need to know about the Labour group’s own hostility towards their Jewish members, neighbours and constituents.”