Labour has appointed an activist who has defended Chris Williamson and opposed the international definition of antisemitism as a liaison to the Jewish community.
Heather Mendick, who said antisemitism claims had been “weaponised”, will take on the role of rebuilding relations on a the one-day-a-week basis.
This comes after a series of hammer-blows to trust between Jeremy Corbyn’s party and the community, in wake of an explosive Panorama film featuring ex-Labour staffers, who exposed alleged interference in antisemitism cases form the leadership.
Mendick, a member of momentum, who participated in the ‘Democracy Roadshow’ run by suspended MP Chris Williamson, has been criticised for opposing the International definition of antisemitism, while claiming Jew-hate had been “weaponised” to attack the left in an article for the Morning Star.
She also expressed “solidarity” with Jewish Voice for Labour’s Jenny Manson, and was one of over 200 Jewish party members to co-sign a letter in the Guardian supporting Jeremy Corbyn, after Luciana Berger’s resignation from the party over alleged “institutional antisemitism”.
When asked if Ms Mendick, a research consultant & Secretary of Hackney South Labour Party, was the right person for the role, A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on staffing matters.”
A Labour source added: “Heather is a Jewish researcher who is absolutely committed to rebuilding trust with the Jewish community.”
A spokesperson for the Jewish Labour Movement however hit out at the decision, saying “The Labour leadership really does excel at making a terrible situation even worse.”
They added: “If they think the scale of the job of rebuilding trust with the Jewish community requires just one day a week, it shows how little they understand the scale of this crisis.
“Given her past activity – from supporting Chris Williamson to campaigning against the IHRA – Ms Mendick seems ill-equipped – to put it mildly – to rebuild trust with the Community. The leadership prefers being told what they want to hear, not what they need to.
“Time is long overdue for concrete action, as set out more than a year ago by our community organisations, not pointless, ineffective gestures. That’s why JLM referred the Party to the EHRC.”
Jewish Leadership Council Chair Jonathan Goldstein called the appointment “beyond parody” and “pitiful.”
“When we met with Jeremy Corbyn last year we made it perfectly clear what was needed to rebuild trust. He has proven that he is incapable of doing those things. This is a sinister move and we will not be engaging with Ms Mendick.”
In late May, it was announced that Labour is under investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission over alleged mishandling of the Jew-hate row.
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