A former Labour candidate who wrote about Israel looking for a “Jewish final solution to the Palestine problem”, was pictured alongside Jeremy Corbyn at a campaign event this week.
Activist Brett Hawksbee, who has since apologised, was seated in the front row of a meeting in his constituency of Harlow, alongside the party leader and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer.
Hawksbee provoked fierce criticism in September 2018, over an article that claimed: “The fear of many on the left is that the ideological successors of the bombers of the King David Hotel, the mass murderers who decimated Deir Yassin, would be quite happy to see a pogrom in Gaza and the West Bank, a Jewish final solution to the Palestine problem”.
After his remarks on his blog, the chair of the local Tory group on the council told Your Harlow he was “shocked”, adding that Hawksbee’s comments “draw a deeply worrying parallel with the ‘final solution to the Jewish question’ pursued by the Nazi Party.”
Labour has since confirmed an investigation into his actions had already concluded, and he was allowed to remain in the party.
Speaking to Jewish News, Hawksbee, who was the local candidate for Lower Nazeing in the Epping Forest District Elections of 2018, said: “The language I used in the blog a few years ago was unacceptable and I would not use it today.
“I would like to reiterate the full apology I have made previously. Supporting the Palestinian cause does not require anyone to compare what the Israeli army does with the actions of the Nazis or those who perpetrated pogroms against Jews.
“Making those comparisons was deeply insensitive to the Jewish community. It is really important that we reassure the Jewish community that we stand with them against rising antisemitism and stand with them against antisemitism in our Party.
“I’m sorry for the embarrassment I have caused to the Party but most of all I am sincerely sorry for the hurt I have caused to the local and wider Jewish community.”
Hawksbee has also been a vocal supporter of MP Chris Williamson, who resigned from the party this week after having been banned from running in the forthcoming General Election.
He has repeatedly shared links in support of Williamson’s reinstatement to Labour, as well as his fundraising campaign when he was mounting a legal challenge against the party over his suspension. In June 2018, the Derby North politician thanked Hawksbee on Twitter for ‘organising’ an event he had spoken at.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms. All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken. We can’t comment on individual cases.”