Labour’s candidate for Chipping Barnet faced questions about antisemitism and her party’s pledge to suspend some British arms sales to Israel at a hustings at JCoSS on Monday.
Emma Whysall, who is campaigning to unseat Conservative hopeful Theresa Villiers in the marginal, was joined on Monday by candidates Isabelle Parasram (Liberal Democrat) and Theresa Villiers (Conservatives) at the Barnet school.
Whysall apologised for what she saw as Labour’s failure to tackle antisemitism in its membership and vowed to be an ally to the community. “I understand that there are many in this room who find it very difficult a Labour government and who are scared of imagining a Labour government,” she told the audience.
“I am so sorry. I am sorry that my party has failed to tackle antisemitism in our membership. I am sorry that many lifelong voters, some in this room, fear the prospect of a Labour government and feel politically homeless, and I am sorry that as I look out tonight, I see friends and former campaigners that I’ve been campaigning alongside in this very constituency who have have to leave my party because of what has happened,” she added.
In a video published online by pro-Israel activist Jonathan Hoffman, who sat in the front row, Whysall praised measures introduced to tackle antisemitism. “I’ve been fighting inside my party for years now under the Corbyn administration of our party and I will continue to do so, and we are winning,” she said, prompting interjections from audience members.
Later on, Whysall said the Labour manifesto commits to a “strong, stable and secure Israel and a viable Palestine,” a claim met with objections from Hoffman, who cited the party’s pledge to suspend British arms sales to Israel being “used in violation of the human rights of Palestinian civilians.”
The manifesto vows to “conduct a root-and-branch reform of our arms exports regime”, recognise the state of Palestine and reaffirms Labour’s commitment to a two-state solution.
The event was supported by the London Jewish Forum, Jewish Leadership Council, Board of Deputies and Jewish News. It was hosted by Sha’arei Tsedek North London Reform Synagogue, Barnet United Shul and JCoSS.