A senior Charedi leader and member of the Labour Party has said it was “outrageous” for MP Diane Abbott’s representatives to complain to the Beth Din about him.
Rabbi Avroham Pinter, the principal of Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School and external affairs spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, told Jewish News he felt “bullied and intimidated” as a result of the incident.
It stems from his criticism last month of Abbott’s reported silence during a recent Hackney North and Stoke Newington Constituency Labour Party meeting in which members passed a motion denying that the Party was “institutionally antisemitic”.
Pinter said he was “shocked” at Abbott’s failure to intervene and told Jewish News this week he stood by those comments, but revealed that Abbott’s representatives had taken her concerns to senior Orthodox leaders in person.
This led to a letter to Abbott from the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations last week, in which the umbrella body said the shadow home secretary “wholeheartedly opposes antisemitism” contrary to “certain media reports”.
Pinter said: “I’m beyond surprised that she should send someone to the rabbinic authorities to complain about me. It’s outrageous and totally unacceptable. I offered several times to talk to her but she didn’t want to engage.”
Pinter, who has been a Labour member for more than 40 years and who once served a Labour councillor, said Abbott’s complaint against him was “serious stuff… it’s like someone going to your employer to make a complaint about you”.
He said he was “not yet” considering resigning his Party membership but acknowledged that he was among an ever-dwindling number of long-time Charedi members of the Labour Party who had not yet left.
“I was well within my rights, as a member of Hackney North Labour, to say I was shocked that she didn’t intervene and remain of that view. I feel unwelcome in Labour these days. After this incident, I feel bullied and intimidated.”
On Charedi supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, such as activist Shraga Stern, he said “a number of opportunists” had joined Labour in recent years and were “manipulating” Abbott, adding: “She is an experienced politician. She shouldn’t allow herself to be manipulated in this way.”
Both the UOHC and Abbott’s office has been approached for comment.