A Tory MP who called for the “shadow of antisemitism” to be lifted from politics in his city has been pictured on a site visit with a local councillor who was revealed to have shared “abhorrent” Facebook posts about “Zionists” and “true Jews.”
A spokesperson for Paul Bristow, the MP for Peterborough, confirmed to Jewish News on Thursday that he had joined Ishfaq Hussain for what he claimed was a “council organised visit” last month.
In April, it was reported that Peterborough Conservatives had suspended him after it was revealed he had posted on Facebook claims including Jewish people living in Israel are not “true Jews” and that Israel is part of a “Zionist trilogy” alongside America and Saudi Arabia which “breed terrorists”.
Hussain had also previously turned his profile picture into an image with the caption: “This person does not recognise the State of Israel,” while claiming that “Zionism is one of the worst afflictions on the world” and that “the Zionists with the help of the UK and America have already occupied 85 per cent of Palestine”
After the posts were revealed in April, the Jewish Leadership Council issued a statement in which they branded Hussain’s actions “abhorrent and antisemitic.”
But in a post on June 17 Hussain thanked his local MP Bristow for joining him at the visit in the local Dogsthorpe ward.
Above a photograph of himself, the MP, and another official, Hussain said that on the “site visit” he had pledged to local residents he would resolve an issue involving a dangerous road crossing.
Hussain wrote: “I would like to thank our MP Paul Bristow… for joining for on the site visit and supporting residents.”
Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge told Jewish News she believed the MP’s actions highlighted “sickening hypocrisy” within the Tory Party over antisemitism.
Bristow’s decision to go on the visit with Hussain is surprising considering his public condemnation of antisemitism in the local party in April.
The parliamentarian spoke out after Jewish News revealed shocking allegations of anti-Jewish racism from members of both Labour and Conservatives in the region.
Bristow said: “As Peterborough’s MP, I take the suspensions of councillors and candidates very seriously.
“The Jewish Leadership Council is right to say that ‘there is a specific and identifiable problem’ of antisemitism in our city’s politics.
“I have invited JLC representatives to come to Peterborough to meet me and address this problem directly.
“I hope that faith groups (including representatives from the Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community), councillors and the local political parties will participate in the meeting.
“We must lift this shadow over politics in our city.”
Jewish News understands that the meeting Bristow pledged to hold with communal groups to discuss the antisemitism problem locally has yet to take place.
The day after Bristow made the statement, Home Secretary Priti Patel visited the city for a tour of Peterborough with the MP.
The local newspaper the Peterborough Telegraph ran a front page story that same day highlighting Bristow’s call to tackle what it said was the “stain” of antisemitism in the city.
At the local elections in May, Hussein won the Dogsthorpe seat despite claims he was suspended by the local Tory group.
On the official Peterborough Council website Hussain is listed as a Tory councillor for Dogsthorpe.
In the past Hussain has also called for Jerusalem to be made capital of Palestine to “stop more bloodshed, genocide by the Zionists..”
When told about the Peterborough MP’s action Labour’s Dame Margaret Hodge told Jewish News: “The Conservative Party are constantly trumpeting their commitment to fighting antisemitism but they seem to tolerate it in their ranks.
“Such hypocrisy is sickening. They should take immediate action to suspend and expel individuals who have been shown to be antisemitic.
“They can only be judged on their actions – not on their rhetoric.”
The city of Peterborough has been rocked by antisemitic incidents in both Labour and Tory Groups.
Labour took the drastic step of suspending 14 local members, including seven councillors, just weeks before the local elections in May.
When approached by his local newspaper about his Facebook posts Hussain said in April:”I deeply regret that my frustration at events in Israel and Palestine led me to suggest otherwise.
“At times in the past I reacted irresponsibly on social media. My comments at those moments do not reflect my settled view.”
A spokesperson for Bristow said the MP had been on a “council organised site visit” with Hussain.
He said a Peterborough City Council officer was present throughout and that the visit related to the installation of gates in an area that has been raised as a safety issue by the MP’s constituents.
Jewish News contacted the Conservative Party press office for comment.
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