Community leaders in Stamford Hill have challenged their local MP, Diane Abbott, over her claim that “not every element of the Jewish community says Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite” and that, in contrast to other communal bodies and newspapers, the “Jewish community in Stamford Hill doesn’t say that.”
When pressed on Labour’s response to its antisemitism crisis, Ms Abbott insisted that “we are still doing everything we can,” echoing comments over the weekend by the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell.
Community leaders rejected Ms Abbott’s characterisation that “one of the biggest voting blocks in Hackney is in Stamford Hill which historically is a large and vibrant Jewish community and I’ve spoken to them about this” and that “I talk to them all the time. I listen to the people and I listen to my constituents.”
Rabbi Abraham Pinter, a former Labour councillor in the area and a prominent figure in the community, described Ms Abbott as “being totally out of touch with the reality” of how Jews in her constituency feel about antisemitism.
Rabbi Pinter went on to say: “I don’t know who she is talking about. Because there is no question that the majority of the people I talk to in the community are talking about antisemitism in the party, it is a concern in the community. We have others, but to suggest that we are not concerned about what has happened in the Labour Party or think they have done enough is false.”
He accused the Shadow Home Secretary of deploying “imperialistic tactics of divide and rule” and using the ultra-orthodox Charedi community “for political gain”. He added that “my personal experiences of antisemitism in the Labour party are well documented. She knows about them and yet she has the arrogance to ignore the issue.” He also resented her suggestion that the community votes as a “block”, which he described as “arrogance”.
Rabbi Pinter and others even contested Ms Abbott’s assertion that she speaks to the community, with one leader maintaining that “the idea that she engages with us or reaches out to talk is utter lies. We have never heard from her. She doesn’t engage with us and she doesn’t understand our concerns.”
On 28th May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Over 57,000 people have now signed our petition denouncing Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite and declaring him “unfit to hold any public office.”