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Tue, 2 June 2020

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Jewish Momentum official quits role over 'deep-seated' anti-Semitism

Jewish Momentum official quits role over 'deep-seated' anti-Semitism

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

A Jewish Momentum official has quit his role after claiming he had "witnessed more anti-Semitism in the past week" than in his previous eight years as a Labour member.

Joshua Garfield stood down as Youth Officer on the Newham Momentum Steering Group, saying the behaviour of some of his colleagues made him feel "unsafe, and most certainly untrusted as a Jewish member".

Momentum insisted it was “committed to stamping out anti-Semitism across the Labour movement”.

It comes as Jeremy Corbyn prepares to meet leaders of mainstream Jewish groups after the anti-Semitism row in the party exploded again over the past two weeks.

The Labour leader has admitted that “pockets” of anti-Jewish racism exist in the party and has tasked new Labour general secretary Jennie Formby with making sure it is stamped out.

Mr Garfield, who is also a Labour council candidate, said he could confirm from “first hand experience” that accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party “both individual and institutionalised” were “not without foundation”.

“As a Jewish member, I have witnessed more anti-Semitism in the past week than I ever have in my eight years  of Labour party membership,” he explained in a statement.

“I have seen discussions on social media, both publicly and privately, between members of Newham Momentum and its Steering Group, which leave me unable to serve on that body in good conscience.

"In the past week, I have felt sometimes unsafe, and most certainly untrusted as a Jewish member of the Steering Group, hence I’ve decided to step down.

“While I believe political education and anti-Semitism training may help members of the group, in all honesty I don’t believe it would be sufficient to combat some of the deep-seated prejudices I saw be aired confidently, and went unchallenged.

“I cannot work alongside individuals who seek to silence the legitimate concerns of Jewish Labour members, or who remain silent in the face of blatant racism.”

He added: “Denying that anti-Semitism exists within the Labour party, or in its affiliated organisations, factions, and supporters is misguided, ignorant and offensive.

While some may seek to weaponise the issue, something cannot be weaponised if it does not exist.

“Our Jewish comrades need solidarity, not faction-based infighting.”

Mr Garfield said he would continue to work with Momentum nationally but would have no involvement in the Newham branch.

A spokesperson for Momentum said: "As made clear in our recent statement, Momentum is committed to stamping out anti-Semitism across the Labour movement. Any complaints we receive will be investigated fully in line with our code of ethics, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken."

In a statement earlier this week, the National Coordinating Group of Momentum said anti-Semitism was “more widespread” in the Labour party than it first thought and pledged to help boost political education.

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