EXCL Labour Friends of Israel stall subject to anti-Semitic 'harassment' at party conference

Posted On: 
26th September 2016

A stall set up by Labour Friends of Israel was the subject of three incidents of anti-Semitic abuse on the first day of the party's annual conference, it has emerged.

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Joan Ryan, who chairs the group, said those working on the stall had been the victims of "harrassment".

Speaking at a Jewish Labour Movement rally last night, she said: "We've had a fantastic day, loads of party members signing up to our supporters list, but we have also had three incidents of anti-Semitic harassment on our stand to the people who are staffing that stall today and that, I think, tells you something about why we need to be having this against anti-Semitism rally." 

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A series of senior MPs and other party figures spoke at last night's event, which was being protected by the police.

Ruth Smeeth, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent, spoke of her experience of anti-Semitism since she hit out at Jeremy Corbyn for failing to act when she was attacked at a party event.

Among the people Ms Smeeth thanked at the end of her address was her minder for the evening, who was accompanying her due to security concerns.

She said: "I didn't want to be 'the Jewish MP'; I wanted to be a Labour MP who happened to be Jewish. These people have made me 'the Jewish MP' and they will regret that every bloody day."

She also urged Jewish members to stick in the Labour party. 

"If I, after the last three months, am staying on the Labour party then so are you."


Labour MP Chris Bryant took aim at those who tried to play down the seriousness of anti-Semitism in Labour.

He said: "Oh, it was just one person', or 'it's just some mad person', or whatever. There are no excuses for anti-Semitism at all and frankly the moment you engage in that excuse you are on a slippery slope to anti-Semitism yourself and you should be ashamed. 

"So if you are a member of the Labour party and you wake up in the morning and you want to try and defend other people and say 'oh, it's just this', or 'it's just that', or 'it's just one person', get out of my party. Get out of my party and get out of my party now."

Clive Lewis, the Shadow Defence Secretary and a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said it had been a "quite appalling year" for Jewish supporters of the Labour party. 

Last night's event came shortly after Momentum activist Jackie Walker had claimed that Labour's anti-Semitism row was being "exaggerated for political purposes" to undermine Mr Corbyn.