Labour Party Conference 2016: 'Anti-Semitic, Racist' Leaflets Distributed Outside Momentum Event

It comes after a series of reports of abuse against Jews at the four-day event.

26/09/2016 10:15 | Updated 26 September 2016

Leaflets distributed outside a meeting on religious hatred by the left-wing pressure group Momentum are “anti-Semitic and undeniably racist”, a Labour MP has said. 

Wes Streeting, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group of British Jews, has criticised the literature which called for the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) to be disbanded. 

The leaflets claimed that the JLM acted as “a representative of a foreign power, Israel” and called for it to be disaffiliated from the Labour party. They were issued by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and handed out to attendees at an alternative Labour conference by Momentum, running in tandem to the main event.

The leaflets also asked “why is there so much emphasis on anti-Semitism, rather than other much more prevalent forms of racism?” and suggested the issue was being “exploited for factional goals”.

But they were condemned on Monday by Streeting, who reacted with shock to seeing such “troupe” being distributed at a conference in Labour’s honour. 

“To see this week at our conference, literature being distributed outside our own conference venue and outside an event that asks questions such as ‘Why is there such an emphasis on anti-Semitsm’; or a leaflet that also says, about the JLM, that taken as a whole it acts as a representative of a foreign power - that last comment isn’t ambiguous, this is classic anti-Semitic troupe.” 

He also branded the leaflet “undeniably racist” and said any Labour members found distributing it or espousing similar views should be barred for life from the party. 

A Momentum spokesperon responded, telling The Huffington Post UK: “They aren’t our leaflets and we don’t endorse their content.”

There were also reports of Jewish Labour members being harassed at the main conference. Aaron Simons, who was staffing the Labour Friends Of Israel stall, revealed he was challenged by a delegate who blamed a plot to oust Jeremy Crobyn from the leadership on Jewish MPs.

Simons, a former history and politics student at Oxford University, recounted how the harasser blamed a millionaire donor, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and ex-shadow business secretary Angela Eagle’s husband for Corbyn’s attempted removal.

PoliticsHome revealed staff on the LFI stall were abused twice more that day. “I think [that] tells you something about why we need to be having this against anti-Semitism rally,” the group’s chair, Joan Ryan said at an event on Sunday.

Labour’s Luciana Berger also spoke out on the weekend to deride Ken Livingstone and counter claims the party’s anti-Semitism problem had been exaggerated, after an inquest discovered it had an “occasionally toxic atmosphere”.

“Those of us at the sharp end of abuse and attacks will be the judge of whether anti-Semitism has been exaggerated or not.

“That’s why there is no place for Ken Livingstone in the Labour Party, not only for his own views which he has continued to espouse unapologetically, but because of the views of some of the people with whom he has associated over the last 30 years.”

Gareth Fuller/PA Archive
Luciana Berger said there was 'no place' for Livingstone in Labour

It came after Momentum’s vice-chair Jackie Walker said stories of abuse against Jewish Labour members had been “whipped up” and “weapoinsed”. 

Walker, who was suspended, then re-instated as a Labour member earlier this year, was applauded for saying: “The most fundamental aim of such allegations is to undermine Jeremy, silence his supporters… It is the silencing of any criticism or potential criticism of the Israeli state, attacking and undermining anyone who supports Palestinian rights.”

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