Labour Leader Keir Starmer has spoken of his pride at making “huge strides” in the battle against antisemitism in Labour at a meeting with Jewish community representatives.
Sir Keir discussed a range of issues of concern to the Jewish community with the delegation led by the Board of Deputies of British Jews along with the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and the Community Security Trust (CST).
As well as the ongoing measures to ensure that antisemitism is effectively combatted within the Labour Party, topics included the safety and security of the Jewish community, and how elected officials can raise issues in relation to Israeli-Palestinian relations without inflaming tensions in this country. There was also discussion on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.
Anneliese Dodds, Party Chair and Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, attended the meeting alongside Sir Keir, as did Sarah Owen, the Shadow Minister for Local Government and Faith. In the Jewish community delegation were Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl and Chief Executive Michael Wegier. Attending for the JLC were Chair Keith Black and Co-Chief Executive Claudia Mendoza, and for the CST, Chief Executive Mark Gardner and Head of Policy Dave Rich.
Following the meeting, Keir Starmer said: “When I became leader, my first promise was to rip out antisemitism from our Party by its roots. I’m proud to say we’ve made huge strides in doing so, no better measure of which is earning back the trust of Jewish Communities. Winning back Barnet council in May this year was a special milestone for me as it signified that Jewish people could feel able to put their faith back in our Party.
“As I always am, I was pleased to meet with the Board of Deputies of British Jews today, as a key voice of the UK Jewish community and doing vital work raising awareness of important issues facing British Jews. Our relationship and continued open dialogue is important to me, for our Party and our path to forming the next government. I want to do that working alongside Jewish communities and look forward to working with organisations like the Board of Deputies of British Jews to achieve it.”
Marie van der Zyl said: “I was pleased to lead a communal delegation to meet the Leader of the Opposition and discuss key topics of interest to British Jews. These included the security of our community, the ongoing fight against antisemitism (both internal to the Party as well as the country as a whole), the strong connection we have to Israel, and our concern to ensure fair treatment of refugees. We also discussed how the rising cost of living has affected the Jewish community, and potential ways in which parties can work together across the divide to help alleviate some of that pressure. I thank Keir Starmer and my colleagues at the JLC and CST for a successful meeting, and look forward to continuing these conversations in the coming period.”
Keith Black said: “We are grateful to Sir Keir for making the time to meet. The change in the Labour Party is evident and strong progress has been made over recent years. We have always said that we could only judge the Labour Party on its actions in tackling antisemitism, and to date we have seen strong action to match the strong words.
“We hope that this is the beginning of a regular series of engagements with the Labour leadership and look forward to continuing our conversation for the benefit of our members and wider community.”
Mark Gardner said: “This meeting was a welcome opportunity to share with the Leader of the Opposition our concerns about anti-Jewish incitement, the growing far right terrorist threat and the importance of prosecuting antisemitic hate crimes. We particularly appreciated Sir Kier’s understanding of the vital importance of the government grant for security guarding at Jewish schools and other communal buildings.”
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