Calls by speakers at a Labour Conference fringe event to allow Holocaust denial and expel the Jewish Labour Movement from the Labour Party were reportedly met with rowdy applause and cheering earlier today.
The packed event run by “Free Speech on Israel” heard from American-Israeli activist Miko Peled that people should be free to ask “Holocaust, yes or no” because “there should be no limits on the discussion”, for which he was cheered.
Michael Kalmanovitz, a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, reportedly asserted that claims of increasing antisemitism were intended to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the left, before demanding that the Jewish Labour Movement be expelled from the Labour Party. He reportedly said: “The thing is, if you support Israel, you support apartheid. So what is the JLM [Jewish Labour Movement] and Labour Friends of Israel doing in our party — kick them out”, to raucous cheering and calls of “throw them out”.
Ironically for an organisation called “Free Speech on Israel”, the organisers reportedly ordered attendees not to tweet or take photographs for fear of “hostile coverage” whilst leaflets were passed around claiming that concerns about rising antisemitism were a “manufactured moral panic”.
The event was also reportedly addressed by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, who had earlier been given a standing ovation by the Labour Party Conference plenary for stating that “There is no problem with Jews in the Labour Party”, and notorious antisemite Tony Greenstein, who was among a number of attendees able to attend and participate despite being currently or previously suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of antisemitism.
Labour MP Wes Streeting said: “This is not a question to which there is any other answer than ‘the Holocaust is one of the greatest crimes in human history and this should never happen again’. There are plenty of far-right websites where you can peddle hatred. The fringe of the Labour Party isn’t the place to have that discussion.” However it seems that large numbers of Labour Party activists disagreed and thronged the event, pouring out of the door to the room and into the corridor outside. The high attendance will doubtless have been helped by the fact that the event was advertised in official Labour Party Conference literature.
In another room, Labour MP John Cryer told delegates that some of what is written “makes your hair stand up”, saying “This stuff is redolent of the 1930s.”
It is repugnant to see a thronged officially-advertised fringe event at the Labour Party Conference at which Labour supporters cheered in favour of freedom for Holocaust deniers, and chanted their approval for censoring and expelling Jews and ‘Zionists’. It is a reminder of how low the Labour Party has plunged.