Diane Abbott ‘minimising’ concerns about antisemitism within Labour party, claims Hackney rabbi

Diane Abbott MP

“Misunderstanding about my views’: Diane Abbott MP

MP Diane Abbott has been accused of “minimising” concerns over antisemitism in the Labour party by a Hackney rabbi and former Labour councillor.

The shadow secretary of state for international development this month dismissed concerns over antisemitism in the Labour party as “smears”.

However there was uproar at a local Labour party meeting earlier this month when a party activist implied there was a connection between Zionism and Nazism.

Commenting on the incident, former Hackney Labour councillor Rabbi Abraham Pinter said: “A story like this shows that not only is it a serious problem in the party, but that it is a problem right on [Diane Abbott’s] doorstep.

“My main issue is the response of others at the meeting how they were prepared to accept and tolerate that level of racism.

“Just because people are using antisemitism as a stick with which to beat the Labour party doesn’t mean it is not happening.”

“Diane Abbott is minimising the issue within her party in suggesting the problem exists only on the fringes.

“She will condemn fascism in Europe and in general, but she won’t say the Labour party has a problem and Labour has to deal with it.

“She should be taking the lead on the issue. People will listen to her.

“There is a perception that [the Labour party’s leader] Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t taken it seriously enough – he would listen if people like her would say something.

“I need her to say ‘I accept there is an issue with antisemitism in the Labour party’ and not tell me about fascism in Europe or anywhere else in the world.”

Responding to Rabbi Pinter’s accusation, Diane Abbott said: “I think that there is some misunderstanding about my views on antisemitism due to misleading press reports.

“I would never minimise the problem of antisemitism.

“Worldwide we are seeing a rising tide of antisemitism and growing fascist parties.

“In Hackney we have seen Jewish schools having to obtain police protection because of the threats of antisemitic violence.

“However in Jeremy Corbyn the Labour party has a leader with one of the strongest records of fighting racism and antisemitism of anyone I know.”

The party has been engulfed by allegations of antisemitism in recent weeks.

The MP for Bradford West, Naz Shah, and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone have both been suspended from the party for making controversial remarks.

Jeremy Corbyn has launched an independent inquiry into antisemitism within his party, led by Shami Chakrabarti, the former director of the human rights campaign group Liberty.