Jewish Greens appoint expelled Labour councillor Jo Bird as a senior official

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Jewish Greens appoint expelled Labour councillor Jo Bird as a senior official

EXCLUSIVE: Green Party deputy leader Zack Polanski defends Bird's new role adding: 'I'm really proud of the work of Jewish Greens in the Green Party, working together to tackle antisemitism in society'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Jo Bird
Jo Bird

The main representative body for Jewish members of the Green Party has given a senior role to a councillor expelled from Labour over her support for a group that denied and downplayed claims of antisemitism.

Jo Bird, a councillor in Wirral, has been confirmed as the co-secretary of the Jewish Greens organisation, despite her history of controversial statements in relation to the community, including a claim she believed there is a “privileging of racism against Jews as more worthy of resources than other forms of racism.”

The Jewish Greens official website confirms Bird’s role as one of the group’s officers. It also states that the role of the organisation is to “offer advice and guidance on issues of importance to Jewish members of the Green Party and the Jewish community as a whole.”

It adds Jewish Greens are the “first port of call within the party for educational purposes and Jews and Judaism” and also promotes the group’s involvement in antisemitism training sessions for Green Party members.

Jewish Greens website confirms Bird’s role

Bird was expelled from Labour in November 2021 over her support for the proscribed Labour Against The Witchhunt organisation.

She had previously provoked anger with her flippant remarks about Labour’s antisemitism crisis at meetings, repeatedly joking that “due process” should be known as “Jew process”.

Bird also defended the activist Mark Wadsworth, after he was expelled for his high-profile outburst at Ruth Smeeth, now the Labour peer Baroness Anderson, at the launch of a report into antisemitism in Labour.

At another Labour meeting she read out a rewritten version of the famous post-Holocaust poem “First The Came For..” by the German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller.

Bird’s version removed the reference to Jews and replaced it with the claim “anti-Zionists” were being targeted.

Countdown presenter Rachel Riley tweeted at the time: “Absolutely aghast listening to JVL’s Jo Bird, take a poem about the Holocaust, remove the Jews, to replace them with persecution of anti-racists and anti-Zionists.”

She also once wrote on Facebook of Labour’s antisemitism crisis: “A lot of claims that have been made don’t actually stand up. They are fake claims and they are being pursued by Friends of Israel and political opponents.”

And she told another Labour meeting:”As a Jew, I worry about racism against Jewish people.

“I also worry about privileging the racism faced by Jewish communities in this country, as more worthy of resources than other forms of discrimination such as against Black people, Palestinians, Muslims and refugees.”

On the Jewish Greens website it states Bird comes “from a long tradition of Jewish eco-socialists, passionate about equality, justice and fighting all forms of racism. Her grandfathers fought fascism in Europe as soldiers in the British army.”

Zack Polanski, the deputy leader of the Green Party, who is himself Jewish, defended Bird’s appointment, when asked by Jewish News what sort of message her senior role with Jewish Greens sent out to the wider community about the group.

Polanski, Jewish Greens treasurer, said:”As the first Jewish Deputy Leader in British politics, I’m really proud of the work of Jewish Greens in the Green Party, working together to tackle antisemitism in society.

“Jewish Greens have our own internal democratic process to choose our executive and are doing important work.”

Zack Polanski, new deputy leader of Green Party

In March, the Jewish Labour Movement wrote to the Green Party leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay expressing concern about the party’s record over antisemitism.

A letter, signed by JLM’s national chair Mike Katz, and national secretary Adam Langleben, highlighted the conduct on social media of an elected Greens councillor in the city of Norwich.

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