A Labour councillor has been subjected to a vicious local backlash after posting an article online that argued,“Hamas is no good for Palestinians and no good for Jews.”
Waltham Forest councillor Kira Lewis has resigned from their role as a Labour whip after a petition, which has received hundreds of signatures, demanded suspension from the party while an investigation into “inflammatory, ignorant and inhumane comments” took place.
In a statement to the local Waltham Forest Echo newspaper council leader Grace Williams appeared to back the call for action to be taken against Lewis saying she recognised “the distress caused by the X/Twitter post”.
Williams confirmed that the post and the complaints about it have been referred to the Council’s Monitoring Officer.
Jewish News understands that the local Waltham Forest Council of Mosques has also been accused of inflaming tensions locally after publishing a list of every councillor in the borough online also with a question on whether they have called for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Lewis, who has worked as a communications officer at the British Israeli Communiciations and Research Centre (BICOM) organisation, is among those listed with a question mark by her name.
This position on the conflict in Gaza would seem to mirror that of Labour leader Keir Starmer who has repeatedly condemned Hamas and Israel’s right to defend itself after the October 7th atrocities, while also calling for serious efforts around a two-state solution.
On Friday 10th November Lewis has shared on X/Twitter an article published by the Jerusalem Post that argued, even after the horrors of the October 7th Hamas atricity, co-existence between Israel and the Palestinians was possible.
The op-ed, originally published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, was written by Haviva Ner-David, an Israeli whose own son’s close friend Yair Nafusi was fatally wounded during combat with Hamas in Gaza that week.
Quoting from the article Lewis, who identifies as non-binary, posted:“Hamas is no good for Palestinians and no good for Jews. It wants a fundamentalist Muslim dictatorship on the land from the river to the sea, devoid of all Jews. And Christians. And LGBTQ folk.
“It is no good for anyone who believes in democracy. It is simply no good for humanity. What Israel faces now in Gaza is a moral dilemma. Hamas wanted the IDF to retaliate so it could make Israel look bad. It worked. What Israel is doing is bad – killing thousands of innocent people, including children. But not evil. Hamas is evil.
“And while so many across the globe who promote Palestinian rights don’t want to see the difference, I do.”
But the post by the councillor, who represents the Higham Hill ward immediately sparked a backlash, and they subsequently deleted it the following day.
A petition was also set up on Change.Org calling for the suspension of Lewis while an investigation took place. It currently has 321 signatures.
But one local source told Jewish News that some of the comments on the petition had been “hateful and antisemitic.”
Another source added:”There were references to the fact that Lewis had worked for the pro-Israel orgainsation BICOM, as well as suggestions of serving ‘paymasters’.”
In a statement to the local Waltham Forest Echo newspaper council leader Grace Williams appeared to support the call for action to be taken against Lewis saying she recognised “the distress caused by the X/Twitter post” and confirmed that the post and the complaints about it have been referred to the Council’s Monitoring Officer.
The “Suspend Local Councillor Kira Lewis” petition states:“The war between Israel and Gaza has been a heart breaking issue for many of us living in Waltham Forest. We have looked to our political leaders for support and solidarity and have found it in Council Leader Grace Williams and our local MP Stella Creasy.
“However, inflammatory, ignorant and inhumane comments made by Cllr Kira Lewis has encouraged division and threats amongst our community. Such behaviour is not only detrimental to our community but also undermines the democratic values that we hold dear.”
Lewis, who has previously worked for the national Labour Party in its digital department as well as for the Labour First organisation, was elected as councillor in the borough in May 2022.
Lewis travelled to Israel and the West Bank in July 2022 with a group of Young Labour activists writing for Jewish News on “the crucial importance of a viable two-state solution as the only means for peace between the two peoples.”
Jewish News has approached Lewis, council leader Williams and the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques for comment.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.