Newham Council meeting halted after Jewish Labour councillor is HISSED

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Newham Council meeting halted after Jewish Labour councillor is HISSED

Joshua Garfield, a Jewish Labour councillor for Stratford in east London, was loudly hissed and booed by members of the public gallery as he rose to speak at Newham Council's budget meeting

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Jewish Labour councillor Joshua Garfield
Jewish Labour councillor Joshua Garfield

A full council meeting in Newham, east London, had to be halted on Thursday night after the only Jewish councillor in the borough was loudly HISSED by individuals sitting in the public gallery.

Joshua Garfield, a Jewish Labour councillor for Stratford and former cabinet member,had stood up to contribute to a meeting of the full council, which was being held to set the budget, when he was loudly booed and hissed from the gallery.

It was claimed those responsible for the openly antisemitic behaviour were supporters of the Newham Independents group, who have been at the centre of anti-Israel activity.

Garfield, who sits on the Jewish Labour Movement’s NEC, bravely stood up to the intimidation, saying:”If members of the gallery want to hiss me they may want to speak to my face about the issues they have.

“Chair, I won’t accept it. ”

Newham Labour Group responded to the treatment of Garfield by posted a message on X/Twitter stating:”For our Jewish councillor Joshua Garfield to be hissed at as he got up to speak is antisemitic hate.”

The chair of the meeting Cllr Rohima Rahman responded swiftly announcing:”I am going suspend the meeting for 15 minutes.”

When it eventually restarted, the chair said:”Can I just say what we have witnessed here, the behaviour of the public is not acceptable at all, therefore I made a decision that the public need to be removed from the public gallery to continue our council business.”

The chair then ordered the security team to remove the public adding “any antisemitism or Islamophobia is not acceptable for this council.”

Shouting continued, and the meeting was halted again, while the security were told to remove the public because the meeting was taking important decisions for residents.

The chair then recalled Garfield to address the council and he was applauded by many in the room as he rose to speak.

He said:”Robust debate is something I am my colleagues in Labour always welcome. But I’ve spent four years as the only Jewish member of this council. Eighteen months as the only Jewish member of cabinet.

“It will take a lot more to bully me out of public life.”

Garfield was again applauded, before he turned to speak about the budget, and an amendment to the budget proposed by the Newham Independents group.

He said they were proposing cuts to the budget that represented “divisive politics” that rid get rid of measures designed to bring communities together.

Garfield also told the meeting that the Newham Independents had recently welcomed George Galloway to a meeting in the borough – “some we had previously kicked out of the East End”.

Newham Council budget meeting

As the meeting continued councillor Mehmood Mirza, of the independent grouping, at one stage claimed:”Opposing genocide is not antisemitic.”

Garfield later posted on X?Twitter writing:”Those who seek to erode democracy by bullying me out of public life because of my ethnicity will not win.

“Antisemites disrupting our budget council meeting to hiss me before I’ve spoken have not silenced me and they never will.”

Newham Labour Group later issued a message of support for Garfield tweeting:”Democracy is the beating heart of our strong, inclusive & diverse Newham.

“We all have a role to play as elected representatives, citizens & voters to protect & preserve it. For our Jewish councillor Joshua Garfield to be hissed at as he got up to speak is antisemitic hate.”

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