Veteran journalist Crick provokes anger with ‘divisive’ Israel-Palestine election post

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Veteran journalist Crick provokes anger with ‘divisive’ Israel-Palestine election post

Former BBC and Channel 4 broadcaster Michael Crick appeared to suggest support for Palestinian rights and membership of the Jewish Labour Movement are competing interests

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Michael Crick (You tube)
Michael Crick (You tube)

Veteran journalist Michael Crick has been accused of resorting to “crude binary commentary” after appearing to suggest a Labour general election candidate, who claimed to be a campaigner for Palestinian rights, had been axed in favour of “a member of the Jewish Labour Movement”.

Chingford and Woodford Green candidate Faiza Shaheem was this week barred from standing for Labour in the seat after concerns were raised about her “divisive” campaign in which she was accused of “stoking” tensions over Gaza.

On Thursday, Shaheem’s replacement as Labour’s candidate in the north east London seat was confirmed as Shama Tatler, an experienced councillor and member of the cabinet in Brent.

But in an entry on his Tomorrow’s MPs site on X/Twitter, which provides up-to-date information on candidate selections, Crick wrote of the developments in Chingford: “Shama Tatler’s selection yesterday is a special snub to the axed candidate Faiza Shaheen in that, while Shaheen is a big campaigner for Palestinian rights, Tatler is a member of the Jewish Labour Movement.”

The attempt to suggest JLM membership somehow clashed with campaigning for Palestinian rights immediately sparked anger online.

Michael Crick’s Tomorrow’s MPs site

MIke Katz, national chair of JLM, wrote: “Well done for more crude binary commentary, the kind of thing which is inflaming community tensions right now.

“Of course, you can be a member of JLM, indeed a Zionist, whilst supporting Palestinian rights. In fact, we all need to do this to have any hope of a two-state solution.”

Young Labour national chair Jack Lubner wrote: “Pretty appalling to take the line that supporting Palestinian rights and supporting British Jews are in some way competing interests.”

Former MP Mike Gapes added: “This is a disgraceful attempt to smear JLM and Shama Tatler. JLM are strong advocates of a Palestinian State as part of a two state solution to the conflict.”

Labour councillor John Haywood wrote: “Dreadful framing from Michael Crick. Pitting a UK Jewish political movement against Palestinians. Shame.”

Former Daily Telegraph journalist Francis Harris added: “Michael Crick once again proving his crank credentials.”

Shaheem’s campaign to become the MP in Chingford had seen her claim that Gaza was the “number one” issue on the doorsteps, and that she was the pro-Palestine candidate , while a vote for the Tory contender Iain Duncan Smith represented a vote for Israel.

Shaheem also liked a post on X/Twitter relating to the power of the “Israel lobby” and shared a photograph of herself with Jeremy Corbyn in another pro-Palestine message.

Shama Tatler, Labour’s Chingford and Woodford Green candidate

Labour chiefs moved to ban her as a candidate , also citing her support for the Green Party in historic posts.

Tatler, who is second generation British Indian, and is a supporter of the pro-Keir Starmer Labour To Win group, had been expected to be given a seat ahead of the election, and is highly-rated as a result of over a decade spent on Brent Council.

She recently resisted an attempt by the Momentum group of local councillors to make her sign an anti-Israel statement, and has spoken out against antisemitism, and all forms of racism during her time as an elected representative.

Jewish News learned on Friday that some local Labour activists in Chingford, who had been put off campaigning for Shaheem as a result of her attempt to use Gaza as an issue, have now vowed to work for Tatler ahead of the election.

Faiza Shaheem

Crick had been widely respected as a broadcaster working for Channel 4 News and the BBC in a distinguished career.

His book on the rise and fall of the hard-left Militant Tendency is still recognised as a classic.

But Tomorrow’s MPs platform has often featured commentary favourable to those critical of current leader Keir Starmer on the left.

The page has been a subject of some controversy in political commentary circles, with critics accusing him of accepting what they see as being politically biased observations given to him by his sources.

Jewish News has approached Crick for further comment about his commentary on the Chingford selection.

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