WATCH: Board president: ‘At the next election UK Jews can vote without fear’

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WATCH: Board president: ‘At the next election UK Jews can vote without fear’

Marie Van der Zyl spoke at Labour/EHRC event saying Keir Starmer's efforts to tackle antisemitism mean community is now 'free to vote according to their political persuasion'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl has addressed the Labour media conference held in the wake of the EHRC’s decision to lift the party out of special measures over antisemitism, admitting:”Not so long ago this would simply have been an impossibility.”

In a speech given ahead of that by Keir Starmer, the Board’s president told the audience:”I do not belong to a political party. This speech is not a political endorsement.

“I strongly believe that British Jews deserve the right to vote for any party they feel best shares their values. In 2017, and in 2019, for many Jews that simply could not be a primary factor in their voting choice.”

She said she was “greatly moved” at being able to speak at the Labour event, recalling the once traditional close relationship between some British Jews and the party.

Then she added:”At the next election I believe all British Jews will once again be free to vote according to their political persuasion, rather than out of fear for their future here.”

Van der Zyl reflected on how under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership the “rot” of antisemitism was “deeply embedded” in the Labour, and how it would “require a leadership and a staff totally dedicated to making antisemitism, which is anti-Jewish racism, unacceptable.”

Keir Starmer seated with Marie Van der Zyl at Labour/EHRC event

The communal leader praised Starmer’s handling of the crisis he inherited, and his decision to remove the whip from Corbyn.

She also noted how Starmer himself had been subjected to antisemitic taunts  “from accusations of being in the pay of a foreign power, or Jewish businessman, or having his family links analysed and critiqued.”

Van der Zyl said that despite the abuse he has faced, Starmer has “not wavered” from his pledge to root out antisemitism.

She also stressed that the EHRC’s announcement did not mean that antisemitism had been extinguished from Labour adding there were still issues to contend with “within the grassroots.”

The Board’s president warned the MPs and councillors who continue to deny antisemitism “we will not forget them in a hurry.”

She praised the role the Jewish Labour Movement had played in fighting Labour antisemitism, and also paid tribute to Dame Louise Ellman, Dame Margaret Hodge, and Baroness Anderson, who were also at the conference.

Wednesday’s event took place at a venue in Aldgate, in London’s east End, and was attended by many leading communal figures, including the JLC’s Keith Black and Claudia Mendoza,  the CST’s Dave Rich,  Laura Marks, Adrian Cohen, Karen Pollock and Olivia Marks-Woldman, and LFI’s Michael Rubin.

JLM’s Mike Katz and Adam Langleben were also in attendance, along with Jewish Labour councillors including Ella Rose, Izzy Lenga, Joshua Garfield and Rebecca Filer.





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