Labour Jewish councillor booed and HISSED during council meeting

Labour Jewish councillor booed and HISSED during council meeting

WATCH HERE: Jewish councillor booed and hissed by public gallery during meeting

Newham London
Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 02/03/2024

- 09:50

Updated: 02/03/2024

- 09:53

The police are now said to be investigating the incident

Additional reporting by Oliver Trapnell

A Labour Jewish councillor in Stratford was booed and hissed during a council meeting on the budget.

Joshua Garfield, the only Jewish Labour councillor in the borough, was heckled when he got up to speak, prompting the discussion to be halted.

It was claimed those responsible were supporters of the Newham Independents group, who are the opposition group on the council.

The party is led by former Labour member Mehmood Mirza, who was suspended by the party in 2020 after being accused of antisemitism. He denies the allegations.

Cllr Joshua Garfield and Newham council meeting

Labour Jewish councillor Joshua Newham booed and hissed during council meeting

Newham Council

The police are now said to be investigating the incident.

Reacting to the hissing during the meeting, Garfield said: “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.”

He added later: “Robust debate is something I and 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.

Cllr Joshua Garfield

Cllr Joshua Garfield said: 'It will take a lot more to bully me out of public life'

Newham council

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

The meeting was then reconvened after 15 minutes, with council chair Rohima Rahman saying: “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.”

She added: “Any antisemitism or Islamophobia is not acceptable for this council.”

However, the meeting was halted again after another outburst of shouting, leading to security removing the public from the premises.

\u200bNewham council meeting

Newham council meeting on February 29

Newham council

Garfield was greeted with a round of applause when he returned to the room to speak.

Following the incident, the meeting resumed as normal with Garfield speaking about the budget and an amendment proposed by the Newham Independents group.

After the meeting, Garfield tweeted: “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.”

Joshua Garfield

Newham council labelled the incident as a form of 'antisemitic hate'

Newham council

Newham Labour group issued a brief statement reacting to the treatment of Garfield, stating:

“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 and preserve it.

“For our Jewish councillor Joshua Garfield to be hissed at as he got up to speak is antisemitic hate.

“There is no place for hate in Newham or at Newham Council. No amount of hate will stop democracy.”

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