Peterborough Jewish community criticises Labour candidate for showing ‘disrespect for our people’

The Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community has criticised Labour’s by-election candidate for showing a “disrespect for our people” after ‘liking’ an antisemitic Facebook post.

Tuesday, 4th June 2019, 4:15 pm
Lisa Forbes

Lisa Forbes apologised after it was revealed she liked a Facebook post last month relating to the Christchurch shooting which described Theresa May keeping her “Zionist Slave Masters agenda alive”.

The union worker said she had liked the video accompanying the post, which was of children playing, and had not read the text.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Lisa Forbes

Ms Forbes also commented on a post from September 2014 which accused the CIA and Mossad, “supported by British imperialism”, of funding and creating extremists such as ISIS.

She wrote: “I have enjoyed reading this thread so much. So much that trys to divide us, but there is much more that unites us all.”

She said this was linked to the comments underneath the post discussing prejudice and hostility towards Muslims and not about Mossad or ISIS.

Her Facebook activity, which was revealed by journalist Iggy Ostanin, prompted a joint statement from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council and Community Security Trust which called on Labour to “disown” Ms Forbes ahead of Thursday’s by-election, or it will “only confirm the party’s shameful descent into the racist mess for which they are now being investigated by the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission)”.

The statement also criticised Ms Forbes for signing a letter which called on Labour’s ruling body not to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.

It added: “We are fed up hearing that Labour opposes antisemitism while repeatedly hearing excuses that its members accidentally missed the racism that was staring them in the face.”

The Jewish Labour Movement has also announced it will not be campaigning for Ms Forbes, while on Monday right-wing blog Guido Fawkes published posts showing the Labour candidate was active in the Peterborough Palestine Solidarity Campaign Facebook group.

Although there was no suggestion Ms Forbes posted anything antisemitic, the blog highlighted activity in the group from other people which promoted hate against Israel.

This included one person questioning why more Palestinians did not go out to stab Jews.

Now, today, the Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community has issued a statement highlighting its concerns.

It said: “The Jewish community in Peterborough has been very appreciative of the strength of community cohesion in our wonderfully diverse city. We have forged links with other faith groups and we play our part in Peterborough’s civic life, even though we are one of the smallest Jewish communities in the country.

“The growth in antisemitism (anti-Jewish racism) is extremely worrying, and it saddens us when those in the public life of our city contribute to that growth.

“Whether or not the Labour candidate meant to support antisemitism on social media, the lack of care and due diligence in her use of social media, and her clear disregard for the impact it can have, shows a disrespect for our people, our heritage and our history.”

Following the joint statement by the three Jewish groups, an apologetic Ms Forbes said: “I’m sorry. I have engaged in social media posts in error and realise it was wrong and have wholeheartedly apologised.

“I condemn antisemitism and have committed to work with the community to deepen my understanding of antisemitism, to challenge antisemitism wherever it occurs.”