Councillor defends position following anti-semitism row suspension - The Leamington Observer

Councillor defends position following anti-semitism row suspension

A COUNCILLOR suspended from the Conservative Party following an anti-semitism row has defended her comments.

Coun Jacqui Harris was suspended after she responded to tweets earlier this month alleging anti-semitism was being dramatised in a bid to get Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn removed.

Coun Harris, who serves the Harbury ward on Stratford District Council, replied saying the tweet was ‘spot on’ and the accusations had been ‘fanned and exploded’.

A number of responses from other users then accused her of anti-semitism, and the Conservative Party took the decision to suspend her.

She resigned from the district council’s cabinet following her suspension and now serves her ward as an Independent councillor.

Coun Harris outlines her position in the letter below.

“I am sorry but if speaking up about this country’s values that democracy is being demonised, this is the bigger story than me and something is wrong when a leader in this country is labelled and castigated this way without due process.

“I was not and I am not anti-Israel, I am of Jewish heritage but sadly if you speak up lawfully and correctly about Israel you get bullied and labelled. This doesn’t happen if you speak up about other countries in the same way and we need to be more astute and ask why? This situation is well evidenced and I have friends who have been senior Rabbis in London who have walked away because of this hostile treatment of them.

“Regarding the current situation that I find myself in I will share my side with you. I was engaged in a conversation around the anti-semitic row nationally. I was advocating and defending this country and that as a democracy how we should be behaving, responding to this and that due process is paramount, but this is not happening, innocent until proven guilty, sub judice, freedom of speech principles and similar including the interference in this country by certain states/countries. This conversation was hijacked and turned into something that it wasn’t which in itself supports what I am trying to say. The chair of the Conservative Party allowed himself to be manipulated and without due consideration and due process, suspended me on a tweet. He did not hear my side and too date I still have had no contact from him or his office. My local association and the area association have also had no response from CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters) despite frequent contact, the local party have been fair, responsive and supportive, shame that this cannot be said of the national arm of the party

“In that conversation I was disagreeing with policy and certain behaviours of Israel, my views are shared with the UN and many humanitarian bodies around the world. It is not unlawful to speak out about government regimes or agents of the state, it would be like speaking out against MI5, does that make you anti British? Having legal opinion on what I have written confirms that it is not anti-semitic

“Those comments I made were not anti-Semitic but deliberately misconstrued by a certain blogger with a questionable agenda who deliberately targeted the chair of the Conservative party to stir up hatred and sadly he responded and was caught by this subversive behaviour. This is part of the point that I was making in that conversation and it is undermining this country and individuals. That said the response from the chair of the Conservative Party did suppress that hatred that was stirred up by this blogger, but no other action has been taken since then

“I now find myself subject of the very issue I was standing up for and I am living proof of this.

“That our country is under attack in that we are being undermined by agents of various states, subversives and individuals in our own society, those trying to generate a story or create a reaction and hate, it is affecting our life everywhere. The lack of regulation and control of social media and other subversive behaviours. I believe the establishment is being eroded, we should apply consideration, research and due diligence but in this fast paced society it is not happening and certain facts are not being verified even by our MP’s before comment is made.

“Very few may say I was foolhardy to speak up and out about this in the current environment and instead of seeing it as being adult and wanting to challenge the status quo and work in partnership with others to address it seems to think I am being a traitor for daring to agree with others that it is a problem. This saddens me and until we have more collaborative free thinking, it will never be addressed and nothing will change. I have been inundated with support from many quarters who see the conversation as it was meant to be and not manipulated, that I was speaking up about due process, law, due diligence, the premise in this country that you are innocent until proven guilty, that I have high principles and that having a conversation about this with anyone even Labour I should not be condemned but commended to make a stand.”

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