Jewish councillor is hissed at in east London council meeting, as police investigate 'disgusting' incident

1 March 2024, 17:01

Cllr Joshua Garfield
Cllr Joshua Garfield. Picture: Twitter

By Kit Heren

Police have launched an investigation into an incident in which a Jewish councillor in an east London borough was hissed.

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Newham Council's Joshua Garfield, the only Jewish councillor in the borough, appeared to be hissed by spectators when he stood up to talk at a meeting on Thursday night.

The meeting had to be halted because of the abusive behaviour, Jewish News reported. The police are now said to be investigating the incident, and have spoken to Cllr Garfield, after the council reported the hissing to officers.

London mayor Sadiq Khan, Home Secretary James Cleverly and Communities Secretary Michael Gove have all condemned the behaviour.

Cllr Garfield confronted the abuse head-on during the meeting. He said: "If members of the gallery want to hiss me they may want to speak to my face about the issues they have."

Read more: 'Explosion in hatred' against Jews in UK as more than 4,000 antisemitic incidents recorded

Read more: Charlotte Church says she is 'in no way anti-Semitic' after singing controversial 'from the river to the sea' chant

He added later: "Robust debate is something I am 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.

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

Mr Khan called the hissing "appalling behaviour".

"There is no place in our city for antisemitism or hate speech of any kind," the London mayor said on Friday.

Sadiq Khan has condemned the incident
Sadiq Khan has condemned the incident. Picture: Alamy

Mr Cleverly said: "Joshua stood against me in the General Election. We debated and we disagreed, but always with good grace.

"He is right to stand strong against attempts to bully him and others from the public space.

"I am determined to protect his right to represent and speak for his community."

Mr Gove said the incident was "disgusting".

He added: "As minister responsible for local government I want to express my solidarity with Councillor Joshua Garfield.

"Antisemitism is a poison we must all confront."

It comes as a debate rages about politicians' security amid threats to MPs' safety, as well as major rises in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

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