UOHC’s formal letter thanks Abbott for the ‘time and trouble’ she ‘generously’ takes to help
In what appears to be an unprecedented move, the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations [UOHC] has issued a strongly-worded statement of support for Shadow Home Secretary and Hackney North & Stoke Newington Labour MP Diane Abbott.
Founded in the 1920s and with its headquarters in Hackney, the UOHC is the umbrella body representing the interests of strictly orthodox [“charedi”] Jews in the UK.
In a letter to Ms Abbott the UOHC Rabbinate refutes suggestions that she has not “wholeheartedly” opposed antisemitism:
We are aware that you often spend much time and trouble to assist constituents and others with their personal and other problems, and that the ethnicity and religion etc., of those that you assist makes not an iota of difference to the assistance that you generously provide. We hope and trust that you will continue your battle against racism, and your other endeavours for the general population of this country for many years.
Welcoming and commenting on the letter Shraga Stern, a leading activist in Hackney’s charedi community, recalled that when Jeremy Corbyn signed an Early Day Motion in 2010 calling on the British government to help in the resettlement of Yemeni Jews, Ms Abbott had “without hesitation” added her support to the motion.
While it is sad that the UOHC letter had to be written at all, I am delighted at this instance of public Jewish support for Ms Abbott, whom I regard as a true friend of the Jewish people.
The letter follows attacks on Abbott for not intervening when her constituency party passed a motion denying Labour is ‘institutionally antisemitic’, with some Jewish members reportedly leaving the meeting in tears. Most media have failed to report that the motion itself was brought – and supported – by Jewish members of the party. The criticisms have also displayed ignorance or cynicism – because under Labour’s rules, MPs have no authority to ‘intervene’ and prevent a motion from being discussed or balloted.
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