COUNTY NEWS: Labour member apologises after suspension over alleged anti-Semitic video
A Labour Party campaigner has been suspended after posting an allegedly anti-Semitic video which showed three councillors doing a Hanukkah dance and wearing traditional Jewish clothes.
Housing campaigner Daniel Harris was accused of racism after he superimposed the faces of three Brighton Labour councillors to the clip and posted it online.
But the video, which he described as 'a bit of fun', backfired and he was branded anti-Semitic by Jewish community leaders due to the spoof Facebook video posted on Thursday (December 7).
He said said he apologised 'if my post did offend anyone'. The one-minute clip showed Brighton and Hove City Council leader, Warren Morgan, and his colleagues Anne Meadows and Caroline Penn, wearing traditional Jewish clothes. Daniel, who has campaigned on housing issues in Brighton and Hove for Momentum, has been suspended by the party since Thursday. One party member said that the video, which Daniel switched to one showing the three councillors as elves two hours later, was part of a pattern of abuse directed at councillors online and in person. Fiona Sharpe, communities consultant at the Sussex Jewish Representative Council, said: "We are very disappointed by the video posted on Facebook by Daniel Harris, a local Labour activist. "His depiction of three local councillors as Orthodox Jews surrounded by the Star of David is not viewed as 'fun' by the Jewish community. "We see it as a crass uneducated insult aimed at our community. Does Mr Harris think it would be amusing to portray councillors dressed in hijabs or turbans? "We welcome his prompt suspension and acknowledge the many councillors that engage and work positively with the Jewish community. "However, this is not the first time that there have been issues of antisemitism surrounding the local Labour Party. "Whether they are real or perceived, the damage that that perception does is clear. We are very concerned to know that Mr Harris was being considered for selection to stand as a Labour councillor. "We would call upon the local Labour Party to ensure that all potential candidates and current elected officials receive training in community awareness and sensitivity so that they are better equipped to understand what is funny and what is outright antisemitism and bigotry." Daniel Harris denied he was racist and said he only bought the video for Â£1.99 online. He added: "Having been suspended yesterday (Thursday) by the Labour Party for an alleged antisemitic post, which I categorically deny. I am utterly devastated. "I want to condemn all forms of racism. As a gay man who has been victim to two incidents of homophobic hate crime this year, I know full well the challenges people from minority groups face. "I would never take part in any form of racism. The application elfyourself.com is a seasonal fun dancing application in partnership with Office Depot where you upload images. "I purchased two videos. One which had an elfs and the other Hanukkah. The three councillors faces were added and I posted. "The posts were meant to be a bit of fun not racist, they were purchased online and are available to anyone with Â£1.99. "I fight for vulnerable people in the community and as a result of being fairly vocal on issues, I believe this whole incident is a political ploy by the right in Labour to deny working class voices and smear the left. "I've already recieved threats and abuse online and a targetted media smear with people like Ivor Caplin former MP running to the press. "Reflecting back today I was definetly naive to not consider this backlash. "I believe that these actions of constantly contacting the press to smear good people is what really brings the Labour Party into disrepute. Smearing good community campaigners and pushing for more negative press is not right and should be called out. "Finally I want to end with an apology if my post did offend anyone, It was certainly never meant to offend. It was meant to bring seasonal joy, not more divisions."
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The party takes all complaints extremely seriously. A Labour Party member has been suspended from the party pending an investigation.”