Last month Steerpike revealed that two sitting Haringey councillors suspended for claims of anti-Semitism had been quietly readmitted to the party despite Keir Starmer’s vow of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on this issue. Following a backlash, both were quickly resuspended with one of them, Preston Tabois, being dropped from Labour’s list of candidates for next week’s London Assembly elections.
Now it appears there is some evidence another Assembly candidate has been indulgent with regards to possible anti-Semitic material posted on her Facebook page. Faduma Hassan is both an elected Brent councillor and who according to the most recent register of members' staff works for Keir Starmer. When asked about Ms Hassan, Labour said it would not comment staffing matters.
In July 2014 Hassan shared on Facebook a song by the controversial rapper Lowkey called ‘Israel – 51st state’ which suggests the Middle Eastern country is under the control of the USA and boasts lyrics such as ‘How many children have to die in the streets before we put a stop to these Zionist beasts?’ and ‘Israel equals the US - the US equals Israel/They're funding this terror in the worst way/Welcome to Israel, the 51st state.’ Hassan posted on a friend’s Facebook account a link to the song claiming ‘this was in my head earlier.’
Other Facebook posts include her casting aspersions on the verdict of a 2010 rape trial delivered by an Israeli court on which she wrote ‘Since when did the meaning of rape change?’ after an Arab man was convicted because he pretended he was a Jew when he had consensual sex with a Jewish woman. Underneath one of the comments by Hassan’s Facebook friends reads ‘Looooool dats wot u get for sleeping wid a Jewish women looool.’
Hassan also shared an article urging Brent residents to back the Tricycle Theatre after it refused to host the UK Jewish Film Festival in 2014 if it accepted a £1,400 grant from the Israel embassy. Hassan wrote a status accompanying the article: ‘Brent peeps show your support to Tricycles decision not to be associated with the Israeli government.’ Tricycle’s chair Jonathan Levy subsequently apologised in the Jewish Chronicle for this action, admitting it was ‘the wrong decision.’
As the fifth listed candidate on Labour’s list, with Sadiq Khan set to win a landslide victory, Hassan could be elected on the incumbent Mayor’s coattails next week. When contacted by Steerpike, Hassan said:
“I stand in complete solidarity with the Jewish community and always strive to be an ally of those facing oppression. I was not aware of the inflammatory phrase contained in this song. These links are from many years ago. I apologise for sharing them and would not do so today. The vile comment that has been highlighted was made by someone else. I did not engage with or endorse it in any way and reject it entirely.
Elsewhere in Kensington and Chelsea, long-standing councillor Robert Atkinson wrote that the Labour party ‘allowed the Zionists to run rings round us for far too long’ and that he would ‘punch’ anyone who described as ‘anti-Semitic for denouncing Israel as an apartheid state.’ Atkinson sent a WhatsApp message to a group chat in September 2018 when the Labour party was considering whether to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. He wrote:
“We have allowed the Zionists to run rings round us for far too long. And I think it was a very interesting question to ask if the Conservative Party has signed up to the definition/policy on anti-semitism? If not why not?... To be clear- I have always been a supporter of the Palestinian cause and opponent of Israel. While I think that comparisons of Israel and Nazi Germany are counter productive diversions I do think that describing Is earl [sic] as an apartheid state with second class citizens and ‘Bantu stand’ is spot on (even more so with the recent citizenship and official language legislation). If anyone were to describe me as anti-Semitic for denouncing Israel as an apartheid state I would punch them !
Atkinson did not respond to Steerpike’s request for comment. A Labour party spokesperson said: ‘The Labour party takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.’
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: 'Even under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party recognised that the word ‘Zionist’ should not be used as a term of abuse. These references to ‘Zionist beasts’ and ‘Zionists’ who ‘run rings around us’ are part of the toxic atmosphere that Jews encountered in the Labour Party and are utterly deplorable.'