Friends of Palestine rally row involving Calderdale cabinet member rumbles on

A row over a Calderdale Council Cabinet member’s involvement with a campaign group which invited controversial speakers to an event rumbles on.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 12:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 12:48 pm

The involvement as Chair of Halifax Friends of Palestine of Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park), who is council Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities and attended the group’s recent rally at Savile Park, Halifax, prompted concerns voiced by opposition politicians.

Halifax Labour MP Holly Lynch pulled out of the meeting, saying she would not share a platform with one of the other speakers, although she did not specify which one.

Last week leader of the Labour group, and Calderdale Council leader, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said Coun Lynn had a proven record of working with all parts of Calderdale’s community.

Sign up to our daily Halifax Courier Today newsletter

Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift and councillor Jenny Lynn

And Coun Lynn herself said: “There is nothing incompatible about my role as chair of a community-based organisation – Halifax Friends of Palestine – and my role in supporting all our communities, and I will stand on my record on that.

“There is nothing anti-semitic about standing up for the rights of Palestinian people.”

But one of Coun Lynn’s critics, Liberal Democrat group leader Coun James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley), is still pressing for action and has highlighted photographs taken at a Friends of Palestine rally in Hebden Bridge some months ago at which a protester held a placard of then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flanked by swastikas and with blood around his mouth and the lettering “muderer of children”

On a photobank published by an attendee, Coun Lynn was among councillors pictured attending the rally, said Coun Baker, who says he has complained to the Labour Party to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism, and called on Coun Lynn to make a public comment condemning the “display of swastikas and anti-Semitism” at the Hebden Bridge event, which members of the public had told him was concerning.

Coun Swift said he had noted Coun Baker’s comments on the issue.

“I noted that your comments regarding the vigin in Hebden Bridge would appear to be based on a set of photos taken and posted without explanation by a third party which included one poster of the nature described.

“This was an open vigil for any member of the public to attend and as you say one person did so with a totally inappropriate poster.

“I understand that this individual was challenged by a member of Friends of Palestine and told that the poster he was using was unacceptable.

“I also understand that the individual concerned was not known to the organisers and was definitely not associated withy the group,” he said.

Coun Swift said he was disappointed Coun Baker did not investigate the matter more fully rather than make “unfounded allegations” against Coun Lynn based on a three-month old photograph on social media.