A Councillor and former MP David Ward has been accused of anti-Semitism during a heated debate at Bradford City Hall on Tuesday night.
According to a report Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Cllr Ward (Lib Dem) and Conservative group leader, Councillor Simon Cooke, had fiery exchanges in a meeting of the full council dominated by discussions about the Brexit vote and allegations of a rise in racism and xenophobia.
Bradford Council is reviewing its priorities around equalities, and Cllr Cooke had put forward a motion calling on it to consider its “awareness and response to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia”; as well as support for new migrant communities facing prejudice, challenging the demonising of white working-class communities and addressing homophobia.
Cllr Cooke told the chamber that “for the benefit of David Ward and others” he wanted to explain anti-Semitism – a reference to Cllr Ward’s past as an MP in which comments he made about Israel saw him suspended from his party.
Cllr Cooke said his son had recently brought up the Holocaust with him, saying: “My son said to me, they would have killed me and mum, wouldn’t they?”
He condemned the use of the term ‘Zio’ and said people should be alarmed by anyone calling for the Jews to be run out of Israel.
Cllr Ward responded by saying: “One thing is absolutely damn certain, he would not have been killed by a Palestinian.”
To cries of ‘shame’ from some councillors and applause from others, Cllr Ward said: “Palestinians have children, many of whom have been slaughtered by the state of Israel.”
He said it was not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel and that it was “completely wrong to use the Holocaust” to protect Israel from criticism.
Cllr Cooke said the council needed to find a way “to get people like Cllr Ward to understand how anti-Semitic they are”.
He said: “What David Ward has just said is anti-Semitic and is wrong.”
Cllr Cooke’s motion was voted down when it was taken to the vote.
But a motion put forward by Bradford Council’s Labour leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, calling on councillors to stand against bigotry, hate, violence and oppression in all its forms, in the wake of the killing of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox last month, was passed unanimously.
This said: “It is beholden on each and every one of us as elected members to follow Jo’s example and to promote the values of fairness, social justice and understanding of others.”
Source: Bradford Telegraph and Argus