In a powerful display of defiance, three local political parties have come together to support Labour candidate Dr Dan Ozarow who suffered relentless anti-Semitic abuse during February’s Kenilworth by-election. This followed a smear campaign against him by Hertsmere Conservatives and several of their elected councillors which has been roundly condemned by Hertsmere Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green Party.
Hertsmere Labour have issued a statement saying ““we strongly condemn the anti-Semitic abuse and threats that Labour’s candidate, Dr Dan Ozarow received during and following the Borehamwood Kenilworth by-election. Racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry have no place in a modern democracy or in local politics. No one should ever have to endure such abuse simply because they stand for public office.”
“We are also horrified that Hertsmere Conservatives resorted to a smear campaign against him, including multiple instances of defamation and harassment that have been reported on in the national and local media.”
The statement went on to say: “In the spirit of unity and the interests of local residents, we call upon Hertsmere Conservatives to commit to a kinder politics, rather than sowing division and hatred. We note that this is the third election running that they have sought to defame Labour’s Jewish candidates. We demand that regardless of their background, personal attacks and smears against opposition candidates cease. To continue to defame and abuse them brings a stain on all of us involved in trying to create a better Hertsmere.”
The declaration was endorsed by Hertsmere Green Party whilst the Liberal Democrats added their support in a separate statement.
The apparently orchestrated campaign by the Conservatives and their supporters led to calls by members of the public for Dr Ozarow to ‘go to the gas chambers,’ to him being labelled a ‘Jew-hating Jew c**t,’ a ‘Nazi,’ ‘lacking a Jewish soul and that he be ‘sent to Tehran’ amongst a swathe of other abuse across Facebook.
The Conservatives also delivered a letter from their candidate to residents’ homes implying that Dr Ozarow supported Hamas and Hezbollah, whilst as The Independent reported, one of their most senior councillors, Paul Morris placed the Labour candidate’s face on a electronic billboard outside Elstree & Borehamwood station implying the same. As part of the alleged harassment campaign, Dan also received abusive emails at his work account and a threatening message purportedly from a local Conservative councillor that ominously mentioned his unborn baby.
These actions, the Conservatives’ alleged incitement to racial and religious hatred and several apparent electoral offences have been reported to Hertfordshire Police who continue to investigate.
In response, The Labour Party’s General Secretary Jennie Formby wrote to the national Conservative Party Chief Executive over the ‘utterly disgraceful behaviour over alleged anti-Semitic abuse.’ In the letter, she demanded that action is taken against any councillors who are found to have contributed to the abuse. Meanwhile Dr Ozarow received messages of support from Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner and several other MPs, The Board of Deputies of British Jews, rabbis including Rabbi Danny Rich and Rabbi Herschel Gluck, numerous campaign organisations including Compassion in Politics and hundreds of people around the country.
Leading defamation lawyers, Carter Ruck, have also written to a number of Conservative councillors requesting that they desist from repeating libellous comments, noting that it was the third election in a row that Labour’s Jewish candidates have been smeared by Hertsmere Conservatives. Amongst those receiving a letter was the previously unknown Conservative candidate, Brett Rosehill, who won the seat with a majority of a 122 just a year after Dr Ozarow failed to capture it on the toss of a coin.
Dr Ozarow is raising funds for the libel case he has launched. For more information or to donate please see https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/solidaritywithdan