Update on Anti-Semitic Hate Campaign
during Kenilworth By-Election: January 2021
Dear friends and supporters
Nearly a year have passed since the Borehamwood Kenilworth by-election when I was subject to a vicious smear campaign by Hertsmere Conservatives alongside the worst anti-Semitic abuse that I have experienced in my life. As HertsLive reported, to be told that I should go and “die in the gas chambers” and have veiled threats made against my baby, abusive messages sent to my workplace and a stream of other libelous and racist comments directed towards me are things that no one should ever have to go through simply for wanting to make their community a better place. I am delighted that the Conservative Party HQ will now be launching an investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism by Hertsmere Tories and their Councillors following a letter I received this week from Conservative Party Chair, Amanda Milling MP.
During the election campaign I was told that I am "a Jewish c**t", "a Nazi," "a disgusting Jew" and that I should be "sent to Tehran" among other things. The Conservative candidate Brett Rosehill sent sickening letters through residents' doors about me on headed paper with the Conservative logo, and as The Independent & Private Eye reported, in perhaps the most shocking act of all, senior Conservative Councillor Paul Morris posted a photo of my face on a huge digital billboard outside our town's rail station during rushour insinuating that I support a terrorist group . Another Tory Councillor, Glenn Briski smeared me on social media for belonging to groups I have never joined and used horrible anti-Semitic tropes, describing me and left-leaning Jewish people in the Labour Party as being "self-hating, privileged middle-class people who can't help but apologise for all all their privilege."
I wanted to thank the hundreds of people who sent me messages of support and to those of you who kindly donated to my crowdfunder appeal for the libel suit that I pursued against the perpetrators. I was also moved by all the local residents who contacted me to tell me how appalled they felt by the treatment that I received. These included messages from Conservative supporters who told me they would never vote locally for that Party again.
I would also like to share with you the news that following an out of court settlement, the Conservative Deputy Mayor of Elstree & Borehamwood Town Council, Sandra Parnell has been forced to apologise for an atrocious comment she made about me during the by-election when she compared me to Adolf Hitler by calling me "the worst anti-Semite". We agreed that the settlement payment should be donated to The Holocaust Education Trust. Ashamedly, despite her apology, the Conservative-run Town Council has refused to distance itself from their Deputy Mayor's comments. My solicitors, Carter Ruck wrote to the Tory candidate Brett Rosehill warning him and the Conservatives over their alleged incitement to anti-Semitism and multiple breaches of electoral law. Cllr Rosehill’s wife also took down a libellous post about me following a separate letter. Other updates include:
All three local opposition parties; The Liberal Democrats, Green Party and Labour united to condemn the Tories over the abuse I faced, as have Labour MPs, anti-racist organisations, rabbis & Jewish groups.
In May, Labour’s then General Secretary wrote to national Conservative Party HQ to demand they conduct an investigation into their councillors’ and candidate’s behaviour and alleged anti-Semitism. Whilst receipt of the letter was acknowleged by their National Treasurer, to date they have never carried out any such investigation.
The case received national coverage in The Independent, Private Eye, Jewish Chronicle & Jewish News. Also on the Borehamwood Times front page and Herts Live among other outlets.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned the anti-Semitism levelled at me and sent me a supportive message.
Two weeks ago, the Executive Director of Hertsmere Borough Council sent me fourteen separate apologies on its behalf, regarding how my complaint about their Councillors' behaviour was dealt with. This included an ex gratia payment which I shall be donating to local charities.
I recently spoke about what happened to me at a Barnet TUC forum alongside MPs and other anti-racism campaigners. You can see the clip here.
I am proud of everyone who volunteered in my campaign team. We fought a clean campaign based on local issues such as demanding a new GP surgery, the protection of Green Belt land from housing developments, opposition to Tory cuts to health services and public transport and for a new youth club. Although we lost, we actually performed remarkably well. Our by-election vote was 10% higher than Labour’s national polling the following day, in spite of all the smears against me.
I stepped down as Hertsmere Labour Chair at the time, to campaign for justice in this case. However I remain committed to improving our town and our borough and refuse to let the Tories disappear me from local politics with their hate.
Hertsmere Conservatives have smeared our Jewish candidates in the last three local elections. This is completely unacceptable and I implore them to fight future election campaigns based upon local issues, rather our candidates’ backgrounds.
The abuse only stiffens my resolve to improve my local community and our society. I shall continue to do this, refusing to bow to intimidation and hatred. I shall continue to serve on the organising committees of Save Aldenham Reservoir, SURGE - The Campaign for a Community Medical Centre in Borehamwood South and The Elstree & Borehamwood Residents Association (EBRA). I shall continue to organise events run by the Jewish community such as Borehamwood Mitzvah Day 2020 and actively support local charities like Gratitude and WD6. I shall continue to stand by residents who are campaigning to save green spaces such as in Well End or prevent ancient oak trees being felled like they were in Ely Gardens. I shall always support those opposing unjust developments or who are fighting cuts all over our town.
To quote Pablo Neruda, the Chilean exile from the Pinochet dictatorship: “They can cut all the flowers, but they cannot keep spring from coming.”
Dr Dan Ozarow, December 2020
Borehamwood Kenilworth Candidate
Ex Hertsmere Labour Party Chair