The Jewish Chronicle
Khan aide resigns over hate claims
A HARD left member of the Mayor of London’s statue diversity commission resigned on Wednesday after he was accused of antisemitism.
Activist Toyin Agbetu, 53, was among 15 people recently appointed by Sadiq Khan’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which was set up to review the capital’s landmarks.
In social media posts seen by the JC, Mr Agbetu has claimed there was an “immoral hierarchy of suffering” , from which Jews benefit but black people do not. Mr Agbetu also praised the academic Tony Martin, the author of The Jewish Onslaught, who claimed that Jews played “an integral role in the slave trade” and featured a description of “how Jews control the media”.
A spokesperson for Mr Khan confirmed on Wednesday that Mr Agbetu had resigned, which the Mayor believed was “the right course of action”.
In a blog, Mr Agbetu paid tribute to Professor Tony Martin as “a first-class historian” despite the fact The Jewish Onslaught was condemned by his own faculty members as antisemitic. Mr Agbetu wrote in 2007: “His alleged ‘crime’ was being the author of a book that explored the role of Jews in the Maafa [black genocide].”
Mr Agbetu, who once accused Labour’s Diane Abbott of being “disloyal to her own community” and the MP
David Lammy of being a “poor example of Africans”, was appointed to the Mayor’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm earlier this year. He is still a member of Hackey Council’s review of public spaces.
Mr Khan has previously faced criticism for the appointment of Mr Agbetu after it emerged he heckled the Queen during a 2007 service at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. Last November, discussing Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, he said in a post online: “Apparently a magical vaccine is around the corner from the Viagra specialists. There’s a lot of nonsense out there and it’s coming from the clowns in No 10.”
A letter signed by Mr Agbetu also stated that the Chakrabarti inquiry into Labour antisemitism and other forms of racism was “unwittingly discriminatory” as “racism against Jewish people is set apart from racism and prejudice against other people”. The posts were first uncovered by Shaun Bailey, the Conservative challenger in May’s mayoral election, who called for Mr Agbetu to resign.
“Agbetu’s record of antisemitic comments and anti-vaccine lies put him beyond the pale,” Mr Bailey said.
He added: “One of the best ways for a Mayor to tackle discrimination is to show that City Hall won’t tolerate it.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor stressed his “zero tolerance” policy towards antisemitism.
THE ISRAELI thinktank NGO Monitor has dismissed claims made by a London-based research group that the killing of a Palestinian whose car crashed into a West Bank checkpoint was an “extrajudicial execution”.
Forensic Architecture disputes the Israeli police account that Ahmad Erekat, 26, who was shot by Israeli soldiers between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in June, had deliberately driven the vehicle into the checkpoint.
But NGO Monitor discounted the report by Forensic Architecture’s Palestine Unit and the Palestinian human rights group Al Haq as “based on speculation”. The report says that use of “3D-modelling, shadow analysis and open-source investigation” to analyse video footage and witness accounts of the footage raises doubts about official Israeli claims.
According to the family of Mr Erekat, a nephew of the late Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat, he was “driving to run errands for his sister’s wedding” taking place that day, the Forensic Architecture report says.
His car veered into a booth at the checkpoint and hit a soldier. He was shot after getting out. “The military claimed that it was an intentional attack, but produced no evidence that the crash was not the result of an error or a vehicle malfunction,” the report says. “The low speed of impact despite the sharp slope, the correction of the car’s path after initially veering to the left, and the possibility that Ahmad braked before impact all raise doubts that this was an intentional attack.”
It says that after the crash, “Ahmad leaves the vehicle unarmed and moves away from the soldiers, raising his hands in the air”. It also disputes an Israeli army statement that he received medical care “within minutes”.
In response, NGO Monitor said that “rather than offering new or concrete evidence, it is clear that NGOs cannot know and do not incorporate the assessments of the Israeli forces on the
ground. The entire analysis, NGO Monitor said, was “based on speculation”.
“For instance, Al-Haq and Forensic Architecture claim, based on slow motion and still- frame analysis, that the incident was ‘the result of an error or a vehicle malfunction’ and ‘raise doubts that this was an intentional attack’.
“They do not know, and that issue is irrelevant to the questions of whether the soldiers credibly perceived the ramming as a terror attack.” There was also “contradictory information” about “the position of Erekat’s arms when he was first shot”, NGO Monitor said.