Statement on the September 4 decision to adopt the full IHRA

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The September 4 decision of Labour’s National Executive Committee to back the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is a gift to the right in party.

The intent of this document is not to define Anti-Semitism – after all, the Oxford English Dictionarymanages that in six words: “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” No, its sole purpose is to conflate criticism of Zionism and Israel with anti-Semitism. Most IHRA examples refer to Israel and the IHRA definition is labeling anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.

In their identical front pages of July 25, the Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish Telegraphand Jewish Newsopenly stated that, “Had the full IHRA definition with examples relating to Israel been approved [by the NEC], hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members would need to be expelled.”

Including Jeremy Corbyn, of course. At long last, the witch-hunt in the Labour Party has reached its main target. For the last three years, vastly exaggerated claims that the Labour Party is awash with anti-Semites have been used to attack the left. But Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and hundreds of other Labour Party members were little more than collateral damage.

This vicious campaign, orchestrated by the pro-Zionist lobby and the right in the party, never had anything to do with fighting anti-Semitism – but everything with getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn. His pro-Palestinian views and socialist policies make him unacceptable to both.

And now the NEC – on paper dominated by the pro-Corbyn left – has given in once again. Momentum owner Jon Lansman has been lobbying for the adoption of the full IHRA – and he presumably was behind moves to stop even Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘personal statement’, which would have qualified some of the ‘examples’. But Corbyn was told that there “wasn’t a majority for it”.

But even this latest capitulation will not stop the campaign of the right, as Margaret Hodge has already proven: A day before the meeting, she said accepting the full IHRA definition, without any caveats, would not be enough to stop her and others from attacking Corbyn: “I think the moment has passed. The problem is that Jeremy Corbyn is the problem.”

One thing is for certain. The IHRA will not stop the fake anti-Semitism campaign. On the contrary the NEC’s decision has given it renewed strength.

It is time to take a principled stance. The joint demonstration on September 4 by Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Against the Witchhunt and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network was magnificent. Over 200 people turned up to show their opposition to the IHRA and to demonstrate their anger at the false accusations of anti-Semitism. A number of Momentum groups were present, as Lansman slunk in without saying a word. Click here for our report.

There is still time to bring this witch-hunt to an end. But Jeremy Corbyn and his allies have to stand up to the enemies of the democratic Labour left:

  • They have to reject the whole IHRA working definition and clearly say that the Labour Party is not riddled with anti-Semites.
  • All those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process should be immediately reinstated.
  • We need mandatory reselection of all Labour MPs. The right wing saboteurs in the PLP have to go.
  • Momentum has be radically democratised – or abolished.Instead of defending Corbyn, Momentum owner Jon Lansman has sided with the witch-hunters. He has thrown Jackie Walker and Pete Willsman to the wolves and is now ready to abandon Corbyn, too. He wants the term ‘Zionism’ banned. He runs Momentum like a dictator, having abolished all democratic structures.
But democracy and free speech are essential in the struggle to transform our party and society.

 

NEC lobby: no to IHRA, yes to freedom of speech!

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Labour Against the Witchhunt has been lobbying Labour’s NEC meetings since February, for its three basic aims – rejection of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism (because it conflates anti-Zionismm with anti-Semitism), abolition of Rule 2.1.4.B (which allows party apparatchiks to expel members without due process, and is arbitrarily used against the left), and abolition off the hated Compliance Unit (which implements arbitrary instant suspensions and expulsions). Today, September 4, the lobby of the NEC’s special meeting to deal with the so called anti-Semitism crisis in the party, was much enhanced as the lobby was also called by Jewish Voice for Labour, Free Speech on Israel, Camden Momentum, Labour Representation Committee and the recently formed ‘Back the NEC Code’ – launched in frustration at Momentum’s total failure to defend Corbyn from the rightwing anti-Semitism smear campaign. Continue Reading “NEC lobby: no to IHRA, yes to freedom of speech!”

Say no to IHRA examples: LAW leaflet for NEC lobby on September 4

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You can download the leaflet here in PDF format.

Reject IHRA: The real target is Corbyn

At long last, the witch-hunt in the Labour Party has reached its long-intended, main target: Jeremy Corbyn. For the last three years, vastly exaggerated claims that the Labour Party is awash with anti-Semites have been used to attack the left. But Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and hundreds of other Labour Party members were little more than collateral damage. 

This vicious campaign, orchestrated by the pro-Zionist lobby and the right in the party, never had anything to do with fighting anti-Semitism – but everything with getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn. His pro-Palestinian views and socialist policies make him unacceptable to both. 

That is why the NEC was wrong to adopt in its Code of Conduct, the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and most of the examples that have been published alongside it. The intent of this document is not to define Anti-Semitism – after all, the Oxford English Dictionary manages that in six words: “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” No, its sole purpose is to conflate criticism of Zionism and Israel with anti-Semitism – even without the four examples that the Code has (so far) left out. 

Therefore we call on the NEC and Labour Party members to reject the whole IHRA working definition:

  • Most IHRA examples refer to Israel. In effect, the IHRA definition is labelling anti-Zionism as anti-Semitic. But Zionism is itself a cause of anti-Semitism today: Israel, by claiming to be a Jewish state, associates Jews everywhere with its crimes against the Palestinians.
     
  • The most disputed IHRA example would ban the description of Israel as a “racist” state. But racism is exactly what the Israeli government has now enshrined via its ‘Nation State’ law.
  • We must defend freedom of speech on Palestine. In their identical front pages, the Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish Telegraph and Jewish News admit that: “Had the full IHRA definition with examples relating to Israel been approved, hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members would need to be expelled.”
  • Any attempts by the NEC to introduce so-called ‘safeguards’ are doomed to fail. Not only would they compete with the IHRA examples (which rule is more important?). Any assurance that past comments would not be investigated are also useless, because Jeremy Corbyn has already been declared an anti-Semite. 

There is still time to bring this witch-hunt to an end. But Jeremy Corbyn and his allies have to stand up to the enemies of the democratic Labour left:

  • They have to reject the whole IHRA working definition and clearly say that the Labour Party is not riddled with anti-Semites.
  • All those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process should be immediately reinstated.
  • We need mandatory reselection of all Labour Party MPs. The right wing saboteurs in the PLP have to go.
  • Momentum has be radically democratised – or abolished. Instead of defending Corbyn, Momentum owner Jon Lansman has sided with the witch-hunters. He has thrown Jackie Walker and Pete Willsman to the wolves and is now ready to abandon Corbyn, too. He wants the term ‘Zionism’ banned. He runs Momentum like a dictator, having abolished all democratic structures in his coup of January 10 2017.

But democracy and free speech are essential in the struggle to transform our party and society.

Mass lobby on September 4: Say no to IHRA examples!

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On September 4, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party will be discussing the adoption of ALL examples of the definition on Anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

Most of these examples are designed to conflate criticism of Israel with Anti-Semitism. If adopted, they would, for example, ban the description of Israel as a racist state. We believe that adopting these examples would be major defeat for the left.

That is of course what this whole campaign is about: to get rid of Corbyn and his supporters and to stop the transformation of the Labour Party into a vehicle for socialist change. For this, we need a culture of open debate and criticism, not a culture of fear and censorship. As socialists, we must defend the right to openly criticise the crimes and injustice committed against the Palestinians.

We call on NEC members to resist this pressure from the right in and outside the party. We are therefore joining other organisations and groups in calling for a mass protest outside Labour Party HQ.

Tuesday September 4, 9am
Labour HQ, Southside,
105 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QT
Bring banners, posters and witches costumes!
Facebook event here

LAW’s leaflet for the event is available here in PDF format.

More background information:

 

LAW at the ‘Biased Broadcasting Corporation’ lunchtime lobby, August 7

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Over 100 people attended a spirited lunchtime demonstration outside BBC Brodcasting House on August 7, which was called to protest against the ‘Biased Broadcasting Cooperation’ and particularly the way in which it has reported about the ‘anti-Semitism scandal’ in the Labour Party.

Glyn Secker, secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour, tried to hand in a letter to the BBC.An agreement had been made the day before for a delegation of four people to deliver this letter of protest and that someone from the BBC would meet the delegation in order to receive the letter. When it came to it however, a security guard took the letter outside the building, promising to hand it to another security guard who would then deliver it to the addressee.

The rally, which occasionally broke into chants of “BBC, shame on you!”, heard speeches by Glyn Secker, Mike Cushman (Free Speech on Israel), Tony Greenstein (Labour Against the Witchhunt), Sam Gisagara and Stan Keable, secretary of LAW and Labour Party Marxists. He said:

“Every appeasement, every apology by Corbyn is immediately followed by fresh right wing attacks. The witch-hunt is not about to end. It is not about anti-Semitism, it is about removing Corbyn, because he is an unreliable ally of the United States and Israel. The hypocrisy of Labour’s rightwing is breathtaking. Disciplinary action against Margaret Hodge has been dropped. So we want to see the charges against Jackie Walker dropped, we want Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and Cyril Chilson reinstated. We want Ken Livingstone invited to re-join the party.

“The purpose of the witch-hunt is to silence us. We don’t want Margaret Hodge silenced by disciplining her for saying “fucking” or for calling Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semitic racist. We want her called to account by the Labour Party members in her Constituency Labour Party.”

Tony Greenstein, vice-chair of Labour Against the Witchhunt, said: “The BBC was born in the womb of the British state.  It’s attitude to the Palestinians is no different to its attitude to the Irish or workers strikes in this country.  It is a faithful spokesperson for the British Establishment and, as John Pilger said, it is the most effective propaganda organisation in the world.”

Report by Stan Keable

Has the Labour witch-hunt climaxed?

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We reproduce below an article about Sheffield Labour Party member Lee Rock, who is being investigated by Labour’s compliance unit for what might well be the most ridiculous charge we have yet come across. This investigation needs to be shut down – accompanied by a public apology and action taken against those who have made this vexatious complaint. The article first appeared on Labour Party Marxists’ website.

 

The witch-hunt against the left in the Labour Party has become even more absurd, reports Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists

All those who thought the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party had reached its limits can think again. The recent arrival of leftwing general secretary Jennie Formby and in-house QC Gordon Nardell (a founding member of the Labour Representation Committee) are clearly no protection, when it comes to the party apparatus taking absolutely ludicrous decisions.

On Monday July 16, long-standing trade union activist and socialist Lee Rock received notice from the Labour Party’s “acting head of disputes”, Nareser Osei, that, “Allegations that you may have been involved in a breach of Labour Party rules have been brought to the attention of national officers of the Labour Party.” Continue Reading “Has the Labour witch-hunt climaxed?”

Reinstate Stan Keable!

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Around 30 people attended LAW’s lobby of  Hammersmith and City council’s meeting on July 16. Stan was sacked from his job at the council for saying that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well documented if shameful historical fact. He said this on March 26, in a conversation in Parliament Square. This had nothing to do with work. Stan was participating in the Jewish Voice for Labour counter-demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, called in opposition to the right-wing ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration. The conversation was secretly filmed by the BBC’s David Grossman, who put a 105-second video clip online.

This dismissal extends the McCarthyite witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party to the area of employment. We fear that Stan’s dismissal could be the first of many political sackings.

More details on Stan’s case are available here and a model motion is here. As his union is refusing to support him, Stan will have to pay for legal advice himself, which is why we ask you to support his crowdfunding campaign. 

 

 

Call for video testimonies!

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LAW is asking comrades who have been victims of the Labour witch-hunt to tell us about their experiences in short video clips: this can help to humanise those suffering from the witch-hunt, show how ridiculous many of the charges are, but will also go some way in helping victimised comrades to overcome their political isolation and collectivise their experience.
 
We want to hear from ALL pro-Corbyn victims of the witch-hunt: not just those on charges of anti-Semitism, but also those victimised by the right for ‘bullying’ and those expelled for their association with other organisations etc.
 
Here are some pointers on how to do it:
 
* We don’t have the capacity to film everybody properly, so we would ask you to film yourself or get a friend or another LAW supporter to do it. Mobile phone quality is perfectly sufficient
* Ideally, the clips should be about 3-4 minutes long, and no longer than 5 minutes
* If you want to stay anonymous, please ask somebody to film you from the back or in a dark room
 
Some pointers for the content:
1. Please state your name and branch/CLP – if you want. It’s perfectly fine to leave out either or both.
2. Describe what you have been suspended for – and when.
3. Describe the process: low points, high points, did you appeal, resign etc.
4. Describe the outcome, if known yet.
5. Describe the reactions of others – supportive, dismissive etc.
6. Describe your feelings: anger, depression, etc.?
 
Files of up to 2GB in size can be uploaded to www.wetransfer.com – please send us an email with the link to your file. We have a LAW Youtube channel where we can upload the clips.

Grassroots Black Left leaves LAW

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Regrettably, Marc Wadsworth and Deborah Hobson of Grassroots Black Labour have decided to part company with Labour Against the Witchhunt to concentrate on GBL. This comes after LAW organised a lobby of Marc’s disciplinary hearing and a very successful #Justice4Marc speaking tour in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Chester, Bristol, Swansea and Sheffield to protest against his unjust expulsion from the Labour Party on April 27.

We encourage all LAW supporters to continue to campaign against Marc’s expulsion (as against all other unjust expulsions and suspensions), for example by moving our model motion or similar motions in their branch and CLP. We are also happy to help with the organisation of local LAW meetings by providing speakers and administrative support – get in touch!

GBL’s statement announcing their withdrawal

Grassroots Black Left has decided to withdraw its representatives from the Labour Against the Witchhunt steering committee. GBL will continue to work with individuals and organisations in the fight against unjust Labour Party suspensions and expulsions, as long as they respect the important principles of black self-organisation and self-determination.

We will vigorously resist any attempts to make GBL subordinate to the will of individuals and groups who choose to misuse their power or positions. While recognising the good work LAW has done, particularly by its local activists who have helped GBL, Jewish Voice for Labour and the Labour Representation Committee make the #Justice4Marc national speaking tour a success, difficulties encountered on the LAW SC have made it impossible for us to stay on that body.

A broad-based, non-sectarian, mass campaign against the purge is desperately needed by all those comrades affected by it. GBL notes many of the victims have been black people, Muslims and Jews. They must therefore be at the heart of the fightback. GBL is totally opposed to anti-black racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. But we deplore the cynical weaponisation of false accusations of anti-Semitism, which have undermined the genuine fight against racism and support for the Palestinians. When the targets have been black, including GBL member Marc Wadsworth, this has damaged much-needed unity between black people and Jewish people.

We recognise the main objective of the right wing, who have been driving the purge, is to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive leadership of the Labour Party. Appeasement and capitulation is not the best way to defeat them.

GBL will continue to work with JVL, LRC, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Red Labour, supportive LAW groups and others committed to stopping the purge, getting Marc reinstated by Labour and the Shami Chakrabarti report recommendations on the party’s disciplinary procedures implemented.

The LAW steering committee sent the following short reply

Dear GBL comrades,

We regret that Grassroots Black Left has decided, in its May 27 statement, to withdraw its representatives, Marc Wadsworth and Deborah Hobson, from the steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt. We hope that GBL and LAW can cooperate fully in campaigning against all unjust suspensions and expulsions of Labour Party members, including for the reinstatement of Marc Wadsworth.”

It was signed by remaining SC members Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable, Steve Price, Jackie Walker and Tina Werkmann (SC members are elected as individuals, not as delegates, by voting at membership meetings).

Sacked for being an anti-Zionist: Stan Keable’s open letter

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Open letter to Hammersmith & Fulham Labour councillors and party members

Dear Comrades,

Shame on Hammersmith and Fulham Council. The decision to sack me on April 21, after 17 years of unblemished service as a housing enforcer (Public Protection and Safety Officer), for expressing my political views – namely, anti-Zionism – on the March 26 Jewish Voice for Labour demonstration in Parliament Square, has brought the Council, and the Labour Party, into disrepute, and rubbished its own much vaunted anti-racist reputation.

Does the H&F Labour council really want to forbid criticism of Zionism – the official ideology of the racist Israeli state? Does the council support the ethnic cleansing of the 1948 Nakba (“Disaster’ – the forced removal of some 750,000 Palestinians), the discriminatory treatment of Palestinian Israeli citizens, and the ongoing ethnic cleansing on the West Bank?

At the very moment when the Zionist Israeli apartheid state is massacring its own Palestinian citizens – imprisoned, impoverished and starved in the siege of Gaza – H&F Council forbids the criticism of Zionism, becoming the first Council to extend the “Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism” charade from the suspension and expulsion of pro-Corbyn Labour Party members to the dismissal of employees, opening the way for the introduction into the UK of the notorious West German practice of Berufsverbort– the wholesale sacking of socialist teachers and civil servants under the 1972 ‘anti-radical decree’. Presumably, logically, all job applicants should now be asked the question: ‘Are you an anti-Zionist?”

My dismissal letter is entitled “Strictly private and confidential”, but the attempt of a Labour council to ditch freedom of speech and assembly is a threat to the employment rights of millions and a matter of public concern. Freedoms have always been fought for and won in public.

I can remember, in slightly more rational times, when serious disciplinary cases, those involving “serious misconduct” and possible dismissal, were heard by Councillors, not paid officers. It is ridiculous today that an employee, the Director of Environment, who is no doubt competent in dealing with environmental issues, should be tasked with resolving a political issue that has nothing to do with work, while the elected Labour politicians can wash their hands of the matter, like Pontius Pilot.

I shall, of course, be submitting an appeal, and/or taking the matter to an employment tribunal, where I feel sure the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, including the right to express views which are irritating or offensive to the public or the state, are more likely to be upheld. Freedom of speech is nothing if it does not include the right to offend.

Stan Keable
keablestan@icloud.com
07817 379568

Further details of my disciplinary case are available online:

 I urge those who wish to offer support and solidarity to me and others affected by the anti-Corbyn campaign to join Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) and/or sign up to receive LAW’s email newsletter.