Anti-Semitism training by the JLM? Just say no!

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We understand that the Jewish Labour Movement is writing to Constituency Labour Parties offering training sessions in opposing anti-semitism.
While opposed to racism in all its forms, we urge CLPs to reject the JLM’s offer for the following reasons:
  • The JLM encourages the adoption of the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism, with all its accompanying examples, several of which equate antisemitism with criticism of Israel. The IHRA definition has been challenged by Jewish groups and legal experts.
  • The Chakrabarti report, commissioned by the Party leadership, argued against “narrow anti racist training programmes (p22)
    “On reflection, and having gauged the range of feelings within the Party, it is not my view that narrow anti-racism training programmes are what is required. There is a grave danger that such an approach would seem patronising or otherwise insulting rather than truly empowering and enriching for those taking part. Instead, the Party’s values, mission and history could be firmly embedded in more comprehensive activism and leadership education designed to equip members”

Instead, we urge branches and CLPs to invite a speaker from an organisation like Labour Against the Witchhunt or Jewish Voice for Labour, to address issues like ‘Why anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’ or ‘How to stop the witch hunt against the pro-Corbyn left’.

Why the Steering Committee are proposing that Socialist Fight [SF] should be excluded from Labour Against the Witch-hunt

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UPDATE (January 7 2018): The overwhelming majority of attendees at our January 6 meeting voted for the steering committee’s motion to exclude Socialist Fight. 

Statement from Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein

At the last meeting of LAW, the Steering Committee [SC] motion excluding SF from the campaign was narrowly defeated.  Also defeated was a motion from SF and a third motion by John Bridge.  Subsequently the SC decided to renew its call for the exclusion of SF.

  1. The reason that the SC is moving a resolution calling for the exclusion of SF is because the campaign cannot develop as long as SF, which advocates anti-Semitic politics, is allowed to remain. It really is that simple.  None of the 3 people whom the Right are intending to expel next – Tony Greenstein [TG], Jackie Walker [JW] or Marc Wadsworth [MW] – want anything to do with SF.  Nor will any Jewish anti-Zionist group will have anything to do with LAW if SF remain a part of it.
  2. The Right is waging a witchhunt which is primarily based around the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. We are falsely being accused of anti-Semitism because we are anti-Zionists. It makes no sense whatsoever for us to therefore include a political group in LAW which is anti-Semitic. This is playing into the hands of the Zionists and undermines the position of those who are facing expulsion.
  3. The only question to be decided is whether SF is anti-Semitic. By that we don’t mean that Gerry Downing [GD] or Ian Donovan [ID] are personally anti-Semitic but whether their politics are anti-Semitic.
  4. ID writes that ‘Today, he [Greenstein] and his bed mate Jack Conrad are in a bloc with the same Iain McNichol who is framing him up for anti-Semitism. This is class treachery at its most pathetic.’  If ID really believes that TG and presumably JW and MW, all of whom agree about SF, are in a bloc with Iain McNicol, what the hell is he doing in LAW in the first place?
  5. Yes we have moderated their lengthy contributions on the FB page, not because we wished to censor them but because the group is there to fight the witchhunt.

Why Socialist Fight is espousing anti-Semitic politics

  1. It is a standard tactic of Zionism to accuse anti-Zionists of anti-Semitism. In 99% of cases this is false but occasionally they are right. Making a connection between the number of Jewish billionaires in the United States or who is Jewish amongst the richest sections of society and imperialist support for Israel is anti-Semitic.
  2. Anti-Zionists have taken great care to make the distinction between Zionism and being Jewish crystal clear. SF make no such distinction. US support for Israel and Zionism has nothing to do with the ethnic composition of the US ruling class and everything to do with their own perceived interests. There is no evidence of a clash between Jewish and non-Jewish members of the ruling class over this.
  3. ID states that ‘It is factually demonstrable that there exists a Jewish component within the ruling classes of Western countries… and that this part of the ruling class is overwhelmingly loyal to Israel. This does not determine the bare existence of a Western alliance with Israel.
  4. What it does, however, is play an important role in transforming what would otherwise be a ‘normal’ relationship… into a servile relationship
  5. The idea that the United States is ‘servile’ to Israel is anti-Semitic. What lies behind this is the notion of an all-powerful Jewish conspiracy.
  6. ID is the main theoretician of SF and he is a critical supporter of Gilad Atzmon. Atzmon is deeply anti-Semitic. He believes that the Jews control the world and that it is irrelevant if the Protocols of Zion are a forgery because they are true anyway.  He doubts whether Auschwitz was an extermination camp.  In his essay ‘On anti-Semitism’ he wrote ‘we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously.’  See A Guide to the Sayings of Gilad Atzmon, for more examples of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism.  
  7. In March 2012 twenty leading Palestinians including Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad and Omar Barghouti penned a call to exclude Atzmon from the Palestine solidarity movement Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon yet in Third-Camp Stalinoids bring Witchhunt into ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ ID describes Atzmon as an ‘Israeli dissident’ and denies that he is anti-Semitic.
  8. ID in Defend Marxism and Labour Movement democracy against capitulators to Zionism describes the campaign of Jews Against Zionism and J-Big to get the SWP to cut their links with Atzmon, as an attempt ‘to witchhunt the Socialist Workers Party’. ID subscribes to many of Atzmon’s pet themes, especially his hatred of Jewish anti-Zionist groups whom he says subscribe to notions of ‘Jewish moral superiority’.
  9. ID accuses, without an iota of evidence, Jewish anti-Zionist groups of operating as a 5th column inside Palestine solidarity groups, whose ‘opposition to Israeli crimes is suspected to be anti-Semitic unless validated by a special Jewish endorsement.’ Indeed ID goes further. ‘These groups are indirectly a transmission belt for Zionist influence into the left, despite their subjective intentions as anti-Zionists.’ ID accepts Atzmon’s racist lie that it is impossible to be a Jewish anti-Zionist because to be a Jew politically is to be a Zionist!
  10. Jewish anti-Zionist groups are welcomed by Palestinians because they give the lie to the argument that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic. Jewish groups play the same role in respect to Palestine that White Anti-Apartheid groups played in South Africa. Our role as Jews is one of solidarity.  Donovan’s calumnies come from the pen of Atzmon.
  11. ID’s whole language is becoming anti-Semitic. He talks of ‘the indulgence of Jewish sensibilities’.  There is no collective Jew except in the minds of Zionism and anti-Semites.  The whole concept of Jews having become an ‘oppressor people’ is also anti-Semitic as well as anti-Marxist.
  12. Finally there is the appeal to liberalism, by asking how an anti-witch hunt group can exclude SF. In the same way that we exclude the Zionist AWL.  We are a campaign not a party.  If SF’s presence hinders our work, as it does, then we have the right to tell them to go their own way.

Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker

Tony Greenstein: Anti-Semites not welcome

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Tony Greenstein explains why Socialist Fight must be excluded from Labour Against the Witchhunt

This article first appeared in the Weekly Worker.

On December 2 a Labour Against the Witchhunt meeting was effectively ambushed by a small Trotskyist grouping, Socialist Fight. A series of close votes was taken, the result of which meant that the previous decision of the steering committee, that Socialist Fight should no longer participate in meetings of LAW, was overturned.

Stan Keable, the secretary of LAW, had written to inform SF that it was no longer welcome at our meetings, but despite this their comrades turned up. For various reasons – not least that most people were unaware of the full extent of the anti-Semitic positions of Socialist Fight – those present voted against the steering committee position.

It is now incumbent upon LAW to demonstrate clearly and unambiguously that it wants to have nothing to do with Socialist Fight. Not only because its positions are anti-Semitic, but because a campaign whose purpose is to reject the false anti-Semitism campaign of Iain McNicol, the compliance unit and the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement cannot retain any credibility if it includes a group whose positions are anti-Semitic.

I was not aware, at the time of the last meeting, that Ian Donovan – a ‘left’ supporter of the overtly anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon – had penned an obnoxious and anti-Semitic article the day before, entitled ‘Third-camp Stalinoids bring witchhunt into Labour Against the Witchhunt’.

There is no future for Labour Against the Witchhunt if Socialist Fight and its members remain an integral part of the organisation. For that reason I believe that it is essential that the next meeting, on January 6 should overturn the previous decision. If my views do not prevail, then I will resign from the organisation – as I believe will Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth of Grassroots Black Left. Continue Reading “Tony Greenstein: Anti-Semites not welcome”

Jackie Walker: A reply to “Lucy Lips”

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At the heart of Labour’s witch hunt problem……people who twist the truth for their own political ends

http://hurryupharry.org/2017/12/09/at-the-heart-of-labours

There’s a writer who calls herself Lucy Lips. I’ve been reliably informed Lucy is in fact a man, Harry Toube — who writes at times for the Guardian (no wonder it’s going bust) who used to be on the Pro Pal side of things, till he saw the light — or the dark, depending on your point of view. Anyway, whatever the reality, Luscious Lucy has made a number of truth claims to justify her smears of me and a number of other suspended comrades. Let me be clear, I have no problem with gender bending, in fact I’m all for it, but bending the truth for political purposes, in particular, when it not only affects the reputation of individuals but the Party you claim to support — that is a deviation too far and worse, it’s just plain intellectually LAZY Lucy.

After all, it would have taken little research to know that I was not the first, but the third person, to ask what definition was being used by the Jewish Labour Movement’s so-called trainer Mike Katz (for goodness sake, why would I say there was not ANY definition of antisemitism I could work with? I earned my living as an anti-racist trainer for years). Mind you, the coyness of Katz in defining his terms was understandable. Having taken participants through a session that was remarkable only for its lack of theory or evidence to back up his sweeping claims of antisemitism, not just in the Labour Party but in the country as a whole, Katz knew the IHRA definition he was reluctant to confess he was basing his session on, would be torn to shreds by a significant and well informed proportion of the audience.

By the way, the IHRA definition being touted by every Israel supporting and right wing hawk in town at the moment, is in fact a re-hash of an earlier definition which had been rejected by …. virtually everybody, and for good reason; it makes neither legal or ethical sense. Having understood what an effective tool false accusations of antisemitism might be, some bright sparks realised that if the tried and tested definitions of antisemitism (you know, for example, hatred of Jews for being Jews) was not doing the job of protecting Israel and its Zionist friends, they would just have to come up with — yes you guessed it — a ‘New Antisemitism’. And this ‘New Antisemitism’ could then be backed up by a new definition that could be as self-serving to the interests of Israel as they needed. Personally, whenever people stick a ‘new’ in front of a term, I shudder — you know, New Labour and all that! But for those from that ‘New’ neck of the woods, they took to this New Antisemitism like ducks to water.

Now it seems there’s an issue in Labour, for while the Compliance Unit of the Labour Party, for example) has adopted the full IHRA definition, including all the ‘we mustn’t criticise Israel’ nonsense, the leadership of Labour appear to have only adopted the first paragraph, something that all good people should be happy to sign up to. But let’s leave this drivel for the moment where it should be — dripping out of Lucy’s I suspect not so luscious lips.

And Lucy, you naughty girl, not satisfied with bending the truth with your rendition of the training session (if you haven’t, I suggest you watch/read at least one of the alternative narratives to the Zionist propaganda you have been so enthusiastically wrapping your lips around, the Aljazeera documentary The Lobby for example http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/lobby-episode-2-training-session-170112085805744.html or the statement by Free Speech on Israel made by witnesses who were actually at the training session http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/jewish-labour-activists-defence-jackie-walker/#sthash.uauWqafU.dpbs.) you then turn your doubtful vision on the workings of the Steering Group of LAW … and vision is the right term isn’t it Lucy unless you have been, or are, a member of the LAW Steering Group?

Because the truth is Lucy, whatever you have been taking, whoever has been feeding you this narcotic brew of smear and half-truths, you actually have no idea of the reasoning of the Steering Group or the discussions that led to the request for exclusions do you? And in any case, anyone with any knowledge of me knows my antipathy to Gerry Downing in particular is long standing. I will not share a platform with Downing or Donovan because their ideas lead in the direction of anti-Semitism, as well as to ‘the socialism of fools’.

Now you could say, why didn’t you leave LAW straight away? Well, some of us believe, when we are part of a group, we should allow democratic and political process to go forward before making any such decisions.

And by the way, what makes you think I love the Labour Party ‘the most’? Most of what? Or is that just another meaningless rhetorical flourish? As for your take on my record — jeez — as football supporters might chant, “who the f….ing hell are you?”.

I have nothing to justify, certainly not to you, a true non-entity, someone who won’t even apply their real name to the nonsense they write. I’m more than happy with what I’ve achieved. I continue to serve the agenda I began with. I’m not stoking the fires of a witch hunt that is benefiting the enemies of our movement. Not helping to silence the voices of minorities who are not just the victims of bigotry but are excluded at all levels, not only of the Labour Party but of British society as a whole. I’m not backing a settler colonial regime that seeks protection behind a wall of the most offensive allegations and devious actions. I’m not supporting a disciplinary system that would be laughed out of any British court or industrial tribunal.

But hey, why would you, or people of your ilk Lucy of the Lips, concern yourselves with the oppressed when you have the poor, browbeaten, friendless Israeli state to defend? Especially when, according to Labour Friends of Israel Chair Joan Ryan, there is in fact no other racism in the Labour Party except … yes you guessed it… anti-Semitism http://www.lfi.org.uk/analysis-thornberry-lays-out-labours-israel-agenda/.

Mind you if, as a (Jewish) comrade said at the launch of Jewish Voice for Labour this year, Labour is so riven with antisemitism, I would say, given the level of representation of Jewish MPs, given that the last Leader (a Jew) had to defeat his Jewish brother for the post, that the present leader is a life long anti-racist well known for his good relations with Jews in his constituency, that there are Jews in key positions as advisers in the Labour Party and of course, as you noted, as Chair of Momentum, given all that, if the Labour Party is rife with antisemitism, it’s really not doing a very good job of Jew hating is it? Whereas the witch hunters — they seem to be victimising anti-Zionist Jews very nicely indeed.

By the way, you have no idea of me, my record. And you — I say again, who are f***ing hell are you? I suggest until you have the courage to put your name to the crap you write, until you manage to grow a pair (of ovaries or balls) Lucy, you should just crawl back into the incognito hole you came from.

A Jewish Voices for Labour statement on the Tony Greenstein case

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Antisemitism allegations against Tony Greenstein

Statement by Jewish Voice for Labour, 26 November 2017

Jewish Voice for Labour is committed both to challenging any antisemitic incidents or statements we encounter in the Labour Party or elsewhere, and to contesting unwarranted allegations of antisemitism.

We agree with Brian Klug who wrote in The Jewish Chronicle last year: “While antisemitism is monstrous – and, like all forms of racism, should be vigorously dealt with – false accusations of antisemitism are monstrous too.” To be labelled an antisemite is both painful and severely damaging to a person’s reputation and it is not an allegation to be made without clear prima facia evidence. False allegations also risk making correct allegations less credible and place Jews at greater risk.

We have reviewed the bulky dossier of material presented as evidence against Tony Greenstein by the Governance and Legal Unit of the Labour Party. To those of us who have known him for many years as a Jewish socialist and an implacable opponent of racism and antisemitism in any form, it is no surprise to find that the dossier does not offer any remotely persuasive substantiation of claims of antisemitism.

There is undoubtedly evidence of language which we would not want to be associated with. But as Shami Chakrabarti stated in her report, even offensive language on its own is only antisemitic if it is coupled with antisemitic intent. Such intent cannot be demonstrated in Tony Greenstein’s case because it is absent.

There are many critical comments we could make about this disciplinary process. We will limit ourselves to one, the issue of representation. Party members with sufficient financial resources are entitled to instruct a lawyer to represent them. Those who cannot afford one are only allowed to have a ‘silent friend’. This clearly discriminates against less affluent party members and in particular against less affluent and less articulate party members who are denied the support of a knowledgeable friend or colleague to speak on their behalf.

The party should either provide legal representation to all summoned to a disciplinary hearing or allow representation and advocacy from a non-legally qualified acquaintance.

FREE SPEECH ON ISRAEL – Concerns about the process of handling the complaint against Tony Greenstein

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Free Speech on Israel
The following letter was sent from the Free Speech on Israel group to Iain McNicol. It makes extensive reference to the Chakrabarti Report which has now disappeared from the Labour Party’s web site.

The only reason for this is that its recommendations are an embarrassment to Iain McNicol, the Compliance Unit and Labour’s Witch-hunters.

In the interests of freedom of speech and accountability I have posted it here:

Dear Iain McNicol

Free Speech on Israel is a Jewish led group of mainly Labour Party members formed to contest restrictions on debate about Palestinian rights and Israeli Government actions and to contest antisemitic speech and actions as well as false allegations of antisemitism.

FSOI wishes to express its grave disquiet about the current operation of the Party’s disciplinary machinery and in particular in relation to the mishandling of the case against Tony Greenstein who has a long record of both challenging antisemitism and racism and campaigning for human rights. The dossier presented to Tony Greenstein contains many robust statements and vociferous criticism of Israel’s actions but nothing that can remotely be judged as being antisemitic or uttered with antisemitic intent.

Continue Reading “FREE SPEECH ON ISRAEL – Concerns about the process of handling the complaint against Tony Greenstein”