Panorama programme exposes political bias of former staffers – now reopen all cases prepared and processed by them!

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In one respect, the BBC Panorama’s biased programme ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ actually did a very good job: It vividly exposed how politically biased those employed to implement the disciplinary process in the Labour Party have been when making their decisions.

Most of the ex-staffers interviewed by the programme were hired by former general secretary and virulent anti-Corbyn right-winger Iain McNicol, who himself was given the job by Tony Blair. Dan Hogan for example was employed by McNicol in 2016, at the height of the first coup against Corbyn. He acted as ‘investigating officer’ on many cases that led to good comrades being expelled from the party. He now says in an interview with the ‘i’ newspaper: “Yes, I have a political axe to grind in that I don’t want the Labour Party to be run by anti-Semites.”

The Labour Party press office is of course spot on when it describes Hogan and others as “disaffected former officials” and “who have always opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, worked to actively undermine it and have both personal and political axes to grind. This throws into doubt their credibility as sources.”

But it does much more than that: it puts into doubt every single disciplinary case that was prepared by these Blairites. These include the high-profile cases of Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth (and many hundreds more). These comrades are clearly victims of the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt and were expelled on the weakest of evidence, in a highly politicised and biased disciplinary process lacking any kind of natural justice.

We demand that all cases processed and prepared by staffers employed under Iain McNicol are reopened and that the comrades in question are immediately reinstated!

Please also check out the excellent statement by our comrades of Jewish Voice for Labour: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/bbc-panoramas-is-labour-antisemitic/

Protest against Iain McNicol at 2017 Labour Party conference

Sign the open letter to the NEC: The renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP is a travesty of justice

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SIGN BY CLICKING HERE

We, the undersigned, believe that the renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP is a travesty of justice.

We will be protesting outside the NEC meeting on July 9 2019, which will in all likelihood decide to overturn the decision of the NEC panel and send Chris’ case to the National Constitutional Committee, which is still dominated by the right. A referral to this body usually leads to an expulsion. Please come along to show your solidarity with the only MP who has dared to stand up to the witch-hunters. The only one who has defended members wrongly accused of being anti-Semites. Now it’s our turn to stand with him! (Tuesday July 9, 9am, Labour Party HQ, 105 Victoria Street, Southside, London SW1)

We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.

We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).

But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots  – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.

But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains an unreliable ally from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

There is very little chance that Chris will get a fair hearing from the NEC Disputes Panel, when several of those who will sit in judgment upon him have already torn his reputation to shreds on social media, without even having seen all the evidence.

We therefore call on the NEC:

  •  to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson, as recommended by the NEC panel
  • to immediately open trigger ballots so that Labour Party members can choose a parliamentary candidate who actually reflects their wishes
  • to stop the practice of automatic suspensions and expulsions: members should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty

SIGN BY CLICKING HERE

The re-suspension of Chris Williamson is a travesty of justice

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Sign our open letter to the NEC here

The renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP, two days after he was readmitted to the Labour Party, is deeply troubling. We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.

We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).

But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.

But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains unreliable from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

It is high time that the Labour MPs better reflect the wishes of the local membership. We therefore urge Labour Party members to organise trigger ballots everywhere, particularly in order to deselect the 70 or so MPs who have signed Tom Watson’s letter (below).

Click here to see the long list of statements, resolutions and motions in support of Chris!

Sign our open letter to the NEC here

saboteurs

We welcome Chris Williamson’s reinstatement! Now use trigger ballots to get rid of the saboteurs!

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Today we are celebrating the long overdue reinstatement of Chris Williamson MP. The reality is that he should never have been suspended in the first place!

The allegation that Chris had downplayed anti-Semitism was totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were condemned in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris and Jeremy Corbyn.

Chris Williamson MP actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”

Handy list of saboteurs that should be targeted in trigger ballots

His comments were clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he did quite rightly point to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.

Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.

We are deeply concerned that anti-Corbyn right-wingers continue to smear and harass Chris, even after his reinstatement. Ruth Smeeth MP, chair of the rightwing Jewish Labour Movement’s parliamentary group, for example said that he had “demonstrated a pattern of behaviour over a period of many months, seemingly seeking to intentionally undermine, marginalise and harass the British Jewish community and Jewish Labour Party members, which has continually brought the Labour Party into disrepute”.

Despite the departure of Iain McNicol as general secretary, the witch-hunt of left-leaning party members continues. The main target of this campaign is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself. But thousands of Labour Party members have been investigated, suspended and expelled, often on spurious grounds. Like Chris Williamson, they are the collateral damage in this campaign to ‘get’ Corbyn.

We call on all Labour Party members to use trigger ballots to challenge saboteurs like Ruth Smeeth, Tom Watson and all those who continue to oppose the positive transformation of the Labour Party.

Here is a guide on how to go about it: http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/model-motions/how-to-use-the-new-trigger-ballot-to-deselect-your-mp/

 

Statement and model motion: Reinstate Pete Willsman!

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Labour Against the Witchhunt deplores the disciplinary action against NEC member Pete Willsman, who has been put under administrative suspension by general secretary Jennie Formby after “a number of complaints, including from NEC members, about Pete’s latest comments”.

Comrade Willsman insists that he made his comments to the American-Israeli author Tuvia Tenenbom “off the record”, which explains some of the clumsy formulations he used in the discussion. It is surely no coincidence that Pete’s comments, recorded in January, have been published at a time where the slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn is hotting up once again.

Nothing Pete Willsman said in these comments is anti-Semitic. He does, however, point to some uncomfortable truths exposed by the excellent Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby, which has been so willfully ignored by the mainstream media. The documentary reveals a systematic effort by the Israeli embassy to infiltrate the Labour Party and highlights the efforts by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs to label critics of Israeli human rights abuses as anti-Semitic.

Letter sent by Corbyn to May asking for a public enquiry into Israeli interference in British politics… but nothing has happened.

This should be the subject of an overdue investigation rather than Pete Willsman’s role in drawing our attention to it. It is an outrage that Labour Party members are being disciplined for correctly stating that much of the anti-Semitism crisis has been manufactured, while anti-Corbyn MPs like Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, disrupt, make bogus accusations and work hand in glove with the capitalist media – with no repercussions coming their way. Those making false charges ought to face disciplinary action and should be held accountable for their actions.

A stalwart of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLDP), Pete Willsman has been serving on Labour’s NEC for many decades and is one of the few real allies of Jeremy Corbyn on that body. This is why he has been on the radar of those who will do anything to get rid of Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. We recall how he was secretly recorded at a meeting of the NEC in July 2018, where he can be heard angrily criticising all those who were responsible for so many false allegations of anti-Semitism in the party. His subsequent re-election to the NEC, despite being removed from Momentum’s slate at the behest of its owner, Jon Lansman, shows both his individual popularity and the widespread disillusionment with Momentum for its part in promoting the false ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ narrative.

Pete Willsman’s suspension from the Labour Party should be lifted immediately.

Please use this model motion in your Labour Party branch, CLP, trade union or organisation.

Update: Meet Tuvia Tenenbom, the man who secretly recorded Peter Willsman and leaked the audio to the press just as the latest coup against Jeremy Corbyn is hotting up… Watch the short clip below and then judge for yourself if this really is a “journalist” whose sound recording guy happened to have left the microphone on… or if this does not look like somebody who might organise a sting operation against the most outspoken Corbyn supporter on Labour’s NEC … kind of proving Pete’s point about “interference”.

The Equality Commission’s Inquiry is part of the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn

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It is unfortunately no surprise that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has opened an official investigation into the Labour Party.

Any kind of neutral body would have had to immediately dismiss the complaints lodged by the Jewish Labour Movement and the so-called Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. These organisations have no interest in fighting racism: their only purpose is to get rid of a certain Jeremy Corbyn. They have been blatant in their political opposition to the twice elected leader of the Labour Party – and have actively plotted against him from day one. (Click here for Tony Greenstein’s blog who looks at the reactionary politics of the CAA).

According to The Guardian, the EHRC will investigate “whether the party has unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish” and if “the party and its employees have committed unlawful acts of discrimination or failed to respond to complaints of unlawful acts in an efficient and effective manner”.

If there has been unlawful discrimination by Labour against Jewish people, it is against Jewish anti-Zionists. Many of those, as well as black members, are involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights, which explains the disproportionate number of expulsions and suspensions of black and Jewish comrades.

However, the recent victory of Stan Keable in his employment tribunal shows what happens when these types of cases are put before a real judge: they are laughed out of court. Stan was fired for stating that in the 1930s the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well documented, if shameful, historical fact. The judge defended the right to express anti-Zionist views – even if they offend people.

Labour HQ should call this campaign what it is: part of the rightwing witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. The Labour leader remains an unreliable ally from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

The expulsion of Alistair Campbell, though welcome, does not change the overall picture. MPs like Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, disrupt, make bogus accusations and work hand in glove with the capitalist media – with no repercussions coming their way. Those making false charges ought to face justice at last.

Their outrageous behaviour goes unpunished because of the short-sighted and futile attempts to appease the right. This can only undermine the Corbyn leadership and play into the false ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ narrative.

Solidarity with Chris Williamson MP

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The suspension of Chris Williamson MP is an absolute disgrace. We stand in full solidarity with Chris, who must be cleared as soon as possible by Labour’s “investigation” – though judging by how Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and many, many more Corbyn supporters have been thrown under the bus, we have very little confidence that he will receive a fair one.

He is the latest victim of the witch-hunt by the right in the party whose main target is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself.

Jeremy Corbyn recently said: “Chris Williamson is a very good, very effective Labour MP. He’s a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not anti-Semitic.” Corbyn was right. He should finally stand up and tell people like Jon Lansman and John McDonnell to stop joining in the witch-hunt – but support the thousands of left-wingers who have been investigated, suspended and expelled, many of them on false accusations of anti-Semitism.

This campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism will only get worse, the closer we get to a general election. Trying to appease the right clearly does not work. If you fight, you might loose – but if you don’t fight, you have already lost.

GMB should restore Peter Gregson’s full membership rights

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Labour Against the Witchhunt calls on the GMB union to restore Peter Gregson’s full membership rights.

Peter is clearly not anti-Semitic: he does not harbour hostility, prejudice, hatred or ill-intent towards Jewish people as Jews. He is a campaigner for Palestinian rights, against the racist ideology of Zionism and the apartheid system and practices of Israel.

We reject the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance’s unnecessarily complex, imprecise and self-contradictory definition of anti-Semitism, which has been adopted by both the Labour Party and the GMB and which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.

The investigation into Peter arose because he organised a petition– using the clumsy and obscure IHRA wording – that “the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour”.

Clearly, the Israeli state is inherently racist. Under its July 2018 Nation-State Law, Israel is defined as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” and Palestinian citizens are explicitly declared not to have any national rights. In the West Bank and Gaza – territories occupied since 1967 – while Jewish settlers enjoy full democratic rights as Israeli citizens, Palestinians live under military rule with no democratic rights, because they are not Jewish.

Although Peter’s petition is a good idea, challenging the IHRA definition, we cannot support it. Firstly, we disagree with some of its wording – eg, before it adopted the full IHRA definition on September 4, the Labour Party did not allow “full freedom of speech on Israel”. On the contrary, the witch-hunt was in full flow long before that. Secondly, some of the formulations in Peter’s supporting documents internalise the racism of Zionist ideology, failing to distinguish clearly between the Zionist movement and the Jewish population, and attributing a non-existent collective political identity to “the Jews”, eg, “the Jews have so much leverage here [in the UK]”.

We also disagree with Peter’s original formulation,  “Israel exaggerates the Holocaust for political ends”. After discussions with LAW members he clarified that he did not mean to deny the scale and the horror of the mass slaughter of Jewish people, but that he tried to echo the view of Norman Finkelstein, who in his seminal work ‘The Holocaust Industry’ outlined how the Zionist lobby and the Israeli government have weaponised the Holocaust for their own political ends.

We believe frank debate and discussion is much better to counter wrong ideas or, as in this case, clumsy formulations. Except in the most extreme circumstances, disciplinary sanctions should not be applied until due process has been concluded. Where low level sectionalist, nationalistic, xenophobic or racist ideas, including anti-Semitic ideas, are found in the workers’ movement, they are best countered by open discussion, patient education, inculcation of elementary class consciousness and by encouraging participation in joint struggles. The slogan ‘zero tolerance’ is ill-conceived and counterproductive.

The witch-hunt against Corbyn and the Labour left is part of the huge, unprecedented campaign over recent years to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism – hatched, crafted and skilfully promoted by the US right, the Israeli government and the UK establishment, designed to delegitimise criticism of Israel and to prepare public opinion for another imperialist war in the Middle East, after the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.

 

The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn

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Position agreed unanimously at LAW’s conference on February 2 2019

  1. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader on September 12 2015 was a body blow to the rightwing. It opened up the possibility of thoroughgoing democratisation and transformation of the Labour Party into a genuine party of the working class that would commit itself to fighting for global socialism.
  2. Corbyn’s longstanding record of backing strikes, opposing austerity and anti-war campaigning makes him totally unacceptable to Britain’s establishment. Above all Corbyn is considered a threat to the strategic alliance with the United States, symbolised by his critical attitude towards Israel and his solidarity with the Palestinians.
  3. The US has a particular interest in controlling the Middle East because of its oil and geopolitical position. That means shoring up the thoroughly corrupt Saudi Arabian regime and the barely disguised military dictatorship in Egypt. However, the most reliable strategic asset the US possesses in the Middle East is Israel. Israel’s ongoing settler-colonialism is inevitably opposed and bitterly resented by the Palestinian natives and the wider Arab nation. Consequently, the most important political question is security. The majority of the Israeli-Jewish population enthusiastically supports the country’s alliance with the US.
  4. The war of attrition against Corbyn as Labour leader, carried out by an alliance of the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the Party bureaucracy, the Israeli state, the pro-Israel lobby and the mainstream media, began even before he was elected. Corbyn was portrayed as a terrorist sympathiser, a security risk and an all-round danger to society.
  5. Thousands of socialists and leftwingers were investigated, suspended and expelled under former general secretary Iain McNicol. The charges leveled against these comrades were often trivial. Many were found guilty of supporting unaffiliated political groups. There was much talk of dangerous ‘reds under the beds’.
  6. However, the most potent weapon in the hands of Corbyn’s enemies proved to be false accusations of anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism was equated with anti-Semitism. This approach worked not least because Corbyn and his allies allowed it to. Rather than standing up to the right and exposing the baselessness of allegations that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semitism, Corbyn chose to appease the Labour right and the Zionist lobby.
  7. The investigation run by Shami Chakrabarti was supposed to put an end to the allegations, but it was only a new stage. Every time Corbyn and his allies conceded a demand, every time they took a step back, the right wing and Zionist lobby were further emboldened. This culminated in the NEC’s adoption of the much-criticised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism and all eleven of its illustrations (including the one which labels as anti-Semitic the description of Israel as a “racist endeavour”). But the IHRA definition conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.

Continue Reading “The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn”

Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism

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“It is designed to allow any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be dismissed as ‘anti-Semitism’”

As agreed unanimously at LAW’s conference on February 2 2019

This conference rejects the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism in its entirety.

We note that:

  1. The IHRA ‘definition’ reads:
    “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
  2. This definition was originally published, together with its 11 examples, in 2005 on the website of the European Union’s European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), although it was never adopted by that body. But after heavy criticism, it was removed by the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency, in November 2013.
  3. In May 2016, it was resurrected and adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a group of 32 countries. But, far from being the “internationally recognised definition”,  according to IHRA the definition has been adopted by only 10 countries: the UK, Romania, Lithuania, Slovakia, Austria, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands and, of course, Israel.
  4. On December 12 2016, the UK Tory government was the first of the IHRA countries to endorse the IHRA definition. Shamefully, on the very same day the Labour Party endorsed the definition, albeit without its 11 examples. The European Parliament’s May 29 2017 acceptance of the IHRA definition was spearheaded by the Austrian government, in particular the far-right Freedom Party, one of the two coalition partners.
  5. The definition is by the IHRA’s own admission not legally binding.
  6. Kenneth Stern of the American Jewish Committee, who first drafted the definition, has statedthat the original idea for it arose from Dina Porat of Tel Aviv’s Kantor Centre.

Continue Reading “Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism”

LAW’s constitution

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As agreed at LAW’s conference on February 2 2019

1. Aims

Labour Against the Witchhunt was founded in October 2017 to oppose the purge of pro-Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party. We have three main aims:

(a) We demand a radical reform of the Labour Party’s disciplinary process. While the automatic and instant suspensions and expulsions doled out so liberally under Jennie Formby’s predecessor Iain McNicol seem to have come to an end, much needs to change:

  • All those summarily expelled or suspended without due process should be immediately reinstated.
  • An accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. Legal representation costs to be paid by the party.
  • Disciplinary procedures should be carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and be time-limited: charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped.
  • The first part of rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) should be abolished: it bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” and has exclusively been used against left-wingers.

(b) The Labour Party must reverse its decision to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which in its list of examples conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people.

(c) The Compliance Unit should be replaced with a new body which will deal with complaints along the lines of the recommendations in the Chakrabarti Report, allowing all members appropriate due process.

2. Membership and affiliates

Labour Against the Witchhunt is a Labour Party campaign. We urge all members who oppose the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters and critics of Israel/Zionism to stay in the Party and fight. LAW welcomes the participation of LP members/excluded comrades/people who support our three key aims and pay the annual membership fee.

Organisations (Labour branches and CLPs, TU branches, Momentum groups, etc) can affiliate to LAW. At membership meetings, an affiliated organisation is entitled to one delegate with one vote.

Those who promote the false anti-Semitism smear, who conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and who promote the myth of a ubiquitous left anti-Semitism, are not welcome in LAW. 
Those who promote the “socialism of fools” – the view that imperialism’s support for Zionism and Israel is because of the influence of Jews – are also not welcome in LAW.

3. Organisation and structures

We urge all members to get involved in local and/ or regional branches, which are autonomous and raise their own funds for activities.

Decisions are taken by simple majorities of members voting in any properly constituted meeting (excluding abstentions).

Members have the right – individually or with others – to submit their views to the Steering Committee for discussion.

The national all-members meeting (including conference) is the highest decision-making body of LAW and it elects the Steering Committee. A simple majority at any all-members meeting can decide to appoint or recall a member of the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee is the highest decision-making body between all-members meetings. It elects its own officers and sub-committees and can appoint new SC members. Branches can send delegates to meetings of the SC.

The Steering Committee determines the level of membership dues and affiliation fees.

Model motions: Support the reinstatement of Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt as parliamentary candidate for Thanet South

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LAW Statement

In what is a very unusual and highly politicised decision, a three-person panel of the Labour Party’s NEC has refused to endorse Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt as the parliamentary candidate for South Thanet. It has thereby undermined the democratic decision of local Labour Party members who had selected her over eight months earlier.

Just like many other Labour Party members, Rebecca is the victim of false accusations of anti-Semitism made against her. The following three Twitter messages by Rebecca constitute the whole ‘evidence’ against her:

  1. “Accusations levelled at Jackie Walker are politically motivated.”
  2. “Antisemitism has been weaponised by those who seek to silence anti-Zionist voices. See The Lynching, endorsed by Ken Loach, for elucidation.”
  3. “Accusations of AS levelled in an attempt to discredit the left.”

Ironically, the NEC panel’s disgraceful decision underlines the correctness of her statements. Clearly, none of these tweets are even vaguely anti-Semitic, but they prove that the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is very much ongoing.

Jackie Walker, chair of LAW and a member of South Thanet CLP, says:

“Clearly, this shows that the witch hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is still in full swing. Rebecca is a life-long socialist and principled campaigner for the rights of the Palestinians. Nothing she said or wrote is even vaguely anti-Semitic. It is almost unheard of that the NEC does not endorse a candidate who has been selected democratically and transparently by local party members. This is a slap in the face of the local membership and it is no surprise that the NEC’s decision has been rejected by the Executive Committee of South Thanet Constituency Labour Party, its branches and its women’s forum.”

What you can do:

  • Sign Rebecca’s petition here
  • Contribute to her legal fighting fund here

  • Take either of the model motions below to your branch/CLP demanding Rebecca’s reinstatement

Model motion 1:

This branch/CLP is appalled at the decision of a three-person NEC panel not to endorse South Thanet Labour Party’s democratically elected parliamentary candidate, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt. This decision is an affront to our democratic traditions and appears not to be accompanied by any supporting evidence nor any rationale detailing the decision-making process. This branch/CLP asks the NEC to review its decision in a way which fully respects the integrity of the NEC and the democratic wishes of the membership.

Model motion 2:

This branch/CLP notes:

  • That in December 2018, Labour Party’s NEC refused to endorse Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt as the parliamentary candidate for South Thanet, eight months after she was democratically selected by the local CLP.
  • That it is highly unusual for the NEC not to endorse a candidate selected locally.
  • That since her selection in April 2018, Rebecca has tirelessly campaigned for the local Labour Party, with the full support of the local members.

We further note:

  • That in April 2018, three tweets written by Rebecca for the Centre for Cultural Change twitter account were published out of context by Guido Fawke’s blog.
  • The three tweets read in full:
  1. “Accusations levelled at Jackie Walker are politically motivated.
  2. “Antisemitism has been weaponised by those who seek to silence anti-Zionist voices. See The Lynching, endorsed by Ken Loach, for elucidation.”
  3. “Accusations of AS levelled in an attempt to discredit the left.”
  • This led to an investigation by the Labour Party, which culminated in an interview with the NEC panel in December. Rebecca was told that:“In light of these posts your conduct does not meet the high standards that are expected of parliamentary candidates and has the potential to bring the Party into disrepute.”
  • This decision has been rejected by the Executive Committee of South Thanet Constituency Labour Party, its branches and its women’s forum.
  • Rebecca has no right to appeal this decision and is therefore considering taking legal action.

We believe:

  • That this decision is a serious blow to the democratic will of local Labour Party members
  • Rebecca’s tweets were not even vaguely anti-Semitic – but they do point to the very real and ongoing campaign by the right in the Labour Party to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semitic.

We therefore call on the NEC:

  • To revisit this decision asap and to reinstate Rebecca as the Labour candidate for Thanet South.
  • To apologise to Rebecca and South Thanet CLP.

We further resolve to

  • Publicise this motion and send it to the CLP for discussion
  • Send this motion to the Labour Party NEC and general secretary Jennie Formby
  • Publicise the public petition demanding Rebecca’s reinstatement
  • Support Rebecca’s legal fighting fund with a donation of £___

Links

 

 

 

Motions to LAW conference, Saturday February 2 2019

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1. The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn – download PDF version here

2. Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘Definition of Anti-Semitism’ download PDF version here

3. LAW support to activists download PDF version here

4. Model motion on IHRA to be recommended to CLPs/Union branches  download PDF version here

5. LAW draft constitution download PDF version here

The deadline for amendments to these is Saturday January 26 please email by midnight.

If you want to submit a motion, please do so by midnight, Saturday January 19 (and please submit the name of the mover and seconder, both of whom have to be paid up members of LAW).


1. The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn

Submitted by LAW’s steering committee, to be introduced at conference by Moshe Machover

  1. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader on September 12 2015 was a body blow to the rightwing. It opened up the possibility of thoroughgoing democratisation and transformation of the Labour Party into a genuine party of the working class that would commit itself to fighting for global socialism.
  2. Corbyn’s longstanding record of backing strikes, opposing austerity and anti-war campaigning makes him totally unacceptable to Britain’s establishment. Above all Corbyn is considered a threat to the strategic alliance with the United States, symbolised by his critical attitude towards Israel and his solidarity with the Palestinians.
  3. The US has a particular interest in controlling the Middle East because of its oil and geopolitical position. That means shoring up the thoroughly corrupt Saudi Arabian regime and the barely disguised military dictatorship in Egypt. However, the most reliable strategic asset the US possesses in the Middle East is Israel. Israel’s ongoing settler-colonialism is inevitably opposed and bitterly resented by the Palestinian natives and the wider Arab nation. Consequently, the most important political question is security. The majority of the Israeli-Jewish population enthusiastically supports the country’s alliance with the US.
  4. The war of attrition against Corbyn as Labour leader, carried out by an alliance of the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the Party bureaucracy, the Israeli state, the pro-Israel lobby and the mainstream media, began even before he was elected. Corbyn was portrayed as a terrorist sympathiser, a security risk and an all-round danger to society.
  5. Thousands of socialists and leftwingers were investigated, suspended and expelled under former general secretary Iain McNicol. The charges leveled against these comrades were often trivial. Many were found guilty of supporting unaffiliated political groups. There was much talk of dangerous ‘reds under the beds’.
  6. However, the most potent weapon in the hands of Corbyn’s enemies proved to be false accusations of anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism was equated with anti-Semitism. This approach worked not least because Corbyn and his allies allowed it to. Rather than standing up to the right and exposing the baselessness of allegations that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semitism, Corbyn chose to appease the Labour right and the Zionist lobby.
  7. The investigation run by Shami Chakrabarti was supposed to put an end to the allegations, but it was only a new stage. Every time Corbyn and his allies conceded a demand, every time they took a step back, the right wing and Zionist lobby were further emboldened. This culminated in the NEC’s adoption of the much-criticised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism and all eleven of its illustrations (including the one which labels as anti-Semitic the description of Israel as a “racist endeavour”). But the IHRA definition conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.
  8. This policy of appeasement has proven disastrous not just for Corbyn, but for many hundreds accused of being anti-Semites. The vast majority are no such thing. Social media accounts have been trawled, comments taken out of context and the forwarding of posts taken as evidence of agreement. As a result, reputations have been ruined, good leftwingers have been blocked from standing for positions and, just as importantly, the party as a whole has been brought into disrepute.
  9. Labour Against the Witchhunt has two main roles: Firstly, we are a campaigning organisation that fights to radically transform the disciplinary procedures in the Labour Party. We defend all those unjustly suspended, expelled or put under investigation. We welcome the ending of automatic and instant suspensions and expulsions by the new general secretary Jennie Formby – one of our founding demands. Nonetheless, the NEC’s adoption of the IHRA definition has massively expanded the grounds being used for false allegations of anti-Semitism.
  10. We call on the NEC to implement the proposals coming from Shami Chakrabarti’s report in regards to natural justice and due process. In particular, we call for the abolition of Appendix 6 of the party’s rulebook, which is the LP’s disciplinary code. We demand its replacement by a code that guarantees the rights of the accused and ensures that the whole disciplinary process is seen to be fair and above board. That anyone accused has the right to legal representation, especially if the Labour Party itself is represented legally. And that the LP should be paying for such representation if someone cannot afford to pay.
  11. We will continue to campaign for the abolition of the first part of rule 2.1.4.B, which bars from Labour membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” and has exclusively been used against left-wingers.
  12. We will continue to organise lobbies of Labour NEC meetings, organise our own events and meetings and – after a successful intervention at Labour Party conference 2018 – will plan for another intervention at the 2019 Labour conference.
  13. Secondly, and equally important, is the need to lay bare the role of the Labour right, the Israeli state and Zionist organisations in fabricating the anti-Semitism ‘crisis’ in the Labour Party.
  14. The best way of combating backward attitudes and political views – which undoubtedly exist in the Labour Party – is through political education, discussion and joint participation in campaigning. However, giving those with the most backward attitudes and political views prime responsibility for political education is a travesty. We therefore treat with contempt and reject the so-called ‘training sessions’ organised by the Jewish Labour Movement, an openly Zionist organisation. We do not accept that an organisation which supports a racist project of colonisation is capable of providing anti-racist education.
  15. Unity between the socialist left and the pro-capitalism right is illusory. The left must win the battle for freedom of speech and democracy – in the Labour Party, trade unions and society at large. Political ideas, including different attitudes towards Israel, must be debated freely, not silenced, not hedged with all manner of bureaucratic ifs and buts. We shall fight to end the current culture of fear and self-censorship.

2. Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘Definition of Anti-Semitism’

Submitted by LAW’s steering committee, to be introduced at conference by Tony Greenstein

This conference rejects the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism in its entirety.

We note that:
  1. The IHRA ‘definition’ reads:
    “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
  1. This definition was originally published, together with its 11 examples, in 2005 on the website of the European Union’s European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), although it was never adopted by that body. But after heavy criticism, it was removed by the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency, in November 2013.
  2. In May 2016, it was resurrected and adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a group of 32 countries. But, far from being the “internationally recognised definition”, according to IHRA the definition has been adopted by only 10 countries: the UK, Romania, Lithuania, Slovakia, Austria, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands and, of course, Israel.
  3. On December 12 2016, the UK Tory government was the first of the IHRA countries to endorse the IHRA definition. Shamefully, on the very same day the Labour Party endorsed the definition, albeit without its 11 examples. The European Parliament’s May 29 2017 acceptance of the IHRA definition was spearheaded by the Austrian government, in particular the neo-Nazi or far-right Freedom Party, one of the two coalition partners.
  4. The definition is by the IHRA’s own admission not legally binding.
  5. Kenneth Stern of the American Jewish Committee, who first drafted the definition, has stated that the original idea for it arose from Dina Porat of Tel Aviv’s Kantor Centre.
This conference believes:
  1. The IHRA’s “definition” is no such thing. It is a model of ambiguity, open ended and raises a number of questions:– What is a “certain perception” and in whose eyes
    – Is anti-Semitism merely a perception? What about discrimination?
    – If anti-Semitism “may be expressed as hatred towards Jews” what else might it be expressed as? Anti-Zionism?
    – Why are “non-Jewish individuals” included in a definition of anti-Semitism?
    – Why is special mention made of Jewish “community organisations”? Is this a pseudonym for Zionist organisations like the Board of Deputies of British Jews?
    – Why do seven of the 11 examples accompanying the definition refer to the state of Israel and not Jews?
  2. The Oxford English Dictionarydefines anti-Semitism in far fewer words – and yet is far more precise: “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews”. Brian Klug defines it as “a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.”
  3. This ambiguity in the IHRA definition is not accidental: It is designed to allow any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be dismissed as ‘anti-Semitism’. The definition’s real purpose is to defend the Israeli state from its critics – not Jews from anti-Semitism. This becomes particularly clear in the eleven examples that have been published with the definition.
  4. LAW is not alone in its critique. The definition has been subject to searing criticism by a number of academic and legal scholars, for example:

* Professor David Feldman(vice-chair of the Chakrabarti Inquiry and director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism) has described the definition as “bewilderingly imprecise”.

* Sir Stephen Sedley, the Jewish former Court of Appeal judge, has written that the IHRA “fails the first test of any definition: it is indefinite”.

* Hugh Tomlinson QC has warned that the IHRA definition had a “chilling effect on public bodies”

* Geoffrey Robertson QC has explained that, “The definition does not cover the most insidious forms of hostility to Jewish people and the looseness of the definition is liable to chill legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel and coverage of human rights abuses against Palestinians.”

* Tony Lerman, a prominent Jewish academic, wrote that “it’s not fit for purpose, but it also has the effect of making Jews more vulnerable to antisemitism, not less, and exacerbating the bitter arguments Jews have been having over the nature of contemporary antisemitism for the last 20 to 25 years.”

* Even Kenneth Sternhas acknowledged that the IHRA is being used to restrict free speech. Stern has warned dabout how the IHRA “was being employed in an attempt to restrict academic freedom and punish political speech”. In testimony to the House of Representatives in November 2017, Stern explained that: “The definition was not drafted, and was never intended, as a tool to target or chill speech on a college campus. In fact, at a conference in 2010 about the impact of the definition, I highlighted this misuse, and the damage it could do.”

This conference believes that:

  1. The adoption of the IHRA definition and all eleven examples by the Labour Party’s NEC in 2018 has not brought an end to the ongoing claims that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semites. As LAW warned, the opposite has occurred.
  2. The Labour Party’s decision was an outright victory for the right inside and outside the party. While Jennie Formby has halted the automatic and instant suspensions of Corbyn supporters, the adoption of the IHRA definition has massively expanded the grounds being used for false allegations of anti-Semitism.
  3. This pressure on the Labour Party to adopt the IHRA definition was always part and parcel of the slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn. This campaign might currently experience a ‘Brexit lull’, but it will no doubt be switched on again once a general election has been called. The right, the establishment and the Zionist lobby will do anything to prevent Jeremy Corbyn, an outspoken supporter of the rights of the Palestinians, to become prime minister: He cannot be relied upon to run capital in their interests.
  4. Some people ostensibly on the left of the party (such as Jon Lansman and John McDonnell) were therefore seriously misguided when they publicly supported the NEC’s adoption of the definition.
This conference therefore resolves:
  1. To campaign for the Labour Party NEC to reverse its decision and ditch the IHRA definition.
  2. To campaign for the government, councils and other public and private bodies who have already adopted the IHRA definition to reverse their decision and to campaign to stop any more bodies from adopting it.
  3. To campaign for freedom of speech, which includes the right to call out Israel’s actions as racist, discriminatory and oppressive.

3. LAW support to activists

Proposed by Pete Gregson   

We call upon LAW to assist those unfairly targeted by either Labour, trade union or other public body over anti-Semitism charges by the following means. It will:

  1. give advice to those to those under investigation
  2. suggest friendly lawyers who could help
  3. invite people to notify LAW on a confidential basis if they have been accused of anti-Semitism by any organisation they are in or employed by, so that LAW might collate statistics as to how many are being accused and what for. Thence for the LAW steering committee to ascertain if they think the individual has engaged in anti-Semitism or not using the OED definition, which may involve some small debate between the individual concerned and LAW. If LAW are satisfied the individual is being investigated but have not said or done anything that is anti-Semitic, then that individual should join LAW’s database of those who have been “witch-hunted”. LAW’s database of witch-hunted individuals should be able to sort individuals according to
  4. a) organisation (so LAW can see which bodies are doing the most witch-hunting)
  5. b) IHRA definition victims

If those charged want the world to know they are being unfairly investigated, LAW to publish a gallery of those who are victims of the anti-Semitism witch-hunt

  1. help with fundraisers for those with heavy court costs (iethe person who needs the cash does the fundraising. All LAW might do is help them publicise it, or ask Alexei Sayle to do a 5-minute comedy spot or ask Ken Loach to show up, etc)
  2. encourage CLPs and union branches to pass motions condemning the IHRA

4. Model motion on IHRA to be recommended to CLPs/Union branches

Proposed by Pete Gregson   

Model Motion: Objection to the Labour Party’s [Union’s] adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

This [CLP/Union branch] notes that:

  • Prior to July 2018, the Party Rulebook did not specify any particular definition of anti-Semitism [1].
  • On 4 September 2018, the NEC adopted all 11 examples associated with the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. Some of these examples link criticism of Israel to anti-Semitism [2].
  • At the September NEC meeting Jeremy Corbyn sought to add the rider to the IHRA, which the NEC rejected .

“It should not be regarded as anti-Semitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist because of their discriminatory impact, or to support another settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.” [3]

  • Trade unionists, public sector workers and Labour Party members are now being disciplined for speaking out on Israel [4] and breaching the IHRA.
  • Activists and legal experts have raised concerns over the IHRA definition. Even the lead drafter of the EUMC definition (which the IHRA definition is based on) Kenneth Stern, has acknowledged that it has been used in ways it was never intended, as a means of chilling free speech. [5]

This [CLP/Union branch] believes the IHRA definition to be, as 24 Palestinian trade unions and civic groups pointed out in August 2018, a “politicised and fraudulent definition of anti-Semitism” [6]. We therefore call upon the [National Executive Committee of the Labour Party/ Executive Committee of the Union] to rescind their adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and replace it with the Oxford English Dictionary definition that states anti-Semitism is simply “hostility and prejudice directed against Jewish people” [7].

In addition, we call for a re-evaluation of disciplinary actions against any affected member accused of anti-Semitism under the IHRA definition.

References:

[1] http://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/2018-RULE-BOOK.pdf (page 99)

[2] https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/working-definition-antisemitism

The following 7 of the 11 examples claim criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic:

*Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

*Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

*Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

*Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

*Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

*Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

*Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45414656

[4] https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/dudley/2018/10/30/dudley-council-officer-suspended-in-anti-semitism-row/and https://www.thenational.scot/news/17334383.gmb-to-expel-labour-activist-pete-gregson-for-anti-semitism/

[5] https://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU00/20171107/106610/HHRG-115-JU00-Wstate-SternK-20171107.pdf

(page 7)

[6] https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/palestinian-civil-society-groups/labour-must-reject-biased-ihra-definition-that-stifles-advocacy-

[7] http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/8854


 5. LAW Draft Constitution

1. Aims

Labour Against the Witchhunt was founded in October 2017 to oppose the purge of pro-Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party. We have three main aims:

1. The Labour Party must end the practice of automatic, instant, expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members:

  • All those summarily expelled or suspended without due process should be immediately reinstated.
  • An accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. Legal representation costs to be paid by the party.
  • Disciplinary procedures should be carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and be time-limited: charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped.
  • The first part of rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) should be abolished: it bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” and has exclusively been used against left-wingers.

2. The Labour Party should reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which in its list of examples conflates anti-Semitism with anti- Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people. Instead, the Labour Party should adopt a simple, straightforward, definition of anti-Semitism, such as by Professor Brian Klug: “Anti-Semitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are”.

3. The Compliance Unit should be replaced with a new body which will deal with complaints along the lines of the recommendations in the Chakrabarti Report, allowing all members appropriate due process.

2. Membership and affiliates

Labour Against the Witchhunt is a Labour Party campaign. We urge all members who oppose the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters and critics of Israel/Zionism to stay in the Party and fight. LAW welcomes the participation of LP members/ excluded comrades/people who support our three key aims and pay the annual membership fee.

Organisations (Labour branches and CLPs, TU branches, Momentum groups, etc) can affiliate to LAW. At membership meetings, an affiliated organisation is entitled to one delegate with one vote.

Those who promote the false anti-Semitism smear, who conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and who promote the myth of a ubiquitous left anti- Semitism, are not welcome in LAW.

Those who promote the “socialism of fools” – the view that imperialism’s support for Zionism and Israel is because of the influence of Jews – are also not welcome in LAW.

3. Organisation and structures

We urge all members to get involved in local and/ or regional branches, which are autonomous and raise their own funds for activities.

Decisions are taken by simple majorities of members voting in any properly constituted meeting (excluding abstentions).

Members have the right – individually or with others – to submit their views to the Steering Committee for discussion.

The national all-members meeting (including conference) is the highest decision-making body of LAW and it elects the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee is the highest decision- making body between all-members meetings. It elects its own officers and sub-committees and can appoint new SC members. Branches can send delegates to meetings of the SC.

The Steering Committee determines the level of membership dues and affiliation fees.

Do not cooperate with the ‘Antisemitism Monitoring Centre’!

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We call on all Labour Party members to stay well clear of the Jewish Labour Movement’s latest stunt. The JLM, which is the sister party of the Zionist Labor Party in Israel, has written to CLP secretaries, asking them to distribute their “survey” on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party to all local members. Many CLP secretaries have quite rightly moved this email directly into their Spam folder. If you have been unfortunate enough to have received the email, we urge you to do the same.

It is laughable to claim, as the JLM does, that it has “engaged, in good faith, with the Labour Party to try and solve the severe and ongoing crisis of Labour anti-Semitism”. The JLM has neither acted in “good faith”, nor has it got any interest in solving “the crisis of Labour anti-Semitism”. After all, the JLM has done tremendous work in making rare, isolated cases into a “crisis” in the first place. Hundreds, if not thousands, of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have been witch-hunted in this campaign, which has nothing to do with fighting anti-Semitism – but everything with getting rid of Corbyn, a committed friend of the Palestinians.

We have seen people being suspended for using the word “Zio” or for expressing their outrage of the horrendous crimes committed by the state of Israel in a confused manner. The vast majority of these people are clearly not anti-Semitic. And yet, they have been publicly labeled as such by the JLM, the Board of Deputies and the despicable Jonathan Sachs, who has gone as far as calling Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite. We know that the JLM has reported many cases to Labour’s compliance unit, often causing great distress to the members concerned.

Socialists in the Labour Party should show up this “survey” for what it is – a clearly biased attempt to exacerbate the poisonous atmosphere of fear and suspicion in the party.