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.

LAW Twitter account

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Statement, LAW steering committee

The steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt deplores some of the tweets that have been issued in our name. The LAW Twitter account had been used outside of our control. We have only just been informed of the content of some of the tweets and wish to distance LAW from them in the strongest possible terms.

We have now been able to access and delete that Twitter account and set up a new one, with the handle @LAW_witchhunt.

The person responsible for the tweets has offered his resignation, which the steering committee has accepted.

Open letter: No Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!

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We, the undersigned, are greatly concerned about recent communication from Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby aimed at Facebook groups which have ‘Labour Party’ or ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ in their title (the full letter is below).

We are particularly outraged by the following passage which states “posts and conversations with antisemitic or otherwise discriminatory content” should be emailed to “complaints@labour.org.uk with screenshots and links […] if you believe the individual who has posted them may be a Labour member so that this can be investigated by the Party.

As Facebook users, we reject any attempt to make us informers to Labour’s dysfunctional disciplinary processes. Social media and Facebook are effective because they allow the exchange of ideas, even if at times clumsily expressed. Most Facebook groups police themselves adequately, without the assistance of a compliance unit, whose targets to date have almost exclusively been

  • on the left of the Party
  • supporters of Palestinian rights
  • critics of Israel and Zionism
  • and disproportionately black and Jewish

Given the Labour Party’s recent adoption of the ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which in the words of the Jewish former Court of Appeal judge, Sir Stephen Sedley, is “calculatedly misleading” and the IHRA’s purposeful conflation of criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Semitism, we have no confidence that free speech to criticise Israel will be guaranteed, if this approach is accepted across social media.

What constitutes anti-Semitism remains disputed. The traditional definition, as per the Oxford English Dictionary is, “hostility to or prejudice against Jews”. The IHRA definition on the other hand takes up over 500 words, many of which refer to Israel.

For example, John McDonnell stated in a recent interview with Jewish News: “What we’re saying is it’s anti-Semitic to oppose a Jewish state”. We disagree. Opposing a state that systematically, and constitutionally, marginalises and demonises Palestinians while subjecting them to discrimination is by definition a form of apartheid. It is not ant-Semitism to state this fact.

Your letter, as an attempt to make Facebook users responsible for the conduct of other group members, displays the same method used by the media to smear Jeremy Corbyn when he did not speak up against (the very few) people posting nonsense in a group he happened to be a member of.

We believe the ongoing witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is bringing the party into disrepute. Your email will yet again fan the flames of this toxic climate, leading to ever more malicious and vexatious allegations and complaints.

We believe that open and democratic debate, without fear of being reported, is the best way to educate people and fight prejudice and racism. This new intrusion on free speech can only undermine the extraordinary effectiveness of social media as a tool to support the leader and the left in the party.

We will oppose any attempt to outsource education on anti-Semitism to the Jewish Labour Movement, which is the British wing of the Israeli Labour Party and covertly filmed and leaked a video of Jackie Walker at a closed training event in order to damage the party.

  • We remain determined to eradicate all forms of discrimination from our Party.
  • When we see prejudice or hate, we always speak up.
  • When we see discrimination, we always oppose it.
  • When we are asked to behave unjustly, we always refuse.

SIGN THIS OPEN LETTER HERE.


Full communication from Jennie Formby:

I’m writing to you as I understand that you are an admin or moderator of a Facebook group which refers to the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn in its title. Continue Reading “Open letter: No Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!”

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.

 

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.

Muddying the water: LAW statement on Labour’s new Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct

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LAW Statement, July 9 2018:

Labour’s Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct

The Labour Party’s new Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct, issued last week, was clearly intended to put an end to the campaign of false allegations of anti-Semitism. Instead it has achieved the precise opposite. The Code has been the subject of a fierce attack by Zionist organisations and the mass media. It has also caused confusion amongst our allies, some of whom have welcomed it.

The campaign of false allegations is not driven by a failure to define anti-Semitism but is a politically motivated attack by the Right and supporters of Zionism. The Code will not prevent the weaponisation of anti-Semitism by those whose primary concern is defence of Israel, right or wrong. The expulsion of Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Cyril Chilson and others was the product of a deliberate smear campaign aimed at the Corbyn leadership. Those who believe that the Code marks the end of the false anti-Semitism campaign against the Labour Party are sadly mistaken. Continue Reading “Muddying the water: LAW statement on Labour’s new Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct”

Privacy policy

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Labour Against the Witchhunt is committed to protecting your privacy. We keep your data secure and we do not use it for any other purposes. We will never share your data with third parties.This policy explains how we use any personal information we collect about you.

  • What information do we collect about you
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You can visit our website without disclosing any personal information about yourself. There are times, however, when we may request information from you. We collect information you give to us by email, various forms on the website, over the telephone, face to face or by postal mail.

We collect information about you when you join, make a donation, become a supporter, place an order for our products, complete an online action, sign a petition, provide us with data about your campaigning interests or interact with our social media tools. Website usage information may be collected using cookies. 

How will we use the information about you?

We will send you campaigning information by email or SMS that we think may be of interest to you. We will continue to send you information by post where we have assessed there is a legitimate interest for us to do so.

LAW shares data with regional, area and local LAW groups, but only in order to fulfil the aims of LAW. This enables groups to publicise LAW events and information. All LAW groups follow data protection guidelines. If you would prefer to be excluded from the sharing of information with other LAW groups, please contact us so we can ensure your details are not shared.

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We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. In order to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure, we have put in place suitable physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect 

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If you would like a copy of some or all of the personal information we hold about you, please email info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org or write to us at Labour Against the Witchhunt, BCM Box 8932, London WC1N 3XX. We may make a reasonable charge for this service. (eg, for repeated requests).

We want to make sure that your personal information is accurate and up to date. You may ask us to correct or remove information you think is inaccurate. We will retain some basic information to avoid sending you unwanted materials in the future and to ensure we do not duplicate information.  This is superseded by your right to erasure (“the right to be forgotten”).  Following this request all of your data will be removed from all LAW systems and any financial agreements, such a Direct Debit, will be ended. 

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We currently use cookies to collate general management data which is used to plan enhancements to our services. Some cookies are external managed e.g. GoogleAnalytics and are covered by their own privacy policies.

LAW never stores any personal information in cookies (on any computer that you may use) that can be used to identify you, such as your name, email address or account numbers.

If you do not want us to use cookies you may be able to configure your browser not to accept them. Please refer to your browser’s ‘help’ facility for further information. However, in a few cases some of our website features may not function as a result.

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Our website – www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org– contains links to other websites. This privacy policy only applies to our website so when you link to other websites you should read their own privacy policies. 

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The DPA and GDPR restrict the transfer of data outside of the EU and EEA. Our primary web server is located in the UK, however some of the suppliers and systems that we use can be based in other countries which are outside of the EU and EEA. This may occur, for example, by using online services with servers based in other countries or which route data via such systems. LAW will ensure that information which you provide is only transferred to other countries (which do not have data protection laws equal to the DPA and GDPR) provided that the organisations involved have certified under the EU-US Privacy Shield (for organisations based in the USA) or similar stringent certification to ensure that adequate safeguards are in place to protect your rights and your data. 

Changes to our privacy policy

We keep our privacy policy under regular review and will place any updates on this webpage. This privacy policy was reviewed and updated in May 2018. 

 

 

LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to pressurise Ken Livingstone into leaving the Labour Party

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It is clear from reports such as John Rentoul in The Independent that Ken Livingstone’s resignation was not voluntary but the result of pressure exerted by Jeremy Corbyn and his close associates. We refer in particular to Shami Chakrabarti’s disgraceful attack on Livingstone on BBC’s Sunday Politics (May 13),when she threatened she would quit the Labour front bench if Livingstone was not expelled. Chakrabarti has not only ignored her own recommendations on natural justice and due process but she has also destroyed her own reputation, as a former Director of Liberty, for a belief in freedom of expression.

Nothing Livingstone was alleged to have done could in any way be described as anti-Semitic.  His remark that “Hitler supported Zionism” is confirmed by a host of Holocaust historians.  If he gave offence to supporters of Israel and Zionism it is because of the appalling record historically of Zionism when it comes to fighting real anti-Semites. Continue Reading “LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to pressurise Ken Livingstone into leaving the Labour Party”

LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

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“Victim of a politically motivated campaign against Jeremy Corbyn”

Labour Against the Witchhunt strongly condemns the outrageous decision to expel Marc Wadsworth after a two-day hearing in front of three right-wing members of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee.

Marc is the latest victim of the politically motivated witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Marc Wadsworth, a lifelong campaigner against racism, has been smeared and his reputation tarnished, first by the vile and false allegations against him and now, to top it off, by this deeply unjust verdict. Following 22 months of trial-by-media, our comrade had very little chance of receiving a fair hearing – and he did not get one. Continue Reading “LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth”

LAW welcomes Jon Lansman’s decision to withdraw

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March 11 2018

Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) welcomes Jon Lansman’s decision to finally listen to his party comrades, including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, and withdraw as a candidate for the General Secretary post.

We are mystified as to why Lansman, who purports to back the greater representation of women at all levels of the Labour Party, ran against Unite’s Jennie Formby in the first place. LAW critically supports Formby for the job. We are concerned about her record on Labour’s NEC  where it appears she has, as recently as last week, failed to oppose the witch hunting of Jeremy Corbyn supporters by right-wingers who have weaponised false claims of anti-semitism despite Formby herself being the target of such smears. Nobody in the Labour Party can truly be a socialist if they support the purge and that includes the future general secretary.

Lansman, given his record in abolishing all democratic structures within Momentum and imposing a new constitution, is unfit to be Labour General Secretary.

He got rid of the right of Momentum’s “liberation strands”, such as Momentum Black Connexions/Caucus, to have direct representation on the leading national bodies of Momentum.  More recently, he closed down Momentum’s youth group. This demonstrates his serious lack of commitment to the self-organisation of oppressed and disadvantaged groups in the Labour Party.

Labour Against the Witchhunt believes that Lansman lacks the democratic credentials necessary to become general secretary of the Labour Party, especially in view of previous General Secretary Iain McNicol’s purge of thousands of pro-Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party members and the particularly those as a result of false accusations of anti-semitism and others based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B.

The Labour Party now needs a General Secretary who will put a decisive stop to the witch-hunt who will make sure that all disciplinary charges are dealt with fairly, swiftly, transparently and with the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty”.

Jackie Walker was suspended from Labour membership on trumped-up charges of anti-semitism, following Lansman’s pre-emptive action in removing her as Momentum’s vice-chair, and, at the time, making plain his sympathies with the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement who have championed the witchhunt in order to purge the party of Corbyn-supporting anti-Zionists.

Lansman’s constitution for Momentum bars from membership all those expelled by the Labour Party’s compliance unit. This rule that has been used exclusively against left-wingers. Lansman has since come out in support of keeping the rule (2.1.4.B) in Labour’s constitution.

He has also opposed our demands for the abolition of the Compliance Unit. We believe that all disciplinary matters should be dealt with by elected representatives.

Labour’s next general secretary should ensure the NEC immediately implements the recommendations on the party’s disciplinary procedure made by the Shami Chakrabarti Report of June 30 2016.

We believe that Unite’s Jennie Formby would be the best choice for general secretary. As a supporter of the rights of the Palestinians people we think her election would send a powerful political signal. We hope that her tenure would mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt.

Steering Committee
Labour Against the Witchhunt

 

Why we cannot support Jon Lansman’s Labour Party general secretary bid

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Some of us are members of Momentum, some have never joined – and some of us left the organisation after January 2017, when its leader Jon Lansman abolished all democratic structures and imposed a new constitution, riding roughshod over the organisation’s members.

It should be noted that, as part of this coup, Lansman abolished the right of Momentum’s “liberation strands” to have direct representation on the leading national bodies of the organisation. Among the consequences of this was the breaking up of Momentum Black Connexions/Caucus. More recently, he closed down Momentum’s youth group. This demonstrates his serious lack of commitment to the self-organisation, self-determination and autonomy of disadvantaged groups in society.

Wes Stressing MP: new friend of Jon Lansman’s

As a consequence of Lansman’s behaviour, Labour Against the Witchhunt believes he lacks the democratic credentials to become the kind of general secretary that the Labour Party now needs in order to heal the wounds inflicted by Iain McNicol’s divisiveness. As general secretary, McNicol was directly in charge of the discredited compliance unit and thereby responsible for the purge of thousands of pro-Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party members. The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions overseen by McNicol – especially those based on alleged anti-semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute. They have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change. Continue Reading “Why we cannot support Jon Lansman’s Labour Party general secretary bid”

Statement on the February 18 expulsion of Tony Greenstein from the Labour Party

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“Labour Against the Witchhunt deplores the politically motivated expulsion from the Labour Party of Tony Greenstein (LAW’s vice-chair). It is a blatant example of how the right-wing who oppose Jeremy Corbyn, the democratically elected Labour leader, have cynically weaponised anti-Semitism to attack his supporters.

Veteran Black, Jewish and other party members have been targeted as part of this witch-hunt. Greenstein is a Jewish anti-racist who has campaigned ceaselessly against the Zionist Israeli government’s appalling treatment of Palestinians and has played a leading role in exposing how children, like jailed Ahed Tamini, have been caught up in this cycle of oppression. He is not Anti-semitic. It is shameful that anti-Semitism has been cynically weaponised by the right-wing to purge Labour of Corbyn supporters, while much more prevalent anti-black racism and, until Jeremy Corbyn spoke out against it, Islamophobia, have been ignored by the party.

We call on the Labour leadership to use its left-wing majority on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee to reinstate Greenstein and stop the witch-hunt; it is an expression of the ongoing civil war in the party that serves no other purpose than to damage the party’s chances of winning the next general election.

The NEC must, without further delay, implement the recommendations of the party’s own Chakrabarti Report recommendations on disciplinary procedure based on natural justice and due process. It is astonishing that almost two years have gone by without these vital changes being brought in so that party members are treated fairly rather than made victims of the purge.”

LAW’s steering committee includes Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth, both of whom remain suspended on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism. Please support Marc’s crowdfunding appeal – he is next in the firing-line. His hearing has been set for April 25 in London – LAW will be supporting him with a protest outside backed by members of Grassroots Black Left, the Indian Workers’ Association and Jewish Voice for Labour.