Michael Rosen on Richard Burgon: Zionism, Zionists, Katzism

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(republished from Facebook)

Richard Burgon MP has apologised for saying that Zionism is an ‘enemy of peace’. Leaving that to one side for the moment, let’s look at the argument for why Burgon needed to apologise. Here it is:

——

“Mike Katz, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement,said the vast majority of Jewish people identified as Zionists.

“Insulting a core part of their identity and then dissembling about it… [Burgon claimed he hadn’t said that Zionism was an enemy to peace]… is shameful behaviour from a senior frontbencher in our party, let alone someone who aspires to administer our justice system,” he said.”

—–

This ups the stakes.

MPs (anyone else?) must not ‘insult’ Zionism because it is a ‘core part’ of the ‘identity’ of the ‘vast majority of Jewish people’.

In other words it ups the stakes in what can or can’t be said about Zionism, Zionists and the ‘vast majority’ of Jews. Bear in mind that for many decades in the 19th and 20th centuries, there was active, open debate by Jews (and others) about Zionism. Of course there was! Zionism is a political idea. Can’t we argue about Zionism? Any Jews like my parents, who lived in London’s East End throughout the 1920s and 30s, regularly had debates about Zionism and of course there were times when either side might have said that there were ‘insults’ flying. But no one could have closed down the argument on the basis that it wasn’t really an argument, but it was, as Katz has implied, an argument against the core of people’s identity. Or if they did, you couldn’t get away with saying, ‘How dare you say that Zionism is an enemy of peace! Zionism is a core part of my identity, you have just insulted me, Zionists and (because the vast majority of Jews are Zionists) Jews.’ Yes, yes, yes, people would have said, now let’s get on with the political argument about whether it is or is not an ‘enemy of peace’.

But to claim that things can’t be said in this debate because it’s a matter of personal identity – as Katz has done – is a way to close down the debate altogether.

On this specific matter, what Mike Katz is saying is that a person shouldn’t say that ‘Zionism is an enemy of peace’. Just don’t say it! It cannot be said. It’s an unsayable thing. Note that he doesn’t offer an argument against it. He simply says a) that it is ‘shameful behaviour’ and b) that it is an ‘insult’ (ie not an argument or point of view) on the grounds that c) for the ‘vast majority of Jews’, Israel is a ‘core part of their identity’.

Potentially, if we are to follow the Katz rule, this could remove whole areas of debate about Israel from discussion. Yet, when the IHRA code was introduced we heard over and over again how this wasn’t a restriction on criticism of Israel. OK, so Katz isn’t talking about criticism of Israel, he’s talking about criticism of ‘Zionism’ – which he has subtly turned into ‘Zionists’ – who mustn’t hear comments like ‘Zionism is the enemy of peace’. Is that because it’s racist? Or antisemitic? Does Katz really think that?

Meanwhile let’s conjure up this Mike Katz Argument-Free Zone. What are we allowed to say about Zionism in this Zone? What instructions does Katz have for us so that we don’t receive his censure? What is this new doctrine?

(By the way, there are millions of Zionists who aren’t Jews. In the US alone there are millions of ‘Christian Zionists’ who are ‘dispensationalists’. These are people who believe that it’s not long now before the Messiah will come again (Second Coming). But this depends on more Jews, most Jews or all Jews going to Israel. At this point the Messiah will come again and all people will convert to this form of Christianity. Those who don’t will be put to the sword. All those who are now believers will ascend to heaven in what is known as ‘The Rapture’.

If you think I’ve made this up, please look up “Christian Zionism” and “Dispensationalism” on wikipedia. Actually, the entry on “Anti-zionism” is very interesting too because it tells the story of who in the 19th and 20th centuries were against Zionism and why. It will be surprising for some to read, for example, that some of the most vocal anti-Zionists were the more conservative and ‘assimilated’ Jews who thought that Zionism would evoke the accusation that they had dual loyalties, or they weren’t really attached to Britain or the USA. Interesting read…)

Chris Jury: Another attempt to smear a socialist

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We are republishing this article by Chris Jury, because it shows very vividly how the civil war in the Labour Party is being fought: with anonymous accusations, nonsense charges and allegations sent directly to the right-wing press. Respect to comrade Jury for publishing this online – we hope it gives others who have been falsely accused the courage to speak out publicly, too.

Anti-Semitism Accusations Get Very Close To Home!

I agreed to stand as a Labour Party paper candidate for Bidford West and Salford Ward in the Stratford Upon Avon District Council elections.

Today (9th April) I received the email below from The Daily Mail!

The journalist made it clear that he had not searched out the story of my candidacy and my support of the Palestinian cause but that it had been ‘brought to his attention’.  Someone purposefully either emailed him or called him.

Seems likely this will be someone locally (Hi Jeff… ) Seems also likely this might be in response to my posting on the LP forum regarding Jason Fojtik’s recent resignation from the party.

So can it be possible that a member or former member of Stratford Upon Avon CLP is willing to abuse the memory of the 6 million in a petty political squabble in Stratford Upon Avon CLP? I mean really!?

 


Dear Mr Jury,

We are considering running a story about your candidacy for the Labour party, in the light of some of the posts you have made on social media with respect to Israel and Zionism.

In your writing, you appear to:

-Suggest that the ‘Israeli embassy’ is orchestrating the anti-Semitism crisis in Labour, in conjunction with moderate Labour MPs

-Allege that the same are exploiting the memory of Holocaust victims for political ends

-Argue that the complaints about anti-Semitism in Labour are trumped up to undermine the Labour leadership

-Compare Israel to the Nazis

I’d be grateful if you are able to get back to me by the end of the day with a response please.

Very best wishes

Jake Wallis Simon
Associate Global Editor

 

 


This is my reply in full:

Hi Jake

Thanks for getting in touch. I am a paper candidate for a tiny ward in the Stratford-on-Avon District Council elections and find it extraordinary, if not a little unnerving, to receive this email from you. I would have thought that in these politically turbulent times a national newspaper would have far more important fish to fry? Hey ho, on we go…

In response to your questions:

I understand anti-semitism to be a form of racism in which people hate Jews simply for being Jews. In light of the tragic history of the Jewish people particularly in Christian Europe and particularly in light of the Nazi Holocaust, anti-semitism like all forms of racism, is a moral evil that can have genocidal consequences and has to be purposefully fought and challenged whenever and wherever it appears in our society.

I was a teenager in the 1970’s when I first learned of the Holocaust. The knowledge of the horrific consequences of anti-Semitism in Germany in the 30’s and 40’s had a profound effect on my political beliefs and is perhaps the single most important historical factor in motivating me to fight all my life against the abuse of power and for human rights and social justice.

Historically the Labour Party was a proud supporter of the formation of the state of Israel and the fight against racism of all kinds is at the core of Labour Party values. I myself have never seen any substantive evidence of anti-semitism within the Labour Party. I have not only never witnessed it in person but even after repeated requests to colleagues in the party I have never seen or been shown any substantive evidence of anti-semitism in the Labour Party. Indeed, throughout 40 years involvement in UK politics I have also never heard anyone in person or in the media express any significant concerns about anti-semitism within the Labour Party…  until Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party.

The Labour Party has 500,000 members and I know only a few hundred of them so I obviously cannot claim that there are literally no anti-semites in the Labour Party, only that I have never seen any evidence of it nor ever heard in 40 years of engagement with popular political discourse, that it is has historically been a particular problem in the Labour Party.

Yet since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party this issue has exploded as a major concern?

The evidence presented in the Al Jazeera programme The Lobby, seems to suggest that the Israeli Embassy has played a proactive role in promoting the idea that the LP has a particular problem with anti-semitism. Personally I  think it is entirely legitimate for them to do so. Any government including our own, involves itself in covert or semi-covert propaganda operations in order to protect what it sees as its own interests. However, IF the Israeli Embassy has played such a role it is also perfectly legitimate to point that out, especially as it may partly explain how and why this issue has come to such prominence since Corbyn was elected.

Corbyn has fought racism, including anti-semitism, all his life. Historically he has close and cordial links to the Jewish community in his constituency and nationally. Yet members of his own party are openly and publicly calling him an anti-semite? Can they seriously believe he has all this time been a secret anti-semite or that overnight he has suddenly become an anti-semite? If not, if in fact they actually know he is not an anti-semite, then they are at the very least being disingenuous…

Except of course that Jeremy Corbyn has for many years been an active supporter of the Palestinian cause…  As indeed has almost everyone expelled from the LP or under investigation by the LP for anti-semitism. Can this be a coincidence?

Many Israeli’s and indeed many Jews in the diaspora, regard the Palestinian claim to the land of Israel (and by extension those who support that claim) as an existential threat to a Jewish state of Israel. Again this is not irrational because IF the Palestinians do indeed have a legitimate right to live on the land that is Israel then this would have consequences regarding the legitimacy of an entirely Jewish Israel. So I can entirely understand why some would regard support for the Palestinian cause as representing a threat to a Jewish Israel, and by extension as a threat to the Jewish people globally and thus by extension as being ‘anti-semetic’ because through these extensions supporting the Palestinian cause can be seen as a threat to Jews.

However, personally I do not oppose Israel or even a Jewish state of Israel, I simply support the Palestinian cause. I believe that just as the Jewish people are entitled to live at peace in their traditional homeland so are the Palestinians.

The memory of the 6 million is of profound importance for all of us fighting racism and fighting for social justice. To seriously accuse someone of being an anti-semite is to accuse them of THE most serious of moral crimes, perhaps only equalled by accusations of being a paedophile. To suggest that someone is an anti-semite is to suggest they implicitly condone the Holocaust or at the very least are ignorant of the genocidal implications of their anti-semitism. Thus if you accuse someone of being an antisemite when you know them not to be anti-semite, or have no credible evidence that they are, and especially if you do so for petty political ends, then that is an abuse of the tragic memory of the 6 million.

I have never compared the actions of the state of Israel to the Nazis and would never do so. But those fallacious comparisons only arise because of the plight of the Palestinians and are an attempt to draw attention to the tragic analogies between the actions of the state of Israel in the 21st Century and the state of Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s. Many mainstream Israeli politicians use openly racist language about the Palestinians in public discourse, the state of Israel uses immense military power to subdue an unarmed civilian population and across the world purposeful attempts are made to ruin the reputations of any who support the Palestinian cause by accusing them of being anti-semites… the most awful of moral slurs.

The scale of the Holocaust and the industrialisation of mass murder make it a uniquely horrific episode in human history and we must all fight to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, and not just that it doesn’t ever happen to Jews again, but that it doesn’t happen to any people anywhere on the globe whether it be Serbia, Rwanda or even Palestine.

Chris Jury


Mr Wallis Simon seemed to find this to be a too comprehensive answer and asked instead for ‘a paragraph’ in response to these serious and multiple accusations! So I sent him this:

“I was a teenager in the 1970’s when I first learned of the genocidal consequences of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany and it had a profound effect on my political beliefs and has motivated me to fight against the abuse of power and for human rights all my life. Historically the Labour Party was and is a proud supporter of the formation of the Jewish state of Israel and the fight against racism of all kinds is at the core of Labour Party values. The Labour Party has 500,000 members and I know only a few hundred of them so I obviously cannot claim that there are literally no anti-semites in the Labour Party, only that I have never seen any substantive evidence that it is a particularly prevalent problem in the Labour Party and certainly not a problem on a scale that could warrant the sustained level of attack on the party over the three years since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader. As to Israel I believe that just as Israeli Jews are entitled to live at peace in their traditional homeland so are the Palestinians.”

If you read anything else he’s made it up.

NUS disqualification: Worrying misapplication of IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism

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We are republishing this Facebook post, because it shows how the ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is being misused to silences supporters of the Palestinians… Once an accusation has been made, it is easy to trash the reputation of somebody – even if, as in this case, the accusations have been proven to be false.

Zeid Haj Hassan Truscott

*** Statement responding to my election disqualification ***

On Friday 5th April at 4:53pm I received an email from the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) of NUS that stating that I had publicly made antisemitic comments (whilst a candidate in an NUS election) at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event on Saturday 30 March 2019. I was informed that the complaint had been referred to the CRO for investigation and that the complaint against me had been upheld. This investigation took place without me even knowing that a complaint had been made against me, and without me being aware of the details of the complaint or being asked whether I had in fact made any such comments.

I was asked by the CRO to apologise publicly for the comments or to clarify my position if I did not make the comments. I was told that I must do so by 4pm on Monday and failure to do so would result in my disqualification from the election. I immediately replied asking for more information about the complaint and the specific details of the comments I was alleged to have made because I knew that I had not made any such comments. I was told again that the complaint related to comments made at the PSC event. I then wrote again asking for a copy of the complaint, the evidence on which it was based, a copy of the complaint determination and a copy of the rules governing the consideration of complaints and the right to review or appeal any decision. I asked why I had not been allowed a right of reply before the complaint was upheld against me.

I subsequently sent both a copy of a video of me speaking at the PSC event and a transcript of my speech to the CRO. I stated clearly that I oppose antisemitism and I strongly refute and deny any charge of antisemitism made against me. I also provided my statement from last week condemning and rejecting anti-Semitism. On receipt of this information the CRO accepted that I had not made any antisemitic comments at the event but I was informed that because of the high level of interest in the issue and my candidacy I was still required to publicly confirm that I was willing and able to uphold the values and policies of the NUS and most particularly the IHRA definition of antisemitism in public life. I made a clear and unequivocal statement to this effect. I also explained that I had concerns about the potential impact of the IHRA on the free speech of Arab and BME communities. I shared a link to a letter from The Independent newspaper which reflected the concern of primarily African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean organisations about the impact of the IHRA on their right to voice legitimate concerns about Israel’s violations of the rights of Palestinians.

The CRO’s decision to disqualify me from the election despite accepting that the complaint made against me was without substance and that I had not made any antisemitic comments at the PSC event is fundamentally flawed and unfair. I have publicly confirmed that I accept and will abide by the policies of the NUS including its democratic decision to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. I understand I was disqualified for sharing the concern of African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean communities about the potential impact upon those wishing to express solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinians. Expressing legitimate concerns about the potential impact of the IHRA is not prohibited by the IHRA. I am entitled, as an individual member of NUS, to voice constructive, legitimate concerns about its’ policies as is all of its student membership.

I believe that I was unfairly disqualified following a process which was flawed from the beginning; where a complaint was upheld against me without me even knowing that a complaint had been made let alone the content of the complaint. My disqualification has chilling implications for all those wishing to express legitimate concerns about the treatment of the Palestinians at a time when the need to do so could not be greater.

Reinstate Jackie Walker! Sign the letter the Guardian refused to print

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Sign the letter online here.

The Guardian has refused to print this letter signed by almost 400 people within 48 hours of Jackie’s expulsion (including Noam Chomsky, Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell, Alexei Sayle and Ken Livingstone). It deems the issue “sensitive” and “controversial”. We believe the real controversy is that hundreds of good socialists and anti-Zionists like Jackie Walker have been investigated, suspended and expelled. This witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters must stop!

Dear Sir/Madam,

The decision of the Labour Party to expel Jackie Walker for ‘“prejudicial and grossly detrimental behaviour” is both unfair and dishonest. Jackie was suspended over two years ago because of accusations of anti-Semitism yet her expulsion was for ‘misconduct’. [Labour expels Jackie Walker for leaked antisemitism remarks, March 27th]

Jackie’s original remarks, such as “not having heard a definition of anti-Semitism I can work with”, were obviously not anti-Semitic. Jackie’s real offence was being an anti-Zionist. Because of the difficulty of making a charge of anti-Semitism stick, Jackie’s alleged offence was changed to the subjective catch-all one of ‘misconduct’.

If anyone is guilty of misconduct it is those in Labour Friends of Israel who defended Israel’s murder of over 200 unarmed demonstrators in Gaza over the past year. False accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ are the Zionists’ only method of defending the Israeli state.

Jackie’s expulsion is an attack on free speech. Rather than defend the world’s only apartheid state Israel’s supporters in the Labour Party cry ‘anti-Semitism’.

Over the past two years Jackie has been the victim of numerous attacks on social media which have questioned her Jewishness and talked about lynching and burning her. Not only has the Labour Party failed to defend her but it included some of this vile material within the dossier used to expel her, such as alleging she is “a white woman in dreadlocks”.

The expulsion of Jackie Walker is a matter of shame and we demand her immediate reinstatement.

Yours faithfully,

1.                       Noam Chomsky
2.                       Ken Livingstone
3.                       Miriam Margolyes
4.                       Alexei Sayle
5.                       Asa Winstanley
6.                       Steve Bell
7.                       Tony Greenstein
8.                       Jonathan Cook
9.                       Prof. Haim Bresheeth
10.                   Professor Dr Marco Chiesa
11.                   Prof. James Dickins
12.                   Prof. Yosefa Loshitzky
13.                   Prof. Wade Mansell
14.                   Prof. Dr. Willie van Peer
15.                   Prof Megan Povey
16.                   Prof. Chris Knight
17.                   Prof. Stephen Wagg
18.                   Kate Adams
19.                   Philip Adams
20.                   Alison Aiken
21.                   Salma Ali
22.                   Zulfqar Ali
23.                   Nadia Amara
24.                   Bonny Ambrose
25.                   Ian Ampleford
26.                   Sonya Andermahr
27.                   Alan Armstrong
28.                   Ben Armstrong
29.                   Zac Arnold
30.                   Shifa Askari
31.                   Susan Atkins
32.                   Cathy Augustine
33.                   David Avery
34.                   Clare Ayton-Edwards
35.                   Greg Axsel
36.                   David Bangs
37.                   Frances Bartram
38.                   Sid Bartram
39.                   Graham Bash
40.                   John Baxter
41.                   Janet Beale
42.                   Kevin Bean
43.                   John Beeching
44.                   Mark Bebbington
45.                   Jonathan Bellos
46.                   Karen Bett
47.                   Sonali Bhattacharyya
48.                   Peter Bloomer
49.                   Nigel Bowden
50.                   Lynda J Bowyer
51.                   Gary Boyle
52.                   Dr David Bramble
53.                   Peter Breingan
54.                   David Brown
55.                   Judith Brown
56.                   Theodore Brown
57.                   Tarin Brokenshire
58.                   Pam Bromley
59.                   John Burgess
60.                   Raymond Bush
61.                   Cllr Steve Bush
62.                   Robert Bunday
63.                   Neil Cameron
64.                   Sophie Cannivady
65.                   Andrew Carter
66.                   Avis Carter
67.                   Jonathan Chadwick
68.                   Phil Chetwynd
69.                   Cyril Chilson
70.                   Dr Tali Chilson
71.                   Dominic Chiverton
72.                   Rob Clarke
73.                   Ted Clement-Evans
74.                   Mike Clayton
75.                   Roger Coates
76.                   Matthew Collings
77.                   Christine Connolly
78.                   Marian Connollu
79.                   Steve Connor
80.                   Mariatu Conteh
81.                   Ruth Cooke
82.                   Andy Coombes
83.                   Jonathan Coulter
84.                   Maximilian Cowell
85.                   Fiona Crawford
86.                   Richard Crawford
87.                   Sandra Crawford
88.                   Lesley Crompton
89.                   Phil Crowe
90.                   Matthew Dale
91.                   Gerald Daly
92.                   Deborah Darnes
93.                   Deborah Darnes
94.                   Adrienne Davis
95.                   John Davies
96.                   Martyn Dawson
97.                   Ian Day
98.                   Richard Dixon-Payne
99.                   Tony Dodds
100.               Catherine Doris
101.               Cameron Dougherty
102.               Clare Dove
103.               Ian Dudley
104.               Ty Ebright
105.               Nancy Elan
106.               Cathy Farnworth
107.               Kamilia El-Farra
108.               Jackie Fearnley
109.               Jacqueline Finch
110.               Deborah Fink
111.               Dianne Fitzgibbons
112.               Jeanette Fletcher
113.               James Ian Fletcher
114.               Flick Foreman
115.               Nick Foster
116.               Philip Foxe
117.               Tom Foxe
118.               Tommy Fowler
119.               Ed Fredenburgh
120.               Glynis Freeman
121.               Helen Froggatt
122.               Suzanne Gannon
123.               Donna Gardner
124.               Suzanne Gannon
125.               Dr John Garrett
126.               Dr Peter Gates
127.               Chris Gaynor
128.               Gloria George
129.               John Gibson
130.               Daphne Gilbert
131.               John Gillespie
132.               Helen Glazier
133.               Deborah Good
134.               Angie Graham
135.               David Graham
136.               Elleanne Green
137.               Frankie Green
138.               Pete Green
139.               Sadie Green
140.               Sharen Green
141.               Peter Gregson
142.               Roger Grenville
143.               Helen Griffiths
144.               Nell Griffiths
145.               David Groom
146.               John McGrory
147.               Allan Grote
148.               Andrew Gunton
149.               Alex Gutteridge
150.               Natalie Guy
151.               Steve Hadden
152.               Barbara Hainsworth
153.               Paul Halas
154.               Grace Halfpenny
155.               Charlie Hall
156.               Dr James Hall
157.               Brigid Harbour
158.               Jenny Hardacre
159.               Emmet Haverty-Stacke
160.               David Hawkes
161.               David Hawkins
162.               Trefor Harris
163.               Alan Harrison
164.               Maggie Hartley
165.               Mervyn Hartwig
166.               Joseph Held
167.               Dorothy Hewitt Rimmer
168.               Greg Hewitt
169.               Ian Hickinbottom
170.               Debbie Hicks
171.               Mike Higgins
172.               David Hillman
173.               Simon Hindmarsh
174.               Simon Hinds
175.               Rebekah Hirsch
176.               Dr. Abby Hoffmann
177.               Diane Holland
178.               Rachael Holliday
179.               Doug Holton
180.               Dee Howard
181.               Mike Howard
182.               Anna Hubbard
183.               Alan Hubbard
184.               Richard Hughes
185.               David Humphrey
186.               Neil Hunt
187.               Jocelyn Hurndall
188.               Linda Irvine
189.               Diana Isserlis
190.               Lisa Jacks
191.               Andrew Jackson
192.               Glyn Jackson
193.               Maxine Jackson
194.               Rob Jefferson
195.               Glenn Jenkins
196.               Alexander Jones
197.               Barry Jones
198.               Cath Jones
199.               Cliff Jones
200.               Carolyn Jordin
201.               George Kambouroglou
202.               Stan Keable
203.               Afryl Kelly
204.               Helen Kemp
205.               Thea Khamis
206.               Faraz Khan
207.               Luqman Khan
208.               Shaista Khan
209.               Davy King
210.               Jennifer King
211.               Peter Kirker
212.               Ruth Knight
213.               Beverley Krell
214.               Janet Lambrou
215.               David Lancaster
216.               Erica Lang
217.               Diane Langford
218.               Bernice Laschinger
219.               Michelle Laufer
220.               Paul Lawlor
221.               Kay Lawrence
222.               Helen Lee
223.               Anna Lekay
224.               David Letwin
225.               Michael Letwin
226.               Les Levidow
227.               Bruce Levy
228.               Mark Lewis
229.               Nicholas Long
230.               Jake Love Soper
231.               Ian MacDonald
232.               Duncan MacPherson
233.               Dr Alan Maddisson
234.               Neil Man
235.               Sophia Mangera
236.               Hal Mansfield
237.               Helen Marks
238.               Zoe Mars
239.               Becky Matthews-Massey
240.               Bruce Mattock
241.               David Mattocks
242.               Darren Maurice
243.               Sandy McBurney
244.               Terry McCarthy
245.               Kathy McCubbing
246.               Terence McGinity
247.               Mike McGrath
248.               Steve McKenzie
249.               Fred McLean-Brown
250.               Isobel McMillan
251.               Ros Meadow
252.               Laurraine de Melchor
253.               Stephe Meloy
254.               Paul Meaney
255.               Michael Merritt
256.               Steve Merriman
257.               John Metson
258.               Jay Millington
259.               Simon Milner-Edwards
260.               Angie Mindel
261.               Anne Mitchell
262.               Matthew Montagu-Pollock
263.               Brendan Morgan
264.               Dittany Morgan
265.               Pauline Moriarty
266.               Shosh Morris
267.               Patricia Morrison
268.               Elizabeth Morley
269.               Sabah Al-Mukthar
270.               Catherine Muller
271.               Gareth Murphy
272.               David Myles
273.               Catherine Newall
274.               Katie Nikiforou
275.               Graham Noble
276.               Dr Stephen Norrie
277.               Eric Norris
278.               Caroline Nunn
279.               Steve Nunn
280.               Sean O’Donoghue
281.               Chris O’Donovan
282.               Dennis O’Malley
283.               Caroline O’Reilly
284.               Edmond O’Reilly
285.               Sheryl Odlum
286.               Jackie Oversby
287.               Tim Oxton
288.               Gill Page
289.               Pam Page
290.               Jeremy Parker
291.               Mieczysława Pascoe
292.               Frances Patterson
293.               Wendy Patterson
294.               Robert Payn
295.               Allan Pearson
296.               Richard Peirce
297.               Sarah Perrigo
298.               Susan Phasey
299.               Sasha Phillips
300.               Andy Phipps
301.               Lesley Phipps
302.               Miranda Pinch
303.               David Pinto
304.               Brian Precious
305.               David Prichard-Jones
306.               Bern Price
307.               Dipak Rajgor
308.               Dr Anandi Ramamurthy
309.               Scott Ramone
310.               Roland Rance
311.               Anthony Rawlinson
312.               Gwynne Reddick
313.               Nicola Redwood
314.               Nigel Reigate
315.               Peter Reilly
316.               Iain Rendell
317.               Dave Rendle
318.               Jon de Rennes
319.               Andy Richards
320.               Steve Richards
321.               Dorothy Rimmer
322.               Geoff Roberts
323.               Maria Roberts
324.               Bryan Roe
325.               Elke Rohn
326.               Lee Rock
327.               Ian Roddinson
328.               David Roger
329.               Vicky Russell
330.               Michael Sackin
331.               Kevin Safford
332.               John Sanderson
333.               Rob Sanderson
334.               Pauline Sault
335.               Nikki Scambler
336.               Sarah Scott
337.               Paul Scott
338.               Reg Scott
339.               David Selzer
340.               Paul Simm
341.               Andy Simons
342.               Wendy Sindall
343.               Mike Sivier
344.               Michael Skiggs
345.               Jane Smith
346.               Peter Smith
347.               John Smith
348.               Tracey Smith
349.               Wendy Smith
350.               Darbiana Souza
351.               Julie Speed
352.               Linda Speight
353.               David St Marthe
354.               Dave Statham
355.               Jan Steele
356.               Mark Strawbridge
357.               Paul Stygal
358.               Tom Suárez
359.               Sue Shaw
360.               Catherine Tanner
361.               Debbie Thompson
362.               Steve Tiller
363.               Paul Timperley
364.               Cathy Toulet
365.               Christine Tongue
366.               Julian Townsend
367.               David Travis
368.               John Tymon
369.               Mark Unsworth
370.               Paula Varley
371.               Barrie Vince
372.               Terence Viney
373.               Lorna Walker
374.               Robert Walker
375.               Adam Waterhouse
376.               Daniel Waterman
377.               David Watson
378.               Martin Watson
379.               Ian Wellens
380.               Tina Werkman
381.               Lee Whittaker
382.               Bruce Whitehead
383.               Stewart Whitehead
384.               Michael Wilde
385.               Stella Wilkinson-Maynard
386.               Clare Louise Wilmott
387.               Rita Williams
388.               Stephen Williams
389.               Norman Wood
390.               Avril Wooster
391.               Leonard Wright
392.               Zoe Zero
393.               Maciej Zurowski

Solidarity message from Chris Williamson to ‘Hands Off the Left’ rally

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March 25 2019

I want to thank grassroots members from the bottom of my heart for the extraordinary solidarity they’ve shown since my suspension.

It’s been incredibly heart-warming and humbling to be the recipient of such an outpouring of support, and to witness the vicarious indignation felt by thousands as result of this decision.

But this isn’t just about me, it’s about all of us.

I’m proud of Labour’s record in standing up to racism and bigotry in all its forms throughout our history.

Whether it was standing shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish community in Cable Street against Oswald Mosely’s fascists, or confronting the fascist National Front via the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s, Labour Party members have always been at the forefront.

Let’s remember it was people like Ken Livingstone, when he was the leader of the GLC, who were dismissed and disparaged as “Looney Lefties” for challenging casual racism in the 1980s.

That’s one of the reasons why we owe Ken a debt of gratitude.

He was in the vanguard of those challenging all forms of bigotry at that time, he played a huge role in shifting public opinion.

And let’s also remember that Jackie Walker has spent her life fighting racism, as well as being a target of it.

She helped to spearhead the efforts to stop Nigel Farage obtaining a parliamentary platform for his bigoted credo, when he stood as a parliamentary candidate in South Thanet in 2015.

Thank you, Jackie, for your tenacity and your bravery.

But there is of course more to do, which is why we need to unite to stand up to bigotry that manifests itself in racism, Islamophobia, misogyny and anti-Semitism.

So, let’s stand together and keep our eyes on the prize of a Corbyn-led Labour Government.

A government that will transform our country.

A government that will implement an irreversible shift in the balance of power in the interests of working people.

And a government that will implement a genuine ethical foreign policy.

That’s why we’re being subjected to unjustified, and unjustifiable, smears and attacks.

And that’s why my motto is that solidarity is crucial when it’s difficult, not just when it’s easy.

We’re not just trying to win an election, we’re in the process of changing the course of history.

So, let’s make history together.

 

In solidarity with Asa Winstanley, the latest victim of the witchhunt

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Labour Against the Witchhunt condems the suspension of Asa Winstanley, a journalist and associate editor of Electronic Intifada. Asa learnt this from a story in the Jewish Chronicle, which stated that he had been suspended for calling the Jewish Labour Movement a “proxy for the Israeli Embassy”.

The disciplinary measures against Asa Winstanley are a full frontal attack on freedom of speech. Asa has written a number of well-researched articles showing how the ‘anti-Semitism campaign’ in the Labour Party has been manufactured by pro-Zionist groups (for example, How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisisand Jewish Labour Movement was refounded to fight Corbyn).

The last two weeks have seen a worrying acceleration of the witch-hunt against pro-Corbyn members. It seems that general secretary Jennie Formby has reinstated automatic suspensions over the most minor accusations:

  • Councillor Stuart Porthouse, former mayor of Sunderland, was suspended for sharing an interview with George Galloway on Sky News.
  • Sean McCallum, mayoral candidate in Mansfield, has been suspended on the basis of two tweets questioning the origins of a meme that Naz Shah MP had posted.
  • Jo Bird, a Jewish councillor in the Wirral was suspended for telling jokes.
  • And Chris Williamson MP has been suspended for daring to question the party’s tactics over the campaign to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

None of the above are under investigation for anything remotely anti-Semitic.It has become an offence merely to question the very assertion that there is widespread anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. What we are now seeing is Orwellian. As Asa Winstanley said at a recent meeting: “They’re trying to defeat the man by demoralising, splitting and defeating the left movement supporting him.”

This campaign is, at the heart of it, a campaign to delegitimise any criticism of Israel and its racist policies towards non-Jews. As an outspoken supporter of the rights of the Palestinians, Jeremy Corbyn is an unreliable ally when it comes to the strategically important alliance of Britain with the USA and Israel. They will do anything to get rid of him as leader of the Labour Party. This campaign to paint his supporters as anti-Semites is an integral part of it.

We are outraged that once again, the compliance unit has leaked details of Labour’s disciplinary processes to the Jewish Chronicle and the press before the person themselves has been notified. This is in clear violation of the General Data Protection Regulations and is illegal. The compliance unit should be shut down. It is not fit for purpose.

We condemn the suspension of Jo Bird and the appointment of Lord Falconer

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UPDATE: Jo Bird’s suspension was lifted on March 15, though apparently she was given a ‘warning’ – for telling jokes!

Labour Against the Witchhunt unreservedly condemns the suspension from the Labour Party of Jewish councillor for Bromborough Jo Bird. At a Justice4Marc meeting last year in Manchester (in solidarity with Marc Wadsworth) she made a light-hearted comment, stating: “Jewish Voice For Labour is calling for disciplinary hearings to be paused until a due process has been established, based on principles of natural justice. What I call Jew process”.

Clearly, the context of that quote shows that her joke was not anti-Semitic at all – but the exact opposite.

Coming so soon after the suspension of Chris Williamson MP on equally baseless grounds, we are concerned that the small positive reforms of the disciplinary process introduced by general secretary Jennie Formby have been rolled back. We are seeing the return of automatic suspensions, even before an investigation has started. And again, they are used almost exclusively against left-wing supporters of Corbyn. Tom Watson, Margaret Hodge, Joan Ryan and Louise Ellman on the other hand get away with insulting and undermining Jeremy Corbyn and the party without any consequence. This is clearly not a fair process.

We are also greatly concerned with the plan to appoint Lord Falconer to “re-investigate” cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. As an ally of Tony Blair, a member of his war cabinet and the lawyer whose legal advice helped to break up the National Union of Mineworkers, we believe he is most certainly not the right man for the job. His interview in the Sunday Times shows that he is also far from impartial on this issue: “The most frightening thing is the profound and almost universal sense within the Jewish community that the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn are anti-Semitic. They feel they are not safe … because the potential prime minister and the main opposition party are anti-Semitic.”

This is nonsense. Firstly, there is no hegemonic “Jewish community”. There are pro-Zionist Jews and there anti- or non-Zionist Jews – those like Jo Bird, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and the thousands organised in groups like Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewish Socialist Group etc. They certainly do not feel “unsafe” in the Labour Party. It is a story spun by the right-wing in the Labour Party, in cahoots with non-Labour organisations like the Board of Deputies and the Israeli embassy – who are united in their desire to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

We believe these recent, bad decisions of the Labour leadership are the direct consequence of the formation of the so-called The Independent Group. Eager to stop any more right-wingers from splitting from the party, the leadership is bending over backwards once more. We are even hearing that the reformed trigger ballots are being put on hold to avoid any challenges to sitting MPs –despite the fact that this policy was agreed at Labour Party conference 2018.  But the last three and a half years show: Appeasement does not work. Every time the leadership takes a step back, the right makes two steps forward.

As Ken Loach, one of LAW’s sponsors said: “If it looks like a witch hunt and behaves like a witch hunt – it may well be just that. This is intolerable and must end now.”

LAW constitution

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As amended and adopted at LAW’s conference, February 2 2019 – click here for a PDF version.

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.

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.

More Fake Anti-Semitism – The Latest Victim is Labour’s Pete Willsman

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UPDATE

Momentum’s Caudillo and Owner, Jon Lansman, has removed Pete Willsman from Momentum’s JC9 slate. It is claimed that this was done by Momentum’s undemocratic ruling body, the National Coordination Group, but it is unlikely that this group has met.

This is an act of treachery of the first order as it is therefore allowing Luke Akehurst or a member of the anti-Corbyn Right to gain a place on the NEC.  One can only hope that enough people have already voted and enough people will ignore Momentum’s dictator that Pete will retain his seat.  Either way it is an act of scabbing by Lansman.

Barnett’s far-Right Tory Councillor Brian Gordon Proposes Banning Organisations Supporting a Boycott of Israel – Naturally!

Hardly a day goes by without another sacrificial lamb being offered up to the Zionist lobby in the Labour Party. Today it was Pete Willsman, a veteran socialist. Peter had made an angry speech at Labour’s National Executive Committee asking members where was this anti-Semitism that everyone speaks about, a reasonable question, and this was enough for that Israel’s main operative in the Labour Party, Luciana Berger, Chair of the racist Jewish Labour Movement to demand his expulsion.

And sure enough, Jon Lansman and his friends in Momentum, always speaking anonymously of course, immediately dissociated themselves from Pete and threatened to take him off the left slate (though that may be too late unless they want to let a right-winger get elected). The Guardian reported that ‘Momentum activists also suggested Willsman should be removed from their leftwing slate’, which would effectively destroy his chances of being voted back on to the NEC.

Naturally Owen Jones, who has every quality of a dog except loyalty, was first off the starting block:

‘“I’ll proudly vote for the other eight excellent Labour left candidates. I won’t vote for someone who undermines the struggle against the disgusting disease of anti-Semitism.”

The idea that anti-Semitism is a ‘disease’ is itself a racist concept. It implies that anti-Jewish racism isn’t caused by the society we live in but is a racial pathology.  It is on a par with the rest of this vacuum head’s outpourings.

Having listened to what Pete said there is nothing in it that is remotely anti-Semitic. He said ‘some of these people in the Jewish community support Trump.’  What is anti-Semitic about that?  What he should have said is that the arch-witchhunters in the right-wing Board of Deputies, including its former President Jonathan Arkush welcomed the election of Trump.  Marie van der Zyle, the current President, who is to the right of Arkush, was amongst those defending Arkush.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that on the Board of Deputies website Arkush said that “I would like to congratulate Donald Trump on his victory.” I can’t remember the detestable Luciana, or the Blessed Margaret Hodge or Liar Smeeth protesting. After all they were chasing ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party. Arkush continued:

“After a divisive campaign, I hope that Mr Trump will move to build bridges and ensure that America’s standing as a beacon of progress, tolerance and free-thinking remains strong.”  

Trump came to power after the most anti-Semitic Presidential election campaign in history where anti-semitic messages and dog whistles became the norm.  But none of this upset our Zionists for whom the only anti-Semitism that counts is opposition to Zionism.

And of course not only the President of the Board of Deputies but the Leader of the Israeli Labour Party, which is the sister party of the Jewish Labour Movement also welcomed the election of Trump.  Isaac Herzog issued a statement “Warm congratulations to the president of the most powerful nation in the world: Donald J Trump!” Israeli Labour Party leader Isaac Herzog, wrote on his Facebook.’Herzog to Trump: Your win shows elites are thing of past.

So Pete Willsman was absolutely correct. Berger and the rest of Labour’s racist Zionist MPs have nothing to say about Apartheid Israel because their whole purpose is a defence of the US’s racist Rottweiler in the Middle East.

Lest anyone forget the real target of the false antisemitism campaign is Corbyn himself – those who promote it like Owen Jones are helping the campaign to get rid of Corbyn

Willsman also said that ‘we should ask the 70 rabbis where is your evidence of severe and widespread anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party.  Of course they have none but and here’s the trick.  In asking for evidence, indeed even referring to the fact that there is none, Pete Willsman is guilty of, wait for it, ‘anti-Semitism’.  Because anti-Semitism is anything that displeases Berger, Smeeth and Hodge who are all ‘victims’ by their own reckoning. These privileged daughters of Zionism, who spend their waking time defending Israel, don’t hesitate to accuse anyone who doubts the existence of anti-Semitism of being anti-Semitic. Willsman compounded his offence by asking ‘How many people in this room have seen anti-Semitism?’  Apparently two did!  But surely Pete must know that saying that the Emperor has no clothes is in itself an act of Lèse majesté?

Meanwhile a genuine 24 carat racist, Councillor Brian Gordon of Barnet Council has also got into the act.  He is proposing a motion to the Council which would ban premises to any organisation that supporters a Boycott of Israel.  As we have been saying all along, the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is a threat to free speech and the right to dissent.

At least Brian Gordon is consistent.  A member of Herut he was a member of the far-Right Tory Monday Club which proposed the repatriation of British Blacks. When he lost a seat to Labour many years ago he bemoaned the fact that the racist vote was split between the Conservatives and the National Front and suggested that in the future the nationalist parties should combine.

However no can deny that this far-Right loon has a sense of humour.  When Purim came around he dressed up as Nelson Mandela, to the extent of blacking himself up in the tradition of the Black and White Minstrel show that many of us grew up with.  A good article Gordon Bennet, he’s your councillor? by the late Charley Pottins describes this racist clown.

I also seem to remember that after this election defeat, which must have been in the 1970’s, Gordon was caught at election night in a huddle with the NF candidate.

So it is really no surprise that Brian Gordon is proposing a motion effectively outlawing organisations that support Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The motion cites the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism as a justification. The IHRA as people will know is a definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ that conflates anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

This is of course  entirely understandable. Gordon, who was a supporter of Apartheid in South Africa and an opponent of a Boycott of that country when White Supremacy ruled is hardly likely to support a Boycott of Israel given that it is a state of Jewish supremacy.   See What’s the matter with Barnet?

Press Release – 23rd July 2018 The IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism is about defending Israel not defending Jews

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The debate over the IHRA in the media, especially the BBC, has been deliberately skewed towards supporters of Israel and Zionism. It has totally obliterated the views of Jews who are not Zionists or those in the Palestine solidarity movement.  The British press has behaved no differently to how the Chinese press would treat a controversial topic.

Nowhere is it mentioned that the IHRA is the old Working Definition of Anti-Semitism that the Fundamental Rights Agency junked in 2013.

Nowhere is the threat the IHRA poses to freedom of speech mentioned.  Even the IHRA’s author, Kenneth Stern, accepted that the IHRA was “never meant to provide a framework for eviscerating free speech or academic freedom, let alone labeling anyone an antisemite.” Yet that is what is happening.

Hugh Tomlinson QC described it as having “a potential chilling effect on public bodies”.  Professor David Feldman of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism described it as ‘bewilderingly perplexing’. Sir Stephen Sedley, the Jewish former Court of Appeal Judge wrote that the IHRA ‘fails the first test of any definition: it is indefinite.’

The IHRA is over 500 words. The OED defines it as ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews.’ Why the difference? Because that is how long it takes to conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

The IHRA defines anti-Semitism as calling Israel as racist yet how else do you describe a state where segregation is the norm in education, employment and housing? Where just one month ago hundreds of Israeli Jews demonstrated against the sale of a house in the Jewish city of Afula to Arabs?

Only last week the Knesset passed the Jewish Nation State Bill which has been widely criticised in Israel’s sole liberal daily Ha’aretz as an apartheid law which will make Israel a state of Jews not its own citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish.

Critics of the Labour Party don’t even hide what their real agenda is.  Stephen Pollard, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, was quite frank:

‘instead of adopting the definition as agreed by all these bodies, Labour has excised the parts which relate to Israel and how criticism of Israel can be antisemitic.’

Even Pollard accepts that the IHRA has nothing to do with hate of Jews and everything to do with criticising a State which discriminates against non-Jews.

Yes the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted by 31 governments.  They include the anti-Semitic governments of Poland and Viktor Orban’s Hungary, both of which are ardent supporters of Netanyahu.  Need one say more?

  1. For further information contact:

Tony Greenstein           01273 660313/07843350343

Our next members’ meeting: June 16

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Saturday June 16, 1-4pm
LAW national membership meeting

Union Tavern, 52 Lloyd Baker Street, Clerkenwell, London, WC1X 9AA

Agenda includes:

  • LAW’s intervention at Labour Party conference 2018
  • Campaign to stop Jackie Walker’s expulsion
  • Model motions
  • LAW conference

LAW modus operandi – to be discussed at next LAW organising meeting, January 6

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Motion adopted by the LAW Steering Committee, to be considered and voted upon at the LAW organising meeting, Saturday January 6:

Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) is a Labour Party campaign. We urge all those who oppose Labour’s witchhunt against Corbyn supporters and critics of Israel/Zionism to stay in the Party and fight.

LAW reaffirms its three key demands:

1.    That the Labour Party ends the practice of automatic, instant, expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members without a hearing, with no right of appeal.

2.    That the Labour Party rejects the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance (IHMA) definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people.

3.    That the Labour Party immediately abolishes its ‘compliance unit’. Disciplinary decisions should be taken by elected bodies, not paid officials.

As shown by the September 2017 Labour Party conference, the formation of Free Speech on Israel and Jewish Voice for Labour, and by the surge of support which quickly achieved the reinstatement of Moshé Machover, we believe our campaign is capable of stopping the witchhunt.

LAW campaigns for the immediate lifting of all suspensions and expulsions from Labour Party membership which were

  • connected with the rightwing witchhunt of Corbyn supporters;
  • carried out “automatically”, without a hearing, without the right of appeal;
  • connected to the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign.

LAW rejects the view, promoted by the Zionist movement and the Jewish Labour Movement, that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. Those, such as the Alliance for Workers Liberty, who conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel are not eligible for membership. Those who regard Moshé Machover, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker or Ken Livingstone as anti-Semitic or who regret the reinstatement of Moshé Machover and/or support the expulsion of Ken Livingstone, are not welcome in LAW.

However, our support will be weakened if we allow the campaign to be associated with those who promote views which are anti-Semitic. LAW condemns anti-Semitism and all forms of racism. Those groups or individuals, such as Socialist Fight, who promote a form of anti-Semitism, for example the view that imperialist support for Israel has any connection to the “overrepresentation” of Jews in the ruling class; or that Jews are “an oppressor people”; or that Jewish campaigns in support of the Palestinians such as Jews Against Zionism, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods or Jewish Voice for Labour are racist because they operate on the basis of a supposedly “Jewish moral superiority”, are not welcome in LAW.