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.