Proposed rule change motion for Labour Party conference: Open Selection

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Proposed rule change motion: Open Selection

This branch/CLP believes:

  • that being a Labour MP should not be a job for life;
  • that candidates should be selected openly without restrictions before each general election;
  • that all individual and affiliate members should be able to participate in the selection of candidates;
  • that the existing system of trigger ballots prevents this from happening and creates unnecessary antagonisms, turning what should be a normal open process into an implied vote of no confidence in a sitting Labour MP;
  • that a fully democratised Labour Party based on the principle of One Member One Vote is the best way to ensure the election of a Labour government with the strength and resolve to create a fair and just society for the many, not the few.

Therefore this branch/CLP:

  • calls upon the NEC to endorse and support the LI Rule Change motion from 2018 and to reintroduce it as an NEC rule change at the next Labour Conference;
  • moves the following rule change to Labour Party conference 2019:

Replace Clause IV.5 and IV.6 with the following:

“5. Following an election for a Parliamentary constituency the procedure for selection of Westminster Parliamentary Candidates shall be as follows:

  1. If the CLP is not represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than six weeks after the election and complete no later than 12 months after the election.
  2. If a CLP is represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, then a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than 36 months and complete no later than 48 months after the election. The sitting Member of Parliament shall be automatically included on the shortlist of candidates unless they request to retire or resign from the PLP.
  3. The CLP Shortlisting Committee shall draw up a shortlist of interested candidates to present to all members of the CLP who are eligible to vote in accordance with Clause I.1.A above.”

    Consequential amendments to be made elsewhere in the Rule Book where the ‘trigger ballot’ is
    mentioned.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stan Keable: “Judgement defends the right to express anti-Zionist views”

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The judgement and reasons took more than two hours to deliver, and will be published online by the employment tribunal. It defends the right to freedom of speech – to express views in public, including anti-Zionist views, which may offend some people or many people. Much case law was quoted and elaborated. The judgement will provide an encyclopaedia of dismissal law and a protection of the human rights of employees to freedom of assembly (the right to demonstrate) and freedom of speech – a great product of a year’s hard work.
[Click here to read LAW’s brief report and for some background to the see case.]

 

THANKS

Thank to my solicitor, David Phillips of R&A Solicitors (Manchester), and pro bono barrister Iqbal Sram, who did a brilliant job. Thanks to H&F Unison steward Bruce Mackay, who represented me at the preliminary investigation hearing, and to Branch Secretary Patsy Ishmael, who accompanied me at the appeal hearing and insisted that my right to a trade union rep of my choice had been illegally denied. Thanks to barrister Dave Renton, who helped prepare me for the disciplinary hearing and Tony Greenstein, who represented me at the disciplinary hearing. Thanks to my witnesses – all Jewish: Hilary Russell, Professor Moshé Machover, Mike Cushman (Free Speech on Israel), Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi (Jewish Voice for Labour), Pamela Blakelock (JVL), Glyn Secker (JVL). Thanks to my local comrades in Hammersmith CLP and Hammersmith & Fulham Momentum for not believing the nonsense that I was anti-Semitic. Thanks to my comrades in Labour Party Marxist and Labour Against the Witchhunt, who defended me throughout. And thanks to my Esperantist friends who knew that racist “Jew-hate” could not feature in my outlook.

www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/uncategorized/stan-keable-has-won-his-employment-tribunal/

Stan Keable has won his employment tribunal

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We are very pleased to report that LAW secretary Stan Keable has today WON his employment tribunal against Hammersmith and Fulham council. The employment tribunal judge ruled that it was “an unfair dismissal, both procedurally and substantively.”

On April 21 2018, Stan was dismissed from his job with Hammersmith and Fulham Council after 17 years unblemished service as a housing officer, for having “brought the Council into disrepute”, by saying that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well documented if shameful historical fact.

He said this on March 26, in a conversation in Parliament Square – nothing to do with work – while participating in the Jewish Voice for Labour demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, called in opposition to the rightwing ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration.

The BBC’s David Grossman tweeted a 105-second video clip of the conversation, retweeted by Tory MP Greg Hands to H&F Council Labour leader Stephen Cowan and then used by the Council to sack Stan.

Unison withdrew support because Stan rejected the bad advice of their regional organiser to plead guilty, throwing away the right to demonstrate and to freedom of speech.

This dismissal was clearly an extension of the McCarthyite witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party into the area of employment. Hopefully, this judgment will go some way to stop any more of such politically motivated sackings.

The remedy hearing is set for October 2, to determine possible reinstatement and the level of compensation.

Thank you to everybody who has supported Stan in this period!

Sign the petition: No to a national government! Implement the trigger ballot now!

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We are deeply worried about the delay to implement the trigger ballots, which Labour Party conference 2018 voted to reform. Trigger ballots are currently the only way in which Labour Party members can exercise some democratic control over their parliamentary representative.

This is particularly worrying with talks of a snap election or, worse, the formation of a national government. No doubt, Jeremy Corbyn would not be invited to join – let alone lead – such a national government, as the vast majority of MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party have proven over and over again how deeply hostile they are to him and his politics.

The PLP must change and Labour Party members must be allowed to exercise the right to hold their representatives to account! Continue Reading “Sign the petition: No to a national government! Implement the trigger ballot now!”

Fighting the witch-hunt as key part of building the foundations for an independent, democratic Labour left

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Lead motion agreed at our members’ meeting on May 4 2019

The witch-hunt in the Labour Party is accelerating. There are many new allegations, suspensions and investigations. In the run up to the May local and European elections, the campaign of the right in and outside the Labour Party is designed to smear Jeremy Corbyn in particular, and the left in general.

Overwhelmingly, it is clear that a number of party members under attack (often election candidates) are not guilty of anti-Semitic comments. Words are often taken out of context, twisted and misrepresented to prove their ‘guilt’. In the few cases where there is real evidence of prejudiced views or support for questionable conspiracy theories, patient discussion is usually the best option, with suspension or expulsion the last resort. As socialists, we believe in the potential for change; that people, through experience, joint struggles and rational argument, can learn.

Instead, we are again seeing automatic suspensions. The Labour right is energetically promoting this approach, of course – it facilitates the purge of Corbyn supporters and awkward trouble-makers.

Meanwhile, those like Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, sabotage, make bogus accusations and work hand-in-glove with the capitalist media – without any repercussions.

That such behaviour goes unpunished is the product of the short-sighted and futile attempt to appease the right. This can only undermine the Corbyn leadership and often plays into the false ‘anti-Zionism equals antisemitism’ narrative. Now it is “common knowledge” that Jeremy Corbyn is “responsible for antisemitism inside and outside the Labour Party”, as Ruth Smeeth MP recently claimed.

Appeasement is designed to stop more right-wingers leaving and getting Corbyn into No10. LAW notes the delay to the roll-out of trigger ballots, which conference in 2018 voted for. The delay is particularly worrying in the context of a possible snap election or, worse, a national government. The vast majority of Labour MPs are clearly deeply hostile to Corbyn and his politics. Even if he was Prime Minister, the right inside and outside the Labour Party would not stop their campaign against him. They want him either removed, taken prisoner or tamed. Labour Party members must be allowed to hold all their representatives to account.

Momentum has proven unfit for purpose. While a number of local Momentum branches continue to do good work, the national leadership of the organisation has often been deafeningly silent or actually supported suspensions and expulsions – something that even the Jewish Labour Movement recognised when it praised Momentum in the lead motion at its recent AGM.

LAW supports a Labour left that:

  • organises democratically and transparently;
  • both supports Corbyn against attacks by the right, and is independent and able to criticise the leadership when necessary;
  • is consistently anti-racist and internationalist, a stance which by definition includes anti-Zionism and supporting the Palestinians.

In addition to our aims and priorities outlined above, we also resolve to campaign:

  • for Labour CLPs and trade union branches to affiliate to LAW and Jewish Voice for Labour
  • for the immediate implementation of the reformed trigger ballots;
  • for the scrapping of all bans and proscriptions: if the mass of socialists in Britain joined the party, it would put us in a much stronger position in the ongoing civil war within the party.

In addition to our ongoing public campaigning we therefore instruct the steering committee to:

  • produce more model motions, statements and public interventions on the subjects and issues above;
  • approach other local, regional and national organisations and individuals who are interested in building a democratic and transparent Labour left;
  • start planning for an intervention around those aims at Labour Party conference 2019 in Brighton.
  • produce basic information for members who have been suspended or are put under investigation, including details of potential pro bono legal advisers.

We will prioritise the following three campaigns:

  1. For the reinstatement of Chris Williamson MP.
  2. For the Labour Party Party and other organisations to reject the definition of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
  3. To make Zionism a legitimate topic of discussion.

George Galloway and the EU elections: A vote for the Brexit Party is a vote for right-wing chauvinism

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After a useful and healthy debate, this position was agreed overwhelmingly at LAW’s members meeting on May 4.

LAW believes that:

  1. George Galloway’s decision to support Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party at the May 23 EU elections is a reactionary stance. Galloway is an outspoken supporter of the rights of the Palestinians and has made useful interventions opposing the witch-hunt in the Labour Party. But on this issue, he is badly mistaken. A vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is a vote for right-wing chauvinism and an anti-migrant stance.
  2. No ‘tactical’ consideration can justify support for the Brexit Party and we are disturbed to see comments along those lines in pro-Corbyn Facebook groups, including the ‘LAW Unofficial’ group.
  3. Despite our public criticisms of the current dire situation in the party, with a rightwing witch-hunt tearing through its ranks, Labour Against the Witchhunt is a campaign centered on driving through changes in the Labour Party. We urge all our supporters and members to join or rejoin the party – if they are allowed. This does not mean we exclude from LAW anybody who has been illegitimately suspended, expelled or barred from membership as part of the witch-hunt against Corbyn and his supporters.
  4. Given this orientation, we naturally urge all our supporters and members to vote and campaign for the Labour Party in the May 2019 EU elections.

Motions agreed at LAW’s members’ meeting, May 4 2019

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All LAW members will receive the official minutes in the next couple of days, which includes details on the votes and amendments. We are only listing the successful motions in their amended form.

1) Proposal to expel Pete Gregson from LAW

Labour Against the Witchhunt was set up explicitly to fight the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party. As the witch-hunt has centred on the campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, LAW needs to confront any hint or trace of genuine anti-Semitism in our own ranks. That is why supporters of Socialist Fight were expelled.

Members of LAW – and in particular Tony Greenstein – have spent considerable time and effort trying to patiently discuss and explain to Peter Gregson why some of his formulations are, in our view problematic; for example in his petition on the IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism (which LAW never supported). The last straw for us was Peter Gregson’s refusal to distance himself from the holocaust denier Nick Kollerstrom.

We do not wish to be associated and tainted with holocaust denial and therefore believe that Peter Gregson can no longer remain a member of Labour Against the Witchhunt.

We do not believe that Peter Gregson should be expelled from either the GMB union or the Labour Party. These are broad organisations of the working class that contain many different viewpoints.


2) Fighting the witch-hunt as key part of building the foundations for an independent, democratic Labour left

The witch-hunt in the Labour Party is accelerating. There are many new allegations, suspensions and investigations. In the run up to the May local and European elections, the campaign of the right in and outside the Labour Party is designed to smear Jeremy Corbyn in particular, and the left in general.

Overwhelmingly, it is clear that a number of party members under attack (often election candidates) are not guilty of anti-Semitic comments. Words are often taken out of context, twisted and misrepresented to prove their ‘guilt’. In the few cases where there is real evidence of prejudiced views or support for questionable conspiracy theories, patient discussion is usually the best option, with suspension or expulsion the last resort. As socialists, we believe in the potential for change; that people, through experience, joint struggles and rational argument, can learn.

Instead, we are again seeing automatic suspensions. The Labour right is energetically promoting this approach, of course – it facilitates the purge of Corbyn supporters and awkward trouble-makers.

Meanwhile, those like Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, sabotage, make bogus accusations and work hand-in-glove with the capitalist media – without any repercussions.

That such behaviour goes unpunished is the product of the short-sighted and futile attempt to appease the right. This can only undermine the Corbyn leadership and often plays into the false ‘anti-Zionism equals antisemitism’ narrative. Now it is “common knowledge” that Jeremy Corbyn is “responsible for antisemitism inside and outside the Labour Party”, as Ruth Smeeth MP recently claimed.

Appeasement is designed to stop more right-wingers leaving and getting Corbyn into No10. LAW notes the delay to the roll-out of trigger ballots, which conference in 2018 voted for. The delay is particularly worrying in the context of a possible snap election or, worse, a national government. The vast majority of Labour MPs are clearly deeply hostile to Corbyn and his politics. Even if he was Prime Minister, the right inside and outside the Labour Party would not stop their campaign against him. They want him either removed, taken prisoner or tamed. Labour Party members must be allowed to hold all their representatives to account.

Momentum has proven unfit for purpose. While a number of local Momentum branches continue to do good work, the national leadership of the organisation has often been deafeningly silent or actually supported suspensions and expulsions – something that even the Jewish Labour Movement recognised when it praised Momentum in the lead motion at its recent AGM.

LAW supports a Labour left that:

  • organises democratically and transparently;
  • both supports Corbyn against attacks by the right, and is independent and able to criticise the leadership when necessary;
  • is consistently anti-racist and internationalist, a stance which by definition includes anti-Zionism and supporting the Palestinians.

In addition to our aims and priorities outlined above, we also resolve to campaign:

  • for Labour CLPs and trade union branches to affiliate to LAW and Jewish Voice for Labour
  • for the immediate implementation of the reformed trigger ballots;
  • for the scrapping of all bans and proscriptions: if the mass of socialists in Britain joined the party, it would put us in a much stronger position in the ongoing civil war within the party.

In addition to our ongoing public campaigning we therefore instruct the steering committee to:

  • produce more model motions, statements and public interventions on the subjects and issues above;
  • approach other local, regional and national organisations and individuals who are interested in building a democratic and transparent Labour left;
  • start planning for an intervention around those aims at Labour Party conference 2019 in Brighton.
  • produce basic information for members who have been suspended or are put under investigation, including details of potential pro bono legal advisers.

We will prioritise the following three campaigns:

  1. For the reinstatement of Chris Williamson MP.
  2. For the Labour Party Party and other organisations to reject the definition of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
  3. To make Zionism a legitimate topic of discussion.


3) George Galloway and the EU elections

LAW believes that:

  1. George Galloway’s decision to support Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party at the May 23 EU elections is a reactionary stance. Galloway is an outspoken supporter of the rights of the Palestinians and has made useful interventions opposing the witch-hunt in the Labour Party. But on this issue, he is badly mistaken. A vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is a vote for right-wing chauvinism and an anti-migrant stance.
  2. No ‘tactical’ consideration can justify support for the Brexit Party and we are disturbed to see comments along those lines in pro-Corbyn Facebook groups, including the ‘LAW Unofficial’ group.
  3. Despite our public criticisms of the current dire situation in the party, with a rightwing witch-hunt tearing through its ranks, Labour Against the Witchhunt is a campaign centered on driving through changes in the Labour Party. We urge all our supporters and members to join or rejoin the party – if they are allowed. This does not mean we exclude from LAW anybody who has been illegitimately suspended, expelled or barred from membership as part of the witch-hunt against Corbyn and his supporters.
  4. Given this orientation, we naturally urge all our supporters and members to vote and campaign for the Labour Party in the May 2019 EU elections.

Jeremy Corbyn’s letter is welcome, but very late

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We welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s fighting spirit in his letter to the Board of Deputies. As usual, the BoD reacted with fake outrage to the ‘news’ that Corbyn wrote a foreword to the hugely influential book ‘Imperialism – a Study’ by AN Hobson.

We particularly agree  with this paragraph:

This accusation is the latest in a series of equally ill-founded accusations of anti-Jewish racism that Labour’s political opponents have made against me. I note that the Hobson story was written by a Conservative Party peer in a newspaper whose editorial policy, and owner, have long been hostile to Labour. At a time when Jewish communities in the UK, and indeed throughout Europe, feel under attack, it is a matter of great regret that the issue of anti-Semitism is often politicised in this way.

John A Hobson did not only develop a theory of underconsumption to explain capitalism’s devastating cycles of boom and bust – but he was also the first writer to explain that capitalism, with its need to constantly expand, requires governments to constantly open up new markets to exploit: imperialism.

And while there is a now much-quoted paragraph in the 400 page work that does indeed reflect how anti-Semitism was prevalent and acceptable within the ruling class at the time, this hardly makes it a “deeply anti-Semitic book”, as The Times and The Guardian now claim. Incidentally, in 2011 The Guardian praised the work as “the definitive book on imperialism”. This just shows you how the political narrative around the issue of anti-Semitism has been utterly manipulated and changed in the last few years.

But Corbyn’s two-finger salute comes late, very late. Hundreds of Labour Party supporters have been suspended, expelled or remain under investigation for exactly the same kind of “politicised” and “ill-founded accusations of anti-Jewish racism”, among them Chris Williamson MP, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and many, many more. Why won’t he come out in their defence, too? The charges against them have been just as ridiculous.

We also hope that Corbyn will criticise the Jewish Labour Movement in similarly strong terms. After all, they have – once again – used the opportunity to continue their campaign of sabotage: They have called on him to “consider his position” and accused him of having “endorsed antisemitic propaganda”. “Any other member would have been suspended after this. This is why JLM members overwhelmingly passed a motion of no confidence in him and his leadership at our AGM two weeks ago. A fish rots from the head.”

And the Jewish Labour Movement clearly is rotten through and through. For a start, it does not represent “Jewish members of the Labour Party”: you do not have to be Jewish to join it and you certainly do not have to be a member of the Labour Party. Adam Langleben, for example, the newly elected campaigns officer of the JLM, has left the Labour Party with much fanfare in February and is, we hear,  supporting Chuka Umunna’s Tinge Party.

John Davies’ suspension: The Slanderer’s Road to Socialism

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We republish here an article by a comrade who – like many others – has come under immense public scrutiny during the ongoing witch-hunt. It’s a long statement, but definitely worth a read. He eloquently explains that the campaign against him clearly has much to do with the local civil war in the party and we agree with him when he writes:

“Real antisemitism is a foul scourge, and we will continue to confront it. But using racism as a political weapon diminishes real racism and makes it harder to confront when the genuine article surfaces.

It’s time that the Labour leadership and all those who genuinely support Corbyn take a stance in defence of those wrongly accused, and start to take action against the slanderers.”

1. My Suspension.

Two weeks ago I was informed of my suspension from the Labour Party, who allege I may be in breach of rule 2.1.8, which apparently relates to social media posts. I do not yet know what the substance of the charges against me are. However, The Jewish Chronicle (JC), The Sun and the website of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (a pro-Israel advocacy organisation feeding the antisemitism witch hunt) have all published co-ordinated attacks on me, alleging I am an antisemite and Nazi apologist. These attacks have come after the JC spoke to our Liverpool Riverside MP and right wing councillors in our Constituency Labour Party (CLP). Before the arrival of specific charges from the Labour Party, at which point I will be effectively muzzled, I am issuing this statement. Continue Reading “John Davies’ suspension: The Slanderer’s Road to Socialism”

Congratulations to Sam Gorst – under investigation, but elected Labour councillor!

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Congratulations to Sam Gorst, who has just been elected Labour Party councillor in Cressington – despite a nasty campaign against him.

In the run-up to the local and European Union elections rightwingers in and outside the Labour Party have been busy scrolling through the Facebook and Twitter accounts of Labour candidates in particular. Naturally, they have been hugely successful in discovering ‘problematic’, often historic, posts (that were not considered problematic at all a few short years back).

Sam Gorst, for example, is under investigation for alleged “anti-Semitism”, because it appears he tweeted something “in defence of former London mayor Ken Livingstone”. His accounts have been deleted, but if that is all, then clearly the compliance unit has once again massively overreached. After all, Livingstone resigned from Labour after the NEC decided to readmit him after a one-year-suspension. The right wing  – much emboldened by their success with the campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism – freaked out and the Corbyn leadership was in agony over what to do with Livingstone. He resigned to spare Corbyn any more blushes – to no avail, of course. Because Corbyn and his allies have continuously given in to the witch-hunters rather than standing up to them, Livingstone is now ‘known’ to be an anti-Semite (as is Corbyn himself, of course).

Click here to read an article by Moshe Machover  on the ‘Ken Livingstone affair’: “The campaign [by the witch-hunters] has been remarkably successful and, of course, the biggest scalp so far is that of former London mayor and former NEC member, Ken Livingstone. What did he say that got him suspended? Hitler came to power in 1932 and “supported Zionism until he went mad”. Of course, he got the date wrong, Hitler came to power in 1933. It was also wrong to personalise the shift in policy. But the point he was making about the Nazi regime and Zionism is basically correct, as I shall demonstrate.”

Ken Livingstone is new honorary president of Labour Against the Witchhunt (alongside comrade Machover) – check out how LAW fought to extract a rare apology from the Mail on Sunday when it maliciously misreported our meeting with him and Jackie Walker on March 25.

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.