Intrepid opponents of the Labour purge of pro-Corbyn supporters braved freezing weather to be on a lobby of the party’s National Executive Committee today. They included members of Grassroots Black Left, the Labour Representation Committee, Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Party Marxists and Brighton and Hove Momentum. Organised by Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), the high-spirited demo sighted party leader Corbyn, his political advisor Katy Clark and Campaign for Labour Party Democracy secretary Peter Willsman, an NEC member, going into the meeting at Labour’s Southside headquarters in central London. But, mysteriously, despite the people on the lobby being outside the office block an hour before the NEC meeting started, no more members of Labour’s 39-strong ruling body, where the Corbyn-backing Left recently took control, were seen – suggesting they may have slipped into the building from a back entrance to avoid being questioned. The campaigners chanted: “Stop the witch hunts”, “End the suspensions”, and “Implement Chakrabarti now”.
Former Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker, who has been suspended by Labour for almost two years, said: “We welcome the resignation of general secretary Iain McNicol and his replacement today by Jennie Formby, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter whom LAW has critically supported. Things are definitely changing in the party, but they are not changing fast enough for a lot of members who remain suspended or expelled based on trumped-up or false charges or simply because they are active supporters of Corbyn.”
Grassroots Black Left’s Marc Wadsworth, the veteran anti-racist campaigner suspended by Labour in June 2016 whose expulsion hearing is on April 25, was on the lobby with Walker and Tony Greenstein, who, despite being Jewish, has been expelled on a false charge of anti-semitism. Wadsworth said: “We demand that the recommendations of the 2016 Chakrabarti report in respect of natural justice and due process are implemented without any further delay. The NEC’s failure to so far make the long-overdue changes has brought the party, that prides itself on upholding justice for all, into disrepute. The divisive purge of Jeremy Corbyn supporters has prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while costly Labour resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change.”
“Labour Against the Witchhunt deplores the politically motivated expulsion from the Labour Party of Tony Greenstein (LAW’s vice-chair). It is a blatant example of how the right-wing who oppose Jeremy Corbyn, the democratically elected Labour leader, have cynically weaponised anti-Semitism to attack his supporters.
Veteran Black, Jewish and other party members have been targeted as part of this witch-hunt. Greenstein is a Jewish anti-racist who has campaigned ceaselessly against the Zionist Israeli government’s appalling treatment of Palestinians and has played a leading role in exposing how children, like jailed Ahed Tamini, have been caught up in this cycle of oppression. He is not Anti-semitic. It is shameful that anti-Semitism has been cynically weaponised by the right-wing to purge Labour of Corbyn supporters, while much more prevalent anti-black racism and, until Jeremy Corbyn spoke out against it, Islamophobia, have been ignored by the party.
We call on the Labour leadership to use its left-wing majority on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee to reinstate Greenstein and stop the witch-hunt; it is an expression of the ongoing civil war in the party that serves no other purpose than to damage the party’s chances of winning the next general election.
The NEC must, without further delay, implement the recommendations of the party’s own Chakrabarti Report recommendations on disciplinary procedure based on natural justice and due process. It is astonishing that almost two years have gone by without these vital changes being brought in so that party members are treated fairly rather than made victims of the purge.”
LAW’s steering committee includes Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth, both of whom remain suspended on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism. Please support Marc’s crowdfunding appeal – he is next in the firing-line. His hearing has been set for April 25 in London – LAW will be supporting him with a protest outside backed by members of Grassroots Black Left, the Indian Workers’ Association and Jewish Voice for Labour.
Background: The so-called Corbyn Review aims to produce a report to the 2018 annual conference in Liverpool. It is not a blue-sky-thinking exercise, however: Submissions invited are limited to answering 32 pre-set questions on six themes with a 250-word-limit on each of the questions.
None of these deal with the compliance unit (Disputes) or the fate of expelled and suspended members per se (or, for that matter, with the important demand for mandatory selection). We have therefore picked a relatively open-ended question that we think it worthwhile filling with some of LAW’s demands.
Here is what you can do:
1. Please submit the proposal as an individual here in the section: ‘How do we get our increased membership more involved in the Party?’ Deadline is March 23.
2. Please submit it to your Labour Party branch and/or CLP and/or other party unit – and submit it again online in their name if they approve it.
3. If you are a Momentum member, please “nominate” the proposal, which has been submitted by Tony Greenstein: Click here. Deadline is Friday, February 16. Continue Reading “How you can support LAW’s submission to the Corbyn Review”
We understand that the Jewish Labour Movement is writing to Constituency Labour Parties offering training sessions in opposing anti-semitism.
While opposed to racism in all its forms, we urge CLPs to reject the JLM’s offer for the following reasons:
- The JLM encourages the adoption of the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism, with all its accompanying examples, several of which equate antisemitism with criticism of Israel. The IHRA definition has been challenged by Jewish groups and legal experts.
- The Chakrabarti report, commissioned by the Party leadership, argued against “narrow anti racist training programmes (p22)
“On reflection, and having gauged the range of feelings within the Party, it is not my view that narrow anti-racism training programmes are what is required. There is a grave danger that such an approach would seem patronising or otherwise insulting rather than truly empowering and enriching for those taking part. Instead, the Party’s values, mission and history could be firmly embedded in more comprehensive activism and leadership education designed to equip members”
Instead, we urge branches and CLPs to invite a speaker from an organisation like Labour Against the Witchhunt or Jewish Voice for Labour, to address issues like ‘Why anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’ or ‘How to stop the witch hunt against the pro-Corbyn left’.
(please not that this article first appeared on the website of Labour Party Marxists – all links refer to that site)
The expulsion of long-standing Israeli socialist Moshé Machover from the Labour Party (expulsion letter here) caused shockwaves throughout the labour movement. We feature the motions and statements in support of Moshé and against the ongoing witch hunt by the right in the party.
On October 5, Moshe received a second explusion letter, which states that “These allegations [of anti-Semitism] are not subject to an investigation as you are not currently a member of the Labour Party.” They will probably be kept on file, should his expulsion based on his “clear support” for LPM be overturned. This is arbitrary, to say the least.
Clearly, the mass protests against the outrageous decision worked: On October 30, they were forced to – very reluctantly – reverse their own decision and Moshé has now been reinstated to full membership.
Click here to read the correspondence between comrade Machover and Sam Matthews, “head of disputes”.
Labour Party branches and CLPs
Other organisations and individuals
UPDATE (January 7 2018): The overwhelming majority of attendees at our January 6 meeting voted for the steering committee’s motion to exclude Socialist Fight.
Statement from Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein
At the last meeting of LAW, the Steering Committee [SC] motion excluding SF from the campaign was narrowly defeated. Also defeated was a motion from SF and a third motion by John Bridge. Subsequently the SC decided to renew its call for the exclusion of SF.
- The reason that the SC is moving a resolution calling for the exclusion of SF is because the campaign cannot develop as long as SF, which advocates anti-Semitic politics, is allowed to remain. It really is that simple. None of the 3 people whom the Right are intending to expel next – Tony Greenstein [TG], Jackie Walker [JW] or Marc Wadsworth [MW] – want anything to do with SF. Nor will any Jewish anti-Zionist group will have anything to do with LAW if SF remain a part of it.
- The Right is waging a witchhunt which is primarily based around the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. We are falsely being accused of anti-Semitism because we are anti-Zionists. It makes no sense whatsoever for us to therefore include a political group in LAW which is anti-Semitic. This is playing into the hands of the Zionists and undermines the position of those who are facing expulsion.
- The only question to be decided is whether SF is anti-Semitic. By that we don’t mean that Gerry Downing [GD] or Ian Donovan [ID] are personally anti-Semitic but whether their politics are anti-Semitic.
- ID writes that ‘Today, he [Greenstein] and his bed mate Jack Conrad are in a bloc with the same Iain McNichol who is framing him up for anti-Semitism. This is class treachery at its most pathetic.’ If ID really believes that TG and presumably JW and MW, all of whom agree about SF, are in a bloc with Iain McNicol, what the hell is he doing in LAW in the first place?
- Yes we have moderated their lengthy contributions on the FB page, not because we wished to censor them but because the group is there to fight the witchhunt.
Why Socialist Fight is espousing anti-Semitic politics
- It is a standard tactic of Zionism to accuse anti-Zionists of anti-Semitism. In 99% of cases this is false but occasionally they are right. Making a connection between the number of Jewish billionaires in the United States or who is Jewish amongst the richest sections of society and imperialist support for Israel is anti-Semitic.
- Anti-Zionists have taken great care to make the distinction between Zionism and being Jewish crystal clear. SF make no such distinction. US support for Israel and Zionism has nothing to do with the ethnic composition of the US ruling class and everything to do with their own perceived interests. There is no evidence of a clash between Jewish and non-Jewish members of the ruling class over this.
- ID states that ‘It is factually demonstrable that there exists a Jewish component within the ruling classes of Western countries… and that this part of the ruling class is overwhelmingly loyal to Israel. This does not determine the bare existence of a Western alliance with Israel.
- What it does, however, is play an important role in transforming what would otherwise be a ‘normal’ relationship… into a servile relationship
- The idea that the United States is ‘servile’ to Israel is anti-Semitic. What lies behind this is the notion of an all-powerful Jewish conspiracy.
- ID is the main theoretician of SF and he is a critical supporter of Gilad Atzmon. Atzmon is deeply anti-Semitic. He believes that the Jews control the world and that it is irrelevant if the Protocols of Zion are a forgery because they are true anyway. He doubts whether Auschwitz was an extermination camp. In his essay ‘On anti-Semitism’ he wrote ‘we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously.’ See A Guide to the Sayings of Gilad Atzmon, for more examples of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism.
- In March 2012 twenty leading Palestinians including Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad and Omar Barghouti penned a call to exclude Atzmon from the Palestine solidarity movement Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon yet in Third-Camp Stalinoids bring Witchhunt into ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ ID describes Atzmon as an ‘Israeli dissident’ and denies that he is anti-Semitic.
- ID in Defend Marxism and Labour Movement democracy against capitulators to Zionism describes the campaign of Jews Against Zionism and J-Big to get the SWP to cut their links with Atzmon, as an attempt ‘to witchhunt the Socialist Workers Party’. ID subscribes to many of Atzmon’s pet themes, especially his hatred of Jewish anti-Zionist groups whom he says subscribe to notions of ‘Jewish moral superiority’.
- ID accuses, without an iota of evidence, Jewish anti-Zionist groups of operating as a 5th column inside Palestine solidarity groups, whose ‘opposition to Israeli crimes is suspected to be anti-Semitic unless validated by a special Jewish endorsement.’ Indeed ID goes further. ‘These groups are indirectly a transmission belt for Zionist influence into the left, despite their subjective intentions as anti-Zionists.’ ID accepts Atzmon’s racist lie that it is impossible to be a Jewish anti-Zionist because to be a Jew politically is to be a Zionist!
- Jewish anti-Zionist groups are welcomed by Palestinians because they give the lie to the argument that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic. Jewish groups play the same role in respect to Palestine that White Anti-Apartheid groups played in South Africa. Our role as Jews is one of solidarity. Donovan’s calumnies come from the pen of Atzmon.
- ID’s whole language is becoming anti-Semitic. He talks of ‘the indulgence of Jewish sensibilities’. There is no collective Jew except in the minds of Zionism and anti-Semites. The whole concept of Jews having become an ‘oppressor people’ is also anti-Semitic as well as anti-Marxist.
- Finally there is the appeal to liberalism, by asking how an anti-witch hunt group can exclude SF. In the same way that we exclude the Zionist AWL. We are a campaign not a party. If SF’s presence hinders our work, as it does, then we have the right to tell them to go their own way.
Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker
Tony Greenstein explains why Socialist Fight must be excluded from Labour Against the Witchhunt
This article first appeared in the Weekly Worker.
On December 2 a Labour Against the Witchhunt meeting was effectively ambushed by a small Trotskyist grouping, Socialist Fight. A series of close votes was taken, the result of which meant that the previous decision of the steering committee, that Socialist Fight should no longer participate in meetings of LAW, was overturned.
Stan Keable, the secretary of LAW, had written to inform SF that it was no longer welcome at our meetings, but despite this their comrades turned up. For various reasons – not least that most people were unaware of the full extent of the anti-Semitic positions of Socialist Fight – those present voted against the steering committee position.
It is now incumbent upon LAW to demonstrate clearly and unambiguously that it wants to have nothing to do with Socialist Fight. Not only because its positions are anti-Semitic, but because a campaign whose purpose is to reject the false anti-Semitism campaign of Iain McNicol, the compliance unit and the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement cannot retain any credibility if it includes a group whose positions are anti-Semitic.
I was not aware, at the time of the last meeting, that Ian Donovan – a ‘left’ supporter of the overtly anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon – had penned an obnoxious and anti-Semitic article the day before, entitled ‘Third-camp Stalinoids bring witchhunt into Labour Against the Witchhunt’.
There is no future for Labour Against the Witchhunt if Socialist Fight and its members remain an integral part of the organisation. For that reason I believe that it is essential that the next meeting, on January 6 should overturn the previous decision. If my views do not prevail, then I will resign from the organisation – as I believe will Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth of Grassroots Black Left. Continue Reading “Tony Greenstein: Anti-Semites not welcome”
These are the Principles of Labour Against the Witchhunt as agreed at our inaugural meeting on October 17 2017:
i. No auto-exclusions or expulsions. Everyone has the right to a fair hearing.
ii. We agreed on a simple definition of anti-Semitism to counterpose to the Zionist and ruling class IHRA definition adopted by Theresa May. It is from Prof. Brian Klug’s ‘Shattered Glass’ Lecture at the Berlin Jewish Museum in 2014 on the anniversary of Kristallnact. It is a 21 word definition, not the 450 word IHRA definition whose sole purpose is to conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
‘antisemitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.’
iii. The Compliance Unit should be abolished. All disciplinary action against members should be undertaken by elected bodies not full time staff.