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’.
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 on https://labour.org.uk/democracy-terms-of-reference/ 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.
We call on Labour branches, CLPs and other party units to submit something along the following lines to the review asap.
Section 1: Building a Mass Movement (part of phase 2, submissions by March 23 2018)
Question: How do we get our increased membership more involved in the Party?
Answer: The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions – especially those based on alleged anti-Semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute: They have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change.
We believe that the party should end these practices, and that:
- the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report should be implemented immediately,
- 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;
- membership rights should not be removed until disciplinary procedures have been completed;
- disciplinary procedures should include consultation with the member’s CLP and Branch;
- disciplinary procedures should 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 deleted: it currently 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”;
- the party should reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism which, in its list of examples, conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people;
- the party should immediately abolish the ‘compliance/disputes unit’. Disciplinary decisions should be taken by elected bodies, not paid officials.
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.