Model motions: Reject the 10 Pledges by the Board of Deputies

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Please click here for some advice on how to move a motion or emergency motion in the Labour Party.

LAW model motion

1) This branch/CLP notes:

  1. That all candidates standing for the position of Labour leader have signed up to the 10 Pledges issued by the Board of Deputies, including Rebecca Long-Bailey.
  2. That the BoD is not the representative body for the majority of Jews in Britain, many of whom are very critical of the actions of the state of Israel. The BoD is a pro-Israel organisation and has supported every war, every attack launched by Israel. It encourages the conflation of criticism of the Israeli government (anti-Zionism), with antisemitism (hatred of Jews).
  3. That the BoD, and its individual officers, have maintained open hostility to Labour since Corbyn took leadership of the party. They organised the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration outside parliament in March 2018, which was clearly aimed at weakening and attacking Jeremy Corbyn.

2) We believe:

  1. That it is not for the leader of the Labour Party, or candidates aspiring to be the leader, to commit themselves to such pledges. The policies and rules of the Labour Party are determined by the members of the party via annual conference.
  2. That the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ are an outrageous political interference by an organisation that is overtly hostile to today’s Labour Party and everything it stands for.
  3. They are an attack on free speech and would create a dangerous atmosphere of (self-) censorship.
  4. If implemented, the pledges could concretely lead to:
    • The suspensions and expulsions of the thousands of Labour members who dare to stand in solidarity with those wrongly accused of antisemitism, including Chris Williamson and Marc Wadsworth.
    • The BoD and other pro-Zionist organisations would decide who can and cannot be a member of the Labour Party. For example, the pledges demand a lifetime ban from membership for what the BoD refers to as “repeat offenders, such as Ken Livingstone or Jackie Walker” – both of whom have fought against racism for their entire life.
    • The handing over of confidential details of ongoing disciplinary cases to “Jewish representative bodies” (by which the BoD chiefly means itself).
    • The official sidelining and proscription of non-Zionist organisations like Jewish Voice for Labour, which are described as a “fringe organisation”.

We therefore call on all candidates in the Labour leadership election to officially distance themselves from these pledges and commit themselves to fight for a Labour Party that values and protects free speech, open debate and stands in international solidarity with the people in Palestine.

Motion passed by Ilford South LP branch

This branch condemns the Board of Deputies attempts at interference in the Labour party leadership election by demanding that candidates sign 10 pledges, one of which suggests outsourcing the Labour party’s disciplinary processes to a third party.

Their demands reflect the views of only one section of the British Jewish community, but they seek to proscribe the views of other Jewish groups who don’t agree with them, labelling them as fringe groups to be ignored and discounted.

The Board has been consistent in its support for the Conservative party, fulsomely welcoming the election of Boris Johnson, whose writings and actions expose a racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic mindset, yet they make no criticism of this or the fact that the Tory party members aren’t bound by the IHRA definition

This branch particularly notes that the pledges breach free speech and human rights, and do not include all forms of racism. They do not represent the diversity that exists in our branch or the country as a whole.

Accordingly we call upon candidates to reject this interference and review any decisions to sign the pledges and urge any candidates that have not thus far signed to reject their demands.

Draft Emergency motion

This CLP utterly condemns the ultimatum to the Labour Party and its leadership candidates by the Jewish Board of Deputies.

To accept their “Ten Pledges” (attached) would be to put the Labour party under the permanent control of an undemocratic right-wing group and prevent any attempt to speak up for the Palestinian people against a hard-right Israeli government. It is an unprecedented and quite blatant attack on free speech.

We note that:

  • The Jewish Board of Deputies represents only the minority of British Jews who attend Orthodox synagogues and that some of those synagogues refuse to allow women to vote.
  • The Chief Rabbi has described Boris Johnson as “a longstanding friend of the Jewish community” and congratulated him warmly on his election as Conservative Party leader.
  • The former Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council is now Chief Executive of the Conservative Party
  • The Jewish Labour Movement, which is affiliated to the Labour Party, is in no sense a representative organisation, in that its members don’t have to be Labour Party members and don’t even have to be Jewish. Further, it is only open to people who are explicitly Zionist and therefore excludes many left wing Jews.
  • All of the above organisations have refused to meet with the Jewish Voice for Labour group to discuss their views on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in a calm and civilised way.
  • Independent research carried out by Jewish and other organisations has clearly shown that anti-Semitism is more common on the right of politics than the left.
  • All of these facts are well-documented and easy to confirm.

We call on both the NEC and all leadership candidates to distance themselves from this attack on the Labour Party.

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.