Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism

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“It is designed to allow any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be dismissed as ‘anti-Semitism’”

As agreed unanimously at LAW’s conference on February 2 2019

This conference rejects the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism in its entirety.

We note that:

  1. The IHRA ‘definition’ reads:
    “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
  2. This definition was originally published, together with its 11 examples, in 2005 on the website of the European Union’s European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), although it was never adopted by that body. But after heavy criticism, it was removed by the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency, in November 2013.
  3. In May 2016, it was resurrected and adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a group of 32 countries. But, far from being the “internationally recognised definition”,  according to IHRA the definition has been adopted by only 10 countries: the UK, Romania, Lithuania, Slovakia, Austria, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands and, of course, Israel.
  4. On December 12 2016, the UK Tory government was the first of the IHRA countries to endorse the IHRA definition. Shamefully, on the very same day the Labour Party endorsed the definition, albeit without its 11 examples. The European Parliament’s May 29 2017 acceptance of the IHRA definition was spearheaded by the Austrian government, in particular the far-right Freedom Party, one of the two coalition partners.
  5. The definition is by the IHRA’s own admission not legally binding.
  6. Kenneth Stern of the American Jewish Committee, who first drafted the definition, has statedthat the original idea for it arose from Dina Porat of Tel Aviv’s Kantor Centre.

Continue Reading “Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism”

Motions to LAW conference, Saturday February 2 2019

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1. The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn – download PDF version here

2. Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘Definition of Anti-Semitism’ download PDF version here

3. LAW support to activists download PDF version here

4. Model motion on IHRA to be recommended to CLPs/Union branches  download PDF version here

5. LAW draft constitution download PDF version here

The deadline for amendments to these is Saturday January 26 please email by midnight.

If you want to submit a motion, please do so by midnight, Saturday January 19 (and please submit the name of the mover and seconder, both of whom have to be paid up members of LAW).


1. The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn

Submitted by LAW’s steering committee, to be introduced at conference by Moshe Machover

  1. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader on September 12 2015 was a body blow to the rightwing. It opened up the possibility of thoroughgoing democratisation and transformation of the Labour Party into a genuine party of the working class that would commit itself to fighting for global socialism.
  2. Corbyn’s longstanding record of backing strikes, opposing austerity and anti-war campaigning makes him totally unacceptable to Britain’s establishment. Above all Corbyn is considered a threat to the strategic alliance with the United States, symbolised by his critical attitude towards Israel and his solidarity with the Palestinians.
  3. The US has a particular interest in controlling the Middle East because of its oil and geopolitical position. That means shoring up the thoroughly corrupt Saudi Arabian regime and the barely disguised military dictatorship in Egypt. However, the most reliable strategic asset the US possesses in the Middle East is Israel. Israel’s ongoing settler-colonialism is inevitably opposed and bitterly resented by the Palestinian natives and the wider Arab nation. Consequently, the most important political question is security. The majority of the Israeli-Jewish population enthusiastically supports the country’s alliance with the US.
  4. The war of attrition against Corbyn as Labour leader, carried out by an alliance of the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the Party bureaucracy, the Israeli state, the pro-Israel lobby and the mainstream media, began even before he was elected. Corbyn was portrayed as a terrorist sympathiser, a security risk and an all-round danger to society.
  5. Thousands of socialists and leftwingers were investigated, suspended and expelled under former general secretary Iain McNicol. The charges leveled against these comrades were often trivial. Many were found guilty of supporting unaffiliated political groups. There was much talk of dangerous ‘reds under the beds’.
  6. However, the most potent weapon in the hands of Corbyn’s enemies proved to be false accusations of anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism was equated with anti-Semitism. This approach worked not least because Corbyn and his allies allowed it to. Rather than standing up to the right and exposing the baselessness of allegations that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semitism, Corbyn chose to appease the Labour right and the Zionist lobby.
  7. The investigation run by Shami Chakrabarti was supposed to put an end to the allegations, but it was only a new stage. Every time Corbyn and his allies conceded a demand, every time they took a step back, the right wing and Zionist lobby were further emboldened. This culminated in the NEC’s adoption of the much-criticised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism and all eleven of its illustrations (including the one which labels as anti-Semitic the description of Israel as a “racist endeavour”). But the IHRA definition conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.
  8. This policy of appeasement has proven disastrous not just for Corbyn, but for many hundreds accused of being anti-Semites. The vast majority are no such thing. Social media accounts have been trawled, comments taken out of context and the forwarding of posts taken as evidence of agreement. As a result, reputations have been ruined, good leftwingers have been blocked from standing for positions and, just as importantly, the party as a whole has been brought into disrepute.
  9. Labour Against the Witchhunt has two main roles: Firstly, we are a campaigning organisation that fights to radically transform the disciplinary procedures in the Labour Party. We defend all those unjustly suspended, expelled or put under investigation. We welcome the ending of automatic and instant suspensions and expulsions by the new general secretary Jennie Formby – one of our founding demands. Nonetheless, the NEC’s adoption of the IHRA definition has massively expanded the grounds being used for false allegations of anti-Semitism.
  10. We call on the NEC to implement the proposals coming from Shami Chakrabarti’s report in regards to natural justice and due process. In particular, we call for the abolition of Appendix 6 of the party’s rulebook, which is the LP’s disciplinary code. We demand its replacement by a code that guarantees the rights of the accused and ensures that the whole disciplinary process is seen to be fair and above board. That anyone accused has the right to legal representation, especially if the Labour Party itself is represented legally. And that the LP should be paying for such representation if someone cannot afford to pay.
  11. We will continue to campaign for the abolition of the first part of rule 2.1.4.B, which bars from Labour 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.
  12. We will continue to organise lobbies of Labour NEC meetings, organise our own events and meetings and – after a successful intervention at Labour Party conference 2018 – will plan for another intervention at the 2019 Labour conference.
  13. Secondly, and equally important, is the need to lay bare the role of the Labour right, the Israeli state and Zionist organisations in fabricating the anti-Semitism ‘crisis’ in the Labour Party.
  14. The best way of combating backward attitudes and political views – which undoubtedly exist in the Labour Party – is through political education, discussion and joint participation in campaigning. However, giving those with the most backward attitudes and political views prime responsibility for political education is a travesty. We therefore treat with contempt and reject the so-called ‘training sessions’ organised by the Jewish Labour Movement, an openly Zionist organisation. We do not accept that an organisation which supports a racist project of colonisation is capable of providing anti-racist education.
  15. Unity between the socialist left and the pro-capitalism right is illusory. The left must win the battle for freedom of speech and democracy – in the Labour Party, trade unions and society at large. Political ideas, including different attitudes towards Israel, must be debated freely, not silenced, not hedged with all manner of bureaucratic ifs and buts. We shall fight to end the current culture of fear and self-censorship.

2. Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘Definition of Anti-Semitism’

Submitted by LAW’s steering committee, to be introduced at conference by Tony Greenstein

This conference rejects the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism in its entirety.

We note that:
  1. The IHRA ‘definition’ reads:
    “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
  1. This definition was originally published, together with its 11 examples, in 2005 on the website of the European Union’s European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), although it was never adopted by that body. But after heavy criticism, it was removed by the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency, in November 2013.
  2. In May 2016, it was resurrected and adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a group of 32 countries. But, far from being the “internationally recognised definition”, according to IHRA the definition has been adopted by only 10 countries: the UK, Romania, Lithuania, Slovakia, Austria, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands and, of course, Israel.
  3. On December 12 2016, the UK Tory government was the first of the IHRA countries to endorse the IHRA definition. Shamefully, on the very same day the Labour Party endorsed the definition, albeit without its 11 examples. The European Parliament’s May 29 2017 acceptance of the IHRA definition was spearheaded by the Austrian government, in particular the neo-Nazi or far-right Freedom Party, one of the two coalition partners.
  4. The definition is by the IHRA’s own admission not legally binding.
  5. Kenneth Stern of the American Jewish Committee, who first drafted the definition, has stated that the original idea for it arose from Dina Porat of Tel Aviv’s Kantor Centre.
This conference believes:
  1. The IHRA’s “definition” is no such thing. It is a model of ambiguity, open ended and raises a number of questions:– What is a “certain perception” and in whose eyes
    – Is anti-Semitism merely a perception? What about discrimination?
    – If anti-Semitism “may be expressed as hatred towards Jews” what else might it be expressed as? Anti-Zionism?
    – Why are “non-Jewish individuals” included in a definition of anti-Semitism?
    – Why is special mention made of Jewish “community organisations”? Is this a pseudonym for Zionist organisations like the Board of Deputies of British Jews?
    – Why do seven of the 11 examples accompanying the definition refer to the state of Israel and not Jews?
  2. The Oxford English Dictionarydefines anti-Semitism in far fewer words – and yet is far more precise: “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews”. Brian Klug defines it as “a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.”
  3. This ambiguity in the IHRA definition is not accidental: It is designed to allow any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be dismissed as ‘anti-Semitism’. The definition’s real purpose is to defend the Israeli state from its critics – not Jews from anti-Semitism. This becomes particularly clear in the eleven examples that have been published with the definition.
  4. LAW is not alone in its critique. The definition has been subject to searing criticism by a number of academic and legal scholars, for example:

* Professor David Feldman(vice-chair of the Chakrabarti Inquiry and director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism) has described the definition as “bewilderingly imprecise”.

* Sir Stephen Sedley, the Jewish former Court of Appeal judge, has written that the IHRA “fails the first test of any definition: it is indefinite”.

* Hugh Tomlinson QC has warned that the IHRA definition had a “chilling effect on public bodies”

* Geoffrey Robertson QC has explained that, “The definition does not cover the most insidious forms of hostility to Jewish people and the looseness of the definition is liable to chill legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel and coverage of human rights abuses against Palestinians.”

* Tony Lerman, a prominent Jewish academic, wrote that “it’s not fit for purpose, but it also has the effect of making Jews more vulnerable to antisemitism, not less, and exacerbating the bitter arguments Jews have been having over the nature of contemporary antisemitism for the last 20 to 25 years.”

* Even Kenneth Sternhas acknowledged that the IHRA is being used to restrict free speech. Stern has warned dabout how the IHRA “was being employed in an attempt to restrict academic freedom and punish political speech”. In testimony to the House of Representatives in November 2017, Stern explained that: “The definition was not drafted, and was never intended, as a tool to target or chill speech on a college campus. In fact, at a conference in 2010 about the impact of the definition, I highlighted this misuse, and the damage it could do.”

This conference believes that:

  1. The adoption of the IHRA definition and all eleven examples by the Labour Party’s NEC in 2018 has not brought an end to the ongoing claims that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semites. As LAW warned, the opposite has occurred.
  2. The Labour Party’s decision was an outright victory for the right inside and outside the party. While Jennie Formby has halted the automatic and instant suspensions of Corbyn supporters, the adoption of the IHRA definition has massively expanded the grounds being used for false allegations of anti-Semitism.
  3. This pressure on the Labour Party to adopt the IHRA definition was always part and parcel of the slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn. This campaign might currently experience a ‘Brexit lull’, but it will no doubt be switched on again once a general election has been called. The right, the establishment and the Zionist lobby will do anything to prevent Jeremy Corbyn, an outspoken supporter of the rights of the Palestinians, to become prime minister: He cannot be relied upon to run capital in their interests.
  4. Some people ostensibly on the left of the party (such as Jon Lansman and John McDonnell) were therefore seriously misguided when they publicly supported the NEC’s adoption of the definition.
This conference therefore resolves:
  1. To campaign for the Labour Party NEC to reverse its decision and ditch the IHRA definition.
  2. To campaign for the government, councils and other public and private bodies who have already adopted the IHRA definition to reverse their decision and to campaign to stop any more bodies from adopting it.
  3. To campaign for freedom of speech, which includes the right to call out Israel’s actions as racist, discriminatory and oppressive.

3. LAW support to activists

Proposed by Pete Gregson   

We call upon LAW to assist those unfairly targeted by either Labour, trade union or other public body over anti-Semitism charges by the following means. It will:

  1. give advice to those to those under investigation
  2. suggest friendly lawyers who could help
  3. invite people to notify LAW on a confidential basis if they have been accused of anti-Semitism by any organisation they are in or employed by, so that LAW might collate statistics as to how many are being accused and what for. Thence for the LAW steering committee to ascertain if they think the individual has engaged in anti-Semitism or not using the OED definition, which may involve some small debate between the individual concerned and LAW. If LAW are satisfied the individual is being investigated but have not said or done anything that is anti-Semitic, then that individual should join LAW’s database of those who have been “witch-hunted”. LAW’s database of witch-hunted individuals should be able to sort individuals according to
  4. a) organisation (so LAW can see which bodies are doing the most witch-hunting)
  5. b) IHRA definition victims

If those charged want the world to know they are being unfairly investigated, LAW to publish a gallery of those who are victims of the anti-Semitism witch-hunt

  1. help with fundraisers for those with heavy court costs (iethe person who needs the cash does the fundraising. All LAW might do is help them publicise it, or ask Alexei Sayle to do a 5-minute comedy spot or ask Ken Loach to show up, etc)
  2. encourage CLPs and union branches to pass motions condemning the IHRA

4. Model motion on IHRA to be recommended to CLPs/Union branches

Proposed by Pete Gregson   

Model Motion: Objection to the Labour Party’s [Union’s] adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

This [CLP/Union branch] notes that:

  • Prior to July 2018, the Party Rulebook did not specify any particular definition of anti-Semitism [1].
  • On 4 September 2018, the NEC adopted all 11 examples associated with the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. Some of these examples link criticism of Israel to anti-Semitism [2].
  • At the September NEC meeting Jeremy Corbyn sought to add the rider to the IHRA, which the NEC rejected .

“It should not be regarded as anti-Semitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist because of their discriminatory impact, or to support another settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict.” [3]

  • Trade unionists, public sector workers and Labour Party members are now being disciplined for speaking out on Israel [4] and breaching the IHRA.
  • Activists and legal experts have raised concerns over the IHRA definition. Even the lead drafter of the EUMC definition (which the IHRA definition is based on) Kenneth Stern, has acknowledged that it has been used in ways it was never intended, as a means of chilling free speech. [5]

This [CLP/Union branch] believes the IHRA definition to be, as 24 Palestinian trade unions and civic groups pointed out in August 2018, a “politicised and fraudulent definition of anti-Semitism” [6]. We therefore call upon the [National Executive Committee of the Labour Party/ Executive Committee of the Union] to rescind their adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and replace it with the Oxford English Dictionary definition that states anti-Semitism is simply “hostility and prejudice directed against Jewish people” [7].

In addition, we call for a re-evaluation of disciplinary actions against any affected member accused of anti-Semitism under the IHRA definition.

References:

[1] http://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/2018-RULE-BOOK.pdf (page 99)

[2] https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/working-definition-antisemitism

The following 7 of the 11 examples claim criticism of Israel to be anti-Semitic:

*Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

*Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

*Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

*Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

*Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

*Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

*Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45414656

[4] https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/dudley/2018/10/30/dudley-council-officer-suspended-in-anti-semitism-row/and https://www.thenational.scot/news/17334383.gmb-to-expel-labour-activist-pete-gregson-for-anti-semitism/

[5] https://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU00/20171107/106610/HHRG-115-JU00-Wstate-SternK-20171107.pdf

(page 7)

[6] https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/palestinian-civil-society-groups/labour-must-reject-biased-ihra-definition-that-stifles-advocacy-

[7] http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/8854


 5. LAW Draft Constitution

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:

1. The Labour Party must end the practice of automatic, instant, expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members:

  • 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.

2. The Labour 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. Instead, the Labour Party should adopt a simple, straightforward, definition of anti-Semitism, such as by Professor Brian Klug: “Anti-Semitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are”.

3. 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.

Do not cooperate with the ‘Antisemitism Monitoring Centre’!

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We call on all Labour Party members to stay well clear of the Jewish Labour Movement’s latest stunt. The JLM, which is the sister party of the Zionist Labor Party in Israel, has written to CLP secretaries, asking them to distribute their “survey” on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party to all local members. Many CLP secretaries have quite rightly moved this email directly into their Spam folder. If you have been unfortunate enough to have received the email, we urge you to do the same.

It is laughable to claim, as the JLM does, that it has “engaged, in good faith, with the Labour Party to try and solve the severe and ongoing crisis of Labour anti-Semitism”. The JLM has neither acted in “good faith”, nor has it got any interest in solving “the crisis of Labour anti-Semitism”. After all, the JLM has done tremendous work in making rare, isolated cases into a “crisis” in the first place. Hundreds, if not thousands, of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have been witch-hunted in this campaign, which has nothing to do with fighting anti-Semitism – but everything with getting rid of Corbyn, a committed friend of the Palestinians.

We have seen people being suspended for using the word “Zio” or for expressing their outrage of the horrendous crimes committed by the state of Israel in a confused manner. The vast majority of these people are clearly not anti-Semitic. And yet, they have been publicly labeled as such by the JLM, the Board of Deputies and the despicable Jonathan Sachs, who has gone as far as calling Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite. We know that the JLM has reported many cases to Labour’s compliance unit, often causing great distress to the members concerned.

Socialists in the Labour Party should show up this “survey” for what it is – a clearly biased attempt to exacerbate the poisonous atmosphere of fear and suspicion in the party.

Join us at Labour Party conference 2018!

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Are you planning on coming to Liverpool for Labour Party conference? Can you help us out with our intervention? Check out eight key events at conference below.

We are at a crucial moment in the civil war in the party, with the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and the left in the party reaching ever new heights. We understand that in addition to their plans to force Corbyn’s hand on Brexit (there is a demo planned on Sunday afternoon) and the ongoing smears around Anti-Semitisn, the right is also planning on sabotaging conference wherever possible. Please check out this article, which also mentions that there are plans to disturb any meetings with Chris Williamson MP.

We therefore have to remain somewhat flexible, but also vigilant. Please do not get drawn into altercations and do not let right-wingers provoke you. We know they will try and they will in all likelihood have somebody with a camera nearby. They will want to make us look like dangerous lunatics – let’s not do them the favour. Try and stay together with at least one other person, so you have a witness and some form of protection. Keep your mobile phone nearby so you can film any incidents – best to have evidence!


What you can do at conference

  • If you are a delegate, please support the rule change on mandatory reselection from International Labour: it wants to do away with the undemocratic trigger ballot entirely and is much more democratic than the fudge apparently proposed by the national executive committee
  • Also, please support the rule change to delete the first part rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) proposed by Mid Worcestershire, Rugby, Truro and Falmouth, Bexhill and Battle: 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
  • Join Labour Against the Witchhunt! Come to see us at our fringe events or stalls outside conference and The World Transformed (1 Great George St, L1), where you can pick up a bunch of our new leaflet to hand out
  • If you can help out, please email info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org, letting us know if you’re a delegate or visitor (or neither), when you’ll be arriving and when you are leaving – make sure to include your mobile number! Facebook event here.

Eight key LAW events at conference

We are handing out LAW leaflets and badges throughout the event, but here our are key interventions – can you be there? Please note that all of our events are outside the official conference venue, so you don’t need to have a pass for conference to attend. You also do not need to purchase a ticket upfront – just be there early enough to secure your place!

1) Saturday September 22, 6-6.30pm Emergency lobby of pre-conference NEC meeting called by LAW and Open Selection, Pullman Hotel, Kings Dock St, Liverpool L3 4FP. Facebook event here

2) Saturday September 22from 6.30pm Labour rally with Jeremy Corbyn, Pier Head, L1. We need comrades to help hand out our LAW leaflet. Facebook event here

3) Saturday September 22 from 6pm: Rally and briefing session of Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. Friends Meeting House, 22 School Ln, Liverpool L1 3BT. We need comrades to help hand out our leaflet.

4) Sunday September 23, from 8.30am, outside conference. We are greeting delegates and visitors as they arrive, with a little surprise – we need as many comrades as possible to come to this.

5) Sunday September 23, 12noon, ‘People’s Vote’ demonstration, from St George’s Hall to the Pierhead. Left-wing voices should be heard here, too.

6) Sunday September 23, 7pm:
Fringe event at Labour Party Conference:
Labour Against the Witchhunt!
with Chris Williamson MP, comedian Alexei Sayle, Jo Bird (Jewish Voice for Labour), Tony Mulhearn (Liverpool 47) and others
Roddick Rooms, 54 St James Street, Liverpool L1 OAB. Facebook event here

7) Monday September 24, 7.30pm
Jackie Walkers’ The Lynching at Labour Party conference
LAW proudly presents Jackie Walker’s celebrated show, in which Jackie will be played by actress Jo Martin. The venue will be announced closer to the date. Please check this page, the FB event or pick up a leaflet at conference. After the play, there will be a Q&A with Steve Tiller, the director of the play and Jo Bird of Jewish Voice for Labour. Facebook event here 

8) Tuesday September 25, 7pm
World film preview: The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker
Introduction and post-show discussion by Graham Bash (Jewish Voice for Labour) and John Pullman, director of the film.
Blackburne House, Blackburne Place, L8 7PE. 
Facebook event here

Mark Serwotka: “we shouldn’t be frightened of calling it a racist state”

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Excellent contribution by PCS leader Mark Serwotka… article from The Independent

Labour antisemitism row was created by Israel to distract from ‘atrocities’, trade union boss suggests

PCS leader Mark Serwotka claims there is ‘something sinister going on’ behind ‘the most systematic attempt’ to shut down criticism of Israel

The leader of one of Britain’s main trade unions has suggested that Israel created the antisemitism row that has engulfed Labour over the summer.

Mark Serwotka, who leads the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and is a staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, told a fringe event at the Trades Union Congress conference that the Jewish state could have “created a story that does not exist” in order to distract attention from “atrocities” he said it has committed.

His comments were condemned by antisemitism campaigners, who said Mr Serwotka should resign over the “despicable” claims.

The comments risk reigniting the row over claims of anti-Jewish abuse in Labour, which has died down in recent days after the party’s ruling executive bowed to pressure to adopt an internationally recognised definition of antisemitism.

Speaking at an event organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Mr Sertwoka said he “deplored” antisemitism but claimed accusations against Mr Corbyn were the result of “something sinister going on”.

He told the event in Manchester: “I think it is unfortunate that the Labour Party allowed a lot of this to drag on in a way that actually did not help anybody.”

“In a year when Donald Trump has moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a year when dozens of Palestinians including children were gunned down – unarmed innocent civilians – by the Israeli military, in a year when the Americans are cutting off aid … isn’t it a vile world when, instead of being on the front foot, denouncing these atrocities, demanding an independent and sovereign state for the Palestinian people, we have had a summer of asking ourselves whether leading Labour movement people are in any way antisemitic?”

He added: “I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I’ll tell you what – one of the best forms of trying to hide from the atrocities that you are committing is to go on the offensive and actually create a story that does not exist for people on this platform, the trade union movement or, I have to say, for the leader of the Labour Party.”

Mr Corbyn has previously called Mr Serwotka his “friend”. The firebrand union leader was expelled by Labour in the 1990s for his membership of a left-wing group and banned from voting in the 2015 leadership contest because the party said he did not “share its aims and values”. He was allowed to rejoin after Mr Corbyn became leader.

Mr Serwotka told trade union members in Manchester there had been “the most systematic attempt to shut down all those advocating justice for the Palestinians in a way that should trouble all those who want to expose injustices”.

He added: “And we fast-forward to this year, and the dominating headline has not been the actions of the Israeli state; it is whether we as a movement have any form of antisemitism in our attitude to Palestinians.”

Euan Philipps, a spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, said: “Mark Serwotka’s speech is a stark illustration of how deeply embedded antisemitism is within the Labour movement.

“To intimate that the Israeli government is somehow responsible for the antisemitism crisis that has torn across the Labour Party this summer is a baseless lie.

He added: “It callously dismisses the serious and legitimate concerns of the Jewish community, while also drawing on antisemitic tropes (including dual loyalty and conspiracy theory) to draw attention from what is a recognised issue of discrimination against Jews across the political left.

“The suggestion that there is a malevolent power manipulating British politics is as absurd as it is offensive.

“With this speech Mr Serwotka has brought the entire TUC into disrepute. It deserves widespread condemnation and we he should resign as general secretary of the PCS.”

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, said: “Mr Serwotka’s comments are despicable. There is a problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party because of antisemites and Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to deal with them, not because of Israel.

“For a general secretary of a major trade union to allude to conspiracy theories and blame Jews for their own persecution shows the extent of the problem we now see on the left.”

British Jews are leaving the country because of antisemitism, claims rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Mr Serwotka also used his speech to pay tribute to Hugh Lanning, a former PSC deputy general secretary who now works for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Speaking at the same event, Mr Lanning said Israel was a “racist state” and claimed the row over antisemitism in Labour had had a “chilling effect”.

He said: “It’s time to speak up and stand up for Palestine. And the situation Mark was describing, which has had this chilling effect across the whole trade union Labour movement.”

To loud applause, he added: “I take the view that if Israel wants to have racist laws, if it wants to have roads that only some people can go on, to have different laws and education systems based on race, we shouldn’t be frightened of calling it a racist state.”

“If it acts and behaves like an apartheid state, we should call it an apartheid state – and not be frightened of doing so.”

Mr Lanning said the row over antisemitism was “an opportunity” to focus people’s attention on Israel.

Calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Jewish state, he told trade union members: “We’ve got to shift the tipping point within the Labour and trade union movement – and you are the shock troops who are able to do this.

“One of the things that’s happened over the summer is that Palestine has been brought into the political agenda probably more than it has been for a long time.

“We can take that as an opportunity … so what the people who wanted to keep us quiet end up doing is making us shout very loudly.”

A PCS spokesperson said: “Mark spoke at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign fringe event at the TUC – an organisation PCS is affiliated to.

“He made the point at the start of the meeting that we need to oppose antisemitism in society and within the labour movement.

“But we should not allow the issue of antisemitism to be used by people who are attempting to silence Palestinian voices as they legitimately struggle for their rights and a sovereign state.”

Labour declined to comment.

 

Reinstate Stan Keable!

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Around 30 people attended LAW’s lobby of  Hammersmith and City council’s meeting on July 16. Stan was sacked from his job at the council for 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. This had nothing to do with work. Stan was participating in the Jewish Voice for Labour counter-demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, called in opposition to the right-wing ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration. The conversation was secretly filmed by the BBC’s David Grossman, who put a 105-second video clip online.

This dismissal extends the McCarthyite witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party to the area of employment. We fear that Stan’s dismissal could be the first of many political sackings.

More details on Stan’s case are available here and a model motion is here. As his union is refusing to support him, Stan will have to pay for legal advice himself, which is why we ask you to support his crowdfunding campaign. 

 

 

Suspended by the Labour Party? Read this.

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This Kafkaesque account of his suspension has been published by Ben Timberley on Facebook – we republish it here for all those who are not on FB and to allow easy access. 

BEN TIMBERLEY·WEDNESDAY, 27 JUNE 2018

As you’ll see in the story below, suspended or expelled Labour party members face a gruelling task to prove their innocence or to provide a justifiable context to their alleged ‘crimes’. It is considered ‘normal’ by right-wing party staff and elected officials for party members to be smeared with the label of ‘suspension’ or ‘expulsion’ with all of the social stigma that these labels carry.

Continue Reading “Suspended by the Labour Party? Read this.”

This Wednesday, April 25: We need your help!

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According to a report in the Skwawkbox, Wes Streeting MP, who recently verbally attacked Diane Abbott, is organising anti-Corbyn MPs, peers and others people to protest outside the Labour Party disciplinary hearing against veteran black anti-racism campaigner Marc Wadsworth this Wednesday, April 25.

Streeting claims that his “march” from Westminster Hall to Church House (which will also be attended by Labour First’s Luke Akehurst) is in “support of Ruth Smeeth MP”, who will give evidence against Marc, as “there will be a protest against her”.

Campaigners, including, Labour Against the Witchhunt, Grassroots Black Left, Jewish Voice for Labour and members of the Windrush generation, are not organising a protest against Smeeth but a lobby in support of Marc.  We demand that the false charges against him are dropped and that he is fully reinstated to Labour Party membership. What we are protesting about is the attempted frame-up of Marc. Labour bosses are demanding his expulsion from the party.

Streeting calls Marc “the guy who abused her [Ruth Smeeth] at the [Shami Chakrabarti] antisemitism inquiry launch”.

In fact the Chakrabarti report was about anti-semitism and all forms of racism, including the anti-black racism and Islamophobia, which have been ignored. What abuse is Wes Streeting talking about? Marc Wadsworth actually said at the report launch, after being goaded by Daily Telegraph political report Kate McCann:

“I saw that the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP so you can see who is working hand in hand. If you look around this room, how many African, Caribbean and Asian people are there? We need to get our house in order, don’t we?”

Of course, anti-semitism exists in society, just like other forms of racism and prejudice and this is reflected in the Labour Party. But, just like Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein and many other Labour members suspended and expelled by the party in the last two years, Marc is no anti-semite and nothing he did or said was even vaguely anti-semitic.

In truth, the right-wing in the Labour Party want to claim another scalp in their campaign to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.

LAW will be showing their support to Marc and all those people unjustly suspended and expelled without due process. We demand the yet to be implemented Chakrabarti rules be applied to all cases, that have been referred to Labour’s draconian National Constitution Committee, including Marc’s.

Please come along to show your support!
Wednesday April 25, 9.30am
Church House, Great Smith St, Westminster

London SW1P 3NZ

Please bring witches costumes and placards (though we are also having some printed). Please also note that we are asking all protesters to wear a ‘gag’ – a sticky tape or similar over their mouths – and keep a silent protest. No doubt the right-wingers present will try and provoke us.Marc also needs help covering his legal costs – please contribute to his crowdfunding campaign.

LAW lobby: NEC members sneak in through the back door

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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.”

 

Statement on Iain McNicol’s resignation

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Labour Against the Witchhunt welcomes the resignation of Labour Party general secretary Iain McNicol. He was directly in charge of the unelected and discredited compliance unit, which has purged thousands of pro-Corbyn members from the party.

We see his resignation very much as an important symbol and an integral part of our fight to radically transform the Labour Party, which is undergoing a long overdue Democracy Review, to which we have also contributed.

The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions overseen by McNicol – 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. The purging of pro-Corbyn activists has been a major stumbling block to Labour winning a general election, which requires maximum unity.

We ask the NEC – which now has a strong majority supporting the leader of the party – to implement the following changes urgently:

  • the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report dealing with the party’s disciplinary procedure based on natural justice and due process should be brought in:
  • 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.

How you can support LAW’s submission to the Corbyn Review

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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”

January 30: LAW meeting in Birmingham

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Over 50 Labour members gathered in Birmingham on January 30 for the city’s launch of LAW. Jackie Walker spoke first and got straight to the point – the witch-hunt is about weakening Corbyn’s position as leader and forcing the next Labour government to the right by removing left activists. She reminded us that the ‘problem’ of anti-Semitism in the party arose from nowhere when Corbyn became leader. She explained that LAW isn’t just about defending the victims and providing solidarity: it also demands fundamental change in the party’s disciplinary processes.

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi gave examples of left activists in her part of London who’ve been suspended for over a year on the basis of trumped-up charges. She urged LAW to quantify the scale of the problem by getting the NEC to reveal how many members are suspended pending a hearing, how long have they been waiting and how many automatic exclusions have occurred.

Marc Wadsworth called for the immediate implementation of the Chakrabarti report in respect of the party’s disciplinary procedures. That would introduce the concepts natural justice and due process, and enforce time limits for each stage.

The discussion that followed revealed that unjust suspensions and expulsions are nothing new in Birmingham – they’ve been going on for decades. And those responsible in the party’s regional office are still in place today.

From the floor Stan Keable explained how clause 2.1.4.B of the party rules has been used to exclude him, and how any member can be deemed to be contravening it. He also questioned the emphasis other speakers placed on legal challenges, and relying on the courts to force the hand of the Labour bureaucracy. His suggestion that instead we should mobilise the membership to challenge unjust decisions was met with applause.

The meeting concluded with a commitment to organise further LAW activity in the city.

Rob Meyer
(this appeared first as a letter in the Weekly Worker)

LAW’s lobby of the Labour Party NEC

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Around 40 supporters (and a few witches) showed up today, January 23, to help us lobby the Labour Party NEC to demand an end to the witch-hunt against left-wing and pro-Palestinian Labour members. Expelled and suspended members (amongst them Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and Tony Greenstein) spoke to NEC members and lots of press. Continue Reading “LAW’s lobby of the Labour Party NEC”