Just say No to antisemitism training by the JLM!

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Joint statement by Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour Campaign for Free Speech, Labour Left Alliance and Labour in Exile Network

Why you should NOT participate in the JLM ‘training sessions’ on antisemitism

A number of Labour Party members and role holders have been invited by general secretary David Evans to participate in online training sessions named “Understanding Antisemitism”.

Here are some reasons why we urge Labour Party members NOT to participate:

1) These sessions will be run exclusively by the Jewish Labour Movement, a pro-Israel organisation that is affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation, whose stated mission is “settling the land”. JLM is the sister party of the racist Labor Party of Israel and was revived in 2015 – explicitly in order to battle Jeremy Corbyn. It has close links to the Israeli embassy (watch The Lobby for proof). It has been doing everything in its power to weaponise false and exaggerated charges of anti-Semitism in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. It was the key organisation that pushed for Labour to adopt the discredited IHRA fake definition of antisemitism, which purposefully conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism and has been criticised by its principal drafter Kenneth Stern of having been misapplied in order to “chill free speech”. 

2) Just as Israel claims to be the homeland of all Jews, so the JLM claims to be the homeland of all Jews in the Labour Party. Both claims are palpably untrue. You don’t have to be Jewish to join the JLM – you don’t even have to be a member of the Labour Party. JLM very much represents and organises pro-Zionists, but none of the many thousands of secular and anti-Zionist Jews. A balanced training session would have seen  trainers from Jewish Voice for Labour, for example. 

3) These sessions are unlikely to be run in a democratic manner. The chat is likely to be switched off. If members are allowed to speak – and speak critically – they are likely to not just be reprimanded in the session, but perhaps even be reported to the Governance and Legal Unit. This is what happened to Jackie Walker: She was secretly filmed at a JLM training session, her words were taken out of context and passed on to the disciplinary board, before she was expelled. 

We urge comrades instead to organise education sessions that discuss the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism and to pass motions to replace the IHRA with the much better Jerusalem Declaration. It is our view that there should be no hierarchy of racism, and that members should be offered education events, discussions and debates on recognising and combating all forms of racism.

June 5, 7pm: Not the Forde Enquiry

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Martin Forde QC launched his inquiry into the leaked report on the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in May 2020. The leaked report appeared to show horrific attempts by the party’s paid officials to undermine the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn – but also many mistakes made by the Corbyn leadership, which made concession after concession to the right, trying to ‘fight antisemitism’. 

The Forde Inquiry was first supposed to have reported by mid-July but after successive delays it was announced that publication would be postponed until the completion of an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Many commentators believe Forde’s report is never going to appear because Keir Starmer simply wants to bury the truth.

Speakers include:

  • Graham Bash, Labour Representation Committee (pc)
  • Jackie Walker, author and anti-racism activist
  • Leah Levane, Jewish Voice for Labour (pc)
  • Chris Williamson, former Labour MP
  • Tina Werkmann, Labour Against the Witchhunt
  • Rebecca Massey, LLA Brighton

Register here

Resist at Labour Party conference 2021

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Labour Against the Witchhunt and a number of other organisations have got together to jointly discuss how we can intervene at this year’s Labour Party conference. Like a number of groups, we had our venues cancelled in the run up to the 2018 and 2019 conferences, when pro-Israel supporters wrongly claimed that we were supporting antisemites. In 2019, members of the Labour Left Alliance in Brighton swiftly booked The Rialto Theatre to stage a number of evening events. Register here to be kept informed about the event in September 2021.

This year, we have jointly booked the theatre for a full 3-day festival, where we can freely discuss and, importantly, organise. This exciting initiative called ‘Resist! at Labour Party conference’ will be launched on Friday May 28 at 5pm – register here. Speakers include Kerry-Anne Mendoza, Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein.

Model motion to LP conference: Abandon IHRA and adopt the Jerusalem Declaration

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This motion has been drafted as a model motion to go to Labour Party conference 2021, but it can be tweaked for other purposes. Please note that this has to go through your branch first, then your CLP and needs to be submitted to the NEC by September 13 in order to be heard at Labour Party conference. Remember that a CLP can either submit a rule change (which needs to be submitted by June 11) or a ‘contemporary’ motion like this one.

Continue Reading “Model motion to LP conference: Abandon IHRA and adopt the Jerusalem Declaration”

Statement & model motion: Solidarity with Howard Beckett!

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Joint statement by Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour Left Alliance, Labour in Exile Network, Rotherham Labour Left and Sheffield Labour Left. To add your organisation’s name, please email info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org

Solidarity with Howard Beckett!
Nominate him in the UNITE general secretary elections!

Of course Howard Beckett was not being racist when he sarcastically wrote that Priti Patel should be deported instead of the hundreds of people who are being sent back every year into war zones, poverty and abject misery. He was tweeting during the ongoing attempts in Glasgow to deport two Indian men on “immigration offenses”, who were later released after hundreds of protestors blocked the van (fantastic video here). 

He wrote: “Priti Patel should be deported, not refugees. She can go along with anyone else who supports institutional racism. She is disgusting.”

It is clear that Beckett was in fact criticising the racism of Priti Patel, who we should remember, had to resign once before because of her attempts to schmooze various Israeli dignitaries. He later clarified that, of course, “No one should be deported”. It clearly takes a lot of bad will to purposefully misinterpret his sarcastic tweet as supporting deportations or being racist.

Continue Reading “Statement & model motion: Solidarity with Howard Beckett!”

Labour Campaign for Free Speech

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Contributors to the conference on Saturday February 13 included Norman Finkelstein, former Labour MP Chris Williamson (founder Resistance Movement), Graham Bash from Jewish Voice for Labour, anti-apartheid veteran Ronnie Kasrils, suspended CLP chair Esther Giles, Sami Ramadani (Stop the War Coalition), Jamie Stern-Weiner (expert on IHRA) and David Miller (University of Bristol).

The conference established a steering committee, voted for the campaign’s missing statement and a Charter for Free Speech. It has since launched a website, where you can find all videos from the conference – click here.

Starmer and Rayner’s all-out war against the left: How we must organise now

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No unity with the right! Time to organise for a real fight-back! Plan ahead and start organising shadow CLP structures!

As if it wasn’t bad enough that Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner both spent the ‘International Day of Solidarity with Palestinians’ addressing a meeting of the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement, Starmer used the opportunity to state that Jeremy Corbyn’s factual statement that “the scale of the [antisemitism] problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents” was “just about as bad as you could get”. Clearly, he will do anything to keep Corbyn out of the PLP, if not the party. Angela Rayner helpfully suggested that, “If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of [Labour] members, we will do that.”

Continue Reading “Starmer and Rayner’s all-out war against the left: How we must organise now”

Watch: Reinstate Jeremy Corbyn! Stop the witch-hunt!

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Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and Chris Williamson discussed how the left should fight against the ongoing witch-hunt, the EHRC report into the Labour Party – and the terrible response by much of the Labour Left, which continues to call for ‘unity’ with the right.

LAW statement: Reinstate Jeremy Corbyn!

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Silence on the witch-hunt should never have been an option! Appeasement does not work!

Jeremy Corbyn was absolutely right in the comments that got him suspended: “One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.

It is a real shame that he did not say so when he could have made a real difference to the witch-hunt and the civil war in the Labour Party. Unfortunately, it was the Corbyn leadership’s silence and complicity in the witch-hunt that made his suspension possible in the first place. Hundreds of socialists and Corbyn supporters have been suspended and expelled for comments that often do not amount to much more than what Corbyn said.

We need to understand that the campaign by the right inside and outside the party was never about fighting antisemitism. It was always a campaign designed to get rid of Corbyn and make sure that the Labour Party becomes once again a safe “second eleven” that could run Britain on behalf of capitalism, and follow the US into any new military adventure.

Sadly, it appears as if Corbyn and his allies still do not understand this basic reality. The six candidates supported by the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance in the current NEC elections have made sure not to mention the word ‘witch-hunt’, or propose any actions on how to stop it.

In a tweet following his suspension, Corbyn writes that, “I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an antisemitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong. I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.”

Corbyn himself has now become a victim of this “zero tolerance” approach he champions. The fight for socialism is intrinsically linked to a culture of free speech and open debate on all issues – including, importantly, the question of Israel/Palestine. 

Open letter to Jermain Jackman’s “Socialists of Colour”

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We feature below an important open letter from the Labour Left Alliance. One of the candidates in the current NEC elections supported by the LLA, Carol Taylor-Spedding, has outrageously been accused of holding “openly antisemitic view” – simply for stating in a questionnaire that she feels “inspired” by Jackie Walker and that she opposes her expulsion from the Labour Party. The group “Socialists of Colour” even reported Carol to the Labour Party for antisemitism! Clearly, these are no socialists.

Worryingly, the group has recently been set up and is run by another NEC candidate, Jermain Jackman. He claims that he was not involved in either putting together the questions, issuing the outrageous “content warning” ahead of Carol’s replies, reporting her to the Labour Party or informing journalists about the group’s wich-hunt. But the website does not contain anything apart from their NEC campaign and the group’s questions are clearly designed to support Jermain’s campaign.

After we and the LLA  started complaining, Jermain eventually sought to distance himself from the website – by removing all names from their online presence (see pictures).

But Jermain continues to refuse to state if he AGREES with the actions his own group has taken. This is of course a hugely important question – surely members have a right to know if Jermain, if elected onto the NEC, will defend members from false allegations of antisemitism – or if he will be the one reporting them. The fact that he can tweet about all sorts of things, but will say nothing on this witch-hunt, speaks volumes.

Please forward this information and the open letter to others on the Labour Left. Continue Reading “Open letter to Jermain Jackman’s “Socialists of Colour””

Free speech on Palestine!

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Emergency motion to Labour Left Alliance conference
submitted by Labour Against the Witchhunt

Conference notes:

1) The circular emailed on August 12 2020 to Constituency Labour Parties by General Secretary David Evans, states that certain subjects are “not competent business for discussion by local parties” – including the so-called definition of antisemitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the forthcoming report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the outrageous settlement payment made to former employees of the Labour Party who participated in the dreadfully one-sided BBC Panorama programme by John Ware, who now co-owns the Jewish Chronicle.The full text of the email is available here.

Conference further notes:

2) Labour party members have NOT been banned from discussing the IHRA mis-definition of antisemitism, the EHRC report or Starmer‘s settlement. The phrase “not competent business” is meant to intimidate and self-censor us, but it is merely hot air.

3) Left wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton explains:

“The NEC and therefore the GS has no authority in the rules to dictate what is ‘competent business’ for a CLP to discuss. The only authority is in Chap 1, VIII, 3.E: ‘The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings…’ Conduct not content. Conduct is a noun meaning ‘the manner in which an activity is managed or directed.’ That is not the same as the content or subject the meeting deals with. The NEC can issue guidance on how a meeting can be run/organised but not dictate what motions are competent business.”

4) That NEC member Rachel Garnham has stated that the NEC knew nothing about this supposed instruction.

5) Shamefully, Jennie Formby also used the formulation “not competent business” to stop branches coming out in support of Chris Williamson MP. She failed – and dozens of branches and CLP passed motions in support of Chris! No disciplinary action was taken against any of them.

Conference believes:

6) That the ‘leaked report’ quite clearly shows that there was an organised and concerted campaign by right-wingers in the party to undermine and sabotage Jeremy Corbyn and the left. Some of those actively involved in the campaign have now been paid off by Keir Starmer. This is a clear misuse of party funds and an insult to all Labour members and the former employees have brought the party into disrepute. With his email, David Evans clearly wants to shut down debate on this and other important issues.

7) The Labour Party was wrong to adopt the ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), as part of the futile attempt to appease the right and the pro-Israel lobby in- and outside the party. It is designed to conflate antisemitism and anti-Zionism in its list of eleven examples and is an integral part of the witch-hunt against the left.

8) These are clearly important issues that must remain legitimate subjects for debate at Labour branch and CLP meetings. The witch-hunt against the left was one of the main reasons for the defeat of the Corbyn movement, and Keir Starmer is intent on further expanding it. Thousands of left-wingers have been hounded, smeared, vilified and wrongly accused of being antisemites during the last five years, while the number of suspensions and expulsions has massively increased in recent weeks. Standing by is not an option for us. Are

Conference resolves:

9) The Labour Left Alliance will urgently produce a model motion for Labour Party branches and CLPs on this issue. This shall also express no confidence in Keir Starmer and David Evans.

10) The LLA shall seek to build a united campaign with Labour branches, CLPs, trade union branches and other organisations around the slogan ‘Free Speech on Palestine’.

The campaign shall also seek cooperation with the initiative on ‘Free Speech’ initiated by Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Chris Williamson and Marc Wadsworth, which has held a couple of excellent online debates.

Some of the initiatives the campaign could organise:

  • days of action where we protest outside local Labour Party offices and/or Labour Party HQ
  • a campaigning website
  • model motions

 

Forde Enquiry: Submission by Labour Against the Witchhunt

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Download the PDF version of this submission here.

1. Introduction

The report ‘The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019’ (the Report), gives us irrefutable proof of the plotting and outright sabotage committed against Corbyn, and the hundreds of thousands who joined the party following his election in 2015, to fight for socialist and democratic change.

It is extremely unfortunate that the Report was only produced in the last days of Corbyn’s leadership. Drawing upon primary evidence it shows serious wrong-doing by senior party officials. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Left to radically transform the Labour Party and effect progressive change, was ruined by the Right in the party. At the same time, supporters of Corbyn were vilified and slandered, their voices silenced and their votes nullified.

Unfortunately, it appears that this was sometimes done with the knowledge, and occasionally even with the active participation of the Corbyn leadership, as in the case of the expulsion of Jackie Walker and the campaign against Chris Williamson.

Politically, the Report maps out an attack on Corbyn and his advisors, who had gained partial control of the NEC in April 2018 when Jennie Formby was appointed General Secretary, by a faction of their political predecessors appointed prior to Corbyn becoming leader. Our submission makes the case against the mistakes committed by both factions within the party machine. Continue Reading “Forde Enquiry: Submission by Labour Against the Witchhunt”

David Rosenberg on his friend Hazuan Hashim, one of the Wavertree 4

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Hazuan Hashim is one of four officers of Liverpool Wavertree Constituency suspended from the Labour Party very recently. He was the BAME officer for the constituency. Other officers suspended include the Chair, Secretary and Women’s Officer. I don’t know them personally but I do know Haz.

Back in 2011 I was part of the committee that organised the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street , celebrating the day that communities of the East End came together in huge numbers to repulse an invasion by a menacing antisemitic, fascist movement that would have terrorised the mainly Jewish streets of the East End. In 2011 there was a march and an indoor festival and several events in the days that followed, one of which was the premiere of a brilliant film called “From Cable Street to Brick Lane” pulling together the struggles against antisemitism and fascism of the 1930s East End with the struggles in the 1970s and 1990s of the Bangladeshi community against the violent threat from the National Front and later the BNP.

The film-makers were Hazuan Hashim and Phil Maxwell, two individuals I have known over many years, whose documentation of the fight against racism and bigotry of all kinds has been central to their life’s work. Part of the film includes very moving reflections by multi-ethnic school students about their experience of racism in the present and how they relate to difference and nationalism. I pop up a few times on screen – they filmed my Anti-Fascist Footprints walk – to tell some of the narrative. I helped them much more behind the scenes. The film features Jewish witnesses and participants in the struggles of the 1930s. It is made with real love as well as rock solid anti racism politics.

It was also made under great stress as Phil was battling a life-threatening illness, with Hazuan not only his collaborator, but also partner and carer – two complete mentshen (human beings).

I was very sad that some years back they moved out of the East End to settle in Liverpool. Our loss but Liverpool’s gain – and they picked up where they left off continuing to make films that aid the fight for a better world – and also continuing as Labour Party members to fight for social justice. Their new constituency was Liverpool Wavertree, served by Luciana Berger, a right wing Labour MP who was parachuted in and who struggled to hold wider support among local members. She has now left the the Labour Party having played a leading role in the factional war against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Having left, she joined Change UK and then the LibDems and stood unsuccessfully in Barnet where she was parachuted in again to replace the Lib Dem candidate who had already been chosen to contest that seat. In the run up to the General Election her rhetoric against Labour as a Lib Dem was little different from what she had been saying for years as a Labour member and MP.

There is no doubt that she also suffered hostility from an entirely different source in Liverpool for different reasons. She was targeted by far right activists for being Jewish, something that was condemned by all anti-racists and local LP members, who offered and gave their solidarity, but she allowed, and very much encouraged a mythology to develop that blurred these disgusting attacks from the far right with criticism from the left of the Labour Party that was made on entirely legitimate, democratic, political grounds. She dishonestly portrayed herself as a victim of anti-Semitism and thuggishness from local LP members.

When she stood down she was replaced by Paula Barker – a socialist MP with a strong trade union background. Phil and Haz worked with Paula and made films to support her campaign at the General Election.

Recently though they were among many local members dismayed by some particular comments within an article that Paula Barker wrote for the local Jewish newspaper which was ostensibly trying, quite rightly, to mend fences between the Labour Party and the Jewish community that had been strained and got mixed in nationally with a war by the Tories and the establishment in general against Corbyn and the Labour left. In that article she wrote about Luciana Berger: “Luciana leaving the Labour Party was a shock to many and I find it deeply regrettable that she felt she could no longer stay” – a comment which seems to give credence to the very unfair factional spin that Luciana Berger put on events in Liverpool.

Four Liverpool Wavertree CLP officers (Chair, Secretary, Women’s Officer and BAME officer – Hazuan) wrote a carefully worded letter in an internal CLP members forum expressing their praise for many actions that Paula Barker had done since becoming MP, but also registering their surprise that Barker “given the opportunity this article afforded … failed to clearly and unequivocally defend Wavertree CLP from the slanders thrown at us over the last two years. Our disappointment is especially acute because we believed we now had an MP who could offer sincere support for Liverpool’s Jewish communities alongside a principled defence of the political integrity of the members of the CLP and the constituency which she represents.”

That letter was made public not by those who wrote it. The four officers who signed it have now been suspended by the Labour Party.

A report on the matter by the Jewish Chronicle claims that the four “had criticised their own MP as she tried to reach out to the local Jewish community,” and quotes a Labour party spokesperson on the matter saying that the Party treats “all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously.”

Anti-Semitism! If my caring, socialist, anti-racist, anti-fascist film-maker friend Hazuan Hashim is an antisemite, I’m Dominic Cummings.

By David Rosenberg.

Reinstate the Liverpool Wavertree 4!

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Defend free speech in the Labour movement!
The Labour left will not be silenced on party democracy and Israel/Palestine!

Sign here: https://www.change.org/p/labour-party-reinstate-the-wavertree-4

We believe that the May 29 suspensions of four Constituency Labour Party officers from Liverpool Wavertree CLP (including the chair and secretary) under antisemitism charges are deeply unjust.

The four comrades – Nina Houghton, Kevin Bean, Helen Dickson and Hazuan Hashim – dared to raise political criticisms of their local MP Paula Barker, who had written an article in the Jewish Telegraph, without any prior consultation with the executive officers. She wrote, among other things: “Luciana [Berger] leaving the Labour Party was a shock to many and I find it deeply regrettable that she felt she could no longer stay.” This article was posted on Wavertree CLP’s Facebook page.

Luciana Berger MP, parachuted into the safe Labour seat for the 2010 general election, was one of the most vocal opponents of Jeremy Corbyn, who used her position as MP to publicly undermine and sabotage him at every opportunity. She helped to spread the lie that the Labour Party is overrun by antisemites and thereby fostered the current atmosphere, in which pro-Palestinian campaigners are regularly tarnished and vilified as antisemites – and she particularly singled out the Labour members in her own constituency. In the end she jumped ship and joined the Liberal Democrats, which really could not come as a “shock” to anybody who had followed her political trajectory. Tom Watson declared that she had been “forced out by racist thugs” in her CLP.

Paula, elected with the help of the left, including the Wavertree 4, seemed to support that narrative in her article. The four comrades felt so concerned that they wrote a private letter to Paula, but we understand she simply brushed their concerns aside. Without any decision-making CLP meetings taking place where the comrades could have presented a motion, the four decided to publish their views in the weekly internal CLP bulletin of May 26, which has been functioning as a medium of debate and has been featuring all sorts of local and national events during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The four comrades wrote that, “Paula’s words will most certainly be taken to imply that we, as a CLP, were responsible [for Berger’s departure]. This accusation has been repeated by our political opponents, such as the anti-Corbyn Labour right and the Liberal Democrats on numerous occasions, culminating in Tom Watson’s calumny, under the protective cloak of parliamentary privilege. In the furore that followed, individual officers and members, such as our then chair, were subjected to further abuse and false allegations in the media, all of which were designed to obscure the political differences between Ms Berger and the CLP.”

Clearly, nothing in their letter is even vaguely antisemitic. The four committed the crime of questioning if the local CLP (and the party as a whole) is really overrun by antisemites – that is enough to get you charged with being an anti-Semite yourself!

Of course, members don’t just have the right to criticize their MP – in a truly democratic party it is their duty to do so! These latest suspensions are clearly a serious attack on the right to free speech in the party.

The witch-hunt in Labour started as a campaign to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. The leaked report has proven beyond all doubt what the right in the Labour Party is capable of – they would rather destroy the party than allow it to be taken over by the left. But sadly, the Corbyn leadership, with the help of Momentum, sought to appease these forces rather than fight them, which allowed the witch-hunt to grow and become even more vicious. No wonder that under Keir Starmer it has been expanded once more – now in an attempt to eradicate the entire Labour left. We know of dozens of suspensions in the last couple of weeks alone, some of them based on a single tweet.

But we will not be silenced! We will continue to oppose attempts to undermine party democracy, censor debate and to equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism. And we will continue to demand a disciplinary process that is fair, transparent and just – these latest attacks show how overdue that is. This fight back has only just begun- and will continue until the witch-hunt is defeated!

Please email info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org if you want to add your organisation’s name to this petition

Labour Against the Witchhunt www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org
Labour Left Alliance  https://labourleft.org