PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: LIVERPOOL NOVOTEL, 7.30 PM, SUNDAY SEPT 25
Jewish pro-Corbyn activists retaliate against Kafkaesque “antisemitism” attacks
Jewish activists denounce “Kafkaesque” attacks on Corbyn
Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker confronts her abusers
Conference fringe meeting will expose “exaggerated and downright false claims of antisemitism”
Jewish activists have denounced as “Kafkaesque” attacks on Jeremy Corbyn by a extreme Zionist organisation, the self-styled “Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA),” which on Friday ratcheted up its campaign to brand pro-Palestinian campaigners as Jew-haters by filing a disciplinary complaint against the Labour leader.
“The CAA has managed to combine Catch-22, a McCarthyite witchhunt, a Kafkaesque nightmare and a surreal trip down Alice’s rabbit hole by alleging that anyone who questions allegations of antisemitism must be an antisemite,” said Jackie Walker, vice-chair of the grassroots Momentum movement.
Walker, a lifelong anti-racist campaigner of both African and Jewish heritage, has been subjected to an unrelenting campaign of vilification for discussing links between her Jewish ancestors and the slave trade.
Walker will join a panel discussion titled Jewish socialists against the anti-Corbyn witchhunt, organised by Free Speech on Israel (FSOI), a network of mainly Jewish activists opposed to the deployment of antisemitism allegations to silence Corbyn supporters who campaign for justice for Palestine.
The organisers call it “the only chance during the four days of conference to uncover the truth behind the devastation wreaked upon Labour by exaggerated and downright false claims of antisemitism.”
A meeting at Momentum’s conference fringe hub earlier the same evening will bring Jeremy Newmark of the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) face to face with Walker to debate “Does Labour have an Antisemitism Problem?”
The government was accused yesterday of “an attack on democracy” over its ban on local authorities and institutions observing an “ethical boycott” of investment in firms and countries deemed to be beyond the pale.
In “new guidance” for councils issued this week, the government claimed that “using pension policies to pursue boycotts, divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defence industries is inappropriate.”
The intervention follows announcements by a number of local authorities, universities and other institutions that they are disvesting from the multibillion-pound arms trade and regimes perceived as being unethical or in breach of international law.
War on Want senior militarism and security campaigner Ryvka Barnard condemned the guidance, accusing the government of seeking to protect countries such as Israel from criticism over their human rights abuses.
She said: “The government’s action is an attack on democracy and an explicit clampdown on the growing strength of the grassroots boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which aims to end government and corporate complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
“The government has given itself the power to veto decisions that it doesn’t like, overruling the democratic process and blocking local councils from making investment decisions in line with community values. This is plain wrong.”
War on Want argues that Britain has an “obligation” not to enable or support countries accused of egregious violations of human rights and international law, “which includes making sure that it is not financially or otherwise supporting Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.”
Local communities in England and Wales must be allowed to make their own decisions as to how they choose to invest their funds without interference from the central government, the campaign group argued.
First a mea culpa. Mary Davis accuses me of making an ‘incorrect and snide’ assertion that she wrote her first piece to support the Jewish establishment’s attack on Corbyn. I see how it can be read that way. What I wrote was “The issue is: just why Mary Davis is writing this piece now?” and went on to detail the coordinated, no-holds barred onslaught alleging that antisemitism that has been taking place. What I meant was that antisemitism in the Labour Party was a significant issue only because of this onslaught; and that she was writing her piece only because this misplaced salience had made it an issue. I did not mean that she was part of that campaign.
Before getting down to business I should also mention her rebuttal of my assertion that actual anti-Semitic incidents were relatively insignificant. She cites Community Security Trust figures for anti-Semitic incidents running at a total of 557 in the first 6 months of 2016. For a sense of scale, official figuresshow the total number of hate crimes averaged 222,000 per annum over the years 2012-5. I rest that part of my case.
To business. What ultimately divides our positions on the contentious issue of how anti-Zionism relates to antisemitism? It does not seem, at least directly, to be our views on Zionism itself. Mary says that she does not regard herself as a Zionist, and it is quite a few decades since I did so. And we are both highly critical about what Israel actually does. Yet it is clear that we do have grave differences on what can legitimately be done to end these excesses. These disagreements seem to stem ultimately from what she identifies as “the issue of the right of the state of Israel to exist”.
The right to exist
This is treacherous ground. In the present era of witch-finders general in the Labour Party I could still lose my leadership vote. (I am writing just ahead of the result being announced.) Many have already lost theirs for less. So forgive me if I tread warily. To question this ‘right to exist’ is not to toy with the idea of ejecting the 5 million or so Jewish inhabitants of Israel plus its illegal settlements into some external dumping ground (or worse). All the same, don’t forget that this dumping is exactly what happened to those hundreds of thousands of Palestinians ejected in 1948 who have since been denied their internationally attested right to return.
The reason why the claimed ‘right to exist’ is problematic is a question of definition, not of dematerialisation. States come and go, change their names and their borders, bifurcate and merge. That’s history for you. We don’t think that Mercia, dead these 1100 years, has or even had a ‘right to exist’. Coming more up to date the issue of exactly what is Ireland’s state-ly expression has sparked both bloody and peaceful struggle, and is not yet definitively resolved. Yugoslavia wasn’t a state, then it was, and then it wasn’t again, all in the course of about 70 years. Yugoslavia fractured in bloody fashion, but Czechoslovakia broke up into component parts by agreement.
There is nothing in international law that says that states have a right to exist. They either do or don’t exist, and there are criteria. As you would expect academic lawyers don’t speak with one voice on this, but (very roughly) to be a state you need to have a central government, a permanent population, a defined territory, etc. It helps to have international recognition, but that is probably not essential.
There are certain things that states cannot do in international law – attack others, practice ethnic cleansing or apartheid, things like that. But if a state violates these rules its transgressions don’t licence violent attacks on it by other states, and it doesn’t stop being a state.
Israel, the special case
Israel is of course a special case. As I said in my last piece, Zionism could realise its ambition of national self-determination in a defined territory only by taking someone else’s, and on behalf of people not actually living there. That contradiction between two claims and concepts of legitimacy remains and poisons the politics of the area. Israel’s supposed ‘right to exist’ is inevitably problematic if it excludes another co-located nation’s right to the same recognition. Continue reading “Israel’s right to exist”
At the JW3 ‘debate’ earlier this week, Jeremy Corbyn was asked what he most admired in Israel. This was an ideal opportunity to tell the audience and the questioner some home truths about both the Occupied Territories and Israel itself.
He could have told them that Israel today is an Apartheid Society. Of the approximately 6 million Palestinians it rules over, just 1.5 million have a vote and that is increasingly circumscribed with the Arab parties in Israel under increasing attack. Balad arrests won’t be the last in Israel’s ethnocracy
Unfortunately, Jeremy felt the need to fawn and flatter his audience rather than telling them some home truths. Some people will say ‘what does it matter’. I suggest this is why. In the event Corbyn becomes Prime Minister he would, on this evidence, bow and buckle to the much greater pressure of the City of London and industrialists. But also because a strategy based on appeasement is destined to failure. You stand up to your foes you don’t hand them olive branches to hit you in the face with. This is not just true of the Zionists. It is equally applicable to his MPs. Those who refuse to accept the legitimacy of his election should be told to depart or they will be deselected and have the whip withdrawn.
I have therefore taken the liberty of drafting the answers to the question that Corbyn was asked which he should have given! It is in the hope that next time he will have the courage of his convictions.
Q: Jeremy & Owen – I wanted to find out from you what aspects of Israel & its achievements do you most admire
Jeremy Corbyn: Thank you for a most interesting questions. The things I admire most about Israel include:
Its no nonsense arrest of Palestinian children as young as 12 and their shackling in chains. In particular Israel’s willingness to assault and even torture them if necessary, as articulated by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. It really takes some nerve to do this and claim you are still a democracy. You can’t help admiring Israel for this. I have to say I particularly like the Military’s practice of getting the children to sign confessions in a language they don’t understand (Hebrew). Serves the blighters right. It’s downright anti-Semitism refusing to learn the language of the occupying power. It is pleasing to note that the Military Courts under which these brats – sorry children – are charged have a 99.7% conviction rate. That might seem rather high but on the other hand it does demonstrate that it is possible to obtain a conviction but given the genius of the Israeli military it’s not surprising that they only get it wrong about once every 300 times.
It really is irrelevant that Jewish children in the same territories are entitled to things like a responsible adult attending an interview, social workers, nice warm offices and of course that they can’t be tried if they are under 14. We really must understand that there is no comparison between Palestinian and Israeli Jewish children. Those who take umbrage at this are, as my friend Jeremy Newmark says, out and out anti-Semites and Janet Royall has already had harsh words for those who alleged Apartheid at Oxford University Labour Club.
I particularly admire the annual Jerusalem day demonstration where thousands of settler youth express their tender and loving feelings towards Jerusalem’s Arabs by shouting ‘Death to the Arabs’. You have to admire Israel’s ability to get away with this and in particular the actions of Israel’s police in arresting any anti-racist protesters out to cause trouble. I understand that this year, the slogans were more varied and included the quite novel one, ‘A Jew is a soul, an Arabis a son of a whore.’ You have to give it to Israel’s democracy, it is most inventive.
I also admire the determination of Israel to ‘cleanse’ the Negev (southern desert area) of Israel of Bedouin villages such as Al Arakabh which get in the way of those nice, Jewish towns. This process of Judaisation might upset people but we must remember this is a Jewish state.
Of course I deprecate the repeated vandalism and arson at the Hand to Hand school, one of the few mixed Jewish-Arab schools in Israel. However Israel is a Jewish state and it is understandable that State schools in Israel are segregated. It is anti-Semitic to compare this with similar schools in Apartheid South Africa. Israel is a Jewish state. South Africa was a White Apartheid state. Anyway if do gooders insist on setting up private mixed schools which encourage Jewish and Arab children to mix, thus encouraging the possibility of sinful Jewish-Arab relationships, is it any wonder that religious Jews take offence?I personally applaud the efforts of the Israeli government to discourage miscegenation. Tzipi Hotoveli, Israel’s religious nut of a Deputy Foreign Minister was quite correct, when she said that it was “important to examine procedures for preventing mixed marriages, and Lehava members are the right people for that,” It’s true that Lehava is technically a fascist organisation that hates gays, beats up Arabs and sets fire to Churches and Mosques, but it is doing important work to preserve the Jewishness of the Jewish state. Those who oppose this work are, Mr McNicol informs me, anti-Semitic and will be suspended forthwith from the LP. Continue reading “The Answers that Corbyn Should Have Given to the Question What He Most Admired about Israel”
Jewish critics of the JLM have told The Electronic Intifada that JLM’s link to the Israeli embassy should disqualify it from leading Labour Party trainings on anti-Semitism.
The Israeli government and its allied organizations around the world have a long-standing policy of deliberately conflating criticisms of Israel with anti-Semitism.
The JLM has drawn criticism from non-Zionist Jewish members of Labour for its pro-Israel tendencies. Jews who do not follow Zionism, Israel’s state ideology, have told The Electronic Intifada that JLM excludes them.
The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) has been a leading actor in the campaign to demonise Jeremy Corbyn and all other critics of Israel as antisemites. As part of their campaign they are trying to amend the Labour Party’s rules to make it easier to suspend or expel advocates of Palestinian Rights and are submitting proposed rule changes to this year’s conference. If their proposals went through the words ‘except in instances involving antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism’ will be added to the end of the section on actions detrimental to the Labour Party. So a crucial sentence will read ‘The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions except in instances involving antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism’.
It is a principle of British law that it is actions that lead to sanctions, not thoughts. Thoughts are only of interest to tribunals when manifested in words or actions. Only totalitarian regimes seek to control our thoughts – a situation ridiculed as thought crime by George Orwell. As Wikipedia describes it “The term was popularized in the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, wherein thought crime is the criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question the ruling party.” Suppressing the crime was the province of the Thought Police.
We do not know where the NCC – the National Constitutional Committee, the body responsible for Labour Party discipline – will recruit their thoughtpol and how they will collect evidence on the nature of our thoughts. The thoughtpol will presumably be part of the Compliance Unit (now that’s an Orwellian term) which has been running the purges of ‘unsuitable’ voters during the Leadership election. Orwell was explicit in how Thought Crime was to be investigated. Will the Labour Party be building its own Room 101?
Elsewhere on this site we describe the JLM’s affiliations to the Israel Labour Party, responsible for commencing the settlement programme in the West Bank, and to the World Zionist Organisation, responsible for channelling funds to the illegal settlements. Despite their public affiliation to Zionist organisations the JLM wish to see use of the term Zionist as a potential disciplinary offence. It appears from their proposed rule change they wish to see anyone who believes them to be Zionist to be disciplined as well. We are not only in the realms feared by Orwell we are in Kafka’s territory as well.
The JLM’s record of supporting a regime that abuses human rights has long cast a large question mark on their place in the Labour family. This latest initiative, displaying a willingness to introduce human rights abuse into the Labour Party rule book, must call their ethical judgement further into question; it should also pose a problem for all those in the Party who, in the past, have looked to the JLM for advice. We must ensure their advice is ignored by all in the Party in the future.
The proposed rule changes also include a wilful misreading of Macpherson’s description of a racist incident and seeks to extend this misreading to all hate speech and incidents. The JLM proposes the addition of a section that states:
Where a member is responsible for a hate incident, being defined as something where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity, or sexual orientation, the NEC may have the right to impose the appropriate disciplinary options
Macpherson’s description was relevant to a particular time and place and related to the failure of the Metropolitan Police to take seriously victims’ perceptions of incidents. The intention was to require the police to investigate incidents, taking seriously the perception, not to prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
Macpherson wrote that ‘a racist incident’ is ‘any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.’ If we look at the context in which this quotation appears, it is unambiguously clear that Macpherson intended to propose that such racist incidents require investigation. He did not mean to imply that such incidents are necessarily racist. However, Macpherson’s report has been misinterpreted and misapplied in precisely this way. Its authority has been thrown behind the view that such incidents should, by definition, be regarded as racist. In short, a definition of antisemitism which takes Jews’ feelings and perceptions as its starting point and which looks to the Macpherson report for authority is built on weak foundations.
Putting the rule changes together: if any Zionist thinks I am thinking an antisemitic thought, that is enough to get me expelled from the Labour Party.
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: LIVERPOOL NOVOTEL, 7.30 PM, SUNDAY SEPT 25
Zionism and antisemitism all the rage at Labour Party conference fringe
Three fringe meetings in 3 hrs on allegations against Corbyn supporters
Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker confronts her abusers
Jewish activists will expose “exaggerated and downright false claims of antisemitism”
Defenders and opponents of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will clash over interpretations of Zionism and antisemitism in three separate meetings in the space of as many hours on the first day of the party conference in Liverpool on Sunday September 25.
The spectacle comes about because of an initiative by Free Speech on Israel (FSOI), a network of mainly Jewish activists opposed to the deployment of antisemitism allegations to silence Corbyn supporters who campaign for justice for Palestine.
A meeting originally planned by FSOI at the conference fringe hub of the grassroots Momentum movement has now been taken over by Momentum itself. It will bring Jeremy Newmark of the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) face to face with Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker to debate “Does Labour have an Antisemitism Problem?”
FSOI has organised a separate meeting titled “Jewish Socialists Against the Anti-Corbyn Witchhunt”, also featuring Jackie Walker, at the nearby Novotel later the same evening.
It will pose a direct challenge to the silencing of pro-Palestinian voices, while the JLM – one of the main architects of the silencing – has chosen to hold its own rally at the same time.
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi who will chair the FSOI meeting said it would be “the only chance during the four days of conference to uncover the truth behind the devastation wreaked upon Labour by exaggerated and downright false claims of antisemitism.”
Free Speech on Israel rejects the assertion, by die-hard supporters of Israel such as the JLM, that expressions of opposition to the political ideology of Zionism are equivalent to anti-Jewish racism. FSOI says opposition to Zionism is rooted in defence of Palestinian rights, which have been abused by Israel since its creation.
At the Free Speech on Israel (FSOI) meeting at the Novotel, 40 Hanover Street, at 7.30 pm, Jackie Walker will share the platform with British Palestinian lawyer Salma Karmi-Ayyoub and Glyn Secker, who captained the Jewish Boat to Gaza organised by Jews for Justice for Palestinians in 2010. The vessel was seized by Israeli forces as it attempted to breach the siege of Gaza.
The Momentum meeting at 5pm at 1 Great George Street will feature Jackie Walker, Jeremy Newmark (Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement); Rhea Wolfson (recently elected to the Labour NEC) and FSOI speaker Professor Jonathan Rosenhead.
The JLM has devoted all its energies since Jeremy Corbyn took over as leader to denouncing him for failing to root out party members sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. It has been a prime mover behind the idea that Jewish identity is inextricably linked to Israel and Zionism. Its meeting, which coincides with the FSOI event, is advertised as a Rally Against Racism and Antisemitism, although the organisation has no record of anti-racist campaigning.
As a Jewish member of the Labour Party who has been suspended for ‘antisemitism’, I am writing to you to express my disappointment that you should have agreed to speak on September 25th at the Conference fringe meeting of the Jewish Labour Movement [JLM]. I would seriously ask you to reconsider your decision.
As you will know from the current witch hunt of Jeremy’s supporters, ‘antisemitism’ is a weapon that has been wielded against anyone who speaks up in support of the Palestinians or against Zionism, the settler colonial movement which created the Israeli state.
The JLM is the British affiliate of the Israeli Labour Party/Zionist Union [ILP]. Far from supporting a just solution in Palestine, the ILP supports segregation and a Palestinian Bantustan. Its leader Isaac Herzog recently explained that:
‘I want to separate from the Palestinians. I want to keep a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. I don’t want 61 Palestinian MKs in Israel’s Knesset. I don’t want a Palestinian prime minister in Israel.’
If someone said they didn’t want a Jewish Prime Minister in Britain I am sure you would be the first to denounce this as racist and antisemitic. [Who needs the Right when we have Isaac Herzog?] In an ILP election video Herzog was described as ‘someone who “understands the Arab mentality” and “has seen Arabs in all kinds of situations,” including “in the crosshairs.” Why did we forget about Herzog’s anti-Arab campaign? If someone in the Labour Party spoke about the ‘Jewish mentality’ they would rightly be called antisemitic, yet this is standard talk for Israeli Labour politicians.
The Israeli Labour Party is the original party of Zionist colonisation. It was the party which was responsible for perpetrating the Nakba (‘Catastrophe’) in 1948 when three-quarters of a million Palestinians were expelled in order to create a Jewish state. This was ‘necessary’ because, even in the 56% of Palestine that was allotted by the UN to the proposed Jewish state, half of the population were Arabs.
The JLM is also affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation [WZO] which openly funds and supports illegal settlement in the West Bank and the Golan Heights. At the present time it is implementing the destruction of Bedouin villages such as al-Araqib in Israel’s Negev and afforestation of the area as part of the official programme of ‘Judaisation’ (as per the Prawer Plan).
The WZO’s Jerusalem Programme, speaks of ‘the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, in the life of the [Jewish] nation’. This assertion, that the real homeland of Jews, including British Jews, is Israel rather than the countries where they live, is itself anti-Semitic. It has long been an antisemitic rallying cry that Jews do not belong in the countries where they live.
From its inception the Labour Zionist movement was a racist movement. As David HaCohen, Managing Director of Solel Boneh, the Histadrut owned building company exclaimed:
I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism, to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my Trade Union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to housewives that they should not buy at Arab stores; to defend the fact that we stood guard at orchards to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs there… to pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes; to attack Jewish housewives in the markets and smash Arab eggs they had bought… to do all that was not easy.[David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch, p.185, Faber, 2003 citing Ha’aretz 15.11.69].
Because the JLM is an openly Zionist organisation, its membership is not open to Jewish members of the Labour Party who are opposed to Zionism.
The JLM purports to support a two state solution in Israel/Palestine but there is no known example of where it has opposed any aspect of military rule in the West Bank such as the detention and torture of Palestinian children as young as 12 or the separate legal systems for Jews and Palestinians. The JLM has never opposed the theft and seizure of Palestinian land for Jewish-only settlements, the building of Jewish only roads or the network of checkpoints in the West Bank, with separate entrances for Jewish settlers and Palestinians. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and leaders of the ANC rightly described Israel as worse than Apartheid in South Africa. [Desmond Tutu: Israel guilty of apartheid in treatment of Palestinians]
It is dispiriting that you will be speaking on the platform of an organisation that has engineered and orchestrated the ‘antisemitic’ witch hunt in the Labour Party. The JLM has consistently confused antisemitism and anti-Zionism. It is led by Jeremy Newmark, who was branded a perjurer by the Employment Tribunal Fraser v University College Union when he tried to portray UCU as ‘antisemitic’.
The JLM represents a minority of Jews, the most right-wing Jews, in the Labour Party. It was no surprise that in its ballot, the JLM voted for Owen Smith by 92-4%.
What is particularly offensive though is the race-baiting campaign that has been carried out by the JLM against Jackie Walker, the Vice-Chair of Momentum. They have repeatedly lied and misrepresented what she said, in a private conversation, about Jewish involvement in the financing of the slave trade. They have refused to accept the fact that she was reinstated very soon after her suspension. Jackie is being subject to a political lynching.
“The Shadow Chancellor was invited a while ago before his apparent defence of Jackie Walker and in light of his call for zero tolerance on antisemitism and support for our rule change proposals. He must explain his defence of Walker which is inconsistent with his call for zero tolerance. This raises serious questions. Our members expect him to explain himself.’
Jackie Walker is someone of Black and Jewish parentage. Far from being an antisemite she is a long-standing anti-racist and anti-fascist activist. John, are you really willing to speak on the platform of this anti-Palestinian, race-baiting organisation? I appeal to you to reconsider your decision to speak at this event. Whatever this rally is about it is not about fighting anti-Semitism.
Tony Greenstein – Brighton & Hove DLP