Reprinted from Medium by permission
In light of the revelations made by the Al Jazeera investigative documentary The Lobby, Palestinian students in the UK have published a letter calling for an apology and the resignation of the National Union of Students VP Richard Brooks. In the footage Brooks implicates himself in helping to organise a group that is trying to oust Malia Bouattia for her strong stance on Palestine. The attacks being levelled against Bouattia are based on her politics and principled opposition to Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler colonialism. As an elected official of the NUS, Brooks is betraying the trust placed in him by students and has demonstrated seriously misplaced and misguided priorities, which lead him to collude with the Israeli Embassy.
Following the revelations made as part of the first episode of the Al Jazeera documentary, The Lobby, we as Palestinian students, many of whom are members of the student movement in the UK, are issuing this statement to express solidarity with NUS President Malia Bouattia and to demand an apology from NUS Vice President (Union Development) Richard Brooks, as well as his resignation. These revelations contain evidence that Brooks has been implicated in soliciting help from the Israeli Embassy to bring down the NUS President and to destabilise the Union as a whole. In a climate where student activists, NUS, and the NUS President in particular, have been undermined, attacked, and harassed for their pro-Palestine politics, such activities and communications are outrageous, must be condemned outright, and cannot go without severe consequences.
We believe that Brooks’ activities constitute a flagrant violation of the guidelines of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign (BDS), which was endorsed and adopted by the NUS in 2014 as part of a democratic and transparent process amid widespread concern over the deteriorating situation in Palestine after Israel’s devastating attacks on Gaza that summer. The BDS Campaign calls for freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians and the provision of their full human rights. Palestinian students in the UK are an important part of the national student movement, and it is due to this that both the Palestinian students and the wider student movement feel disturbed at what has been shown to transpire between Brooks and the Israeli Embassy.
As an elected full time official within the National Union of Students, Richard Brooks bears a great deal of responsibility towards the student movement, as well as to the Palestinian students who come under attack by public figures on an increasingly regular basis due to our nationality. It is unacceptable for a somebody in Brooks’ position to conspire with a foreign government to undermine and damage one of the largest democratic institutions in the country, which represents over 7 million students. This constitutes a massive betrayal of the trust placed within Richard Brooks by the students who elected him, in addition to demonstrating his misplaced and misguided priorities, none of which should include colluding with the Israeli Embassy, as is evidently the case. Furthermore, it is important to affirm that the attacks levelled at Bouattia since her electoral victory were based on her politics and principled opposition to Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler colonialism. As Palestinian students, we see these attacks as part of a broader attempt to dehumanise Palestinians and silence our narratives.
In light of these appalling and outrageous revelations, we the undersigned Palestinian students in the UK and supporters of the Palestinian cause feel that the position of NUS Vice President Richard Brooks has become untenable and unworkable. In light of this, we demand the following:
– An unequivocal public apology for the actions taken by Richard Brooks.
– Richard Brooks’ resignation from his position as Vice President (Union Development) of the National Union of Students with immediate effect.
Malaka Mohammed, University of Exeter
Samar Ahmed, Kings College London
Yara Hawari, University of Exeter
Toqa Zait, Leeds University
Kareem Bseiso, SOAS, University of London
Yahya Abu Seido, University College London
Ayat Hamdan, University of Exeter
Shahd Abusalama, SOAS, University of London
Laura Al-Tahrawy, Lincoln University
Afnan Jabr Alqadri, St. Mary University
Sahar S, Kings College London
Omar Jouda, Oxford Brookes University
Abdulla Saad, SOAS, University of London
Eyad Hamid, SOAS, University of London
Motaz Ayyad, Imperial College
Razan Masri, SOAS, University of London
Gabriel Polly, University of Exeter
Rawand Safi, University College London
Razan Shamallakh, Kings College London
Yousef Anis, University College London
Hani Awwad, Oxford University
Beth Jamal, Cambridge University
Layla D., University of Nottingham
Emily M., Surrey University
Dana El Ghadban, University of Leeds
Mahmoud Zwahre, Coventry University
Miriam Abu Samra, Oxford University
Doa Althalathini, Plymouth University
Rama Sahtout, University of Exeter
Mostafa Afana, Belfast University
Haya Natsheh, London School of Economics
Ashraf Hamad, University of Leeds
Rama Sabanekh, SOAS, University of London
Basel Sourani, SOAS, University of London
Layla Al-Khatib, University College London
Hussam Al-Kurd, London School of Economics
Ramsey El-Dabbagh, University College London
Ala Sawalha, SOAS, University of London
Marwan Hanbali, Cardiff University
Jamal Abdulfattah, Exeter University
Mjriam Abu Samra, University of Oxford
Rawan Yaghi, Oxford University
Ibtehal H., Kings College London
Sari Sati, University of Kent
Abdulrahman Arasoghli, University of Manchester
Saba I., Kings College London
Syeda Tahmina Khatun, Brunel University London
Dena Qaddumi, Palestinian PhD student, University of Cambridge
Khalil al-Wazir at the University of East Anglia
Haya Naji, Southampton University
Dina Tahboub, University of Cambridge
Abdelrahman Murad, University of the Arts London
Alessia Cancemi, Goldsmiths University of London
Tamer EL-Nakhal , Medicine, Cambridge University Hospital
Hamss Hassan Dawood, University College London
Salim Habash, Loughborough University
Huda Ammori, University of Manchester
Laila al-Khatib, University College London
Samir al-Khatib, University College London
Zeena Jojo, London School of Economics
Ahmed A., University of Leeds
Haneen Shubib, University of Leeds
Hana Elias, University of Exeter
If you wish to add your name, please email Malaka933@gmail.com
No Mrs May, the matter is not closed
Regev must be sent home
Al-Jazeera has done what all the US spy agencies have so far failed to do: produced conclusive proof of a foreign state trying to undermine the democratic processes of another country.
The Americans have responded to suggestions that the Russians tried to say the presidential elections in favour of Donald Trump by expelling 35 diplomats and complaining long and hard. What has the UK Government done when Shai Masot was found with his hand far down in the cookie jar? Very, very little except say, ‘Move along, move along. Not much to see here’. It’s not as though it was only Israel’s attempts to destabilise the Labour Party that have been brought to light, which you cannot expect a Conservative government to lose much sleep over. The Israelis were targeting senior Tories and it seems the Tories do not even want to look after their own.
Mark Regev only had to say, ‘Nothing to do with me, guv’ and the Foreign Office rushed to applaud his prompt action in doing nothing. This is the same Mark Regev who, before he was accredited to the Court of St James’s, toured the British media lying on behalf of Benjamin Netanyahu as his personal spokesman. His reception, even by some usually credulous journalists, was one of disbelief and fascination that anyone could be so brazen.
In the 17th Century Sir Henry Wotton famously said, an ambassador was “an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country” little has changed in 400 years except that in the case of Regev we seem to have a dishonest man sent to do the job.. Regev would have to have been singularly incompetent not to have known what Masot was doing and, whatever his other faults, Regev is not incompetent.
Are we expected to believe that when Regev sat beside Shai Masot and Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, Jeremy Newmark, at the Labour Party Conference he did not know what was going on?
A former Conservative minister has told the Daily Mail:
“British foreign policy is in hock to Israeli influence at the heart of our politics, and those in authority have ignored what is going on.
“For years the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) have worked with – even for – the Israeli embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK government policy and the actions of ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights.
“Lots of countries try to force their views on others, but what is scandalous in the UK is that instead of resisting it, successive governments have submitted to it, take donors’ money, and allowed Israeli influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of ministers.”
The eruption of allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party has long been suspected of having been orchestrated from Tel Aviv. The extensive trawling of historic twitter and Facebook accounts required the resources of state actors – it was far beyond the ability of amateurs. We now have the proof that Israel’s London embassy was actively engaged in discrediting, on the basis of flimsy or totally false evidence, anyone who questioned their right to occupy Palestinian land and oppress the Palestinian people.
The Jewish Labour Movement has been vigorously stirring the pot and pressing the Labour Party to take ever more extreme action against those they disagree with. They must be forced to disclose details of all their links with the Israeli Embassy and publish all the briefings and information they have received. It is well known they act as agents of their affiliates, the Israel Labor Party, inside the British Labour Party. Now it is apparent they are also agents of the Israeli state.
What the Israelis have been doing is far worse than anything the Russians and Trump have been accused of. The Russians worked on their own account and fed information to a compliant media. Their hacks were not conducted with the active assistance of the Trump team. In the UK the Israelis had the active connivance of British politicians, it was a joint effort and the subversion was deeper and longer.
The British spend billions on the security services. Were they asleep on the job, did they not notice this avalanche of subversion? Or were they co-operating with their friends in Mossad with whom they have close working relationships in setting up this treachery?
There are many questions to be answered and Emily Thornberry and Alex Salmond are to be congratulated in speedily calling for a full investigation. But more is needed.
- Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel groups have been active agents in this underhand programme and must be disowned by their parent parties.
- The Jewish Labour Movement has been acting in the interests of the right-wing Israeli Government, not in the interests of the Labour Party and must be disaffiliated. A new independent organisation must be set up to represent the interests of all Jewish members of the Party.
- Mark Regev must be sent back to Tel Aviv immediately and the activities of his replacement carefully monitored to ensure no repetition
Al Jazeera Investigative Unit’s series “The Lobby” can be viewed on Al Jazeera at the following times:
Episode One – Wednesday, January 11, 22:30 GMT
Episode Two – Thursday, January 12, 22:30 GMT
Episode Three – Friday, January 13, 22:30 GMT
Episode Four – Saturday, January 14, 22:30 GMT
The series will also be available online.
FSOI members picketing the Momentum steering committee meeting that removed Jackie Walker as vice-chair
Hope not Hate is an organisation well respected for its exemplary work in combating the far-right in Britain and mobilising to confront the fascists when they skulk into public.
However for historic reasons Hope not Hate has close links with the British Jewish establishment which has led them to echo the false accusations of antisemitism that FSOI was set up to combat.
Hope not Hate has published a vicious attack on Jackie Walker written by Joe Mulhall, a highly misleading analysis that has since been reprinted by Left Foot Forward. It is a great pity that, in this instance, they have let their sympathy for a Zionist narrative overwhelm their commitment to fighting anti-Black racism
Fatbellyman, Gary Hollands, has published a detailed rebuttal of Mulhall’s piece on his blog which we reproduce here.
====Start of reproduced article====
Controversy exploded after the release of film footage of a ‘training event’ organised by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) at the Labour Party Conference. It was claimed the footage allegedly showed a leading member of Momentum, Jackie Walker, making anti-Semitic comments.
A torrent of condemnation followed from all quarters, including from fellow Momentum member Barbara Ntumy. On the Daily Politics, Friday 30th September, she stated that Jackie Walker’s comments were:
“completely inappropriate and out of order” and “were not acceptable in that room, they are not acceptable anywhere.”
All the critics announced Jackie Walker guilty as charged, blithely ignoring one rule of evidence – which is not to take evidence selected by an organisation with a material interest at face value.
One article typical of the range of accusations against Jackie Walker was one titled Jackie Walker, The Left and Antisemitism written by Joe Mulhall and published by Hope Not Hate. This article based its condemnation of Jackie Walker using the film footage as well as revisiting old allegations.
As this was the apparent judgement of what is one of the more prominent and respected anti-racism organisations I thought a detailed rebuttal appropriate. The reply was posted on the afternoon of Friday 30th September and to date has yet to be published. Below is a reproduction of that post, it’s in its original format, including typos, to maintain a faithful copy as possible.
====Start reply to ‘The Left and Antisemitism’====
In defence of Jackie Walker
When an author writes serious allegations they have duty to hold themselves to a high bar, to be scrupulously fair in their arguments, to avoid distorting or putting words into the mouth of the one(s) they accuse.
Sadly, this article fails badly by that criteria.
It is mixture of straw man arguments, distortion and innuendo designed to discredit someone who has actively engaged in anti-racism all her political life.
Jackie’s mixed Jewish African-Caribbean and Jewish heritage contribute to what is a fairly unique perspective. While sometimes this can be challenging to those who hold certain viewpoints and political positions it does not necessarily follow that that is anti-Semitic.
You refer to a film footage of comments Jackie Walker made at a Jewish Labour Movement ‘training event’.
Jackie raised three points in her contribution.
Holocaust Memorial Day
You quote Jackie, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust Day was open to all peoples who’ve experienced Holocaust?”.
From the filming it’s difficult to discern the whole part of that conversation due to interventions from other audience members and the point was not developed.
It should be noted that it’s not good practise to use fragments such as these in the manner you have.
For a more reliable view of Jackie Walker’s comments one needs refer to what she has said elsewhere on the subject. She has in particular raised the African slave trade as a holocaust, in fact Jackie clarified on Channel Four news 29 September 2016:
“But as a mixed-race person who is African and Jewish, I was making the point that why is the Cambodian genocide, which was after the 1940s, included and the African holocaust is not?” Walker said the criticism should be seen through the prism of the “political differences underlying it”.
Now there may be perfectly good reasons for Holocaust Memorial Day not to include the African holocaust but to to construe Jackie’s remark as anti-Semitic is specious.
Security in buildings used by Jews
Jackie raised a question on security in buildings used by the Jewish Community, raising the example of her grandson.
Unfortunately you don’t directly quote her or inform us that the context was a response to something said by the speaker.
This is what Jackie Walker actually said:
“I’m a bit concerned about other (indistinct) that your, your kind of suggestion that the Jewish community is under such threat that it has to use security in all its buildings I have a grandson he’s (indistinct) year old there’s security in his nursery school and every school has security now and it’s not because I’m frightened or his parents are frightened that he’s going to be attacked”.
You seem make the claim that this, “also appeared to denigrate the need for security at Jewish schools”, in order to follow up with, “at a time of heightened terror risks and international attacks against Jewish targets…”. That would seem to be more than a little cynical.
You also raise in the same paragraph above, Jackie stating, “I still haven’t heard a definition of anti-Semitism that I can work with.”
You seem unaware that there is a live and lively debate over the precise parameters of anti-Semitism as can be seen in a letter [http://www.jlm.org.uk/yjlm] letter to the Guardian from young members of the Jewish Labour Movement disputing positions on Zionism & anti-Semitism held by other Jews.
Jackie has since clarified her position [https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/29/momentum-likely-to-oust-jackie-walker-over-holocaust-remarks] saying she supports David Schneider’s definition [https://twitter.com/davidschneider/status/780107628500381696].
Jackie is right to point out the Macpherson Principles state that the police should investigate cases reported by the victim or another person as a racist crime but not to accept them as a racist crime.
She was also right to raise concerns that some groups hold the view that incidents alleged to be as anti-Semitic then denying anti-Semitism as a motive is itself anti-Semitic.
This isn’t raised in the article so perhaps Jackie’s view on this is accepted or is considered uncontroversial.
Jackie Walker may be open to the charge of clumsiness or lack of clarity in some of her contributions but I can not see how, singly or collectively, Jackie Walker’s remarks at this meeting constitute anti-Semitism.
The article goes on with further accusations. Particularly pernicious is the accusation of Jackie supporting the position of Louis Farrakhan in blaming Jews as a race for the slave trade.
You achieve this by misquoting and selective editing:
““What debt do we owe the Jews?” and stating that Jews “were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade””
You omit to mention that Jackie was subject to a hearing by the Labour party over those Facebook posts and re-admitted [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/anti-semitism-row-momentum-organiser-jackie-walker-readmitted-to-labour-party-following-racism-a7053966.html].
What was actually written was [https://m.facebook.com/cheltenhammomentum/posts/1040048392756008] :
“Many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean.”
The original post is not available but there are screen grabs: [http://www.kentonline.co.uk/thanet/news/leading-labour-activist-suspended-over-95356/]
“Many Jews (my ancestors too)” is the term used by Jackie, seen in the context of her background it’s difficult to see this as an anti-Semitic attack. This distortion is also used elsewhere to attack Jacqui [https://www.buzzfeed.com/sirajdatoo/momentum-branch-plans-to-host-an-anti-semitism-debate-during?utm_term=.cjlqOrm4L#.fsJ4O5x3R]
In conclusion, the allegations of anti-Semitism by Jackie Walker is only sustainable on the basis deliberate misrepresentation and stripping her words of context.
When I read pieces such as this I’m reminded of a saying attributed to Cardinal Richelieu:
“If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.”
What is clear from this article and numerous others is that the attack on Jackie Walker is politically motivated.
Jackie has a history of service to the movement in general and is a well known figure on the left. Her expulsion or suspension would be a great prize for her political opponents.
It would be disappointing if the Labour Party and Momentum did not give Jackie Walker the support and protection she needs and deserves from what is nothing more than a vicious and vindictive smear campaign.
====End reply to ‘The Left and Antisemitism’====
Definition of anti-Semitism
It’s beyond the scope of this piece to conduct a thorough examination of the various definitions of anti-Semitism referred to in the above reply, it’s worth noting that even the UK government point out there is no agreed international definition of antisemitism. It points to the UK’s College of Policing guidance as a working definition of antisemitism.
Jewish Labour activists in defence of Jackie Walker
Fellow activists who attended the JLM ‘training event’ with Jacqui have condemned the allegations of anti-Semitism against her. They also raise the behaviour of JLM supporter at the event. It may be of further interest to them that a close examination of the footage audio reveals that during Jackie’s comments on buildings security someone makes reference to her grandson “in a body bag“
Those activists also raise concerns over the suitability of JLM to run training events. If the footage is from the camera used by JLM to film the event then there may well be a case for them to answer regarding unethical behaviour.
Jackie Walker suspended
Since the reply to Hope Not Hate Jackie has been suspended from the Labour Party.
According to media reports Momentum is set to remove Jackie Walker from her post on Monday.
Declaration of interest
I have no relationship with Momentum but I did attend a public meeting organised by them with Jackie Walker as one of the speakers. I was impressed by her depth of knowledge and her eagerness to share and discuss her experience. Jackie is valuable asset to the Labour movement and it would be a tragedy to allow her political enemies to bring about her removal with such dishonest and underhand tactics.
I always consider it a proud duty to defend a fellow comrade, especially one who has given so much to our movement.
Gary Hollands – October 1st 2016
It is well known that I personally and FSOI collectively do not believe the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) are appropriate politically to train Labour Party members on antisemitism. What we did not know until this week is that they do not understand the basic ethical and legal duties of a training organisation in any circumstances, on any topic.
The JLM advertised and ran a training session on antisemitism at the Labour Party conference as part of the main conference programme, not as a fringe event. While they did not announce ground rules of confidentiality at the start of the session, as they should have done, participants had the reasonable expectations that normal standards of training events would apply. While participants noted that the JLM were videoing the event they assumed this was for internal JLM use so they could review this pilot session to iron out any problems for the future. They may have been naïve in not questioning the use of the camera but that was because they trusted the good faith of the organisers. JLM failed in their basic, and legally required, duty to announce that the session was being videoed, for what purposes the video would be used and to seek the assent of all attendees to being filmed.
Anyone with experience of any training, and a fortiori of anti-racism training, know that the only way to get people to engage with difficult issues is to allow them to try out ideas, emotions and understandings in a non-judgemental and confidential space.
This is what underlies the anger of many people about the release of extracts of the video to attack Jackie Walker. Jackie, as a woman of dual heritage, has to deal with the inherited pain of two Holocausts, the Jewish tragedy and the African horror story. Dealing with one is difficult, managing to live with the impact of both doubly so. No one has developed a language for this. Jackie is trying to provide one, a difficult task in the best and most supportive environment; an almost impossible one when every utterance is malevolently misinterpreted.
Jackie is also being attacked for asking for the definition of antisemitism on which the trainers were basing their session, a patently reasonable request. Definitions of antisemitism are highly contested and there is a large literature on the topic, both academic and polemical, which has reached no consensus. Anti-racism training sessions have consistently started from trying to reach a definition, or at least a description, of racism the participants can use to underpin a discussion. It appears that the JLM trainers both know with certainty what antisemitism is and, extraordinarily, are not prepared to share that definition with the trainees.
We do not know if JLM as an organisation leaked the video, that is irrelevant. As the owners of the video they had a duty to keep it private. If it was released without authorisation they should have condemned the leak and promised action against whoever leaked it. They did not, they did just the opposite and exploited the leak for partisan political ends. Neither has the sponsor of the meeting, the Labour Party, denounced this unethical act or asked the Compliance Unit to investigate the circumstances in order to launch action under Party rules. This is a far greater breach of Party codes of conduct than the random tweets that have been occupying them for the last few months.
The Labour Party must announce that they are abandoning any plans to employ JLM as trainers; they are clearly unqualified for the task.
JLM and their supporters have been trying to, and regrettably succeeding in, creating a moral panic around Jackie Walker on the back of their unethical actions: actions that are probably illegal under the Data Protection Act.
It is particularly regrettable that Jackie’s comrades in Momentum rather than protecting her have joined the jackals seeking to damage her. Carefully orchestrated leaks to the press about sanctioning her are further compounding her distress. Setting up a kangaroo court with as much similarity to natural justice as the worst of the Labour Party’s manoeuvres must be condemned by everyone with any respect for individual rights.
It appears that Momentum are more concerned about their reputation than their political integrity. Do they not realise that if Jackie is thrown to the wolves it will not end there? The right-wing will be emboldened and pick their next victim who will be more vulnerable, not less and will despatch those who will challenge them one by one. Momentum will show itself to be not a credible political force to achieve desperately needed change but, in the time worn phrase, useful idiots. We must exert all our energy to stop them making this horrendous error when their Steering Committee meets next week.
It is difficult to ignore the shared agenda of the Blairites and Israel’s uncritical supporters in the Labour party as they seek to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership at every turn. The confected anti-semitism “row” – claiming that the Labour party became a hotbed of anti-Jewish hatred the moment Corbyn took over – would look preposterous if it had not been continuously fuelled by a conniving UK media.
One of the early victims of this anti-semitism witch hunt was Jackie Walker, who has Jewish and African ancestry. She was tarred and feathered – and suspended from the party – for pointing out that the slave trade was an “African holocaust”. I wrote about that here. She and the other members purged from Labour were saved only because the Chakrabarti inquiry refuted the claims that the party actually had an anti-semitism problem.
Now after Corbyn’s re-election, it looks like it is starting up again – and Walker finds herself in the hot seat again too. One has to raise one’s eyes to the heavens to believe what the Guardian, among many others, is getting its knickers in a twist about this time. Here is Walker’s supposedly offensive comment at an “anti-semitism training event” dominated by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) at Labour’s annual conference:
In terms of Holocaust day, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust day was open to all people who experienced holocaust?
Walker was appealing for Holocaust Day to be treated, in line with its original aim, as a universal event that includes holocausts like the one in Africa.
No matter. The Guardian claims she then compounded her crime by stating: “I was looking for information and I still haven’t heard a definition of antisemitism that I can work with.”
One can understand why the Jewish Labour Movement and the many Labour MPs who include themselves as Friends of Israel are upset. They have worked hard both to redefine antisemitism so that it forbids almost all criticism of Israel, and to rebrand Holocaust Day so as to eclipse other groups, including Europe’s Romany population, who were also victims of this industrialised genocide.
A group of Jewish Labour activists issued a defence of Walker, noting: “The way Jackie has been treated demonstrates the unfitness of the JLM to deliver training on antisemitism.”
There can be little doubt that the JLM is trying to instrumentalise Jewish suffering to make it harder to criticise Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. It is probably not surprising that Israel loyalists want to corrupt the public discourse – and undermine concern about real racism towards Jews and the important, universal lessons of the Holocaust – by politicising these issues. But that is no excuse for either the Blairites or supposedly liberal media like the Guardian to jump on their bandwagon simply because it offers an quick path to damaging Corbyn.
Sadly, as Corbyn tries to reframe the discussion about Israel and the Palestinians to make sure Palestinians are viewed as human too, we can expect much more of this kind of nonsense.
Jackie Walker is pilloried for saying that the Holocaust is the property of all humanity
By Tony Greenstein
At Labour Party Conference just gone, in open defiance of the Chakrabarti Report, the Jewish Labour Movement held a ‘training session’ on Racism and anti-Semitism. The supporters and advocates of a Jewish state, which is a state where Jews have privileges over non-Jews, were given the role of educating delegates on the meaning of anti-Semitism. It is as if the General Medical Council had decided to hold a training course on medical ethics and appointed the late Harold Shipman as course director. It is and was utterly absurd.
At the LP conference the JLM had deliberately invited as ‘fraternal delegates’ a delegation from the Israeli Labour Party. You can gain some measure of the racism of the ILP from an article Herzog slammed for remark about ‘Arab lovers’ in the right-wing Jerusalem Post:
‘Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog has been trying to move his party to the center, but he appeared to have gone too far late Tuesday, when he told an audience in Ashkelon that his faction’s MKs needed to correct an impression that they are always “Arab lovers.”
“A false impression exists that we take the needs of Palestinians into account before the needs of the State of Israel,” he said at a toast for Labor activists ahead of the Passover holiday.’
What kind of Party is it whose leader talks about the need to avoid being seen as ‘Arab lovers’? Imagine that Jeremy Corbyn said that the Labour Party needed to avoid being seen as ‘Jew lovers’? I can remember when fighting the National Front and BNP being accused of being ‘nigger lovers’. Herzog, who not so long ago was trying to give Corbyn lessons on ‘anti-Semitism’ is the racist leader of a deeply racist party, yet the JLM invited a delegation from the ILP to Party conference.
At the ‘training seminar’ of the JLM, which was really a propaganda session, participants like Jackie Walker were covertly filmed in order that anyone questioning the racist agenda could then be reported to Iain McNicol and Tom Watson and then subject to disciplinary procedures. The entrapment of people who attended is a disgrace and the JLM should have no further part in any form of anti-racist training. Indeed the whole concept of ‘training’ for anti-racism is itself a reactionary concept. Racism is eliminated by joint work and shared experiences not by lectures from on high.
Last week I wrote two blog posts – an Open Letter to John McDonnell – Don’t Condone the Race Baiters of the Jewish Labour Movement and The Jewish Labour Movement and its Political Lynching of Jackie Walker describing how Jackie Walker, Momentum’s Vice Chair, has come under sustained attack by the supporters of the Israeli state. What Zionists cannot bear most of all is that Jackie Walker is both Black and Jewish. Numerous abusive tweets (we only hear about abusive tweets directed at MPs) by people who could not possibly know her have confidently declared that she is not Jewish. Why? Because it is an article of faith amongst most Zionists that Black people are not Jewish.
These racists are being led by Jeremy Newmark and Mike Katz of the inappropriately named Jewish Labour Movement (until 2004 it was known as Poalei Zion). I say inappropriate because when there was a Jewish labour movement in this country, it wanted nothing to do with the Zionist movement, which was rightly seen as a scab movement. The Zionists were, as the enclosed scan from William Fishman’s highly acclaimed East End Radicals shows, held in contempt by a very real Jewish labour movement which, at its peak, consisted of over 30 Jewish unions. A labour movement which helped destroy Sir Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists at the Battle of Cable Street, a struggle which the Zionists desperately opposed at the time along with their bourgeois cousins in the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
The Zionists and the race baiters of the Jewish Labour Movement have never got over the fact that at her investigation Jackie was cleared of anti-Semitism. This was not surprising given that this indefatiguable fighter against racism and fascism in Thanet, helped lead the Kent anti-racist network in their fight against the National Front in Dover. You will never see Zionist groups at an anti-fascist mobilisation or doing work with asylum seekers or against state racism. Jackie made the ‘mistake’ of privately discussing, in a Facebook post with friends, the involvement of Jews in financing the slave trade. It is a historical fact that at certain times Jews did indeed play a major part in financing the slave trade. That does not mean and contrary to their allegations, Jackie has never said that it meant, that Jews therefore were the primary financiers of the slave trade.
It is because of these libellous attacks on Jackie that we asked John McDonnell to pull out of the JLM rally against ‘anti-Semitism’ last Sunday, which he did.
Zionist ‘anti-racism’ is purely an establishment affair. It is a right-wing form of ‘anti-racism’ which pillories the victims of racism and presents the racists in an anti-racist garb. It is an inversion of reality. Zionism manages to turn the victims of settler colonialism, the Palestinians, into the racists whereas the settlers are seen as the victims of those whose land they colonise. In the Zionist fantasy world, the Palestinians attack them, not because the colonists steal their land, water and resources – it is because they are Jewish!
What is most obscene is the Zionist use of the Holocaust to justify their settler colonial project. Zionism predated the holocaust, which began in 1941, by some 60 years. There was no connection between Palestine and the holocaust other than the fact that the Zionist movement sought to use the oppression and desperate situation of the Jews in Germany between 1933 and 1941 for their own advantage. What was despicable was that even during the Holocaust the Zionists preferred to look the other way. At no time during the years 1941 to 1945 was there a concerted Zionist campaign to save even a fragment of the Jews in Europe. The only interest of the Zionist movement was in emigration, selective emigration to Palestine.
It is a matter of historical record that the Zionist movement agreed a trade deal with Nazi Germany in August 1933, just when the Jewish boycott of Hitler was taking off world wide. It was agreed to by the Hitler regime precisely because it would destroy the Boycott of Nazi Germany. The Boycott had had a devastating effect on Germany’s economy. As Edwin Black wrote in the ‘Transfer Agreement’
’For the entire first half of 1933 exports were down 51%. ‘That six month loss would have been greater except that the anti-Nazi boycott had not really commenced until late March.’ [p.223]
The Zionists preferred to break the Boycott because they wished to lay their hands on the wealth of German Jewry regardless of the fact that only the Boycott had restrained the hands of the Nazis. Between 1933 and 1939 60% of capital investment in Jewish Palestine was from Nazi Germany. The behaviour of the Zionists in Hungary and elsewhere has been well documented by more honest Zionists such as Ben Hecht inPerfidy. Suffice to say, the allegations of collaboration brought by the survivors of the Hungarian holocaust in Israel resulted in the Kasztner Trial in Israel between 1953 and 1958. The verdict confirming collaboration by the Zionist leaders in Hungary caused the fall of the second Labour Zionist government led by Moshe Sharrett in 1955.
It is a matter of historical record that the Zionist movement was disinterested in the Holocaust whilst it happened. I post here 4 pages from ‘The Burning Ground’ the official biography of Ben-Gurion by Shabtai Teveth.
Jackie Walker raised the JLM’s hackles by questioning the uniqueness of the holocaust. To the Zionists it is a cardinal principle that the Holocaust is the property of the Jewish people alone.
Lucy Dawidowicz, a right-wing Zionist historian, in the Holocaust and the Historiansargued that subsuming Jewish losses under a universal or ecumenical classification is to effectively justify anti-Semitism. To Elie Wiesel it was a “betrayal of Jewish history”. [Norman Finkelstein, Holocaust Industry, p.45] As Israeli journalist and historian Boaz Evron wrote, the real purpose of Zionist Holocaust awareness ‘is not at an understanding of the past, but a manipulation of the future’.
For daring to raise the idea that mass genocide or holocausts might be the property of all humanity, that Africans, Cambodians, Jews and others have suffered at one time or another equivalent acts of genocide, Jackie Walker has been vilified. First into the fray was that well-known anti-racist newspaper, the Daily Telegraph. In a bizarre article Revealed: Jeremy Corbyn ally says Holocaust Memorial Day should not just be about genocide of Jews Jackie was attacked for being ‘insensitive and provocative’ i.e. debating the questions surrounding the holocaust and the lessons it imparts. Particularly galling was her statement that it would be “wonderful” if Holocaust Memorial Day was not just about the genocide of Jews.
Although in theory HMD is open to all, in practice it centres around the holocaust of the Jews. Every other mass act of genocide is left on the periphery. On this Jackie is absolutely correct. In Israel school children are taken on trips to Auschwitz, not to learn about the lessons of racism but to reinforce their racism. Racism has become ‘a basic element in the everyday life of Israeli youth’ according to an article in Ha’aretz. Israeli Teenagers: Racist and Proud of It. This racism is as much part of the Labour Zionist tradition as that of Likud.
Again according to Ha’aretz, which is Israel’s sole liberal daily: ‘Nearly half of Israel’s high school students do not believe that Israeli-Arabs are entitled to the same rights as Jews in Israel’. The same poll revealed that more than half the students would deny Arabs the right to be elected to the Knesset. Poll: Half of Israeli High Schoolers Oppose Equal Rights for Arabs
This is the racism that the JLM should be focussing on. Instead they invite Israeli racists to the Labour Party conference.
The Independent reports Momentum vice chair Jackie Walker apologises over ‘appalling’ Holocaust comments quotes Jackie as saying that if she had caused offence she apologises. Jackie is and has been under an immense amount of pressure by those whose agenda is defending the United State’s guard dog in the Middle East. A state which has acted as the sponsor and supporter of every death squad regime in Central and South America. A regime which was the closest friend of Apartheid South Africa. In reality Jackie has nothing to apologise for. The Zionists of course take offence when anyone questions their bogus assertions of ‘anti-Semitism’ precisely because they and we know that there is no anti-Semitism crisis in Labour. It is a great pity that Jeremy Corbyn has bowed to the prevailing wind. However it won’t do him any good because, as Kipling observed, paying Danegeld merely increases the appetite of the blackmailer and that is what Jeremy Newmark, Katz and the JLM are in the business of – blackmail.
The other ‘crime’ of Jackie Walker was to say that ‘I was looking for information and I still haven’t heard a definition of anti-Semitism that I can work with’ Possibly this is because the Zionist movement have been busy peddling for years the discredited European Union Monitoring Committee’s Working Definition of Anti-Semitism. It was a working definition which the Fundamental Rights Agency deleted from their website. This definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ tried to marry opposition to Israel and comparisons between Nazism and Zionism with anti-Semitism. The University College Union and the National Union of Students rejected it and even the Zionists finally admitted that the EU had ditched the agreement [Israel lobbyists finally concede that EU has ditched anti-Semitism “definition”]. The JLM however, led by Jeremy Newmark, who was openly accused by an employment tribunal of lying on oath, pretended at its ‘training session’ that the EUMC definition was the standard definition. That is a lie and he knows it.
According to the Independent ‘Senior members of Momentum are “fuming” at her remarks’. If this is true then they should take a long and hard look at their own behaviour. Cowardice rarely pays. Any sign of weakness from Momentum’s leadership will be capitalised on by the Zionists and the Tom Watsons of this world. Momentum needs to stand firm and reject the attacks on Jackie Walker. If Lansman backs down now, we will remove him from the leadership of Momentum when eventually a conference is called.
According to the Independent, The Holocaust Education Trust, founded by the paedophile Blairite Greville Janner, accused Jackie Walker of undermining and belittling “the distinct nature of the tragedy itself”. This is utter rubbish. Placing the Holocaust in an anti-racist context rather than exceptionalising and essentialising it, is exactly the opposite of undermining and belittling it.
Exceptionalising it by suggesting that it could only happen to the Jews when holocausts and mass genocide have been the lot of many people is to take the holocaust out of history. Essentialising it is to divorce the holocaust from the reasons it occurred, in other words it wasn’t fascism, the destruction of the German labour movement, the medieval myths fashioned into modern racism, it was something about the Jews themselves. The Zionist idea of understanding the Jewish Holocaust is not to understand it.
The HET stated that ‘The deliberate use of term Holocausts – plural – undermines and belittle the distinct nature of the tragedy itself, ignores that genocides are the result of diverse and unique factors, and also deprives the Jewish community of their collective memory.” This is nonsense. It is precisely by placing the Jewish holocaust in a relative and historical context that one can make sense of it. There are also other questions to ask such as why the holocaust has taken on this importance over 70 years after it occurred when it was barely mentioned in the first 20 years after it occurred. The answer seems obvious. As Israel moves further and further to the racist Right, as mobs chanting ‘Death to the Arabs’ become a regular feature of Israel’s political scene (it used to be ‘Death to the Jews’ in Europe) so the Holocaust is the shield to deflect criticism of Zionist racism. What is obscene is the use of the holocaust in order to justify today’s racism.
In Defence of Jackie Walker
We are Jewish Labour activists who were with Jackie Walker at the training session on antisemitism led by Mike Katz, vice chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) during the Labour Party conference in Liverpool on Monday September 26. Like her, some of us were heckled when we raised questions unpalatable to others in the audience who share the JLM’s bias towards Israel, its coupling of Jewish identity with Zionism and its insistence on the uniqueness of Jewish suffering.
Jackie had every right to question the JLM’s definition of antisemitism and the tendency of mainstream Jewish organisations to focus entirely on the slaughter of Jews when they commemorate the Nazi Holocaust. We share her determination to build greater awareness of other genocides, which are too often forgotten or minimised. Jackie responded appreciatively when one audience member described Holocaust memorial events involving Armenians and others. She has since issued a statement on this issue, reproduced below.
We were shocked at the way the level of barracking rose as soon as Jackie began to speak. JLM supporters demonstrated contempt for her as a Jewish woman of African heritage who is a lifelong anti-racist advocate for the rights of minorities and a leading Labour Party activist in her Thanet constituency.
We unreservedly condemn allegations of antisemitism made against Jackie Walker. Calls for her to be disowned by the Momentum movement of which she is vice-chair, and for her to be suspended for a second time from the Labour Party, are reprehensible instances of the witch hunt to which she and other Corbyn supporters have been subjected over recent months.
The way Jackie has been treated demonstrates the unfitness of the JLM to deliver training on antisemitism. It is an organisation committed to one, contested strand of Jewish labour tradition to the exclusion of any other; it relies on a definition of antisemitism that conflates Jewish identity with Zionism; and it exploits its interactions with party members to set the limits of political discourse about the Middle East in accordance with its own partisan ideology.
By promoting the witch hunt, the JLM has helped to relegate the vile prejudice of antisemitism to a tool in the armoury of pro-Israel advocates, backed by Corbyn’s enemies in the political and media establishment.
Graham Bash, Hackney North CLP
Rica Bird, Wirral South CLP
Leah Levane, Hastings and Rye CLP
Jonathan Rosenhead, Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP
Glyn Secker, Dulwich and West Norwood CLP
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Chingford and Woodford Green CLP
A statement from Jackie Walker
“A number of people made comments in a private training session run by the Jewish Labour Movement. As we all know, training sessions are intended to be safe spaces where ideas and questions can be explored. A film of this session was leaked to the press unethically. I did not raise a question on security in Jewish schools. The trainer raised this issue and I asked for clarification, in particular as all London primary schools, to my knowledge, have security and I did not understand the particular point the trainer was making. Having been a victim of racism I would never play down the very real fears the Jewish community have, especially in light of recent attacks in France.
In the session, a number of Jewish people, including me, asked for definitions of antisemitism. This is a subject of much debate in the Jewish community. I support David Schneider’s definition and utterly condemn antisemitism.
I would never play down the significance of the Shoah. Working with many Jewish comrades, I continue to seek to bring greater awareness of other genocides, which are too often forgotten or minimised. If offence has been caused, it is the last thing I would want to do and I apologise.”
Review of The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism David Rich, London: Biteback Publishing 2016, £12.99 paperback
This review first appeared in Labour Briefing
The Left’s Jewish Problem is an ideological tract and an intervention in the current battle in the Labour Party. It is designed to show “a sickness at the heart of left wing British politics… silently spreading, becoming ever more malignant” (cover blurb). That sickness is the sickness of antisemitism.
Of course there are antisemitic ideas around in Britain and it would be nonsense to assume that the left was immune. But Rich is on a mission to show antisemitism as widespread, systematic, hegemonic on the left.
As Rich is aware, there isn’t much Jew-hatred of a traditional kind around on the left, There is, rather, he believes, a different kind of antisemitism, expressed as an anti-Zionism of the left, in which movements and thinkers have come to view Israel and Zionism as “a product of western colonialism rather than a liberation movement against it”.
That large sections of “the left” fell out of love with Israel and came to rally around support for Palestinian rights and a Palestinian state is relatively uncontested. But why the change? For Rich, this shift couldn’t be a response to events, analysis, or improved understanding. It was, rather, an ideological hijacking by the “New Left”.
Rich’s New Left, with Corbyn as its embodiment, is a curious construct. “As New Left superseded Old,” he writes, “so identity politics replaced class politics as its primary mobilising idea… [This New Left represents] a new social class, rooted in intellectual and cultural professions, populated by public sector workers whose political agenda would come to be dominated by identity and iconoclasm.”
So the movement behind Corbyn is somehow viewed as a break with all tradition, rather than a popular, deeply-rooted, left trade-union and social movement, trying to incorporate class and identity issues, in a desire to restore something of older Labour concerns: equality, social ownership, trade-union rights, anti-imperialism and more.
Rich operates with free-floating, unchanging essences. So Zionism is, was and always will be nothing but self-determination/national liberation. Who could possibly criticise that? So by definition describing Israel as a colonial-settler or apartheid society can’t have any truth in it. It can only be an emotional attempt to demonise Israel. For Rich, such concepts are products of a New Left mind set: the apartheid analogy was “hardwired into left wing anti-Israel politics in Britain during its formative [anti-apartheid] years in the 1960s and 1970s.”
But what if these concepts are gaining ground precisely because they make increasing sense of an emergent reality? Events have played crucial role in shifting ideas on the left in relation to Israel-Palestine – from the 1956 Suez invasion to the televised spectacle of phosphorus bombs falling on Gaza and bodies of children in the rubble.
Whatever Zionism might or might not have been originally, what has it become? Israel’s colonisation of the West Bank continues unabated. Green-line Israel’s discrimination against its increasingly second-class Palestinian citizens, and their physical displacement in the Negev, rolls on. What Israel is now needs to be judged by what it is doing, not by its ideological self-image. Israel’s actions are what are delegitimising it, not any antisemitism of the left.
It is clearly wrong to argue that all claims of antisemitism are simply made in order to silence criticism of Israel. Allegations of antisemitism should be taken seriously and investigated swiftly. But making an allegation is not the same thing as establishing a fact. Rich is entirely oblivious to (or simply ignores) the context in which recent accusations emerged – why, for example, emotionally charged posts and tweets from the 2014 Gaza war should only be dredged up in 2016, under Corbyn’s leadership. It does not take much to see the timing as contrived, rather than an innocent desire to unmask antisemitism.
Clearly, insofar as some remarks are antisemitic they need to be confronted. Conspiracy theories, e.g. that Israel founded Isis or that Jews escaped 9/11, should be dismissed out of hand. Individuals who make them should be dealt with appropriately. But appropriately means appropriately. It doesn’t mean suspensions without charge, condemnation without a hearing, or leaking stories to the Jewish Chronicle or Daily Telegraph – in short, the weaponisation of antisemitism and the complete absence of due process we have witnessed in recent months. On all this Rich has nothing to say.
If Rich’s book encourages us to be more precise in our language, to temper how we express our emotional outrage at the things Israel does with impunity, to be more strategic in how we build support for Palestinian rights, it may (inadvertently!) achieve something useful. But in its own terms, it must be treated as a polemical intervention rather than a serious analytical contribution to our understanding of antisemitism (or the left) today.
Richard Kuper is a co-founder and past Chair of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and a member of Holborn & St Pancras Constituency Labour Party
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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.
She will confront her abusers when she speaks at two meetings about allegations of antisemitism on the first evening of the party conference in Liverpool on Sunday September 25.
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?”