The inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism within the Labour Party is the best hope of pulling the Labour Party back out of the quagmire, the McCarthyite nightmare, into which it is in danger of being pulled. We need to make sure that the distortions of this remarkable, and so far remarkably successful, campaign of disinformation are thoroughly and powerfully exposed.
It’s encouraging that the inquiry is to be led by Shami Chakrabarti, with Professor David Feldman as her deputy. The former is a household name. At the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony she was one of those who carried in the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony alongside, among others, Doreen Lawrence, Daniel Barenboim, Ban Ki-Moon and Muhammed Ali. But she has this prominence and respect because of her achievements as a highly effective long-term leader of the civil rights organisation Liberty, which she left only this March. There, and as a member of the Leveson Enquiry she was a formidable defender of civil liberties.
David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck College in London, is less of a public figure. When the institute was set up, there were those who feared it might become something of a propaganda outfit for Israel. David Feldman, a notably open-minded man, has ensured that this has not happened, and he has earned broad respect among those who know his work. For example, in 2013 he organised and co-chaired a 3-day conference at Birkbeck on Boycotts – Past and Present, at which supporters of the boycott of Israel were among those who gave papers. As the Jewish Chronicle has noticed with distaste, he is a signatory of Independent Jewish Voices, an organisation set up in 2007 as a way of countering the hegemonic power of the ‘official’ institutions of British Jewry.
Millerian tragedy or Orwellian?
What has been going on in the Labour Party these last few months and especially weeks summons up literary ghosts. Which is the closer fit, Arthur Miller’s Witches of Salem – complete with tearful admissions of guilt under pressure? Or Orwell’s 1984, with its thought crimes? Continue reading “A view of the Labour Party’s inquiry into antisemitism”