Why is vice-chair of Chakrabarti inquiry blogging on pro-Israel JLM’s website?

JLMblog2Baroness Royall, who this week joined the Chakrabarti Inquiry as co-vice chair with Professor Feldman, and today released an executive summary and recommendations of her report into antisemitism at OULC, has taken the extraordinary step of writing a lengthy and exclusive post on the Jewish Labour Movement’s website. JLM is affiliated to the World Zionist Organization, and has proposed a rule change to the Labour Party Membership rules that could see anti-Zionists suspended for using ‘Zionist’ as a pejorative.

Chair of Jewish Labour Movement, Jeremy Newmark – whose evidence of ‘institutional antisemitism’ at UCU was found in 2013 by an employment tribunal judge to be “false, preposterous, disturbing and arrogant” – has proudly announced on Twitter this potentially partisan move on behalf of Royall.


Read Baroness Royall’s blog post here

OULC says it will affiliate to Jewish Labour Movement as gesture of solidarity ‘with Jewish people’

Our response to OULC’s statement: The Jewish Labour Movement is a highly partisan, avidly pro-Zionist organisation and not representative of all Jews in the Labour Party.

Oxford University Labour Club Statement Regarding Baroness Royall Anti-Semitism Report
17 May, 2016, OULC

We welcome the Baroness Royall report into the Oxford University Labour Club that has found that the Club is not institutionally anti-semitic. As the new Co-Chairs of the Oxford University Labour Club we have been committed to tackling the allegations recently put before OULC. The Oxford University Labour Club condemns any prejudice, intolerance and discrimination of any form and we take these allegations with the utmost seriousness. Anti-Semitism is abhorrent, repugnant and contrary to the values we as a Club hold dear. We fully accept all the recommendations from Baroness Royall’s report and look forward to collaborating with her and the national Labour Party in moving forward from these events.

Since taking office, we have already welcomed John Mann MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism, to offer us recommendations and a fuller understanding of anti-Semitism. We hope to continue working with John and his team, and they have informed us that they intend to do so.

Furthermore we have taken additional steps this term to prevent any possible form of discrimination in OULC arising. These have both been supported by the University of Oxford administrators and Baroness Royall. These measures include: Continue reading “OULC says it will affiliate to Jewish Labour Movement as gesture of solidarity ‘with Jewish people’”

Baroness Royall: Jewish Labour Movement should train Labour students

Baroness Royall Inquiry (executive summary and recommendations)

Quick summary:
Baroness Royall found there was no ‘institutional antisemitism’ in the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC), but that it must ensure a ‘safe space’ for all students. She has not recommended that where a person is excluded for antisemitism it should automatically be a life time ban. Royall recommends that the Labour Party ‘should consider whether adopting the MacPherson Principle that an antisemitic incident that may require investigation is any incident that is perceived to be antisemitic by the victim or any other person is appropriate.’ She was also ‘made aware there was at least one case of serious false allegations of antisemitism which was reported to the police.’

Baroness Royall recommends the Labour party demonstrate ‘in a practical and sustained way’ that it

promotes a just society, which judges its strength by the condition of the weak as much as the strong, provides security against fear, and justice at work; which nurtures families, promotes equality of opportunity, and delivers people from the tyranny of poverty, prejudice and the abuse of power.

Yet, she goes on to recommend that ‘training should be organised by Labour Students together with the Jewish Labour Movement for officers of all Labour Clubs in dealing with antisemitism’

As we have clearly set out, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) officially supports the pro-apartheid, openly racist Israel Labour Party (‘Havoda’), which is trying to negotiate a unity deal with the Netanyahu government. JLM is affiliated to the World Zionist Organization – according to the UN, WZO pumps millions into building in the occupied West Bank through its settlement division: a violation of international humanitarian law. Herzog, leader of the Israeli Labour Party, said that his party shouldn’t give off the constant impression that they are ‘Arab lovers.’

Neve Gordon wrote in February of a plan newly adopted by the Israeli Labour Party:

The Labor Party, which is the only viable alternative to the current Likud government, and which is considered by many both in Israel and among international leaders to be a progressive substitute, has…unanimously supported a plan that would have  been applauded by Apartheid South Africa.

Continue reading “Baroness Royall: Jewish Labour Movement should train Labour students”

Electronic Intifada: Israel lobby fails to block screening of Palestinian film at Cannes

Ali Abunimah, 17 May 2016
Read article in full here

A Palestinian work was screened at the Cannes Film Festival’s Marché du Film as planned on Monday, despite an intense campaign by Israel lobby groups to have it canceled. Nasri Hajjaj’s Munich: A Palestinian Story was one of four films excerpts of which were screened to industry professionals in collaboration with the Dubai International Film Festival.

Hajjaj told The Electronic Intifada from Cannes that the screening of a 14-minute segment passed without incident and he received a positive response from those present. As The Electronic Intifada reported last week, France’s main pro-Israel lobby group CRIF had been exerting intense pressure on authorities to ban the film, even enlisting the support of the mayor of Cannes. Continue reading “Electronic Intifada: Israel lobby fails to block screening of Palestinian film at Cannes”

Chakrabarti inquiry: Labour Friends of Israel intend to force the Party to adhere to their red line

Yesterday, Joan Ryan MP, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said in a statement that:

It is now obvious that the virulently anti-Israel discourse which exists among a minority within the Labour party cannot be separated from the issue of anti-semitism. I have made this clear in my discussions thus far with Shami Chakrabarti and LFI will be working to ensure this is at the top of her agenda. We will judge the success of this inquiry on its willingness to make the case that while there is nothing illegitimate about criticising the actions of the Israeli government, this must not be allowed to cross the red line into denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and thus the existence of the state of Israel.

Since her appointment to lead LFI in Parliament, in August 2015, Ryan has issued clear statements of intent with little attempt at obfuscation. The new LFI chair urged supporters not to vote for Corbyn, and said Labour must be “steadfast” in its support for Israel. She warned that LFI would,

remain adamantly opposed to boycotts and sanctions, which delegitimise Israel…and have no place in the Labour party.

Continue reading “Chakrabarti inquiry: Labour Friends of Israel intend to force the Party to adhere to their red line”

Palestinian ambassador says leaders won’t stand up to Israel for fear of being labelled anti-semitic

Via Morning Star
17 May, posted by Lamiat Sabin

Labour ‘Too Scared To Speak Out Over Attacks On Palestine’

PALESTINE’S ambassador to Britain tore into politicians yesterday for failing to stand up to Israel for fear of being branded anti-semitic. Manuel Hassassian said that London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were being “very careful” over what they say amid a row over alleged anti-semitism within the party. Human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti opened an investigation into the alleged problem yesterday.

“Israeli and zionist lobbyists are monitoring people in public office” and anything they do not like about the way issues concerning Israel are addressed are “immediately labelled as anti-semitism,” he told Russia Today’s Going Underground.

Mr Hassassian rubbished claims that criticising Israel — which a United Nations panel last year accused of war crimes during its 2014 invasion of the Gaza Strip — equates to being “anti-semitic.” He said: “Politicians should make a distinction between Israel, the settler power, and the Abrahamic religion of Judaism, which is respected by Muslims and Christians.

We do not have a problem with Judaism. We have to deal with political zionism, an ideology based on racism and colonialism.

Continue reading “Palestinian ambassador says leaders won’t stand up to Israel for fear of being labelled anti-semitic”

‘The juggernaut of pressure’ that failed to shut down BDS conference as ‘antisemitic’

Published on Mondoweiss: Sabeel BDS conference pits local church against Jewish community leaders

On April 29-30 Friends of Sabeel North America organized a highly successful conference in Santa Cruz CA, titled “Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions at the Crossroads of Campus, Church & Community.”  Local rabbis and other leaders in the Jewish community, including the director of Santa Cruz Hillel, tried hard to shut it down, focusing on the Peace United Church of Christ that hosted the conference.

The juggernaut of pressure, exerted not only on the conference organizers and local Christian clergy, but directly on the lay leaders of the UCC church to prevail on their pastor to block the conference as flagrantly anti-Semitic, included letters and opinion pieces in the local newspaper, The Sentinel. The conference went on, filling the large church with close to 400 attendees.

Having failed to stop the conference, Rabbi Richard Litvak of Temple Beth El and five other Jewish leaders, including two rabbis and the Santa Cruz Hillel Director, published an OpEd that appeared on the Saturday of the conference.

Besides the familiar charges of BDS as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, Rabbi Litvak’s piece included a direct attack on Sabeel and on Naim Ateek. Sadly familiar to us at Sabeel, this attack made the charge that Sabeel “employs disturbing theological rhetoric that misrepresents and denigrates Judaism… [employing] explicitly anti-Jewish imagery, comparing “crucified Palestinians” to “Jesus on the cross,” the victims of an “Israeli government crucifixion system.” The piece also characterized the conference as unbalanced, promoting “a vision of the future for which only one side is entitled to ‘justice’ and for which only Israel is to blame for decades of conflict.” As an alternative to BDS, Rabbi Litvak hailed programs that emphasize “mutual recognition” and the kind contact between Jews and Palestinians that will “prepare both parties to make the painful sacrifices needed for peace and learn to view ‘the other’ as their partner for a shared future.”
Continue reading “‘The juggernaut of pressure’ that failed to shut down BDS conference as ‘antisemitic’”

Freedland in Fairyland

Mike Cushman
May 2016

I regret having to spend my weekend rebutting Jonathan Freedland. He is, I think, a humane man; one who earnestly supposes that if we all went down to the end of the garden, held hands, closed our eyes and chanted in unison ‘we believe, we believe,’ the peaceful social democratic Zionism, that he imagines lies concealed below the carapace of actually existing Zionism, would spring forth and dazzle us with its immanent benevolence. Since he has more influence than my 3 year old granddaughter I cannot indulge him as I do her. I must decline fairyland and instead enter the pit of political dispute.

Freedland argued in the Guardian on 30 April:

As for the notion that Israel’s right to exist is voided by the fact that it was born in what Palestinians mourn as the Naqba – their dispossession in 1948 – one does not have to be in denial of that fact to point out that the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile and countless others were hardly born through acts of immaculate conception. Those nations were forged in great bloodshed. Yet Israel alone is deemed to have its right to exist nullified by the circumstances of its birth.

There is some truth and a far greater omission in this argument. Israel continued into the 20th century the crimes of European settler occupations of earlier centuries. It would not be unreasonable to argue that the Nakba, terrible as it was—and as it continues with daily demolitions and exclusions—pales compared with the genocide of Native Americans, Australian First People or the Caribs and Arawaks.

However, timing—as is so often true of historical events—cannot be ignored. 1948 saw not only the foundation of the state of Israel, but the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In setting up their state, the Israelis breached numerous rights of the Palestinians. For instance the Present Absentee Law, by which Palestinians who fled their homes found them confiscated, even if they returned only a few days later. The law breaches Articles 13 and 17 of the UDHR. The various forms of detention without trial that have been applied from 1948 to the present day breach Article 9, and so on.

There were no such international codifications of rights during earlier settler colonisations, and so there were no standards by which to judge them, except the right, assumed by Europeans, to occupy the land of anybody not able to resist their industrialised military power. Had the UDHR been written earlier, the founding of the United States and Australia and the rest would have been judged far more rigorously. Continue reading “Freedland in Fairyland”

If we take the Chief Rabbi at his word, Judaism is to blame for the Nakba

Published on Writing from the Edge

Thank you Chief Rabbi. Now I know. Judaism is to blame for the Palestinian Nakba
May 15, 2016, by Robert A. H. Cohen

Dear Rabbi Mirvis

When it comes to defining Zionism, you have brought crystal clarity. You have been emphatic and categorical. You have left no room for doubt.

And why am I writing to you today? Well it’s Nakba Day. And thanks to you, I can now join a perfect straight line between Judaism and the Palestinian ‘Catastrophe’. However, I imagine you and I will disagree strongly on the implications of that straight line. Here’s how you explained Zionism in your recent article for the Daily Telegraph:

“…a noble and integral part of Judaism”.
“…one of the axioms of Jewish belief”.
“…one can no more separate it from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain.”

Well, who am I to disagree? After all, you are the Chief Rabbi and your Jewish education far exceeds mine. Judaism, Zionism, the modern State of Israel – it’s all one thing, all one natural continuum. This is our heritage. This is the faith of our people as it has been handed down to us. In the past, I’d mistakenly tried to separate Judaism from the consequences of Zionism. I wanted Judaism to be pure, untainted by atrocity. But how can that be if you are right?

So now let us talk about the Nakba.

The displacement of 750,000 Palestinians from their land. The 400 Palestinian towns and villages destroyed. The four million acres of Palestinian land expropriated. The many massacres of men women and children. I used to think the moral responsibility for all of this should go to Zionism alone. After all, the last quarter century of Israeli scholarship has confirmed where the blame rests for this tragedy. I wanted the 19th century secular project of Zionism to take the rap for the destruction of Palestinian culture, commerce and life. And so I had attempted to place an ethical firewall around Judaism itself.  Continue reading “If we take the Chief Rabbi at his word, Judaism is to blame for the Nakba”

A view of the Labour Party’s inquiry into antisemitism

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead:

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”