Labour Jews to Chuka Umunna – Stop using antisemitism smears against Corbyn

Dear Chuka Umunna,

We write as Jews who are members of the Labour Party. Some of us are also members of Momentum. We were shocked to witness the cynical manner in which you weaponised false allegations of antisemitism to launch an attack on the leader of the Labour party and on Momentum at the session of the Home Affairs Committee on Monday July 4th. [The questioning of Corbyn by Umunna starts at 17:02:50]

Some of the comments made at the press conference launching the Chakrabarti inquiry on June 30 by Mr Wadsworth (not a representative of Momentum as you claimed) were rude and unwarranted, however there is no evidence they were motivated by antisemitism. Wadsworth was clearly angry that the Daily Telegraph journalist had shared one of his leaflets with Labour MP Ruth Smeeth. He makes no reference to Ms Smeeth’s religion and asserts he had no knowledge she was Jewish and there is no evidence that this is not true. We have searched assiduously, including scrutinising the video footage of the incident, but have found no evidence of antisemitism, as opposed to incivility, in his words or actions.

The questions about Mr Wadsworth had been asked and answered several times by the time you asked your questions. Quite evidently your questions were not designed to elicit information but to pursue an internal Labour Party vendetta in a public forum. This relentless concentration on a confection designed to damage the Labour Party inhibits proper discussion on an important report into how the Labour Party can be more effective in combatting all forms of racism including antisemitism.

In your questioning you repeatedly employed guilt by association. For instance, you made reference to David Watson’s case. This is still under investigation and, as your legal background should have informed you, the allegations against him currently remain untested and unproven. These are allegations that, had you performed due diligence before asking your questions, you would have known are based on flimsy, if not fabricated, evidence.

We have been quite unable to detect any hint of animosity towards Jews in any of Watson’s social media posts. His critique of Zionism is one that many Jews share, in particular that the political Zionism dominant in Israel today is a racist ideology, both discriminating against Palestinians and stereotyping Jews as incapable of living alongside non-Jews in diverse societies. To then suggest that anyone who shares a platform with Watson is implicitly condoning antisemitism, and further that Jeremy Corbyn is answerable for all events organised by Momentum, is absurd.

You cite the example of the Oxford University Labour Club, and claim that “time and time again in these incidents of activity” in which offence is caused “to and against Jewish people Momentum seems to pop up quite frequently”. Yet Baroness Royall found no evidence of institutional antisemitism in OULC, and reported on at least one case of serious false allegations of antisemitism which had been reported to the police.

We ask you to cease your relentless undermining of the Labour Party. It would be more appropriate for you to concentrate your considerable energy on working to unite the Party so that we can displace this destructive Tory Government as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Sue
Bard
Edinburgh East & Musselburgh
Graham
Bash
Hackney North
Haim
Bresheeth
Hornsey & Wood Green
James
Cohen
Wanstead and Leyton
Sylvia
Cohen
Finchley & Golder’s Green
Ruth
Conlock
Manchester Withington
Judith
Cravitz
North Islington
Mike
Cushman
Streatham
Miriam
David
Islington North
Kenneth
Fryde
Cambridge
Alex J
Goldhill
Ealing Central & Acton
Tony
Greenstein
Brighton Kemptown
Mike
Howard
Hastings & Rye
Riva
Joffe
Holborn & St Pancras
Michael
Kalmanovitz
Hampstead & Kilburn
Shlomit
Ferguson
Enfield North
Arye
Finkle
Chipping Barnet
Abe
Hayeem
Harrow East
Rosamine
Hayeem
Harrow East
Richard
Kuper
Holborn & St Pancras.
Frank
Land
South West Devon
Stephanie
Lee
Gorton
Leah
Levane
Hastings & Rye
Rachel
Lever
Hastings & Rye
Yosefa
Loshitzky
Hornsey & Wood Green
Kay
Manasseh
Streatham
Miriam
Margolyes
Vauxhall
Stephen
Marks
Oxford
Karen
Merkel
East Ham
Diana
Neslen
Ilford South
Dr Brian
Robinson
Milton Keynes
Denise
Robson
Gateshead
Jonathan
Rosenhead
Hackney South & Shoreditch
Rina
Rosselson
Brent Central
Ian
Saville
Brent Central
Glyn
Secker
Dulwich & West Norwood
Sam
Semoff
Riverside
Roger
Silverman
West Ham
Vanessa
Stilwell
Dulwich & West Norwood
Stephen
Tiller
Hackney South & Shoreditch
Jackie
Walker
South Thanet
Sam
Weinstein
Hampstead & Kilburn
Naomi
Wimborne-Idrissi
Chingford & Woodford Green

You can watch the video of the Home Affairs Committee session here. Chuka Umunna begins questioning Jeremy Corbyn at approx. 17:04:00

Suspension of Jackie Walker is ‘an outrage against justice and truth’

UPDATE, 28 May: Walker’s suspension has been lifted

Via Labour Briefing
By Jamie Stern-Weiner, 26 May

imgresLEADING MOMENTUM ACTIVIST Jackie Walker has been suspended from the Labour Party for alleged anti-Semitism. The allegation is baseless. The evidence for it consists of two comments Walker made on Facebook. The first accurately dismissed allegations that Labour has a “major problem with anti-Semitism”, on the same grounds and in much the same language as did those notorious anti-Semitic hate-groups, the Jewish Socialists’ Group and Independent Jewish Voices.

The second took issue with the argument that the moral legacy of the Nazi holocaust forbids Europeans from boycotting the State of Israel, on the basis that – in Walker’s words – the “Jewish holocaust does not allow Zionists to do what they want”. No historical group is purely and perpetually a victim, Walker observed, drawing upon the experiences of her own Jewish and non-Jewish ancestors, and in any case, “having been a victim does not give you a right to be a perpetrator”.

As Jon Lansman, chair of Momentum, has written, there was “nothing” remotely anti-Semitic in either of Walker’s comments. Walker’s critics evidently agree, since they felt obliged to misrepresent her words to make the charges stick. In response to a comment decrying “[any] action against” Jews (i.e. boycotting Israel) as “shameful” because of the Holocaust, Walker wrote:

“Oh yes – and I hope you feel the same towards the African holocaust? My ancestors were involved in both – on all sides and as I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews . . . and 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. So who are victims and what does it mean? We are victims and perpetrators to some extent through choice. And having been a victim does not give you a right to be a perpetrator.”

That is, in response to a particularist weaponisation of the Nazi holocaust to secure legal and moral impunity for the State of Israel, Walker urged a universalist compassion and a sober sense of historical perspective. The Jewish Chronicle rendered this thoughtful and nuanced plea as follows: “Labour suspends Momentum supporter who claimed Jews caused ‘an African holocaust’”. The obvious question is, if Labour truly were awash with anti-Semitism, would there be any need for such brazen and cynical misrepresentation as this? Continue reading “Suspension of Jackie Walker is ‘an outrage against justice and truth’”

A motion has been passed by Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency condemning the suspension of Jackie Walker

UPDATE, 28 May: Walker’s suspension has been lifted

Via Jackie Walker @stopthesuspensions

This is the motion passed last night:

“Islington North constituency Labour Party wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemns all forms of racism, including anti-semitism. We further wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemn the suspension by the Labour Party of Thanet Labour Party member Jackie Walker for alleged anti-semitism.

Jacqueline Walker (source: Facebook)
Jacqueline Walker (source: Facebook)

Jackie Walker is a long-standing member of the Labour Party, and was vice-chair of Thanet South Labour Party until her suspension. She played a key role in helping to organise the defeat of Nigel Farage when he contested Thanet South in the general election of 2015. She is an active anti-racism campaigner and a founding member of the Kent Anti-Racism Network. KARN has been organising for refugees stuck in the camps of Calais and mobilising opposition to openly fascist groups seeking to stoke anti-migrant sentiment and community divisions on Dover.

We welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s initiative to hold a full inquiry into anti-semitism in the Labour Party. Any member who has made obviously anti-semitic comments should face immediate suspension pending an investigation. But care must be taken not to suspend members on a spurious basis, and that is what Jackie Walker’s suspension clearly is.

Such suspensions are also a clear invitation to the party’s enemies to use our procedures to damage our party and its effective operation.

We call upon the National Executive Committee to lift the suspension immediately, to reinstate Jackie Walker and to apologise to her.

We resolve to send this motion to the National Executive Committee.”

It was carried by an overwhelming vote

Graham Bash: Latest victim of ‘McCarthyite witchhunt’ is my own partner & anti-racist campaigner, Jackie Walker

In an exceptionally impassioned, moving piece, editor of Labour Briefing, Graham Bash describes what led to the suspension of Jackie Walker, of mixed heritage (Afro- Caribbean and Jewish), from the Labour Party. It was,

simply for telling the truth that her Jewish ancestors were involved in financing the Slave Trade, that the African holocaust was even worse than the Jewish holocaust, and that anti-Semitism is not a major problem in Corbyn’s Labour Party.

As a Jew and Labour Party member (48 years), he writes that he is ‘outraged at the way allegations of anti-Semitism have been used to silence legitimate criticism of Israel and undermine Jeremy Corbyn as my party’s leader.’

I know what anti-Semitism is. I was brought up to learn how the Jewish East End fought with the dockers against Mosley’s fascists at Cable Street. I was told at school how it was a pity that Hitler didn’t finish off the job of murdering all Jews. And very quickly I learned what it was like to be made to feel an outsider. It was hardly surprising that I started going on anti-fascist demos in my late teens and very soon afterwards joined the Labour Party, which I remain a member of to this day.

Continue reading “Graham Bash: Latest victim of ‘McCarthyite witchhunt’ is my own partner & anti-racist campaigner, Jackie Walker”

LRC: Lift the suspension of Jackie Walker for alleged antisemitism

Via Labour Briefing

The Labour Representation Committee wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemns all forms of racism. We further wholeheartedly and unreservedly condemn the suspension by the Labour Party of Jackie Walker – Vice Chair of the National Steering Committee of Momentum, a leading activist in Thanet Momentum, and an Executive Committee member of the LRC – for alleged anti-Semitism.

The Party suspended Ms Walker after the Jewish Chronicle brought to the attention of Party officials comments made by her in Facebook posts earlier this year.

In her comments, Ms Walker, a black activist of Jewish heritage, said that ‘millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews.’

‘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. So who are victims and what does it mean? We are victims and perpetrators to some extent through choice,’ she said.

ChpclhOWwAEoGd0The Jewish Chronicle itself revealed that ‘her comments were uncovered by the Israel Advocacy Movement, which works to counter hostility to Israel in Britain.’

A picture emerges of a leading pro-Israeli government organization trawling through the social media posts of Labour Party activists to brand ideas anti-Semitic when they are clearly not. The targeting of Ms Walker for remarks that have no connection to anti-Semitism suggests that senior labour movement figures, such as Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey, were right when they argued that largely baseless allegations of anti-Semitism are being used by opponents to undermine and destabilize Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The LRC welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s initiative to hold a full enquiry into anti-Semitism in the Party. Any member who actually has made anti-Semitic comments must face immediate suspension pending an investigation. But there must be an immediate end to the suspension of members on a spurious basis, into which category Jackie Walker’s suspension clearly falls.

Jackie Walker is a long-standing anti-racism campaigner who helped organize the defeat of UKIP leader Nigel Farage in Thanet at the 2015 election. Her suspension must be lifted immediately. We call on all labour movement activists to contact Labour Party Head Office to demand this.

*  *  *  *  *

‘I am writing to you in protest against the outrageous suspension of Jackie Walker from the Labour Party on spurious grounds of anti-Semitism. I call on you to reconsider this action and lift the suspension immediately’.

Please e-mail your protest today to the General Secretary, Iain McNicol
iain_mcnicol@labour.org.uk
and copy to Ann Black annblack50@btinternet.com (Chair of NEC Disputes Panel) and Jim Kennedy Jim.Kennedy@unitetheunion.org (Chair of NEC Organisation
Committee).