On Tuesday, at a special constituency meeting in Hampstead and Kilburn called to discuss the party’s response to the antisemitism controversy, Jay Stoll, part of Tulip Siddiq MP’s press team and a member of the Jewish Labour Movement, argued for changes to the Labour Party Membership rules. On his website, in a post entitled ‘Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party? Stop blaming Jeremy Corbyn, say Hampstead and Kilburn members,’ Deputy Editor of Camden New Journal, Richard Osley wrote that it met strong opposition from Kilburn (Brent) branch which said there was outrage at a “lie that anti-Jewish racism is rampant in the Labour Party”, and that organisers needed to “cease victimising those who work for Justice for Palestine.”
In the end, they voted for a submission that recognised the importance of the issue as well as claims that members of the party had used the antisemitism row to attack Jeremy Corbyn. It was a clear rejection of the JLM rule change proposal that left some feeling bitter, and others relieved. One unnamed meeting attendee said that “If you ask for a full debate, as they did, you have to accept that all members from all backgrounds will have an input. The premise of the meeting could never have been: we’re going to discuss anti-Semitism but we can only vote on what the JLM’s interpretation of what’s happened.”
As we have repeatedly highlighted, the Labour Party-affiliated Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) is an affiliate of both the Israeli Labor Party, which in office has promoted the building of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories and the World Zionist Organization, which has channelled funds to the settlements.
If that doesn’t ring any alarm bells in progressive circles, then its proposal to change the Labour Party Membership rules should: it deliberately distorts the Macpherson report recommendation that a victim’s perception had to be taken into account in a case of hate crime; it was not intended to empower an alleged victim to determine when a hate crime was being committed without reference to any other criteria.
JLM – led by Jeremy Newmark – has been curiously coy about drawing attention to its affiliations during the recent antisemitism controversy, although they are proudly displayed on their website and Twitter profile. Baroness Royall, co-vice chair of the Chakrabarti inquiry, didn’t think it inappropriate to write an exclusive blog post for JLM following the publication of her recommendations further to her inquiry that found no institutional antisemitism at Oxford University Labour Club.
Below are two letters that illustrate the danger of letting the British arm of the Israeli Labor Party force through their rule change. The first was published in Camden New Journal; the Observer declined to publish the second.
Published: 9 June, 2016
WHEN some Labour Party members complain about procedural decisions gagging debate on anti-Semitism (New Journal, June 2), the real perpetrators are playing the innocent victim.
According to a recent proposal inside the Labour Party, a rule-change would allow a “victim” to label any comment as anti-Semitic, in turn triggering disciplinary proceedings against the supposed offender. This proposal has several political aims: to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, to gag debate on Israel’s colonial-apartheid project, to weaken Jeremy Corbyn’s pro-Palestine support base and thus to continue the party’s practical support for Israel.
The rule-change comes from the so-called Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), affiliated with the Israeli Labour Party, which has supported Jewish settlements in the West Bank and military attacks on Gaza.
New Labour stalwarts (for example, the Progress faction) are supporting the JLM’s proposal, as well as its role in training Labour Party members against anti-Semitism.
Together these measures would protect Israeli racism, in the name of protecting Jews from anti-Semitism.
Unable to find much real anti-Semitism among Labour Party members, the current smear campaign fabricates it, regardless of the damage done to the party. To oppose this agenda, anti-racists should persuade labour movement organisations to adopt our model motion, available at www.freespeechonisrael.org.uk
Free Speech on Israel
It seems that some Labour MPs (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/28/jeremy-corbyn-failed-reply-israel-left-antisemitism-ken-livingstone) are not only dissatisfied with the witch hunt that they have unleashed in the Labour party, but are also in league with a foreign political party whose ethos is distinctly racist. The Zionist union, which is the actual name of what was once called the Israeli labour party supports the maintenance of the settlement blocs, the establishment of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital, the demilitarisation of a ‘Palestinian state’ and negotiations with friendly Arab states to establish Israel’s borders. Ultimately this is a recipe for a Bantustan without even the resources that apartheid South Africa poured into the Bantustans. And Herzog, Zionist union leader, states publicly that the party does not want to be seen as ‘Arab lovers’.
The Labour party has always prided itself on its commitment to anti-Racism and anti-Colonialism. Clearly any alignment with a party holding the credentials of the Zionist Union would be anathema to the vast majority of Labour party members. Far from being a sign of anti Semitism, refusal to drink from the poisoned chalice offered by the Zionist union is a sign that the party is remaining true to its ideals.