This letter was sent to Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer on 27 June 2020. No response was received.
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As members of the Labour Party, we have been shocked by your abrupt and authoritarian decision to sack Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet.
The reason given for this action is specious indeed. It is not and cannot be Rebecca’s retweeting of Maxine Peake’s interview. The allegedly antisemitic section of that interview is one sentence only, stating that: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.” This allegation is rebutted right away in the same interview, with the interviewer commenting between brackets: “A spokesperson for the Israeli police has denied this, stating that ‘there is no tactic or protocol that calls to put pressure on the neck or airway’.” Continue reading “Open Letter to Keir Starmer on the Dismissal of Rebecca Long-Bailey”
John Spencer highlights the implication of the overturning of a French anti-BDS judgement by the European Court of Human Rights in Baldassi v France. Despite Brexit the UK is still party to the European Charter of Human Rights which is adjudicated by the ECtHR which is entirely separate from the EU. So, this judgement limits the ability of Johnson to press forward on his threats to legally limit BDS activity in Britain in support of Palestinian rights.
French president Macron’s attempt to outlaw Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel seems to have been holed below the waterline by a decision handed down in Strasbourg on Thursday by the European Court of Human Rights. The court held that French legislation criminalising BDS, which was strongly backed by pro-Israel groups, violated the right to freedom of expression. It overturned a decision of France’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation, which had endorsed the anti-BDS campaign.
The decision in the case of Baldassi v France has repercussions right across Europe, including the UK, which despite Brexit remains a member of the Council of Europe and thus subject to the ECHR. It poses immediate problems for the German government which has waged a strident campaign against pro-Palestinian campaigners. Continue reading “BDS campaigning is a right in Europe (and the UK)”
Robert Cohen discusses the manufactured outrage over Orla Guerin’s brief reminder on BBC News that Jewish victimhood has translated into Israeli supremacism over the last 75 years. Such incessant patrolling of how the Holocaust is to be understood is an insult to all those whom were murdered. The fact of mass murder is not in question but how we are to interpret it and learn from it, like all significant historical events, is and must be an area of controversy. To seek to preserve it in aspic, with only one script sanctioned, prevents the learning that the self-appointed arbiters claim they wish to promote. Thinking about the Holocaust is neither revisionism nor denial, it is a duty.
This article first appeared on Patheos.com and is reproduced by permission of the author
As I become older I realise that the Holocaust is not over. The gas chambers and incinerators are gone but the consequences of the horror will continue to play out in the decades and even centuries to come. Our understanding of who we are as Jews, our place in the world, our politics, how others view us, even our theology, continues to be shaped, indeed defined, by the Holocaust.
Why would it be otherwise? Continue reading “Orla Guerin’s report shows what’s wrong with Holocaust remembrance”
Peter Ullrich has prepared a detailed analysis of the IHRA working definition on antisemitism. It is a dense read but takes the discussion of the shortcomings of the definition further than previous critiques. Ullrich shows that what is regarded as an unamendable text by its UK protagonists has been adapted significantly elewhere. He carefully explores not just the history and language of the document but also the necessity of seeing it as a text to be interpreted and not a simple set unambiguous categories.
The “Working Definition of Antisemitism” recognized by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2016 is an instrument for collecting required data on and fighting antisemitism that has achieved wide dissemination. In a field of action characterized by a high degree of conceptual insecurity, the definition promises conceptual orientation by providing a basis for practical work. Indeed, with its concrete language devoid of technical jargon and its tangible examples that illustrate the concept of antisemitism using typical, recurring phenomena, the “Working Definition” has become the basis for the work of various groups of users. Moreover, the adoption of hitherto rarely examined aspects of antisemitism related to Israel provided an update for the discussion that was necessary at the time the definition was formulated (in the early 2000s). Continue reading “Expert Opinion on the “Working Definition of Antisemitism” of the IHRA”
Mike Cushman analyses the unreasonable and unprecedented restrictions UCL have placed on what may be said at the launch of a new book on Chomsky’s work. They have extended the range of examples that they define as antisemitic even beyond the wide ranging and frequently criticised examples attached to the IHRA definition.
LATEST – ‘GUIDELINES’ HAVE GONE
We wrote to the head of UCL and received this response:
Thank you for taking the time to set our your concerns. The Provost has asked me to respond to you to let you know that, following discussions here and with the independent chair of the event, we have now agreed a way for the event to proceed without asking the speakers to sign up to the guidelines.
We have also heard that the requirement to submit the text of talks in advance has also been dropped.
University College London (UCL) has resisted pressure on them to cancel their hosting of the launch of a book their press is publishing The Responsibility of Intellectuals: Reflections by Noam Chomsky and others after 50 years . However, they have conceded ground to the unwarranted allegations that the event will provide a platform for antisemitism by asking for prior sight of presentations and describing a list of items they presume to be antisemitic. Their banned topics go beyond even the IHRA’s possible examples of antisemitism. They represent a gross breach of academic freedom and legally protected free speech. Continue reading “UCL attack on Academic Freedom”
Professor David Miller has written a twitter thread rebutting the false and malicious claims about him made by Daily Telegraph journalists. This was a flagrant attempt to undermine academic freedom in the context of discussing Palestine and Israel.
Mike Cushman looks at how the witch hunt against Chris Williamson is linked to WitchHunt. The film shows how slurs against principled supporters of Palestinian rights become solidified into ‘common sense’
Chris Williamson is an outspoken socialist and supporter of the Corbyn project, so it is no great surprise to find him the subject of a witch hunt. A campaign that has now led to threats of violence to prevent him speaking. Continue reading “The witch hunt against Chris Williamson and WitchHunt”
Chris Knight writes about how the IHRA definition attempts to stop us learning from history.
[Editorial note: It is important to recognise that comparisons with Nazis need to be carefully considered and not used as a default term of abuse. It is also important to note that analogies are best drawn with pre-1939 Nazi oppression of Jews (and of course many others); not with the industrialised mass killings of the war time period with which there is no comparison.]
Reprinted from Labour Briefing
One of the more worrying aspects of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism is its suggestion that ‘drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’ is necessarily anti-Semitic. It is true that, at times, such comparisons can be crude and ahistorical. But in many cases, even where we might dispute the conclusion, it seems far-fetched to attribute it to anti-Semitism.
Here we publish extracts from Holocaust survivors who oppose historical and recent Israeli policies, in some cases connecting them with those of the Nazis. In one case, the author Rudolf Vrba – again a Holocaust survivor – compares key policies of the wartime Zionist movement to those of the Nazis. Continue reading “8 Holocaust survivors compare Zionist policies to those of the Nazis”