We are urging everyone who believes in Free Speech on Israel to write to momentum to urge them to end their harassment of Jackie Walker. There are many posts on this site giving the background to these events on this site. Messages should be sent to:
Messages need to be sent by Monday morning as the Momentum steering Committee is planning to meet on Monday to discuss removing Jackie from her position as Vice-chair: Jackie herself has not been invited to the meeting. Individually composed messages are most effective. If you are a Momentum and/or a Labour Party member please quote your Constituency in your message. Please send a copy of your message to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can let Jackie know of the support we are showing for her.
We are publishing the text of four letters sent by FSOI activists for you to quote from or adapt as you wish.
- An individual letter from Mike Cushman
- An individual letter from Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
- A letter from Tony Greenstein that has been signed by thirteen of Jackie’s supporters
- An individual letter from Helen Marks
- An individual letter from Sue Blackwell
1. Dear Jon
As a Momentum and Labour Party member I am alarmed to learn from the Guardian that Momentum is contemplating removing Jackie Walker as vice-chair.
I have shared platforms with Jackie and been impressed by her sophisticated understanding of the complex relationship between the twin evils of antisemitism and anti-Black racism. She speaks from an experience that few of us share and we should listen to her with respect.
Jackie, as a woman of dual heritage, has to deal with the inherited pain of two Holocausts, the Jewish tragedy and the African horror story. Dealing with one is difficult, managing to live with the impact of both doubly so. No one has developed a language for this. Jackie is trying to provide one, a difficult task in the best and most supportive environment; an almost impossible one when every utterance is malevolently misinterpreted.
Jackie is also being attacked for asking for the definition of antisemitism on which the JLM trainers were basing their session, a patently reasonable request. Definitions of antisemitism are highly contested and there is a large literature on the topic, both academic and polemical, which has reached no consensus. Anti-racism training sessions have consistently started from trying to reach a definition, or at least a description, of racism the participants can use to underpin a discussion. It appears that the JLM trainers both know with certainty what antisemitism is and, extraordinarily, are not prepared to share that definition with the trainees.
She is being attacked on the basis of leaks from a training session that were definitely unethical and very probably illegal. It is the officers of JLM who should be facing sanctions not Jackie.
I am shocked to see Momentum officers dancing to the tune of the JLM and the Labour right-wing, the very people I joined Momentum to oppose and to loosen their stranglehold on thinking in Labour.
If you believe that moving against Jackie will increase the security of Momentum and strengthened Jeremy’s position you are more naïve than I believed possible. You are not being enjoined to ditch Jackie to strengthen Momentum and Jeremy but just the opposite. If they get Jackie’s scalp they will not be sitting back saying ‘job done’. They will be setting their sights on their next target and then the one after that to weaken and divide us.
I joined other Momentum members in the pub yesterday to celebrate Jeremy’s re-election but what was meant to be a party turned into a bitter contemplation of Momentum’s leadership wrecking an organisation days after the success of TWT [The World Transformed] and wondering if they have a future in a Momentum that treats its best activists I this manner. I have been receiving emails all day from members in other constituencies telling the same story. According to the Guardian, “A spokesperson for the leftwing grassroots movement, which was set up to support Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party, confirmed members wanted her to go.” I do not know which members the spokesperson was talking about, there has been no consultation and many, many members want her to stay.
One of our aims is to democratise the Labour Party; we can’t do that through an organisation that mimics the worst practices of the Compliance Unit and works through a system of kangaroo courts.
Please, even at this late stage, draw back from the precipice and do not undermine our hopes for the future.
Streatham CLP and Momentum
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2. Dear Jon,
I am writing to you as a Jewish member of both the Labour Party (Chingford and Woodford Green CLP) and of Momentum. I have opposed racism and supported human rights and social justice for half a century – since my teens. Therefore, naturally, I have been a fervent supporter of Jeremy’s leadership of the party from the first.
I am also a long-standing supporter of the campaign for justice for Palestine – a position I regard as entirely consistent with the Jewish values I grew up with. It is axiomatic in my family that the mass slaughter inflicted on Jews in Europe should never be inflicted on any other people, anywhere.
This past year we have seen Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist project attacked by a powerful combination of forces. Pro-Israel lobbyists, well practised at alleging that critics are motivated solely by hostility to Jews, have handed the perfect weapon to the political and media establishment ranged against him. They assert that criticism of the state of Israel or of Zionism is an assault on Jewish identity and therefore a kind of hate speech. But as you know, many Jews are not Zionists, while plenty of non-Jews are.
I chaired a meeting in Liverpool last Sunday where Jackie Walker shared the platform with a British Palestinian lawyer and a leading Jewish pro-Palestinian activist. Her contribution to our understanding of the anti-Corbyn campaign was hugely appreciated by the Momentum supporters who packed into the hall to hear her speak.
Jackie’s unique perspective, with her combined Jewish and African-Caribbean heritage and her history of anti-racist, left-wing activism, makes her a hate figure for Corbyn’s opponents. It would be shameful for Momentum to capitulate to the witch hunt which has seen newspapers, broadcasters and social media pundits uncritically reporting every allegation against Jackie and other Labour or Momentum members – of antisemitism, misogyny, bullying and support for terrorism. There is, actually, a nasty whiff of racism and misogyny in their targeting of Jackie. Her Jewish heritage is often deliberately passed over.
She has been a victim of distortions and deliberate falsehoods, such as those exposed by investigative journalist Asa Winstanley and still repeated with such frequency that they have become received wisdom, lightly tossed into the conversation in Radio 4 comedy shows. Everybody now “knows” that Jews are not safe in Corbyn’s Labour Party and Jackie Walker is an antisemite.
As someone whose mother had been called a Christ-killer when she was a little girl at school, I think I am pretty sensitive to prejudice and stereotyping directed at Jews. I do not tolerate it – nor any other form of racism – in the Labour Party, the Palestine solidarity movement or any other setting. Though I personally I have not encountered it, I acknowledge that antisemitism exists in the party, as in the rest of society. There are recommendations in the Chakrabarti Report that would – if implemented – strengthen the party as a bulwark against all forms of racism, which is absolutely essential in the post-Brexit world. Jackie will be a great asset in building our anti-racist movement.
I have been alarmed at the reluctance of our side to fight back. Jeremy has been incredibly conciliatory, restricting himself to pleading his own impeccable anti-racist credentials and swearing to stamp out the antisemitism that is alleged but not proven, thereby giving credence to the idea that Labour does indeed “have a problem with Jews”. Jeremy Newmark of the Jewish Labour Movement, in a debate at The World Transformed on September 25, used the fact that Jeremy had set up the Chakrabarti Inquiry, to explore antisemitism and other forms of racism, as proof that antisemitism was the huge problem the JLM alleges! We are in a Kafkaesque, looking-glass world where querying the veracity of an antisemitism allegation is taken as proof of antisemitism. Let’s throw in Catch 22 and a dollop of McCarthyism for good measure. Sacrificing Jackie will not do anything to keep the circling sharks at bay.
Please respect the voices of the vast number of Momentum supporters who value Jackie’s contribution and will feel disillusioned and betrayed if she is forced out.
Labour Party and Momentum member
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3. Dear James Schneider and Jon Lansman,
We are Jewish members of the Labour Party. We are writing to you concerning reports in the press, which you have not denied, that Momentum’s Executive Committee is preparing to throw Jackie Walker to the wolves at its meeting next Monday. The reason for this is because of the wholly false anti-Semitism accusations that have been leveled against her.
We urge you not to remove Jackie as Vice-Chair of Momentum. When a comrade is under attack then you defend them and extend the hand of solidarity. An injury to one is an injury to all. Betraying a comrade in order to ease the pressure on you is contrary to all Labour movement traditions of solidarity. The Jewish Labour Movement [JLM] will not stop at Jackie Walker. They will look for new targets for their ‘anti-Semitism’ witch hunt.
The JLM is not an ordinary affiliated socialist society. It has a close relationship with Israeli state agencies, for example its newly appointed Director, Ella Rose, came directly from the Israeli Embassy. The ‘anti-Semitism witchhunt’ over the last year has been a carefully orchestrated and co-ordinated affair alongside papers like the Daily Mail. Jackie is but the latest target for those who are using ‘anti-Semitism’ as a means of attacking Jeremy Corbyn.
The JLM invited to Labour Party Conference representatives of Ha Avodah, the Israeli Labour Party. This is a party that presided over the forcible expulsion of ¾ million Palestinian refugees and placed Israel’s Arabs under military rule until 1966. The ILP initiated the settlements in the West Bank. Earlier this year, its leader Isaac Herzog stated that the ILP mustn’t be identified as an ‘Arab lovers’ party. If Jackie Walker had talked about ‘Jew lovers’ then the charges of anti-Semitism against her would be justified. Herzog later described his ‘nightmare’ of waking up to find that Israel had an Arab Prime Minister. If Jackie had spoken of her fears that Britain might one day have a Jewish Prime Minister then she would rightly be called an anti-Semite. If anyone should be called out for racism it is the JLM.
Jews who are not Zionists cannot join the JLM because of its affiliation to the World Zionist Organisation and its Jerusalem Programme, which speaks of ‘the centrality of the State of Israel … in the life of the (Jewish) nation’. The ‘Jewish nation’ means Jews in Israel or the Diaspora. This includes ourselves and Jon Lansman. The idea that we are Jewish not British nationals and Israel is the centre of our lives is a deeply anti-Semitic one.
The Jerusalem programme also speaks of ‘Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.’ Settlement means occupying the West Bank and Golan Heights as well as Judaising Israel. That is why Israel is a racist settler colonial state.
Last Monday the JLM held an ‘anti-racism training’ session at Labour’s conference. The session was filmed without the agreement of participants and contrary to all ethical considerations. It was then leaked to the media in order to wage a vicious racist attack on Jackie Walker and other Jewish dissidents present.
Even before the ‘training session’ the JLM had been conducting a political lynching of Jackie. It had refused to accept that the false accusations made against Jackie, that she had alleged that Jews were the main financiers of the slave trade, were untrue, despite her being acquitted of these allegations last May.
In the Jewish Chronicle of 24th September Jeremy Newmark, Chair of JLM was quoted as saying of John McDonnell’s appearance on a platform with Jackie that
“The Shadow Chancellor … must explain his defence of Walker which is inconsistent with his call for zero tolerance (of antisemitism). This raises serious questions. Our members expect him to explain himself.’
What happened at the session was all too predictable. Having the JLM hold an anti-racist training course was like the General Medical Council asking Harold Shipman to organise a course on medical ethics. This was why the Chakrabarti Report stated that:
‘having gauged the range of feelings within the Party, it is not my view that narrow anti-racism training programmes are what is required. There is a grave danger that such an approach would seem patronising or otherwise insulting rather than truly empowering and enriching for those taking part.’
Instead of stabbing Jackie in the back and running scared of the media’s faked concern for ‘antisemitism’ you would be better spending your time finding out why the JLM was allowed to undertake an ‘anti-racist training session’ in the first place.
What Jackie Walker said may have enraged the Zionists, for whom the holocaust serves primarily as an ideological justification for Israel’s crimes, but it was not anti-Semitic.
It is a fact that Holocaust Memorial Day has focused almost exclusively on the Nazi holocaust and has ignored the extermination of the Disabled and the Gypsies. The doyen of Zionist holocaust historians, Professor Yehuda Bauer argued, in a debate with the late Dr Sybil Milton, Senior Historian at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum that ‘the Nazis only attempted to annihilate one people, the Jews: Roma were not Jews, therefore there was no need to murder all of them.’ According to Bauer, ‘the Holocaust is very much a unique case.’ [“Gypsies and the Holocaust” Yehuda Bauer; Sybil Milton The History Teacher, Vol. 25, (Aug., 1992)]. As the late Elie Wiesel put it, to compare the sufferings of others with Jews was a “betrayal of Jewish history”. [Elie Wiesel, Against Silence, v. iii, 146.] The truth may be uncomfortable but it is not anti-Semitic.
Jackie Walker was also right to question the JLM’s assertion that the EUMC’s Working Definition of Anti-Semitism was the standard definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism. This is simply dishonest. In 2013, this definition was scrapped by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, as the Times of Israel reported ‘’The European Union’s agency for combating racism dropped its definition for anti-Semitism… We are not aware of any official definition [of anti-Semitism],” Blanca Tapia of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency told JTA on Tuesday.’
We are seriously disturbed by the report in the Guardian Momentum likely to oust Jackie Walker over Holocaust remarks and a similar report in the Independent that ‘Senior members of Momentum are “fuming” at her remarks’. It is your duty not to betray comrades.
The JLM voted 92-4% in favour of Owen Smith. Anti-Semitism is a weapon to attack the left. Any betrayal of Jackie Walker will be unacceptable to grassroots Momentum supporters who are sick to the back teeth of the cynical use of anti-Semitism to ward off criticism of Israel.
We also understand that Jackie Walker has not even been invited to the meeting which it is intended will dismiss her. What kind of democracy is this? Because of the racist abuse she has received from the JLM’s supporters Jackie has had to suspend her Twitter account. Of, not being an MP, this kind of abuse will not make the headlines. Jackie is suffering extreme abuse which the JLM has given a green light to. Abuse which openly states that Black people can’t be Jewish. If you attack Jackie you will be a party to this abuse.
We are writing to you to demand that you stand up to the JLM when it demands the head of a well respected Black and Jewish anti-racist. You will not be forgiven if you betray her.
Graham Bash Hackney North CLP
Haim Bresheeth Hornsey and Wood Green
Mark Elf Barking CLP
Kenny Fryde Cambridge CLP
Tony Greenstein Brighton & Hove District Labour Party
Abe Hayeem Harrow East CLP
Helen Marks Riverside CLP
Elizabeth Morley Ceredigion CLP
Diana Neslen Ilford South Constituency Labour Party
Dr Brian Robinson Milton Keynes South CLP
Leon Rosselson Brent Momentum
David Selzer City of Chester CLP
Sam Semoff Riverside CLP
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4. Dear Jon Lansman,
I am really concerned that as founder of Momentum your response to the anti-semitism witch hunt has not been more robust. Your advice to Momentum groups up to now has been that they should simply publish short statements condemning anti-semitism. Well, shouldn’t that be a given? You told them the problem would quickly go away if they did this. Well it hasn’t.
Why have you been leaving those of us who have been suspended or complained against to be falsely harangued in the press and to be at the mercy of a grossly undemocratic complaints procedure in the Labour Party that fails even to tell those suspended or complained against the grounds for the complaint and leaves them dangling not having any time scale for an investigation.In my case I haven’t even been informed of the complaint and just heard about it through the press and rumour.
It must surely be crystal clear to you that this sudden so called rise in anti-semitism in the Labour party is a cynical move to rid the party of Jeremy Corbyn, a leader who is both truly on the left and who has always been a campaigner for justice for the Palestinians.
Not only has this campaign by the JLM and the right of the party brought the party into disrepute and split it in a way that will make it harder to rid us of the Tories but it has totally debased the meaning of the term anti-semitic and whipped up a problem that was barely there before. Apart from some exceptions we Jews in the UK have been so fortunate that until recently we have been free of the kind of discrimination that other Jews have faced at different times. Even the former chief rabbi said he had not really experienced any incidents of anti-semitism.
I was at the training meeting that Jackie Walker attended during the Labour party conference. People may not have agreed with all she said but there was no way it was anti-semitic. She was doing what the trainer several times urged us to do, namely engage in debate. I have been at meetings in Liverpool where Zionist members of the community have come and heckled loudly and made their loud contributions but nobody ran to complain that they should be suspended or expelled or reported to the police. The occupation of Palestine and the actions of the Israeli government are emotive subjects and it is vital that people of different shades of opinion get together to discuss even if it is very painful at times.
Manuel Cortes is now bullying Momentum into taking action against Jackie Walker by threatening to reconsider TSSA’s support for Momentum if Jackie is still in post in a week’s time.His use of hyperbole is phoney and disgraceful.He talks about Jackie “holding such abhorrent racist views” . How can we discuss openly and with trust if those of us who hold views that don’t agree with pro Israel and pro zionists are vilified in this way?
Momentum itself is now the subject of concerted attack for being a hard left secretive body within the party. You surely realise that this too is just another form of attack on Corbyn? We at the grass roots are fighting off these accusations. Please do the same and stand by Jackie and the rest of us as we will try and stand by Momentum. You have done wonders in growing the Labour party. Don’t desert us when we most need your support.
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5. Dear Jon and colleagues,
I write as a member of Momentum, and as a very new member of the Labour Party who joined after Jeremy Corbyn’s convincing re-election as
leader. I also write as an activist within my union UCU and as an
In the welcome letter I received on joining the party, Iain McNicol
writes “The Labour Party always embodies the value of equality, fairness
and social justice.” I expect no less. Unfortunately these values do
not seem to be being applied in the case of Jackie Walker. I have read
in the Guardian that she has been suspended from the Labour Party for a
second time, and that instead of defending her against what is clearly a
witch-hunt, Momentum is joining in the attacks by proposing to remove
her as vice-chair at tomorrow’s meeting. This is apparently on the
basis of her contributions to a training session during the Labour Party
conference, which was a closed event but nonetheless secretly recorded.
I can understand why Jackie’s remarks may have caused offence to some
people, and perhaps they could have been better expressed. Nonetheless I
see nothing antisemitic or racist in them. What is wrong with calling
for Holocaust Memorial Day to be more inclusive?
But I would like to comment in particular on her statement “I still
haven’t heard a definition of antisemitism that I can work with” which
has been greeted with outrage. To me it is perfectly comprehensible and
reasonable if taken in context. The Jewish Labour Movement, which was
running the training event in question, had stated that it was using the
EUMC Working Definition on Anti-Semitism. I have given conference
papers about the EUMC “working definition” and can state conclusively
that (a) it is not a definition and (b) it does not work. It is in fact
a motley collection of examples, several of which muddy the waters by
conflating criticism of Israel with genuine antisemitism. It is no
doubt because it is not fit for purpose that it has never been adopted
by the EU: the FRA (the successor body to the EUMC) does not use it and
it no longer appears on the FRA website. Despite this, many pro-Israel
groups continue to campaign vociferously for the definition to be
accepted as THE standard definition.
When I was on the National Executive of UCU, I was responsible for
bringing a motion to our annual Congress which distanced the union from
the EUMC “working definition” while continuing to fight all forms of
racism and discrimination. This motion was overwhelmingly carried and
is now UCU policy. In fact, I was the only non-Jewish speaker in
support of the motion: a succession of Jewish members of UCU stepped up
to denounce the EUMC “definition” as being completely unhelpful in
countering genuine antisemitism.
A member of UCU (Ronnie Fraser) subsequently brought a tribunal case
against UCU for alleged antisemitic discrimination, citing UCU’s motion
on the EUMC definition as evidence. One of his witnesses was Jeremy
Newmark, who was at that time the CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council.
He is now, of course, the chair of the JLM. The fact that his evidence
to the tribunal was dismissed by the judges as not being truthful should
give Labour Party members reason to doubt how constructive a role he and his organisation are likely to play in providing any training concerning antisemitism or winning Jewish voters.
I believe that when Jackie said “I still haven’t heard a definition of
antisemitism that I can work with”, Jackie was making a playful allusion
to the EUMC “working definition”. She is quite right not to accept it.
The Labour Party should distance itself from that definition, as my
union has done, and should encourage genuine debate about the nature of
antisemitism and how the party can identify and combat it.
I urge you to give Jackie your full support as a respected anti-racist
campaigner of long standing within the party. If you do not, the
witch-hunt will only intensify and those promoting it will not be
satisfied until they have the heads of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell
on a platter.
thank you for taking time to read this.
(South Suffolk CLP)
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