Category Archives: Labour Party

Guardian publishes letter by 100+ Jews defending Corbyn and Chakrabarti

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods is pleased to have played its part, along with others involved in the Free Speech on Israel network, in generating a letter published in the Guardian on 9 August 2016 under the heading “Shami Chakrabarti’s honour under scrutiny.”

The letter appears over 108 Jewish names including prominent cultural and academic figures. It defends Jeremy Corbyn and Shami Chakrabarti, author of a report on racism in the Labour Party, against attacks suggesting that Corbyn offered Chakrabarti a peerage as a pay off for covering up antisemitism in the party.

 

Shami Chakrabarti, the former director of Liberty and a lawyer with a well-deserved reputation for integrity, produced a thoughtful and important report on antisemitism and racism in the Labour party at the request of Jeremy Corbyn. It is highly regrettable that they are both now under attack because her inquiry did not find evidence to support allegations of rampant antisemitism in the party.

Such attacks say more about her detractors than they do about Chakrabarti. Their real objections concern her recommendation that the party’s disciplinary processes conform to the principles of natural justice, so that allegations of antisemitism and other forms of racism will be properly investigated, members cannot be suspended without knowing the charges against them, and people are protected against scurrilous and ill-founded allegations.

As Jews whose views are not represented by the chief rabbi, the Board of Deputies of British Jews or the pro-Israel lobbyists of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, we dissociate ourselves from the attacks on Chakrabarti and urge Corbyn to hold firm in implementing the positive recommendations in her report.
George Abendstern
Liane Aukin
Daphna Baram
Julia Bard
Sue Bard
Hannah Basson
Sandi Beecher
Shereen Benjamin
Sarah Benton
Craig Berman
Jo Bird
Rica Bird
Carla Bloom
Jenny Bloom
Louise Bloom
Professor Haim Bresheeth
Elizabeth Carola
Linda Clair
Mike Cushman
Ivor Dembina
Dr Judit Druks
Claudio García Ehrenfeld
Nancy Elan
Mark Elf
Liz Elkind
Deborah Fink
Sylvia Finzi
Louella Frankel Jones
Kenneth Fryde
Tessa van Gelderen
Claire Glasman
Monica Gort
Tony Greenstein
Abe Hayeem
Rosamine Hayeem
Professor Susan Himmelweit
Sue Hughes
Claire Jackson
Dr Vivienne Jackson
Selma James
Riva Joffe
Ann Jungman
Michael Kalmanovitz
Roisin Kalmanovitz
Monash Kessler
Simon Korner
Richard Kuper
David Landau
Pam Laurance
Leah Levane
Rachel Lever
Les Levidow
Susanne Levin
Rosalind Levy
Vivien Lichtenstein
John Lohrenz
Ruth London
Professor Yosefa Loshitzky
Deborah Maccoby
Professor Moshé Machover
Beryl Maizels
Jenny Manson
Miriam Margolyes
Stephen Marks
Martine Miel
Professor Simon Mohun
David Mond
Professor Mica Nava
Chaim Neslen
Diana Neslen
Esther Neslen
Helen Pearson
Rina Picciotto
Frances Rifkin
Roland Rance
Michael Rosen
David Rosenberg
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead
Leon Rosselson
Maureen Rothstein
Michael Sackin
Caroline Salinger
Ben Samuel
Professor Donald Sassoon
Ian Saville
Miriam Scharf
Amanda Sebesteyn
Glyn Secker
Khalil Secker
Sam Semoff
Alexander Seymour
Professor Avi Shlaim
Ray Sirotkin
Dr David Sperlinger
Vanessa Stilwell
Alexandra Trone
Professor Clare Ungerson
Professor Philip Wadler
Margaret Wayne
Naomi Wayne
Sam Weinstein
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
Devra Wiseman
Naomi Woodspring
Ben Young
Dr Gillian Yudkin
Professor John S Yudkin
Professor Nira Yuval-Davis

CHUKA UMUNNA SILENT AS LABOUR JEWS CONDEMN HIS ANTISEMITISM SMEAR CAMPAIGN

Last weekend more than 40 Jewish members of Labour Party organisations around the UK wrote to MP Chuka Umunna condemning his cynical deployment of antisemitism allegations as part of the witch hunt against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and other supporters of justice for Palestine.

Umunna has not deigned to respond. But the statement put out by Free Speech on Israel, which organised the letter, still merits attention.

 

LABOUR JEWS CONDEMN UMUNNA’S ANTISEMITISM SMEAR CAMPAIGN

  • Umunna accused of “weaponising false accusations of antisemitism”
  • Public grilling of Corbyn part of “internal vendetta”
  • Smear campaign detracts from combatting racism

July 9 – Jewish members of the Labour Party have condemned Chuka Umunna MP for using false allegations of antisemitism to attack Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Momentum group.

In an open letter to the MP for Streatham, a former Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, more than 40 members of party organisations all over the country say:

“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.”

They accuse him of pursuing “an internal Labour Party vendetta in a public forum”, cynically drawing attention away from important recommendations, contained in a recently published report by former Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti, on making the party more effective in combatting all forms of racism including antisemitism.

The letter urges Umunna to “concentrate your considerable energy on working to unite the Party so that we can displace this destructive Tory Government as soon as possible.”

 

Free Speech on Israel (FSOI) is a network of labour movement, Green and trade union activists in the UK, mainly Jewish, who came together in April 2016 to counter attempts by pro-Israel right wingers to brand the campaign for justice for Palestinians as antisemitic.  It broadly supports the conclusions of the Charabarti inquiry into antisemism and other forms of racism, to which it made this submission.

FSOI draws its support from members of the following Jewish groups:

Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP)    http://jfjfp.com/

Independent Jewish Voices (IJV)     http://ijv.org.uk/

Jewish Socialist Group (JSG)     http://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN-UK)     http://www.ijan.org/

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)     https://jews4big.wordpress.com/

Jewdas/Young Jewish Left     http://jewdas.org/

 

Full text of open letter:

 

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.

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
Sylia 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 CLP
Jackie Walker South Thanet
Sam Weinstein Hampstead & Kilburn
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi Chingford & Woodford Green

 

LABOUR JEWS ASSERT – THE PARTY DOES NOT HAVE A “PROBLEM WITH JEWS”

Jewish labour and trade union activists, members of a range of groups campaigning in solidarity with the people of Palestine, have produced a statement intended for use in the fightback against the witch hunt targeting the pro-Palestinian Left in the Labour Party. 

Labour movement and human rights organisations, including PSC branches, can use it to generate informed debate and send a message to the political establishment that we will not allow campaigners for justice for Palestine to be smeared with allegations of antisemitism.

As the Jewish Socialist Group has stated on its website:

“A very small number of such cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism. Others represent genuine criticism of Israeli policy and support for Palestinian rights, but expressed in clumsy and ambiguous language, which may unknowingly cross a line into antisemitism. Further cases are simply forthright expressions of support for Palestinian rights, which condemn Israeli government policy and aspects of Zionist ideology, and have nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism. “                            

LABOUR DOES NOT HAVE A “PROBLEM WITH JEWS”

We are witnessing a wave of hysteria over claims that the Labour Party is rife with antisemitism and has a “problem with Jews.” We know this is not true. But there is indeed a problem.  It is a problem with people – Jewish and otherwise, inside and outside the party –  who wield antisemitism allegations as a stick to beat the Corbyn leadership, regardless of the damage caused.

Jeremy Corbyn and others have done their best to respond, rightly asserting their impeccable anti-racist credentials, treating specific allegations of antisemitism seriously, investigating them and taking appropriate measures. This is no more and no less than should happen with allegations of racism or discrimination of any kind.

But this has not satisfied those sections of the pro-Israel lobby orchestrating the attacks.

They have targeted Malia Bouattia, the first Muslim woman to be elected president of the National Union of Students, on the thinnest of pretexts and despite her consistently principled stance. Another victim has been Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) founder member and lifelong anti-racist Tony Greenstein, suspended from the Labour Party without even being informed of the charges against him. Now Naz Shah MP has been suspended on the basis of a few inappropriate social media posts which she evidently regrets – swiftly followed by Ken Livingstone because of his ill-chosen remarks in defending her.

Make no mistake – this campaign of vilification is intended to undermine Labour’s new leaders, because of their commendable record of supporting justice for Palestine. The wider aim is to crush support for the solidarity movement which is working to achieve for Palestinians basic rights that are endorsed by international legal bodies.

As Labour and Trade Union activists, we need to resist this witch hunt and assert the right to campaign in solidarity with all oppressed people, including Palestinians.

We urge labour movement organisations to:

 – Reiterate our strong commitment to combating all forms of racism and to defending those who are subjected to it. We actively oppose Islamophobia, prejudice against migrants and racism against ethnic and religious minorities, including anti-Jewish racism.

 – Reject the suggestion that questioning the Zionist ideology of the Israeli state and its supporters – both Jews and non-Jews – entails antisemitic prejudice. On the contrary, campaigning to end the injustices inflicted by Israel on the Palestinian people is in the very best traditions of the British Labour movement.

– Urge the Labour Party establishment to

  • listen to the many Jews who are outraged by the lie that Jews are not safe in the Labour Party;
  • cease victimising those who work for justice for Palestine;
  • adhere to fair practice and transparency when investigating charges against members;
  • call to order Labour Party members who bring the party into disrepute by spreading calumnies about widespread antisemitism in the party.