It was revealed this week that Ms Forbes had liked a post saying Theresa May had a “Zionist Slave Masters agenda” alongside a video of children praying after the New Zealand terrorist attack.
I don’t know what bearing the comment about Zionist slave masters had on the video but this sort of hyperbolic comment is hardly unusual in today’s political discourse and it’s well known that Israeli lobbying has a tremendous influence on both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.
By 2009, according to the Channel 4 documentary Dispatches – Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, around 80% of Conservative MPs were members of the CFI. In 2013, the Daily Telegraph’s chief political commentator, Peter Oborne, called CFI “by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group.”
It seems to me that Lisa Forbes has been accused of antisemitism and forced to apologise on the grounds that she did not express outrage rather than sympathy. It seems too that it is antisemitic to enjoy reading a thread that discusses assertions widely recognised as true.
It is mystifying that Ms Forbes should be accused of being antisemitic because she enjoyed reading assertions that are accepted to be true. It is worrying and it is an attack not only on Ms Forbes and the Labour Party but also on freedom of thought, freedom of dialogue and on truth.
However, as worrying as these accusations are, what is more worrying is their endorsement by figures with the Labour party itself:
Labour former minister Dame Margaret Hodge, who has clashed with Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism, wrote on Twitter: “Seriously mixed feelings about the Peterborough result. I never want to see Nigel Farage’s party in Parliament. “But Lisa Forbes & the Labour Party have a lot to answer for. We must learn lessons & never have a repeat of this. Have formally raised concerns with party leadership.”
Shadow policing minister Louise Haigh, who worked on Lisa Forbes’ campaign, wrote that it was “extremely upsetting for all of us involved when the posts that Lisa had mistakenly engaged in came to light.
“They were thoroughly unacceptable and I know she sees that and is truly sorry.”
This is a response that would be easy to characterise as ‘slavish’. It is a response that shows a shocking lack of courage and a wholesale disregard for the truth.
Prior to and during the 2016 Referendum Corbyn declared that he was pro Remain. He supported triggering Article 50 after the Referendum result as did Parliament by 498 votes to 114 – Perhaps he thought that if you hold a Referendum it is proper to respect the decision while trying to make it work. Yet this is being presented as a dishonourable position. His position on this and on the EU are constantly misrepresented. Corbyn has worked consistently for a social, moral and just Europe.
He has never been against immigration and the free movement of labour. It was not Corbyn who produced Labour’s infamous anti-immigration mug. The EU has indicated its willingness to negotiate on the widely different basis that Corbyn would be offering as this would be avantageous to both sides. Further Corbyn’s policy and the Labour Party’s policy is now to have a confirmatory ballot on any deal. I really don’t see how these is a better option for Remainers.
I’ve collated three BBC pre-referendum interviews with Corbyn, partly for my own amusement, to remind people of Corbyn’s position before the referendum and of the consistency of his social goals. The only thing that has fundamentally changed (and for the better) is his dress sense.
When people of the calibre of Norman Finkelstein, Naomi Klein, Ken Loach, Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and many other intellectuals and activists (many of them Jewish) are supporting Jeremy Corbyn and characterising the allegations of antisemitism laid against him and allegations of widespread antisemitism Labour Party as contrived it is bizarre that an MP like Chris Williamson should be suspended for making the same characterisation which every honest and informed person knows to be correct.
Attacks by people claiming to be ‘on the Left’ on Gilad Atzmon are attacks on freedom of expression. They are part of an irrationalism within the party and the so called ‘Left’ but they do not represent the Labour Party or any true Left any more than the CAA represents Jewish people. This is my response on YouTube to Atzmon’s understandable counter attack.
This is a completely unnecessary battle that is damaging for all concerned. I disagree with your view concerning JVL. While I do not like the notion of identity based political groups I understand that they may be necessary in particular circumstances. And when the Board of Deputies, JLM, CAA and LFI are powerful voices claiming to speak on behalf of the ‘Jewish community’ there is surely a need for a JVL to counter that claim. If I were Jewish and groups like JLM and CAA were claiming to speak for me I would take it personally and would wish to have my voice heard as a Jew.
You are of course entitled to your view. I have read your writings and have found nothing hateful, racist or antisemitic in them though not everyone may understand your use of irony and humour and you do not seem to make concessions to people’s sensitivities. It is not surprising that some people like Owen Jones and the leadership of Momentum jump on the Jewdas bandwagon in condemning you for being you but I have not heard of any attacks on you from either Corbyn or JVL.
It seems clear that the Labour party has been a pro-Zionist and latterly neoliberal party and that those elements are powerful within it. What we are experiencing is a kickback against Corbyn’s challenge to their power. With the excrable Tom Watson organising a ‘counter revolution’ within Labour and with a MSM almost wholly ranged against him, Corbyn’s strategy of keeping his eyes on the prize of a democratic socialist government is highly intelligent. It is right to resist and expose the empty irrationalism of those who are attacking you and freedom of expression but we should also understand the fight that Corbyn and his allies like Chris Williamson are engaged in. Very few of us could stay the course under that sort of pressure. Corbyn continues to do so and Corbyn continues to deserve our support.
Racism of any kind is wrong and utterly stupid. As a form of racism, antisemitism is wrong and stupid. Any notion that any ethnic group can be characterised on the basis of the behaviour some of its members is logically flawed and the notion that individual members of that group should then be judged on the basis of that logically flawed characterisation is doubly absurd.
I believe that we are socially conditioned to accept the absurdities of racism and may other absurdities and that this often distorts our ability to think in a way that is logically coherent.
Antisemitism exists to a greater or lesser degree in all populations and it will exist to some degree in the population of Labour Party members. I do not know if it exists to a greater or lesser degree than anti black, anti Muslim, anti Asian or indeed anti white sentiment but since we are talking about a group of people it would be absurd to maintain that it, and all of those other sentiments do not exist to any degree. What I will say however is that because of its socialist, humanitarian and compassionate underpinnings I would expect all of these sentiments to exist in the Labour Party membership to a far lesser degree than in the general population. My experience as a Black member of the Labour party has not disabused me of this notion.
At the same time, because the Labour Party is a party of social justice, I would expect, and hope, that there is greater willingness among party members to condemn injustice wherever they find it, at home or abroad, without fear or favour and with a greater willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with the oppressed. It is right that the regime in Israel should be condemned for its racist behaviour and apalling treatment of the Palestinians. Israel is by no means a unique locus of evil. We should have no hesitation in condemning the behaviour of other states such as Saudi Arabia for their disgusting treatment of women, religious minorities and sexual minorities, or certain African states for wars and oppressions based on tribalism, or India for the perpetuation of caste based prejudice or the US for the slavery that still exists in its prison system. Israel is not uniquely evil but it should be called out for its unique or commonplace evils.
The Labour party has a history of being a pro Israel party, but growing awareness and dissatisfaction with Israeli oppression is leading to strong opposition towards Israeli policies and actions. Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters are seen as being at the forefront of this shift. It is hardly surprising that they should be attacked by the Israeli government and its supporters inside and outside the Labour Party. To exaggerate the issue of antisemitism and to extend its definitions to cover any criticism of Israel and its supporters is clearly a strategem that is being used with the utmost cynicism and dishonesty. I do not believe that Israel is the sole source of these attacks I believe that Corbyn is also seen as a threat to neoliberal interests and to the interests of Western imperialism and that theses interests too are supporting the wholly unsubstantiated myth of widespread antisemitism in the Labour Party.
It is right that we all recognise what it going on and that antisemitism is being used as a deliberate tool by those who wish to maintain power. We should be angry but never in our anger be unfair or irrational. We should never when charged with antisemitism respond by becoming in any way genuinely antisemitic. The struggle is not against Jewish people and there should be no presentation or expression that is or can reasonably be taken to be antisemitic. I say this because for the first time in an online forum, today, I saw a cartoon which represented a Jewish caricature figure as being behind the antisemitism slurs. This pained me because over the past few years it has becen obvious that Jewish people of all stations have been among the bravest and most active in opposing these slurs and they have been among those paying the highest price for their courage and honesty. It is essential that we do not allow the ‘Goebellian liars’ (to borrow Galloway’s apt phrase) to make us irrationally fearful or irrationally angry or push us towards the ranks of the haters. We should speak the truth without fear and without resentment. We should never be afraid to debate or to be wrong and to be corrected if we are wrong. It is liars who personalise the battle and run away from examination and fearing the light of open debate seek to close it down. It is the liars and the haters who are careless with accusations and resort to invective and force rather than reason. We are not that, we are not haters and anyone who becomes a hater excludes themselves from what we are.
There is so much wrong with this article that it is difficult to know where to start or where to stop, but I’ll take just this passage about Derrick Hatton’s allegedly antisemitic tweet:
She said that she voted Green and had never agreed with Derek Hatton but, as a supporter of the Palestinians, she couldn’t see what was wrong with his tweet. Had she read it? “A summary of it, yes.”
The original wasn’t long. It stated: “Jewish people with any sense of humanity need to start speaking out publicly against the ruthless murdering being carried out by Israel!”
Essentially, Hatton did what the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance defines as a concrete example of antisemitism: “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”
His tweet rendered them guilty until proven innocent. If they didn’t condemn Israel, they had no humanity. And what happens in history when we strip a minority of its humanity?
A few points:
Stating that Jews need to speak out about Israel’s actions IS NOT the same as holding Jews collectively responsible for for Israel’s actions. If I said to anyone that them need to speak out against a particular evil it does not equate to them being responsible in the sense of being culpable for that evil.
Hatton’s statement DOES suggest that Jews have a particular responsibility for speaking up against the particular abuses perpetrated by the state of Israel. I do not accept that Jews have such a responsibility because they are Jews. I believe that we all have equal responsibility in this matter because we are equally human and rational beings. It is true however that Jewish groups such as JVL and JVP appear to come together on the premise that they, as Jews, have a particular role to play in opposing the abuses. It is also true that Muslims are often urged to take responsibility in the sense of speaking out against and identifying Islamist terrorism and ‘radicalisation’. Indeed there are government programmes that seek to engage Muslims in such activity. If Hatton had tweeted (after seeing an Isis beheading) “Muslim people with any sense of humanity need to start speaking out publicly against the ruthless murdering being carried out by Isis and other Jihadist groups” I might, for the reasons I gave above, question that formulation but I would not say that he was Islamophobic because of it. Hatton would be equally wrong in saying this but I suspect that he would not receive the same degree of censure.
Saying that Jews with ‘any sense of humanity’ ought to speak out against the brutal acts of Israel does not imply that those who do not speak out against such acts have no sense of humanity much less that they have no humanity. It may be argued that Hatton meant this to be inferred but this is not logically implicit in what he said.
In conclusion while I consider statements like Hatton’s to be flawed because they incorrectly assign responsibility for moral action to people on the basis of their belonging to a particular group rather than on the basis of them being rational beings, I understand that this as a matter of erroneous (though common) speech rather than antisemetic or racist intent.
Is the Labour Party now the party of Witchfinders and Inquisitions? I think that the last three years make this a reasonable question.
Jon Lansman says:
“I do think we have a major problem and it always seems to me that we underestimate the scale of it.
“I think it is a widespread problem. It’s now obvious we have a much larger number of people with hardcore antisemitic opinions which, unfortunately, is polluting the atmosphere in a lot of constituency parties and, in particular, online.
“We have to deal with those people and I think it’s a responsibility of everyone in the Labour Party, from the top to the bottom, to report cases.”
453 members (out of approximately 550,000 — so around 0.08 per cent) who had expressed views concerning Jews that were judged as requiring further investigation and disciplinary action.
Some received suspensions, others formal/written warnings about their behaviour, while just 12 were expelled.
Without even taking into consideration the fact that some of the expressions ‘requiring further investigation’ must have been found to not require disiplinary action it does not seem to me that the ‘expressed views’ of 0.08% of the membership of the party can be taken to constitute the general culture of the party or can be considered a ‘major problem’.
Perhaps Landsman is cognisant of the contradiction between his assertion that there is a ‘major problem’ and the statistics that suggest otherwise. Perhaps that is why he has ‘called on Labour to be more “proactive in going out and seeking cases” of antisemitism within the party’.
We know what Landsman does think: “I do think we have a major problem” and “I think it is a widespread problem” but we have no idea why he and Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna and Jess Phillips and Uncle Tom Watson and all think these things. Landsman’s call for ‘Labour’ to be “proactive in going out and seeking cases” chilled me and then filled me with revulsion. Two words came to mind and I looked up the Wikipedia articles on them:
The first word is ‘Witchfinder General’.
Matthew Hopkins (c. 1620 – 12 August 1647) was an English witch-hunter whose career flourished during the English Civil War. He claimed to hold the office of Witchfinder General, although that title was never bestowed by Parliament. His witch-hunts mainly took place in East Anglia.
Hopkins’ witch-finding career began in March 1644 and lasted until his retirement in 1647. He and his associates were responsible for more people being hanged for witchcraft than in the previous 100 years, and were solely responsible for the increase in witch trials during those years. He is believed to have been responsible for the executions of 300 alleged witches between the years 1644 and 1646.
The second word is ‘Inquisition’.
The Wikipedia article notes that:
The Inquisition was a group of institutions within the government system of the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy. It started in 12th-century France to combat religious dissent
But the passage I found most interesting was this:
The 1578 edition of the Directorium Inquisitorum (a standard Inquisitorial manual) spelled out the purpose of inquisitorial penalties: … quoniam punitio non refertur primo & per se in correctionem & bonum eius qui punitur, sed in bonum publicum ut alij terreantur, & a malis committendis avocentur (translation: “… for punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit”).
Is the Labour Party now the party of Witchfinders and Inquisitions? I think that the last three years make this a reasonable question. I very much like Jeremy Corbyn and his project but I understand that that project is considered heretical and dangerous among sections of his party. I understand that they are determined to end that heresy even at the cost of gravely damaging their own party and the future of their country. Chuka Umanna talks of wanting to establish an ‘evidence based’ party as an alternative to Labour but his assertions regarding antisemitism and those of his fellow travellers have been remarkable in having no evidential basis. I very much want Labour to be the party of evidence and reason as well as compassion. The Conservatives are not, Umanna’s party is not, nor are the LibDems. But to be a party of reason and evidence Labour it must give far less weight to its grand panjandrums and doctrinal orthodoxies and much more to evidence, reason and open conversation with and between ordinary members.
There has been a sustained campaign against Jeremy Corbyn since he was elected leader of the Labour party. The walkout is part of that campaign and Tom Watson’s characterisation of it as a ‘wake up call’ is part of that campaign. Watson wants Corbyn to give up and go away so he is pushing the narrative that Corbyn is damaging the party. Look at the storm over antisemitism and and ask yourself if there is evidence of wrongdoing that supports this level of attack. Look at the likes of Berger, Umunna and Watson and compare them with Corbyn. Who seems more authentic to you? Who is more likely to have your back as an ordinary citizen of this country, maybe struggling to make ends meet? If you think it’s Berger, Umunna, Watson and the billionaire press barons, go ahead make their day.
If Jeremy Corbyn is a racist, an antisemite, how is it that he is supported by very many Jewish people on the Left?
“It is … shocking that cynical attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and the progressive movement around him continue, baselessly alleging a failure to tackle antisemitism.
This morning [25th January 2019] Nick Ferrari’s flagship LBC talk show devoted a slab of prime-time radio to Holocaust commemoration. At least that was the ostensible subject. But actually it provided Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, with yet another opportunity to attack Jeremy Corbyn. This as we remember the millions of dead, and with the reincarnation of fascism visible on our streets.
The racist threat is serious, and it needs to be treated responsibly. The treatment of Diane Abbott last week on Question Time was neither serious nor responsible. That the BBC allowed, indeed encouraged, racially abusive behaviour towards her is a disgrace. We urge the widest possible support for a petition in her support.
The Labour Party can be proud of its record in combatting antisemitism and other forms of racism within its own ranks. No other party has commissioned and acted upon a comprehensive report exploring failings in relation to members of minority communities. No other party is dealing with bigotry among its membership so forcefully – indeed the Tory party’s links to antisemites are blatant.
Under Corbyn’s leadership Labour is uniquely equipped to mount a serious challenge to the very real far-right threat, with racism including antisemitism at its core. As we remember the inhumanity of the Holocaust, other responsible political organisations would do well to follow Labour’s lead.”
Jewish Voice for Labour Jewish Socialists’ Group
“WE are very concerned about the joint statement of the three Jewish newspapers in the UK that asserts false definitions of anti-semitism for political ends and falsely claims that a British government led by Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party would somehow represent an “existential threat to Jewish life.”
” Consider these facts. Jeremy Corbyn is the democratically elected head of the Labour Party. His ascendancy vastly expanded and galvanized the party’s ranks. Corbyn has devoted a lifetime to fighting racism; like eponymous labor organizer Joe Hill, where workers strike and organize, it’s there you’ll find Jeremy Corbyn. By British and even global leadership standards, he cuts a saintly figure. On the opposite side, mostly unelected Jewish bodies have dragged Corbyn’s name through the mud, slandering and defaming him. They have refused to meet with Corbyn, even as he has repeatedly extended olive branches and offered substantive compromises. Instead they issue take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums.”
There is no evidence that the Labour party is ‘institutionally antisemitic’. There is plenty of evidence of Israeli attempts to influence the Labour party.
Tom Watson and other Labour Friends of Israel equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism.
It’s time for the media to recognise the tremendous support that Jeremy Corbyn has among members of the Jewish community. It is inconceivable that he would have that support if he were the antisemite that his enemies accuse him of being. Those who are making these accusations are not merely mistaken nor is this just some difference of opinion, they are being consciously dishonest and are using antisemitism as a strategem to undermine the Labour party and it’s leader.
On Wednesday 20th February “over 200 Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party sign[ed] a letter [to the Guardian] urging that anyone seeking an end to bigotry and racism should back Labour and Corbyn.
CORBYN’S record against Amti-Semitism……A valuable resource from Swansea CLP by way of Mehboob Noormohamed
1. In October 1936, Jeremy Corbyn’s mother participated in the battle of Cable Street in defence of British Jews after British fascists had staged an assault on the area. Corbyn was raised in a household passionately opposed to antisemitism in all its forms. 2. In 23rd April 1977, Corbyn organised a counter-demonstration to protect Wood Green from a neo-nazi march through the district. The area had a significant Jewish population. 3. On 7 November 1990, Corbyn signed a motion condemning the rise of antisemitism in the UK 4. In 2002 Jeremy Corbyn led a clean-up and vigil at Finsbury Park Synagogue which had been vandalised in an anti-Semitic attack 5. On 30 April 2002, Corbyn tabled a motion in the House of Commons condemning ananti-Semitic attackon a London Synagogue 6. On 26 November 2003, Jeremy Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion condemning terrorist attacks on two synagogues 7. In February 2009, Jeremy Corbyn signed a parliamentary motion condemning a fascist for establishing a website to host antisemitic materials 8. On 24th March 2009, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion praising British Jews who resisted the Holocaust by risking their lives to save potential victims 9. Nine years ago, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion praising “Jewish News”for its pioneering investigation into the spread ofAntisemitism on Facebook 10. On 9 February 2010, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion calling for an investigation into Facebook and its failure to prevent the spread of antisemitic materials on its site. 11. On 27 October 2010, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion praising the late Israeli Prime Minister for pursuing a two state solution to the Israel/Palestine question. 12. On 13 June 2012, Corbyn sponsored and signed a motion condemning the BBC for cutting a Jewish Community television programme from its schedule. 13. 1 October 2013, Corbyn appeared on the BBC to defend Ralph Miliband against vile antisemitic attacks by the UK press. 14. Five years ago Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion condemning antisemitism in sport. 15. On 1 March 2013, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion condemning and expressing concern at growing levels of antisemitism in European football. 16. On 9 January 2014, Jeremy Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion praising Holocaust education programmes that had taken 20,000 British students to Auschwitz. 17. On 22 June 2015, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion expressing concern at the neo-nazi march being planned for an area of London with a significant Jewish population. 18. On 9 October 2016, Corbyn, close to tears, commemorated the 1936 Battle of Cable Street and recalled the role his mother played in defending London’s Jewish community. 19. On 3 December 2016, Corbyn made a visit to Terezin Concentration Camp when Jewish people were murdered by the Nazis. It was Jeremy’s third visit to such a camp, all of which were largely unreported in the most read UK papers. 20. Last year, a widely-endorsed 2018 academic report found ninety-five serious reporting failures in the reporting of the Labour Antisemitism story with the worst offenders The Sun, the Mail & the BBC. 21. On 28 February 2016, five months after becoming leader, Jeremy Corbyn appointed Baroness Royall to investigate antisemitism at Oxford University Labour Club. 22. On 27 April 2016 Corbyn suspended an MP pending an investigation into antisemitism. 23. A day later, Corbyn suspended the three times Mayor of London after complaints of antisemitic comments. Party. 24. On 29 April 2016, Corbyn launched an inquiry into the prevalence of antisemitism in the Labour Party. In spite of later changes in how the inquiry was reported, it was initially praised by Jewish community organisations. 25. In Corbyn’s first seven months as leader of the Labour Party, just ten complaints were received about antisemitism. 90% of those were suspended from the Labour Party within 24 hours. 26. In September 2017, Corbyn backed a motion at Labour’s annual conference introducing a new set of rules regarding antisemitism. 27. In the six months that followed the introduction of the new code of conduct, to March 2018, 94% of the fifty-four people accused of antisemitism remained suspended or barred from Labour Party membership. Three of the fifty-four were exonerated. 28. When Jennie Formby became general secretary of the party last year, she appointed a highly-qualified in-house Counsel, as recommended in the Chakrabarti Report. 29. In 2018, Labour almost doubled the size of its staff team handling investigations and dispute processes. 30. Last year, to speed up the handling of antisemitism cases, smaller panels of 3-5 NEC members were established to enable cases to be heard more quickly. 31. Since 2018, every complaint made about antisemitism is allocated its own independent specialist barrister to ensure due process is followed. 32. The entire backlog of cases outstanding upon Jennie Formby becoming General Secretary of the Labour Party was cleared within 6 months of Jennie taking up her post. 33. Since September 2018, Labour has doubled the size of its National Constitutional Committee (NCC) – its senior disciplinary panel – from 11 to 25 members to enable it to process cases more quickly. 34. Under Formby and Labour’s left-run NEC, NCC arranged elections at short notice to ensure the NCC reached its new full capacity without delay. 35. Since later 2018, the NCC routinely convenes a greater number of hearing panels to allow cases to be heard and finalised without delay. 36. In 2018, the NEC established a ‘Procedures Working Group’ to lead reforms in the way disciplinary cases are handled. 37. The NEC adopted the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and all eleven examples of antisemitism attached to it. 38. A rule change agreed at Conference in 2018 means that all serious complaints, including antisemitism, are dealt with nationally to ensure consistency. 39. Last year, Jennie Formby wrote to the admins and moderators of Facebook groups about how they can effectively moderate online spaces and requested that any discriminatory content be reported to the Labour Party for investigation. 40. Since last year, no one outside Labour’s Governance and Legal Unit can be involved in decision-making on antisemitism investigations. This independence allows decisions free from political influence to be taken. Thanks to the Swansea Constituency Labour Party.
A month ago AGM’s were held in the 10 East Ham BLPs. When is the East Ham CLP AGM?
In February 2019 it will be a full two years since the East Ham CLP has had a general meeting. A full two year since the last AGM. It is not my natural instinct to blame others for a bad outcome or situation, even institutions rather than individuals, my first instinct is to take unfavourable circumstances into account. But after two years the argument from unfavourable circumstances wears very thin and the options that remain are indifference, incompetence or intent. This must reflect on ALL position holders who are at all involved in this including all constituency councillors and the constituency MP.