I wrote the following as a comment elsewhere and (as is my wont) I’m reposting here:
The IHRA ‘definition’ has it that:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non- Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The proposition here is that antisemitism is not equivalent to antipathy towards Jews (though it may be expressed as such) it is a ‘certain perception of Jews’ but that perception is not described and therefore has no gives no information and therefore cannot define anything.
Nevertheless this ‘definition’ has been adopted by the Labour party. Since it is empty of meaning examples were necessary to give it any utility. I understand that the NEC found four of the eleven IHRA examples problematic and made ammendments. The four examples are: “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”“Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.” “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” “Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” “Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
To take just one of these examples: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” This is problematic because it could be taken to deny expression of a legitimate interpretation that the founding of the state of Israel, by priveliging one ethnic group over another and through its implementation was a racist endeavour. It could also be taken to deny expression of the thought that the current policies and practices of the state of Israel are racist. It might be argued that the wording does not deny these expressions as it concerns itself with the existence of the State of Israel not with its founding or its policies and practices but what expression does it then deny? Mere existence cannot be said to be an endeavour at all let alone a ‘racist endeavour’; existence is a precondition to any endeavour. Phrasing such as this can be taken to mean very little or very much. It is correct to say that the definition with its examples is not fit for purpose if that purpose is sanctioning antisemitic racism while protecting the right to speak freely against oppression and injustice wherever and by whomever it is perpetrated.
It is the right of any autonymous organisation or community to determine how, subject to national laws, it is governed internally. It is the duty of such organisations to apply due diligence to the adoption of guidelines. To abrogate that responsibility to outside bodies would be a dereliction of duty on the part of elected officers.
More than 40 Labour MPs formed a human shield around their Jewish colleague Ruth Smeeth this morning as she arrived at a disciplinary hearing of an activist accused of being anti-Semitic towards her.
Flanked by dozens of her colleagues, Ms Smeeth, an outspoken campaigner against anti-Jewish hatred in the Labour Party, was heckled by far-left activists demonstrating outside the hearing in Westminster.
She was due to give evidence against Marc Wadsworth, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter who is alleged to have accused her of colluding with the media during a press conference on anti-Semitism two years ago.
The exchange, which took place at the launch of Labour’s Chakrabarti report, resulted in Ms Smeeth breaking down in tears.
Mr Wadsworth was condemned afterwards by Baroness Chakrabarti, who said he had behaved “incredibly rudely”. He was later suspended pending investigation.
As Smeeth walks out (from the Chakrabarti Report Launch) I hear Jeremy Corbyn dealing with what Wadsworth has said. He is dealing with it calmly, no dramatics. This is what I expect from politicians, rationality. I am too often disappointed. ‘How dare you? How absolutely dare you?’ shouts Smeeth Is that what we should expect from those who have the privilege to represent us? Yes Wadsworth is clumsy, but Smeeth is cruel.
When she shouts ‘how dare you’ and walks out it no longer matters what Wadsworth has said, what he alleges, Smeeth has changed the nature of the interaction argument to intimidation. How dare he challenge her? To challenge authority and privilege is indeed an act of daring. Observe this carefully, observe where power lies and ask who is being victimised.
Marc Wadsworth has been expelled from the party, not for the antisemitism that he had been accused of but for ‘bring the party into disrepute’. It is not however Wadsworth who has brought the party into disrepute it is Smeeth. To my eyes it is Smeeth but I suppose my eyes do not matter.
Ken Livingstone has been in the news again. The fuss over a remark he made two years ago continues.
It seems to me that Ken made a daft and irrelevant remark that was not dismissed as a daft remark but was immediately attacked as heresy. I find the reaction a lot more scarily fascistic than anything Ken said ..
Where there is free speech there are going to things said that offend others. Sometimes this will be understandable and we will take other people’s being offended or hurt into account, at other times we will explain why what we have said is important to us.
I understand the sensitivities around comparing the behaviour of the Israeli state to that of the Nazi regime but where the analogy is apt it should not be out of bounds. The analogy is not used of particular Israel individuals, behaviours or institutions on account of their Jewishness but on account of their oppressiveness and to fail to condemn that oppressiveness is as much a betrayal of those who suffered under Nazi oppression as it is of those who suffer in Gaza under Israeli oppression. This Holocaust survivor makes this point powerfully:
(BTW, I do not endores the headlined equivalency. I don’t know much about the Zionist philosophy but I condemn oppressive Israeli practices)
The picture is of me as ward secretary with three councillors, Jenny Bailey, Omana Gangadharan and Lester Hudson, representing my ward in Newham. It’s safe to say that Newham is a safe Labour borough but we campaigned actively winning all 60 seats and getting our new mayoral candidate Rokhsana Fiaz elected as Mayor.
I freely admit that I do not know much about the intricacies of national and party politics and so I was initially puzzled that some Labour supporters were disappointed by the overall results of the local elections in which Labour was well ahead in the number of seats gained. But I understand now that only 150 out of 405 councils held elections this year and a map of those councils shows a sea of blue with a few islands of red. It was this support boosted in the May 2017 local elections that made Theresa May miscalculate the odds of smashing Labour in the June 2018 general elections. With a total of 20,209 councillors, an increase by 77 is a drop in the ocean. Nevertheless given the mobilisation of the MSM and establishment against the Corbyn project a hold is a creditable performance. There is a lot of work to do if the Corbyn project is to succeed and given the orientation of the MSM much of this work has to involve very deep conversation that challenges political and ethical assumptions.
Theresa May tries to present a ‘prime ministerial’ front after the Manchester bombing. She accuses Jeremy Corbyn of saying that terror attacks in Britain are ‘our own fault’. He didn’t say this of course, in fact Corbyn gave a speech that was rather wonderful and all about bringing the nation together. It was the speech of a national leader and is well worth listening to here,
There will be more police on the streets under a Labour Government. And if the security services need more resources to keep track of those who wish to murder and maim, then they should get them.
We will also change what we do abroad. Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home.
That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions.
But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people, that fights rather than fuels terrorism.
Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism. The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.
Those causes certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone. Over the past fifteen years or so, a sub-culture of often suicidal violence has developed amongst a tiny minority of, mainly young, men, falsely drawing authority from Islamic beliefs and often nurtured in a prison system in urgent need of resources and reform.
And no rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre.
But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.
That’s why I set out Labour’s approach to foreign policy earlier this month. It is focused on strengthening our national security in an increasingly dangerous world.
We must support our Armed Services, Foreign Office and International Development professionals, engaging with the world in a way that reduces conflict and builds peace and security.
Seeing the army on our own streets today is a stark reminder that the current approach has failed.
So, I would like to take a moment to speak to our soldiers on the streets of Britain. You are doing your duty as you have done so many times before.
I want to assure you that, under my leadership, you will only be deployed abroad when there is a clear need and only when there is a plan and you have the resources to do your job to secure an outcome that delivers lasting peace.
That is my commitment to our armed services.
This is my commitment to our country. I want the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government. There can be no love of country if there is neglect or disregard for its people.
I think this was a defining speech. It defines Jeremy Corbyn as a leader and it defines a better and more honest vision for Britain. Much of the mainstream media however reacded with a kind of knee-jerk condemnation along the lines of Thresa May, pretending that they believed that Corbyn was an apologist for terrorism or at least arguing that although he might be partially right it was not the right thing to say as it was giving comfort to the enemy.
An assumption that people seemed to be making whether they were supportive of or against Corbyn’s speech is that he was saying that because we bombed Iraq and Libya and are bombing in Syria. Corbyn does not if fact say this at that is not the reality. The reality is that the strain of Islam with political and jihadist aspirations that Isis represents, (Wahabbism/Salafism), has been around for a long time and secular governments like those of Sadaam and Gaddafi were keeping them in check because they were seen to be opposed to secular states. When we bombed Iraq and acted as an airforce for Islamists in Libya we destroyed the infrastructure of those countries and set free the jihadist. We are currently supporting anti-Assad forces in Syria and so doing the same to that country as we did to Libya and Iraq. It is not the people who we bombed who are bombing us, it is the jihadists we set free to destroy their countries that are bombing us.
The West has been supporting jihadists since at least the early 1980’s when the US backed jihadists against the Soviet sponsored secular goverenment of Afghanistan.
As a result of this support Afghanistan eventually fell into the hands of the medievalist Taliban. From 2001 the US and their allies have imposed more suffering on the Afghan people in a supposed war against the terrorist group allegedly responsible for the attacks of 9/11.
In 2003 the US and its allies went to war with the Iraqi government of Sadaam Hussain after alleging that he had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and was a threat to his neighbours. No such weapons were found but Iraq’s political and social infrastructure was destroyed and the country was occupied and exploited by western corporations. In place of a stable, if brutal, secular government keeping a lid on the political aspirations of religionists the Western occupiers turned governance over to a Shia dominated government at odds and at war with a Sunni resistance that came to be dominated by the fanatics that became known as Isis or Isil or Daesh.
In 2011 the US, the UK and France used a pretext of humanitarian concern to get UN authorisation to protect rebels in Libya from Gaddafi against whom they were waging a civil war. The mandate was to protect civilians from Gaddafi but the US, UK and France started bombing Gaddafi forces and effectively acting as an air force for the rebels. After the death of Gaddafi the Western powers handed over control to a government that was not strong enough to keep the country together as different groups vied for power. Salafist elements seem to have flourished in the chaos. The Manchester bomber Salman Abedi was a British born member of a Libyan Salafist family, he and they had connections to the Salafists and to Daesh in Libya.
2011 also marked the beginning of the Syrian conflict, a brutal war in which regional powers, notably Saudia Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have supported an armed and predominently Salafist opposition to the government od Bashar al Assad. This armed opposition also got support from the West and without the intervention of Russia would have overrun the government forces and very likely thrown Syria into the kind of chaos we see in Libya.
Why the West supports Salafist terrorism against secular states is best left to another ramble but there is clear evidence that it does. Why then, if we have been enabling them, do Salafist terrorists attack targets in the UK and Europe? It’s because that’s what they do. They carry within them the virus of hate and intolerance, intolerance not only for the secular states in the Middle East that we have armed them to destroy, but for any secular state.
This is a nice video showing why we need a well funded police service. Like Education and Health the Police have seen big cuts in the service they are able to offer since 2010. Cut these essential services and we damage the wellbeing of society.
Just over two weeks ago. I was elected Secretary for the Wall End Ward of the East Ham CLP (Constituency Labour Party). Last Thursday, I attended my first CLP AGM. I was shocked by the blatant disregard for courtesy, democracy and fairness throughout the proceedings. I wrote the following on Facebook:
I’m not feeling good today, about myself or my part of the world. Last night I attended the AGM of the East Ham CLP (Constituency Labour Party). My first, as I was elected secretary of my ward just two weeks ago. We were presented with a short agenda and a list of nominees to be officers and delegates. Apparently there had been nominations from the 10 constituency wards that had been presented but were considered invalid so, with 5 exceptions, the list consisted of nominations from branches the GMB union affiliated to the CLP.
Challenges were made and questions asked, through points of order, concerning the legitimacy of the proceedings including the status of the Chair and other officers as delegates. These questions were brushed aside in a meeting that became increasingly tense as the challengers persisted. An explosive moment came when one challenger was asked by the chair if he wanted the CLP to become like than of Tower Hamlets. The challenger asked if he was being asked that question because he was Asian. He was promptly shouted at by others in the meeting and was asked to withdraw the remark. He did this but tried to continue with his objections. The Chair at the suggestion of the Mayor ruled that the meeting should move immediately to elections. There was a vote on this by show of hands where only those in favour were asked to show their hands. There was no count of hands and looking around the room it was unclear to me whether more than half the room had their hands up but the motion was passed, albeit to loud objections.
The Chair then said that only those nominees on the printed list would be standing for election and that there could be no nominations added from the floor. There were objections to this and the meeting was becoming increasing angry. The Chair went through the list and confirmed nominations unchallenged. I don’t know what happened with the four LCF (Local Campaign Forum) positions where more than one candidate was listed as the meeting was very noisy and my anger was bubbling over. It was at around this point that I walked out of the meeting shouting my objections that this was undemocratic and the people sitting and approving it should be ashamed of themselves.
When I am in the throes of ‘righteous anger’ my voice projects well so what I said will have been heard. I am mostly perceived as calm but outrageously unfair and bullying behaviour sends me up the wall and over the edge. But there is nothing righteous about anger even though my perception and position may be clear and correct. Ends do not justify means and angry old men do not look good. I cannot wholly regret my outburst but I will not repeat it as it does me no good and is bad in principle. If it becomes necessary I will withdraw rather than become enraged.
After leaving the meeting I went to a local pub with other ‘dissidents’. Even those who were much more experienced that me said that it was the worst meeting that they had been to. It was utterly clear that candidates supportive of the standing regime had been railroaded through. It is clear too that the process by which this happened is unsupportable. This should be obvious simply from the list of nominees almost entirely nominated from the (unnamed) branches of a single trade union. That list should be all that is needed to mark the whole proceedings as undemocratic, unfair and illegitimate.