IJAN UK’s submission to the Chakrabarti Inquiry

Submission to the Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry,
“into antisemitism and other forms of racism including islamophobia, within the party”
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK

10 June 2016

An anti-racist movement versus
witch-hunting with antisemitism

As Jewish members of the Labour Party, who are also in the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, we do not believe that Labour is rife with antisemitism and we are outraged that antisemitism is being used to undermine the new anti-austerity, anti-racist and anti-imperialist Labour leadership. Below is evidence against the witch-hunt, and of the racism in the UK which is hidden by it.

The witch-hunt against the Labour Party is an attempt to undermine the new leadership of the Labour Party.  Corbyn won nearly 60% of the Labour Party leadership vote – a huge mandate (the other three candidates together shared the other 40%).

Accusations were first made during Corbyn’s leadership campaign in the summer of 2015. One instance among others was John Mann MP claiming that Corbyn was “responsible” for him and others getting antisemitic hate-mail.  A few months later accusations re-started with a member of a university labour club who had worked for the Israel Lobby claiming antisemitism in the club. The Party was fighting crucial local elections all over the UK and for the mayor of London where Labour's Muslim candidate was under attack by the Tory Jewish candidate for possibly enabling terrorism if elected – a truly racist campaign.

The issue was whether Labour could win an election. The timing of the accusations of antisemitism had to aim at undermining Labour's candidates, thus assisting UKIP and the Tories.

Zionists in the Labour Party, already unhappy at having a leader who is actively for justice in Palestine, took that opportunity to undermine Labour with a charge of antisemitism — blurred at first with antizionism.

Racism in the UK

The Jewish communities in the UK, prior to the First World War were demonized as dangerous fanatics infected by Bolshevism and anarchism.  That was then, not now.  We have to stress – Jewish communities are no longer demonized, but others are.

As a Jewish member of our Labour Party branch said:

“As Jews we know what antisemitism is, and it’s got nothing to do with what is happening today.”

What is happening today is:

  • Stop and search: people of colour are up to 17.5 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by the police in certain areas of the UK. Jews are not subject to this persecution.
  • Arrest: Black people are almost 3 times as likely to be arrested as those who are white. No such disproportionate claim is made for Jews unless they are also Black.
  • Monitoring of schoolchildren through the PREVENT law aimed at "radicalised" Muslims: 577 children under 18 years of age were referred to the government's “de-radicalisation programme” – the youngest was a four-year-old.  Dozens of children are currently in care, forcibly separated from their parents, on the basis that they might be radicalised at home.  Muslim parents live in terror that their children could be taken from them over a chance comment made in a classroom.
  • Deaths in custody: there have been over 1500 deaths of people while in police custody over the past 25 years, 500 of whom were people of colour (there have been no successful prosecutions). We are not aware that any of the dead were Jewish.
  • No Jews have been detained indefinitely and without charge in Belmarsh prison, which holds Muslims people on suspicion of terrorism.
  • Deportations: women and men fleeing war, poverty, rape and other torture face destitution and exploitation whilst in the UK, and forced removals to the very countries they have tried to escape from (see for example here). We know of no Jews among them.

Jewish people do not:

  • Suffer the lowest wages: Jewish men are paid 24 per cent more than white British Christian men. On the other hand, Bangladeshi and Pakistani Muslim men and Black African Christian men are paid 13-21 per cent less, and women from nearly all ethno-religious backgrounds are paid between a quarter and a third less than white British Christian men.
  • Jewish people are about 0.4% of the population, and about 4% of Labour MPs or ten times their proportion in the population as a whole (the Tories have slightly less).

Furthermore the Pew Research Centre found that although 7% of the population have unfavourable views of Jewish people; 26% have unfavourable views of Muslims; and 50% of Roma. They say that

“Negative sentiments about all three groups are consistently more common among people on the ideological right”.

What antisemitism in the Labour Party?

We do not know precisely what antisemitism the accusers are referring to since the reports and the discussions we have been part of are consistently un-specific.  Any antisemitism in the Labour Party (and there may be some) has no official backing or reflection in any program or any other political consequences that we have been able to discern.  The only concrete charges, conveniently labelled antisemitism, relate to criticisms of Israel, support for BDS, and expressions of antizionism.  This view was promoted, yet again, a few days ago by Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN:

“BDS is the true face of modern anti-Semitism”

We have read and heard distortions, manipulated information, and downright lies about people accused of antisemitism in the Labour Party, and a total lack of due process in the way these accusations have been pursued.  Some have found out about their suspension from the press before they received notification.

It can’t be an accident that all the accused we know of are people of colour, or Jewish, or Irish, or life-long anti-racists, or some combination of these.  The systematic attempt to equate criticism of Israel’s racist and murderous acts in Palestine with antisemitism is not only aimed at silencing our outrage at their occupation, and undermining our BDS campaigning, but to make it increasingly difficult for the Labour Party to reach out to some of its natural constituents – those who have least in this society, people of colour, Muslims, immigrants.

In one case allegations of antisemitism were used even against a Zionist Jewish woman: Rhea Wolfson.  Her candidacy to replace Ken Livingstone on a slate supporting Corbyn’s leadership on the NEC during his suspension, was rejected because a member of her Constituency Labour Party (CLP) claimed that Momentum, which supported her, was antisemitic.  As a result her CLP voted not to support her and thus made her ineligible to run (a candidate for the NEC must be support by their own CLP).  She had been attacked by fascist antisemites on Facebook.  But in the Labour Party she was attacked not because she was Jewish but because she supported Corbyn.  Thus charges of antisemitism are a weapon not against racism but against Corbyn.

Baroness Royall’s Inquiry

This Inquiry into the Oxford University Labour Club stated that there is no evidence of institutional antisemitism in the Labour Party – although her recommendations read as if there is:

“Training should be organised by Labour Students together with the Jewish Labour Movement for officers of all Labour Clubs in dealing with antisemitism.”

Before giving such responsibility to any unelected body like the JLM, we need to take a careful look at who they are and what they stand for.

One object of the JLM is:

"To maintain and promote Labour or Socialist Zionism as the movement for self-determination of the Jewish people within the state of Israel."

One of the values of the Jewish Labour Movement is:

“To promote the centrality of Israel in Jewish life . . .”

The Jewish Labour Movement is:

“. . . affiliated to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation of the UK, and organise within the World Zionist Organisation alongside our sister party in Israel, Havodah - the Israeli Labor Party.”

  1. Havodah – the Israeli Labor Party

Earlier this year the JLM's “sister party” Havodah unanimously passed Isaac Herzog’s (their leader), diplomatic plan.  He explained that the Havodah:

“wish to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as quickly as possible . . . we’ll erect a big wall between us. . .  We want to finish it, to complete the barrier that separates us.”

Herzog insisted in April that his party were no “Arab lovers”.  He has since sent a letter to Jeremy Corbyn “appalled and outraged” at examples of alleged anti-Semitism in Labour”.

  1. The World Zionist Organisation (WZO)

WZO is funded by the Israeli state. Its aims include:

"to promote Zionism & the Zionist idea and the Zionist enterprise . . . instilling the centrality of Israel and Jerusalem its capital deep within Jewish consciousness, encouraging the return to Zion . . . settling the land . . . " [1]

The United Nations report that in 2014 the Israeli government allocated $35 million to WZO’s settlement division which funds and organises Israeli settlements on Occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law. [2]

Given these affiliations and these aims we must consider that the JLM represents the interests of a foreign Apartheid state in the Labour Party.

  1. The Zionist Federation of the UK (ZF)

The ZF is an umbrella organisation for many Zionist groups in the UK: they say they are the “leading Israel advocacy organisation”. They campaign to undermine the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS); and demonstrated in support of Israel during the 2014 bombing of Gaza where, among others, over 500 Palestinian children were killed.  On the demonstration they were supported by, the WZO and the Jewish National Fund.

There have been repeated instances of ZF activists, demonstrating alongside the far-right EDL (English Defence League) and the Jewish Defence League (which the FBI called a "violent extremist Jewish organization").

  1. The Board of Deputies of British Jews

The Board of Deputies, the so-called “voice of British Jewry", says it has “been leading the fight against the BDS campaign against Israel”.  The Board lobbied in defence of Israel even during the 2014 bombing of Gaza:

“Throughout Operation Protective Edge, the Board has been working . . . to maximise grassroots activities in support of Israel at this time.”

Why is such a racist organization with such affiliations, also affiliated to the Labour Party where it can undermine its electoral prospects, its reputation and its politics generally?

What does the JLM say to Jewish people who don’t agree with them?

JLM Young Members most recently had to backtrack from saying that the Jewish signatories to a Guardian letter distinguishing between antizionism and antisemitism were:

“. . . only identifying as Jews for purposes of taking such contrary positions”.

Perhaps in response to protests that it was offensive – even antisemitic – to portray non- and anti-Zionist Jews as imposters for disagreeing with them, JLM deleted this sentence from their post.  Their implication that if you are not Zionist, you are not really Jewish – is a most racist assumption.

Outside of Zionism and Israel, the JLM brings no labour connection to the Labour Party.  They have no good reason to be affiliated and good reason to be disaffiliated.  The only component that justifies using the word Labour in their title is their affiliation to the World Labour Zionist Movement which seems only to exist fleetingly on the internet.  We know of no relationship to trade unions or any other body representing workers.

The JLM is an example of how Israel is represented within the Labour Party, and it is certainly one of the forces empowering this witch-hunt.  Their problem, like in every other witch-hunt, is that it is difficult to find what does not exist, in this case widespread antisemitism.

The JLM’s proposed Rule change

Any rule change that they propose should be examined with great scepticism.  The current Rules state that

“The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions”;

the JLM intends to add,

“except in instances involving antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism”;

This would introduce thought police and perpetual witch-hunts.  It is extremely dangerous and must not be allowed.  In addition they say that in relation to

“antisemitic, Islamophobic, racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions in public, private, online or offline”, “the NEC may have the right to impose the appropriate disciplinary options”. [our emphasis]

It would thereby make thoughts and opinions, even in private, subject to punishment.  The JLM are abusing the politics of anti-racism in order to have Orwell’s ‘thought police’ and ‘thought crime’ enter the Labour Party using the Trojan Horse of antisemitism.  They cannot reasonably believe that Labour will vote for that, but they are no doubt planning to have a wonderful time disrupting the party and preventing it from preparing to win in 2020.


Is there a history to amendments like this?

The JLM's chair, Jeremy Newmark, was called out by Employment Tribunal judges in 2013 for giving “evidence” that claimed that the University College Union was antisemitic.  Newmark's evidence was condemned as "untrue", "false", "playing to the gallery", "extraordinarily arrogant" and "also disturbing".  The judges concluded that "a belief in the Zionist project or an attachment to Israel … cannot amount to a protected characteristic” under the Equality Act of 2010.  This sets a clear red line between antizionism and antisemitism, a line which should be applied when considering any allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party.

The judges were also "troubled by the implications of the claim.  Underlying it we sense a worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression”.

The JLM attempts to enshrine just such a disregard with its proposed rule change which says in part:

“a hate incident . . . [is] defined as something where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity, or sexual orientation . .  .”

This interpretation of the McPherson report on institutional police racism following the murder of Steven Lawrence, directly contradicts the submission by  Professor David Feldman, in his January 2015 sub-report to the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, chaired by John Mann, where, on the Macpherson principle, he stated that:

“. . . it is unambiguously clear that Macpherson . . . did not mean to imply that such incidents are necessarily racist.  However, Macpherson’s report has been misinterpreted and misapplied in precisely this way.  Its authority has been thrown behind the view that such incidents should, by definition, be regarded as racist.  In short, a definition of antisemitism which takes Jews’ feelings and perceptions as its starting point and which looks to the Macpherson report for authority is built on weak foundations.”

The witch-hunt against Corbyn's Labour Party is a manipulation of anti-racism which elevates antisemitism over every other form of racism and discrimination, and thus deprioritizes every other form of racism which the Labour Party (and Corbynites in particular) have been confronting in the society generally as well as within Labour. It cannot go unnoticed that the vast majority of Jews in the UK are white, which helps to clarify that the elevation of antisemitism is racist in and of itself.


Conclusion and recommendation

We have seen that antisemitism is alleged depending on whether the national interests of Israel and/or the interests of those opposed to Corbyn’s leadership, are helped or hindered.  Lives, and first of all the lives of people of colour, depend on whether or not Corbyn and anti-austerity win the next election.  Keeping the Labour Party led by Corbyn out of power, seems to be the primary concern of the witch-hunters and those on whose behalf they act.

The anti-racist constituency is much larger than UKIP, the EDL and the Tory Party would lead us to believe.  Not only people of colour, but white people who are dedicated to anti-racism and who marched in their thousands saying "Refugees Welcome Here",  many of whom are part of mixed-race families, know very well the discrimination and violence that they and their relatives have had to confront.  Many of those white people are Jewish and many Jewish people carry on the Jewish tradition upheld by Marek Edelman, a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising who said:

"To be a Jew means always being with the oppressed and never the oppressors."

He remained anti-Zionist to the end of his life.

Instinctive discomfort, criticism, and even fury, at this witch-hunt is of course not limited to antizionists.  Many people in the Labour Party and in society are unwilling to back a witch-hunt of any kind, including people often sympathetic to the Palestinian cause but who may also be sympathetic to Israel.  What is unacceptable and appalling is prioritising this form of racism over every other.

We have never heard the JLM define the antisemitism they say they have witnessed or experienced in the Labour Party.  They imply where they do not state that antisemitism equals antizionism or BDS campaigning, or criticism of the state of Israel or of other Zionist organisations, or even raising the question of the illegality or apartheid nature of that imperialist regime which occupies Palestine.

The Jewish Labour Movement is an organised force within the Labour Party which has helped drive the witch-hunt forward.  They are a Zionist attack on the anti-racist movement.  Since it stands opposed to the aims of the Labour Party, its affiliation should be rescinded.   This does not imply a witch-hunt against any particular member of the JLM who is a member of, or wishes to join the Labour Party and advance its principles and aims.


1] No other state in the world recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

[2] In particular article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (UK)

www.IJAN.org   UK@IJAN.org





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