Fighting antisemitism

Miller, Hasse, and academic freedom

In discussing the case of David Miller and Bristol University, I chose the example of Helmut Hasse, a celebrated mathematician sacked by the British occupation authorities in Germany in 1945 because of his right-wing nationalist views, as a comparison test case. Partly because I knew about it, but partly because no reader is likely to find Hasse's views other than vile. Hasse, to my mind, provides a test case for how Miller's could be considered wrong even while denouncing his political views. And likewise we can criticise Sussex University professor Kathleen Stock's noxious trans-sceptic...

Remember Cable Street, learn the real lessons

About 500 people attended the 3 October march and rally to commemorate the October 1936 Battle of Cable Street, when tens of thousands of East London workers and supporters defeated the police to block Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists from marching. Although members of the Communist Party of Britain were not particularly visible in the crowd, the event is very much a CP-organised affair, as was clear from the speakers at the end. Several puffed up the role of the Communist Party at Cable Street, when in fact the CP's role - as opposed to that of some CP members in East London, defying...

How an Indian MP led right-wing campaigning against Jewish migrants

In the last year Workers’ Liberty has published material about both Shapurji Sakatvala and Dadabhai Naoroji – two opponents of British rule in India and, in their different ways, socialists elected to the UK Parliament a century ago (Naoroji was MP for Central Finsbury 1892-5 and Saklatvala MP for Battersea North 1922-3 and 1924-9). Saklatvala was very much part of the Marxist tradition and Naoroji part of our tradition in a broader sense. Naoroji was the first person from one of the Empire’s subject peoples beyond the British Isles to be elected to Parliament; Saklatvala the third. The second...

An anti-Jewish pogrom by the British police: London, May 1917

This article is taken from Woman’s Dreadnought, paper of the Workers’ Suffrage Federation, 26 May 1917, where it was an editorial under the headline “A pogrom in London”. It describes London’s East End of that era, which also produced the Poplar council revolt four years later (described in Solidarity 601); and the big wave of anti-migrant agitation which had already produced the Aliens Act of 1905. Woman’s Dreadnought changed its name to Workers’ Dreadnought in July 1917; the group soon after changed its name to Workers’ Socialist Federation, and in 1921 merged into the then-revolutionary...

Jews, Britain and 1947-48: a slice of history

What follows is an account of the anti-Jewish pogrom in Manchester in August 1947. Britain still occupied Palestine and Jewish guerrillas were at war with the colonial power. Two British army sergeants were captured and, in reprisal for Britain’s hanging of captured Jewish fighters, hanged. A great outcry followed. The Mosleyite fascists found a new resonance for their antisemitism. Pogroms against Jewish communities took place in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester. (The picture shows Liverpool afterwards.) The text is from a book, Jerusalem Is Called Liberty, by Walter Lever. Lever had been a...

Antisemitism is on the rise in the US and UK

Antisemitic attacks in the USA over the two weeks to 23 May ran at over twice their average rate in 2019, according to figures collected by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Some examples: “A synagogue received an email... ‘Die fucking jew cockroaches! Israel = racism, apartheid, genocide’... a Jewish man wearing a Star of David necklace was punched by a man who allegedly asked him, ‘What is that around your neck, does that make you a fucking Zionist?’... “A Jewish man was beaten by a group of anti-Israel protestors in Times Square [New York]. In another incident, anti-Zionist protestors...

Make solidarity without antisemitism

Many students at UK universities have rightly responded to the escalation of violence in Israel-Palestine by mobilising in support of the Palestinians. In some places there are campaigns to get universities to stop investing in companies that financially back Israeli military industries. We hope Palestinian solidarity campaigning continues beyond the ceasefire, and that university divestment campaigns succeed. At the same time we continue to criticise the blanket boycott policies which dominate on campuses (including academic boycotts), with their implicit backing for a “one state” outcome in...

Another sort of anti-fascism

The 43 Group has long held a strange place in Jewish and anti-fascist memory. On the one hand, the story of a group of Jews who violently beat the fascists off the streets of post-war Britain has an obvious romantic appeal. On the other hand, there has been remarkably little serious history written about what was, at its peak, a very well-organised fighting organisation of anti-fascists with a regular newspaper, democratic structures, a substantial headquarters and hundreds of active members. Before the publication of Daniel Sonabend’s new book We Fight Fascists, the last on the organisation...

For real free speech on campuses!

In October 2020, Gavin Williamson wrote to all university vice-chancellors “requesting” they adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, and insisting on action before Christmas… or else. In February the government announced plans to appoint a “free speech champion” whose job will be to ensure freedom of speech and expression is not stifled at UK universities. The role is embedded in the Office for Students (OFS), which would have the power to impose fines on institutions if the OFS find they have suppressed free speech. New legislation...

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