Fighting antisemitism

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...

Banned from educating on antisemitism

An educational event which was being organised by a branch of Lewes CLP, about challenging antisemitism, has been banned by order of the Labour Party’s Regional Office. Mark Perryman, a member of Lewes CLP (though not the organiser of the educational event) spoke to Momentum Internationalists in a personal capacity to explain what has been going on. The EHRC [Equality and Human Rights Commission] report was published and Jeremy Corbyn was almost immediately suspended. We had a branch meeting to discuss this. We weren’t of a mood to challenge [Labour Party general secretary] David Evans or...

Kino Eye: Sunshine - a film about antisemitism

There are many films about antisemitism. I am highlighting Sunshine (1999) by Hungarian director István Szabó. The story concerns three generations of the Sonnenscheins, a Budapest Jewish family — from the late 1890s to the collapse of “state socialism” in Hungary in 1990. The Sonnenscheins are assimilated and successful, their prosperity being based on a popular elixir bearing the family name (Sonnenschein translates as “Sunshine”). They change their name to the Hungarian Sors (“fate”) and convert to Christianity; yet antisemitism becomes ever more threatening. Even the second generation Adám...

Video: What is left antisemitism, and how can it be confronted? With Daniel Randall

Introductory speech by Daniel Randall from a meeting of the same name: video and audio. The publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report, as well as the ongoing fallout from the Panorama documentary and subsequent legal wranglings, have kept the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party in the news and political discussion. But the “debates” so far have tended to generate more heat than light, by keeping the focus on the factional implications rather than the underlying political issues. This discussion seeks to get back to the fundamental questions: what does antisemitism on the left consist of, where does it come from, and how can it be confronted?

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