Left antisemitism

Labour and antisemitism: now open up for education and debate

The Labour Party held its first training session on “Understanding Antisemitism” online on 14 June. Anyone expecting a training session which denounced all criticism of Israel as antisemitic, or which cited the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) examples of antisemitism (much and wrongly denounced as banning criticism of Israel) as sole and absolute criteria, would have had their expectations confounded. The session covered too much in too short a space of time. It leaned towards handed-down “training” rather than to opening up education and discussion. But if it encouraged at...

Antisemitism on the left

I find it interesting that Colin Foster in his piece about the rise of antisemitism (Solidarity 594) looks just at the aspect of far right antisemitism, concluding: “Antisemitic attacks have been increasing in Europe and the USA for some years. This increase is correlated with upsurges of the far right and in the USA especially of Trumpism.” Whilst I agree it is important to recognise this aspect and talk about it, as the rise and threat of the far right is very real, it’s not looking at the full picture. Historically it is the far right who are antisemitic and they’ve expressed this...

Support Palestinian rights, oppose antisemitism

On 15 and 22 May London saw large demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinians. The anger at the bombing of Gaza and the Israeli government’s disregard for Palestinian rights is fully justified. But as I talked with young people on the demonstrations, it became clear that some have picked up reactionary ideas: that Jews should be driven out of the Middle East, that they are Europe’s “problem”, and that the Holocaust is exaggerated by Israeli Jews in their own interests. Many of these ideas are promoted by various shades of political Islamism, expressed on the demo by the very common...

Uphold free speech, fight antisemitism

David Miller The government’s new attempt to police freedom of speech and academic freedom on University campuses — e.g. to withhold registration if a University is deemed not be complying — should be opposed. Universities already have a statutory duty to uphold free speech (in the 1986 Education Act). The new push is a demagogic attempt to push back against “wokeness”, linked to reactionary attempts to promote historical pride in such things as colonialism and slavery. However, there are real pressures against free speech and the right to organise on campuses. There have been many free-speech...

Raise voices against the Evans-Starmer purge!

Dozens of constituency or branch Labour Party officials, chairs, secretaries, and so on, have been suspended without due process simply for allowing debate on "banned" motions about other disciplinary crackdowns. “If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that", declared Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner on 29 November, following a new message from Labour Party general secretary David Evans that local Labour Party officials could be suspended for allowing debate on restoring the Labour whip to Jeremy Corbyn. It's a Catch-22 logic: suspensions can never be stopped...

Democracy and the labour movement

On 7 December, the Labour Party National Executive (NEC) adopted a “draft plan” in response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report of 29 October finding that Labour had dealt with antisemitism inadequately. The vote, according to LabourList, was unanimous. The draft plan will not be published: only, after some time, the plan finally agreed with the EHRC. The plan is likely to set out new disciplinary processes for Labour. They can hardly be worse than the present mess. The plan won’t include a political offensive, through debate and education, against the antisemitism in...

Socialist Worker on "The Lobby": half a step forward

Socialist Worker half-breaks from its previous attitudes to tell readers that seeing "the Israel lobby" as super-powerful in world politics is an antisemitic idea "Continuing to believe [criticism of Corbyn inside Labour is] all simply orchestrated by an 'Israel lobby' can lead you down some very dark paths… It can lead to antisemitic arguments". That's not from Solidarity, but, surprisingly, from an article by Nick Clark in Socialist Worker (2 December 2020). Clark's article is progress. Mind you, he doesn't explain how the "Israel lobby" idea of Jews worldwide being mysteriously highly...

Suspend "thousands and thousands"?

“If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that", declared Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner on 29 November, following a new message from Labour Party general secretary David Evans that local Labour Party officials can be suspended for allowing debate on restoring the Labour whip to Jeremy Corbyn. Local Labour Party discussions on suspensions or expulsions from the party were already barred by a March 2019 instruction from the previous, "Corbynite", general secretary Jennie Formby. Officials of at least one local Labour Party (Islington South) had been told in mid...

Labour suspensions spread

Following the suspension of multiple members of Bristol West Constituency Labour Party (CLP) Executive (EC) from the Labour Party for allowing a motion to be discussed, the regional office has postponed the CLP’s Annual General Meeting with two days’ notice, because of alleged “problems” with communication about it happening. It has been postponed until February, and our CLP meetings banned during the same time period. It’s not clear to me that there were any major “problems”. The meeting was set to attract hundreds, and the left to maintain control. The unelected officials’ motivation is...

Antisemitism overstated?

Phil Pope (web comment): Do you think the scale of antisemitism in Labour was understated, overstated, or defined precisely as it is? Do you think there is more or less antisemitism in Labour than in other political parties or in society at large. As you have quoted the CST (which you generously describe as a community charity) you might want to refer to their research. Rhodri Evans replies: Antisemitism in Labour — “understated, overstated, or defined precisely as it is?”, asks Phil Pope. The current blow-up in the Labour Party started with Jeremy Corbyn choosing (when he could just have kept...

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