Left antisemitism

Leaked Labour report shows two scandals

Much comment on the leaked 850-page Labour Party report leaked on 12 April has focused on its extensive and vivid documentation of the already-known fact that from 2015 the hold-overs from the Blair-Brown era in the Labour Party machine were viciously and unscrupulously hostile to - indeed out to sabotage - the Labour Party's new elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and to more or less anyone "left" or Corbyn-supporting. But the report is entitled “The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014-2019”, and that, too, deserves analysis. At the moment, it...

Taking the lid off

Some issues emerge clearly from the leaked Labour Party report on its Governance and Legal Unit's handling of antisemitism and other issues. 1. The remnants of New Labour, entrenched in the party machine, hated any attempt, however modest, to move the party to the left. They were opposed to Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham as well as Corbyn. They were virulently hostile to even minimally left-wing policies. 2. They preferred a Tory government - even under Johnson and his hard Brexiteers - to a Labour victory under Corbyn. In a kind of "Third Period Blairism", this was a case of "After Boris our...

Parts of "left" link with right on antisemitism

On 24 February anti-far right campaign Hope Not Hate and the Jewish charity Community Security Trust published a report on London-based antisemitic conspiracy group Keep Talking. Since HnH and the CST secretly infiltrated Keep Talking in early 2017, it has hosted “an array of both left-wing and right-wing speakers, who have discussed a wide variety of conspiracy theories”. Particular focuses have included 9/11, terror attacks in London, historical assassinations, the murder of Jo Cox, the Skripal affair and Syria. In addition “antisemitic conspiracy theories are at the core of the group....

The best medicine

The Labour Party machine is hastening to “clean house”. It announced at the end of January that it had expelled 45 members over antisemitism in 2019. Another 104 members voluntarily quit in 2019 while charges of antisemitism were pending. In 2018, ten people were expelled and in 2017, one. 296 members were suspended over antisemitism complaints in 2019, compared with 98 suspended in 2018. The numbers are still small compared to the many hundreds “auto-excluded” in 2015 and 2016 (without a hearing and often without precise charges), not for antisemitism but for left-wing associations, current...

Being “minimally civil”

Keith Kahn-Harris, in his book Strange Hate: Antisemitism, racism and the limits of diversity , argues that selective anti-racism and selective racism have become dominant modes. Certain minorities, and certain sub-sections of minorities, are approved when they express a political or social orientation that is a close fit to another group. In other words, there is a process of political selecting out going on. For Kahn-Harris, Jews have precipitated the development of selective anti-racism, and in his book how Jewish people are treated forms a “case study”. Unfortunately he does not make any...

Three decades of Socialist Worker on antisemitism

When Sunderland Polytechnic Students Union (SPSU) banned a campus Jewish Society in 1985, Socialist Worker (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party) rallied to its defence. The SPSU was “quite clearly not racist. … One thing is clear – they are not racists, unlike the Zionists who oppose them.” (SW/928) Socialist Worker conceded in passing that “it can be argued whether the SPSU was tactically wise to ban the Zionists.” But the ban itself was not criticised. In fact, the paper uncritically quoted the SPSU Treasurer’s rationale for the ban: “The students union has a policy that Zionism...

Other motions not passed - AWL conference 2019

Motions on left antisemitism, the Hijab in schools, and social security and Labour's policy, were all submitted to AWL conference 2019. The conference decided that the first of these motions - on left antisemitism - should not be voted on, after a debate; the second, on the Hijab in schools, fell; the third - on social security - were not voted on, as decided before any debate.

The Board of Deputies' proposals are not the way to fight antisemitism

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has asked candidates for the Labour leadership and deputy leadership to sign up to ten proposals for tackling antisemitism . For sure the party needs a new, much more aggressive approach on fighting antisemitism. But the Board of Deputies’ proposals are both inadequate and, in many respects, wrong and harmful. Labour needs: • Serious political education and discussion about antisemitism and fighting it, as part of but distinct within wider antiracist education, throughout the party. This must include discussing antisemitic reactionary anticapitalism, and...

Poor choices for Labour leader

Labour’s National Executive Committee has set a short timetable for the leadership election. MPs and MEPs have one week to nominate candidates (7-13 January). Constituency Labour Party [CLPs] and affiliates have one month (15 January-14 February). Voting will run a month and a bit (21 February-4 April). New members can vote if they join by 20 January. There will be a registered supporters system, in addition to affiliate supporters (eg people registered through their unions). To get on the ballot, candidates need 10% of Labour MPs and MEPs (22), and then either 5% of constituency parties (33)...

LRC shame

Over recent times, and recent weeks especially, the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), once a relatively lively and open group of the Labour left, has descended into little more than a Jackie Walker fan club, a cult dedicated to the denial of antisemitism. Over the weekend 4-5 January, it has crossed the line. Its Facebook account, having previously posted conspiratorial crap and posts about violent, right-wing Jew-hate being the only “real” antisemitism, shared content by Laura Stuart, a far-right activist who has circulated racist material including from David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan....

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