Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Council Officer Stan Keable (Labour Party Marxists) Suspended Amid Allegations that he said ‘Zionists’ ‘Collaborated’ with the Nazis.

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Image result for stan keable weekly worker

Alleged to have said  Zionists “collaborated” with the Nazis.

Stan, an indefatigable supporter of the Weekly Worker, is well known on the left.

He comes from an old Communist family.

I knew his brother Ken, as an adolescent, in the  Woodcraft Folk.

That he should be threatened with the loss of his job for  views on ‘Zionism’ that owe a lot to  Moshé Machover  – ones I heartily disagree with – is outrageous.

This Blog backs protests against this move.

London council officer suspended after claiming Zionists ‘collaborated’ with Nazis.

London council worker has been suspended after being caught claiming Zionists “collaborated” with the Nazis.

Stan Keable has been removed from his duties as an environmental enforcement officer for Hammersmith & Fulham Council after saying: “The Nazis were anti-Semitic. The problem I’ve got is the Zionist government at the time collaborated with them. They accepted the ideas that Jews are not acceptable here.”

The Left-wing activist made the comments, shared in a clip on Twitter, at a demonstration outside Parliament led by the Board of Deputies of British Jews protesting against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. He was in a counter demo which said Jeremy Corbyn has been unfairly smeared as an anti-Semite.

A council spokesperson said he had been suspended while an investigation was carried out and that it “does not tolerate anti-Semitism”. His job includes inspecting private landlord properties. He does not work with social housing tenants.

Conservative MP for Chelsea & Fulham, Greg Hands, said: “I am shocked someone expressing hateful opinions could have a job meeting vulnerable tenants. The council leader should launch an inquiry into whether there are others of his ilk in the council.”

Mr Keable also works for union Unison, which said it is investigating and “takes allegations of anti-Semitism seriously”. Labour expelled Mr Keable last autumn for his role as the secretary of Labour Party Marxists.

Mike Katz, of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: “To try to twist the history of the Nazis to fit an anti-Zionist narrative is offensive.”

When contacted by the Standard, Mr Keable said: “I am sorry for any offence I may have caused. But the Nazi regime and the Zionist Federation of Germany collaborated, through the Haavara agreement, in the emigration of some 60,000 Jews to Palestine between 1933 and 1939.” He said he did not insinuate that Jews collaborated with the Nazis.

On March 27, the day after he attended the counter demonstration in Parliament Square, organised by Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Party Marxists secretary Stan Keable was suspended from work by Hammersmith and Fulham council. The suspension letter states that there are “serious allegation(s) which, if substantiated, could constitute gross misconduct under the council’s disciplinary procedure” and which “could result in your dismissal from the council’s service”.

Stan has not yet been informed of the exact nature of the alleged “inappropriate comments”. However, it seems very likely that they relate to a short video clip tweeted by BBC Newsnight editor David Grossman. It seems that Grossman – without asking for permission – filmed Stan on his mobile phone while he was talking to a supporter of the anti-Corbyn demonstration.

Like other LPM comrades, Stan had approached the Zionists with the intention of engaging with them. He handed out Labour Against the Witchhunt leaflets and spoke to numerous people. Most discussions were friendly, if a little one-sided: “People on the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration were a mixture of Tories, Labour Party members and ex-members,” says Stan. “They told me they were there because of the ‘huge problem’ of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, but when I asked if they themselves had experienced discrimination, they could not give me any concrete examples.”

The conversation in question was several minutes long “and the guy and I shook hands afterwards”. The 105 seconds that Grossman has published – again, without even asking for permission – are entitled: “Anti-Semitism didn’t cause the holocaust and Zionists collaborated with the Nazis”. As we show in the transcript below, this is seriously misleading. But, as you would expect from such a headline in the current climate, the short clip has caused quite a stir on social media.

Outraged Progress leader Richard Angell has called for Stan to be expelled from the Labour Party, only to be rather disappointed when somebody pointed out that he had, in fact, already been booted out under Labour’s witch-hunting rule 2.1.4.B. This automatically bars from membership anybody “who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or unit of the party” and has led to the expulsion of dozens, if not hundreds, of Marxists and socialists, including supporters (or alleged supporters) of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and  Socialist Appeal, as well as Labour Party Marxists.

Angell then demanded that Jeremy Corbyn should “make clear to him that he never wants to see him in a Labour sticker ever again and that he does not speak for the Labour leadership. Corbyn could tweet at him, write to him and make it clear beyond any doubt.”

Somebody then alerted local Tory MP Greg Hands, who sprang into Twitter action, demanding that Hammersmith and Fulham “investigate and urge action. Enough is enough.” And they quickly did his bidding. Less than 18 hours after the demo, Stan was suspended by the council (which is run by Labour, incidentally).

Let us take a closer look at the short clip then. We see Stan talking to a man who is, rather outrageously, trying to “make a connection” between Corbyn’s throwaway comment about the ‘anti-Semitic mural’ and the holocaust: “Are you saying it’s unreasonable to extrapolate that the mural reflects tropes that have existed for hundreds of years and that have really resulted in the anti-Semitism that led to the holocaust?”

Stan replies: “I don’t think anti-Semitism caused the holocaust, no. The Nazis used anti-Semitism …”

The man then interrupts him: “Yes, it was anti-Semitism that caused the holocaust! Are you really saying it wasn’t anti-Semitic?”

Stan replies: “No, I’m not saying that. Of course the holocaust was anti-Semitic. The problem I’ve got is that the Zionist movement at the time collaborated with them …” He then gets shouted down, while trying to elaborate that “the Zionist movement from the beginning” accepted the idea that Jews did not belong in Europe.

There are a number of points to make about this conversation and the reaction to it.

First of all, Stan’s comments were clearly part of a longer discussion and are taken out of context. Had he been properly interviewed or written an article, he could have explained more fully what he was trying to say. Of course, anti-Semitism by itself did not cause the holocaust. It existed long before the Nazis, eg, as promoted by the medieval Catholic church. The Nazi, at first, used anti-Semitism as a propaganda tool to link communists and social democrats together with finance capital. Both the labour movement and banking were supposedly dominated by Jews. There was an element of truth here – there were many Jewish communists and social democrats and more than a few Jewish capitalists. But, according to the Nazis, they were united in a world-wide conspiracy to rule the world. A form of social madness that led the Nazis first to ban the Communist Party (February 1933), then the trade unions (May 1933), then the social democrats (July 1933), then, in September 1935, this same ideology saw them introduce the Nuremburg race laws and, on November 9-10 1938, a full scale assault on Jewish owned businesses.

It was, however, Stan’s comment that “the Zionist movement at the time collaborated with [the Nazis]” which has really got the right incensed. It was for this he has been labelled a “holocaust denier” online. You could criticise the slight factual inaccuracy contained within the words “at the time”, which implies that Stan meant during the time of the holocaust. But his attempts to clarify that he was talking about the Ha’avara agreement of 1933 between the Zionist movement and the Nazis (which broke the non-Zionist Jewish-led call for an economic boycott of the Nazi regime) was simply shouted down. This notorious agreement, however, is a historical fact.

Most seriously though is the culture of fear around the question of anti-Semitism displayed by this episode. Stan’s suspension letter states that, “suspension is a neutral act and does not in itself constitute disciplinary action or imply guilt”. But even the briefest look at the clip should show the leaders of Hammersmith and Fulham council that there is nothing contained within those 105 seconds that could “bring the council into disrepute” or constitute “potentially a breach of the Equality Act 2010”.

The right has been incredibly successful in creating a moral panic. By manipulating, by misrepresenting, by imputing, by lying the left can be charged with peddling a line which is supposedly anti-Semitic. Presumptions of innocence go out of the window in such a toxic atmosphere. Stan will now have to prove that he is not an anti-Semite or a holocaust-denier – not just to his employer, but also the thousands of people who have seen the reports and comments about the short clip (which has also been published by the Daily Mail – again without anybody approaching Stan, despite the fact he was clearly identified online).

Marxists believe in open, free and robust debate. We believe such debate is absolutely crucial if we ever want to see a working class confident enough in defending and arguing its ideas to become the ruling class in society.

Some say it would have been better to shut up when there might be a camera pointing at you. Of course, we have been advised to keep quiet about plenty of other things too: our open criticism of Jeremy Corbyn right from the day he won the leadership contest; our transparent reporting of meetings of the left; our analysis of disagreements between politicians in the Labour Party. You name it, we’ve been publishing openly about it.

This is also reflected in the behaviour of our comrades at events: we do not shy away from debates, discussions. Even if that leaves us open to misinterpretation, wilfully or otherwise. That comes with the territory and there is only one way to avoid it: saying nothing at all. Something we are most certainly not going to do.

This article was updated on April 2 to more accurately reflect the recording of the discussion at issue.

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20 Responses

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  1. Seems to me that the anti-Zionist faction are over egging it to claim that the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis. It takes no account of the reality of political ideas, Although some Jews thought that the solution to persecution lay on emigration, others did not. Are Jews not allowed to hold varying political opinions? Just. Seems to me that when people repeat this the intention is to rile Jews, just as when they claim Gaza is the equivalent of auschwitz. These claims are politically motivated and should b acknowledged as such. Having said that, it is against all claims of free speech and workers’ rights that Stan Keable should be disciplined over this trumped up charge. Nothing whatsoever to do with his ability to do his job.

    Suer

    April 4, 2018 at 12:17 pm

  2. 100% in favour of expelling him from Labour.

    Should he also lose his actual job for being an idiot too irreparably stupid to even realise he is objectively an anti-Semite?

    Probably not.

    But stupid and indefensible words will sometimes lead to stupid and indefensible consequences.

    Roger McCarthy

    April 4, 2018 at 12:18 pm

  3. Suer, I could not agree more and have recoiled from this since I was (see above) adolescent when the Nazis and Zionist legende noire was associated with the WRP, Ken Loach and others, then followed in the 1980s by Jim Allen’s vile play Perdition (1987), rather than the present crop of ‘anti-Zionists’.

    I also agree that Stan was well off the edge in the Labour Party.

    But I do not like to see somebody, certainly approaching retirement, losing their job, which as one of his cds on FB has pointed out just not, does not involve lengthy debates about the 1930s Zionist movement, something Stan appears to know little about other than the articles in the Weekly Worker.

    Andrew Coates

    April 4, 2018 at 12:26 pm

  4. The man Stan should be (but of course won’t be) blaming is Machover.

    When an emeritus professor already in receipt (I imagine) of a final salary pension scheme opines idiotically the consequences for him are basically zero.

    When someone like Stan who is still working hard for a living bellows that bourgeois intellectual’s idiot opinions at every opportunity in print, online and through a literal megaphone he does face real consequences because large organisations and particularly local authorities do have anti-racism policies and anti-Semitism breaks those policies.

    Having been thrown on the scrapheap myself in middle age this is not a fate I’d wish even on a Stan Keable.

    Roger McCarthy

    April 4, 2018 at 1:03 pm

  5. Surely that must be Roger McCarthyite commenting above? I think many of us say silly things in arguments – and Stan’s was pretty stupid – especially the bit about “anti-semitism didn’t cause the holocaust” – I’m not sure how any socialist could come up with that one. But no one should lose their job or be expelled from the LP for saying stupid things unless there is a clear pattern of racism, anti-semitism, homophobia etc

    There is certainly an obsession with some on the left with the Havana Agreement, which involved jews with some wealth being able to prevent it being confiscated if they went to Palestine (it was exchanged for German farm tools etc. which benefited the German economy and the Jewish Agency in Palestine). This agreement, between the German Foreign Ministry and the major German Zionist organisation, was denounced by the American Jewish Congress which was running an effective world boycott of German goods and exports in reply to the Nuremberg Laws. As Suer says Zionism wasn’t united in how it responded to the Nazi government measures and neither were the socialists, before or after Hitler came to power.

    mckee1917

    April 4, 2018 at 1:13 pm

  6. Obviously that was the Haavara Agreement (the dangers of auto correct)

    mckee1917

    April 4, 2018 at 1:15 pm

  7. I thought I was being clear that while he should not be a member of the Labour Party on the whole stupidity should not be a sackable offence.

    Roger McCarthy

    April 4, 2018 at 1:42 pm

  8. It shouldn’t be a sackable offence in the same way that being a member of the BNP or the SWP shouldn’t. He is certainly stupid but that. as far as I know, isn’t a criminal or any other offence. We are now in the position of reverse political correctness which is as bad as the original sort. By all means expose these Jew haters for what they are but sacking and victimisation aren’t the answer. The Jew haters of the left are losing the argument. Let’s not give them any ammunition.

    Dave Roberts

    April 4, 2018 at 2:56 pm

  9. Mr Roberts calling Stan Keable a “jew hater” is a libel actionable in the courts.

    Andrew I suggest you bar this man from your blog until he apologises and agrees to refrain from hate speech and slander.

    mckee1917

    April 4, 2018 at 4:07 pm

  10. He did not name names but made a broad sweep in all directions of hate.

    Andrew Coates

    April 4, 2018 at 4:31 pm

  11. Indeed he is not a Jew hater – he’s just an idiot.

    Roger McCarthy

    April 4, 2018 at 5:23 pm

  12. Being a fool is not a sackable offence, for all the reasons that immediately come to mind, and more.

    Some people suggest the Weekly Worker would be better off following this example.

    Andrew Coates

    April 4, 2018 at 5:41 pm

  13. Mckee or whatever your real name is. I’m entitled to my opinions and as far as I am concerned people with the opinions of the gentleman concerned are Jew haters. In that category I include most of the left including people I used to class as friends and no longer do. This current spate of anti semitism has expose most Marxist orientated individuals and groups for what they are and always have been, anti semites.

    Dave Roberts

    April 4, 2018 at 6:15 pm

  14. Being an idiot who deals in anti-Semitic tropes shouldn’t lose you your job.

    Jim Denham

    April 4, 2018 at 8:04 pm

  15. Jim Denham. I agree, as long as it’s across the board. Going back to the seventies when the SWP front the ANL were demanding the sacking of people who even voted NF I was against it. You can imagine the abuse but as the Trots were all outsiders to the East End it was all water off a ducks back as far as I was concerned.

    Dave Roberts

    April 4, 2018 at 8:25 pm

  16. Again Andrew this man Roberts has referred to Stan Keable as a “jew hater”. Are you going to block him for hate speech or sander or become complicit?

    mckee1917

    April 4, 2018 at 9:58 pm

  17. Anyone who has 1917 in their name is against free speech. If I’m to be blocked then hundreds of thousands of others across the internet will have to be as well. The game is well and truly up when someone like Nick Lowles of Hope not Hate is the subject of abuse from the left. http://www.hopenothate.org.uk to see his article and what the left is really like. If anyone wants to sue me I can be contacted at my business address spanfoods@gmail.com.

    Dave Roberts

    April 5, 2018 at 6:11 am

  18. If a man is right, he can’t be too radical; if he is wrong, he can’t be too conservative.

    — Josh Billings

    Josh Billings

    April 5, 2018 at 9:21 am

  19. Was thinking that 1917 was the year of ‘mckees’ birth – making them 99/100 years of age! Must be summat else then. Oh well, back to the drawing board….

    Betty

    April 5, 2018 at 9:42 am

  20. Eh up Betty lass. I never thought of that.

    Dave Roberts

    April 5, 2018 at 12:22 pm


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