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Counterfire on “Post-Corbynism”, “Rebecca Long-Bailey is not continuity Corbyn enough” .

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Post-Corbynism. 

Labour in vain? – weekly briefing

Lindsey German, on “ Post Corbynism” .

The leader of the revolutionary socialist Counterfire is already retreating from Long-Bailey.

And what’s more, she has, in-between defensive remarks based on her own group’s unique standpoint, begun to talk sense.

The main thrust is to undermine the claim that Long-Bailey is the ‘real’ left candidate to lead Labour.

The problem for the left however is that Rebecca Long-Bailey is not continuity Corbyn enough. She advocates the use of nuclear weapons. She declared herself a Zionist at the Jewish Labour Movement hustings. And she has signed a statement over trans policies in Labour which contradicts the manifesto pledges, and which threatens to lead to a witch-hunt against some feminists. I understand the pressure that she is under, but we can see from the experience of Jeremy Corbyn himself over the past four years that giving in to pressure doesn’t mean it gets easier further on down the line.

Lindsey German may be wrong to highlight ‘Zionism’ as a be-all-and-end-it all issue.

She ignores the pressing issue of Syria. Many would like to see Labour leadership candidates confronted with the need to support the Kurdish fight and that of democrats against Assad and wider Middle East. Other democratic struggles, across the world, are pressing, from Hong Kong to South America.

Labour’s whole flawed foreign policy needs dropping.

As Rohini Hessman says,

The attempt by the Corbyn team to cover up the brutality of Russian airstrikes in Syria illustrates what I call their pseudo-anti-imperialism: opposition only to Western imperialisms while supporting non-Western imperialisms like Russian imperialism and Iranian regional imperialism, which share responsibility with brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad for over half a million dead and over half the population displaced in Syria.[17] Putin’s is a far-right regime which has provided funding and other support to neo-fascist parties throughout Europe,[18] and to far-right politicians – including Trump – in the rest of the world. Evidence has emerged that it has supported Boris Johnson too.[19] One reason why it has bombed Syrian civilians and democracy activists in support of Bashar al-Assad is to entrench its power in the Middle East; but another is to support its neo-fascist allies in Europe by giving them an ‘enemy’ to demonise, namely millions of Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives.[20] It is disturbing that Corbyn’s team would want to cover up the crimes of such a regime; equally disturbing is the implicit contempt for Syrian working people struggling against unemployment, poverty and authoritarianism.

 It is important that the Labour left – and indeed all socialists – abandon the simplistic notion that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ which has been used to support anti-Western tyrants and imperialists, and take a consistent position in solidarity with all struggles against oppression and exploitation. They need to be able to deal with complexity; to understand that it is possible to oppose military assaults on Iran and sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians, and at the same time oppose the repressive, extreme right-wing Islamic regime; to acknowledge that prejudice against Jews is racist and antisemitic, but denying Palestinians the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is also racist, and campaigning for those rights is not antisemitic.

German continues on Long-Bailey,

She will get the majority of the left’s votes, although some of those will go to Keir Starmer, who is tacking very much to the left at the moment. His support for Owen Smith back in 2016, his record at the DPP, his ultra-remain politics, are all on the back burner for the next month and a half. Lisa Nandy is the most right wing of the candidates and has already signalled retreat on nationalisation. All three of the remaining candidates have distanced themselves from Jeremy Corbyn in a number of ways, even though December was clearly a Brexit election and even though there are many signs that Labour’s policies were, and remain, popular.

This is where it get sticky.

The Brexit election…German means an election in which Counterfire backed Brexit, and,  with the help of a rag-bag of parties like the Communist Party of Britain, the SWP, left sovereigntists, ‘traditional’ Labour nationalists helped confuse politics by supporting an imaginary ‘People’s Brexit’.

‘Remain’ was the right policy for internationalists, the prefix “ultra” signifying Counterfire’s annoyance at the consistent and principled influence on the left and the Labour Party of groups like Another Europe is Possible.

German opines further on Labour’s  popular policies,

Equally fanciful is the idea that the left-wing policies put forward by Corbyn were unpopular. Indeed if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then we should look at the way in which Johnson’s government is scooping up a number of these policies and claiming them as its own. We’ve already had the nationalisation of Northern Rail, and rail nationalisation is likely to go much further. Now Johnson has declared massive spending on bus services, something that Corbyn was ridiculed over just a couple of months ago.

As has been said time and time again, such clear policies were swamped in the sheer volume of announcements the Labour Party put out.

The faith in Corbyn, a man with many merits, but not a charismatic leader for most of the population, is disintegrating.

Is this one answer?

Rebecca Long-Bailey would offer Jeremy Corbyn a place in her shadow Cabinet

The need to remove the failed team, the “corridor cabal”  that botched an already hard election battle, and to build a united Labour party, would suggest otherwise.

One threat has emerged.

On trans issues German says,

It should be possible for socialists to discuss these issues and reach a position which opposes all oppression. The trans debate in the Labour Party is in danger of ending up in a bad place if it does not do this. Some of the pledges put out by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights are in my view unacceptable, especially those calling organisations like Woman’s Place UK transphobic, and calling for expulsions of transphobes (presumably including members of WPUK). What I find most worrying here is that women who are good socialists are being branded as transphobes because they have a different perspective on women’s rights and trans rights, and that there are repeated moves to close down this discussion. This is being done in an authoritarian manner through threatening expulsion. We have already seen protests at WPUK meetings, attempts at no platforming women such as historian Selena Todd, and attempts to sack women who disagree.

This leads to a situation where it is impossible to move the debate forward. Labour’s manifesto called for full support for trans rights, but also for retention of rights relating to women as a sex under the 2010 Equality Act. Both Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey seem to have dropped this approach in favour of signing the pledge. Laura Pidcock’s eminently sensible call for discussion led to a stream of abuse directed at her. It really has to stop.

For a very different view (this Blog tends to agree with German on this issue but this is an important, heartfelt, article) see:

What’s Wrong With Woman’s Place?

There have been few more bitter struggles on the left in recent years than the conflict between those who support trans inclusion and those who style themselves as Gender Critical and refuse to accept that trans people should be socially or legally treated as their aquired gender.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 17, 2020 at 12:43 pm

“Starmer is the candidate for the Police, MI5 and the British State” – says Vice President of Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

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Ken Loach and Friends (Greenstein on the the far left).

 

Keir Starmer is the candidate that the Deep State & the British Establishment want you to vote for.

Tony Greenstein.

Starmer is the candidate of MI5 and the Political Police – he is Establishment down to his manicured fingers. ‘Sir’ Keir has pointed to his role in providing legal advice to striking miners and print workers.  This is true but it was a long time ago when he was a socialist. Today he is the darling of the Right.

Anyone who is fooled by this ‘lurch to the left’ is truly pathetic. Starmer is the candidate for the Police, MI5 and the British State that eviscerated Corbyn.  It was just one of Corbyn’s idiocies that when Starmer resigned in the chicken coup that he was let back in to wreak more havoc.

Mr Greenstein is the Vice-President of Labour Against the Witch-hunt and a frequent contributor to the Weekly Worker.

He has also contributed to Al-Jazeera’s web site.

LAW’s honorary presidents are Professor Moshé Machover and Ken Livingstone.

LAW’s sponsors include:

  • Ken Livingstone
  • Alexei Sayle, comedian
  • Professor Moshé Machover, Israeli socialist and founder of Matzpen
  • Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers Union
  • Ken Loach, film director
  • Noam Chomsky, author and activist.

If you had doubts before, Starmer is now the candidate to back!

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 6, 2020 at 12:45 pm

As Crisis in International Trotskyism Reaches Breaking Point, Hold the Front Page: Gerry Downing, Ian Donovan and the Split in the Trotskyist faction.

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a complete decay of communist consciousness and the embrace of opportunism.”

 

Take your eyes off the bleeding ball for a minute, and all hell breaks loose.

““When I interrupted Ian to call out his insane rant about the Rothschilds’ he became outraged, shouted and threw his pen on the table..”

This was a complete pack of lies from start to finish. Another comrade who was there wrote:

“Sorry, E, I do not recall Ian raising his voice and shouting at all”

Looks like a duel at dawn between Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan.

In an effort to calm things down I have volunteered to mediate

Extracts: 

Trotskyist Faction statement on Communist financial norms, democratic accountability, security and membership standards.

This statement was already written when we discovered that on 30 Jan 2020 Gerry Downing fraudulently put out his statement denouncing Gilad Atzmon and some of his associated and co-thinkers, in the name of Socialist Fight, 13 days after a 17th January vote was taken in which he failed to get a majority. He now claims that one member who had clearly lapsed, JC, whose case is addressed below, was a full member all along, and that gave him a majority after all. This question was raised at the 17th January meeting and various arguments were made to the effect that JC should be treated as a member. This was never agreed and ratified in an endorsed set of minutes in any case.

Objections had been raised by comrade Donovan in the meeting on the grounds that JC had made not paid subs, only made sporadic donations and had not been to any meetings for well over a year. The draft minutes mistakenly recorded that it was agreed that he was a member, after a hue and cry from Gerry and his ‘candidate members’ whose presence was itself contentious, and unwanted as the meeting in which it took place had originally been booked and planned by the decision of full members as a private meeting for those full members only.

Harsh words indeed,

Followed by,

Thus comrade Downing has not only betrayed the consistent anti-Zionist positions he used to uphold, he has flagrantly betrayed the democracy of his own organisation by fraudulently and retrospectively rewriting the history of a vote he didn’t win; he has fraudulently declared an ex-member to be a full member in order to claim to have ‘won’ a vote he failed to win, and he has in the process totally betrayed the Bolshevik tradition on the party question.

All this indicates, as the statement below shows, a complete decay of communist consciousness and the embrace of opportunism.

It gets hotter,

There is the smear, also against comrade Donovan, by ED. After the branch meeting at the Lucas Arms on 17 January, which was booked on the understanding it was supposed to be a private meeting to resolve this issue among full members only, but which Gerry declared Open with a public email on the day, and then GW and ED turned up and Gerry inveigled them in, after that ED made the following accusation against comrade Donovan a week later. She wrote:

“When I interrupted Ian to call out his insane rant about the Rothschilds’ he became outraged, shouted and threw his pen on the table..”

This was a complete pack of lies from start to finish. Another comrade who was there wrote:

“Sorry, E, I do not recall Ian raising his voice and shouting at all”

To which comrade Donovan responded and pointed out that he had challenged Gerry a week earlier about Gerry’s shouting in the meeting:

“Indeed. I note that when I challenged Gerry about shouting, he justified it on political grounds. But he did not say ‘well Ian shouted too’ when criticised for it by [another comrade]. If I had shouted at E he would have condemned me and been angry.

“This alone corroborates that this is untrue”.

And it did. And do E was compelled to admit:

 “Hiya folks, maybe I misspoke…“

They conclude,

To reassert principled politics, we need to draw those boundaries properly, and to re-establish Socialist Fight on proper Communist organisational norms. These are difficult and reactionary times, and some basic discipline and good security is essential to ensure that we are effective going forward.

Here is the infamous ‘statement’.

Socialist Fight statement on Gilad Atzmon, Devon Nola, Ian Greenhalgh of Veterans Today, anti-communism, racism and antisemitism 25-1-2020

The minutes of the meeting of 17 January, taken by Ian’s supporter in the Trotskyist Faction, Turan, confirming the meeting’s agreement that John Carty is a full member of Socialist Fight. Ian now says it was only Gerry Downing’s suggestion, that it was never agreed and anyway the minutes were never agreed as a true record – pathetic!

Signed by Gerry Downing, Mick Artur, Paul Humphreys, John Carty (full members), Charlie Walsh, Ella Downing, Gareth Martin (candidate members), Wilhelm Specklin (Holland), Dov Winter (USA), (International sympathisers).

 

The Socialist Fight Statement

 

Socialist Fight unreservedly condemns as racist and antisemitic Gilad Atzmon, Devon Nola and Ian Greenhalgh of Veterans Today and most of the milieu they attract and those who support them. And Gilad Atzmon notoriously said: “I despise the Jew in me and detest the Jew in you”, clearly indicating he was antisemitic. Socialist Fight rejects the Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy theories they promulgate and identify them as irreconcilable enemies of Socialist Fight, Trotskyism in general and all who wish to fight for a socialist future. [1]

The public debate is still hotting up!

This is a disjointed drivel on nonsense. So the meeting agreed that John Carty was a member. Turan, Ian’s supporter, recorded the decision on which all, including Ian, agreed but IT NEVER HAPPENED. And the only reason it never hapoened was because Ian did not like it. Democracy how are you? That and the vile abuse heaped on me, Ella and Gareth and outrageous bureaucratic attempts to prevent new members joining, to prevent even a candadate membership and alleging I had “fraudulently” paid their dues so he would not bank the cheques.

Of course support for Gilad Atzmon and his defence of David Duke is the central crime here, calculated to do the maximum possible damage to Socialist Fight. Ian had moved sharply rightwards since the defeat of Labour on 12th December. Now he is openly proclaiming that the Jewish Zionist bourgeoisie is the main enemy and is totally incapable of answering the Socialist Fight statement. Unfortunately Turan and Dipak are riding with him from the margins to the extreme margins, always alibying open racist comments by the claim that Zionism is tge main enemy. Obviously Socialist Fight will not tolerate this defence of Holocaust deniers and far right kkk racists on the excuse that “the Zionists made them do it”.

The whole notion of “left-wing anti-Semitism” is a diabolical fraud created by fascist Zionist lobbying, the CIA and Western propaganda to topsy-turvy depict anyone for the Palestinian cause, the Arab world, anti-Zionism and socialism in general as racist or even fascist.

Peace and Love Cdes!

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Labour Contenders Back Recommendations from Board of Deputies of British Jews.

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Contenders voice support for recommendations from Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Labour’s leader and deputy leadership contenders have demonstrated their commitment to tackling antisemitism in the party by backing a series of pledges set out by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Within hours of the organisation launching its “10 pledges”, which include adopting the international definition of antisemitism with all its examples and clauses, the majority of hopefuls had given their support.

This included Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer, who served in the shadow cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn.

It is a welcome move that the Labour candidates have accepted that the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has to be sorted out.

Many of the ideas are good, above all the demand to resolve cases, and to make it clear that no quarter should be given to bigotry.

But there serious problems with this pledge.

The first is that training on antisemitism will be carried out the Jewish Labour Movement – the JLM is a pro-Israel group, with its own supportive  views on the issue of Zionism, which neither all people from a Jewish background agree with, nor all Labour Party members. 

There is equally the fact that the JLM expressed this factional view during the General Election (Jewish Labour),

We will not be campaigning unless in exceptional circumstances and for exceptional candidates, like our Parliamentary Chair Ruth Smeeth, and members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who’ve been unwavering in their support of us. We will not be giving endorsements to candidates in non-Labour held seats.

This statement was elaborated,

Where and how will the Jewish Labour Movement be campaigning in the general election?

The Jewish Labour Movement only will be campaigning for exceptional candidates and in exceptional circumstances. This includes for our Parliamentary Chair Ruth Smeeth. We will not be replicating the scale of our campaigning activity that we undertook in 2017, where JLM organised more than 50 campaign activities across six electoral regions and nations and in marginal seats. No JLM Officers will be standing for election.

Are individual Jewish Labour Movement members allowed to campaign for any Labour candidate?

Our General Election Statement is the Movement’s position and reflects the collective will of our members. What individual members decide to do during the general election is a private matter for each to decide; no doubt this will be a very difficult decision for many.

Will the Jewish Labour Movement campaign against candidates that they do not see to have been sufficient allies in the fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party?

We will seek to highlight candidates’ shortcomings or failings in the fight against antisemitism. Where this is the case, they will not benefit from any Jewish Labour Movement resources.

A body which engages in this factionalism is not a good vehicle to offer sensitive or coherent courses on the complex issue of anti-Semitism.

If we can dismiss the response below then this, and other issues remain such as the idea that Labour Party affairs be settled by an outside “independent provider”. And who exactly will decide which Jewish community body is acceptable and which is not?  Is the Board of Deputies going to decide on this? ‘Community Groups’ covers a wide range, and, without a suffrage and elections,  nobody is clear how “representative”one is. The Board of Deputies is not the only voice around who can say.

It is therefore not only the Corbyn ultras – below – who will express concern.

A rally in support of left-wing Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey was marred by an attack on the “Tory” Chief Rabbi and the Jewish Labour Movement.

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon and Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe both spoke at the post-general election gathering in central London on Thursday evening but Graham Durham, a Brent Central Labour Party member, was cheered by many in the audience as he ranted that Ms Long-Bailey did not deserve support because she was “cuddling up to the Jewish Labour Movement and the Chief Rabbi, a well-known Tory”.

Jewish Chronicle.

No, Rebecca Long-Baily, you SHOULD NOT sign up to the 10 pledges by the ‘Board of Deputies’!

Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 13, 2020 at 12:40 pm

French parliament decides anti-Zionism is antisemitism.

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New Law Faced Critics Alleging it  “Stigmatises and Silences ” Critics of Israel, and even those in Favour of 2 State Solution.

The Jerusalem Post headlines today,

French parliament decides anti-Zionism is antisemitism

Anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism, France’s National Assembly determined on Tuesday, voting on a resolution calling on the government to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.

The motion proposed by lawmaker Sylvain Maillard of LREM, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party passed 154-72 in the parliament’s lower house.

New French bill equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism ‘is going very far afield’

France 24 reports on why the move met strong opposition.

A group of 127 Jewish intellectuals has signed a petition against a new French bill which would equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. FRANCE 24 spoke with one of the signatories who calls the bill “problematic”, saying it “delegitimises the legitimate act of criticising the state of Israel”.

In an interview with FRANCE 24,  James Cohen, a professor at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3 and one of the 127 signatories of the petition, said that “by equating antizionism with anti-Semitism, you’re broadening the definition of antisemitism too much […] you’re going very far afield.”

“Some of the people out there who oppose the policies of the state of Israel, who may even oppose the existence of the state of Israel, might also be anti-Semitic […] but that should not delegitimise the legitimate act of criticising the policies of the state of Israel. And when it comes to the existence of the state of Israel, there are questions that need to be asked whether a one-state solution or a two-state solution could be viable. Why should this discussion not be open?”

On Tuesday evening, French lawmakers adopted the bill, with 154 votes against 72.

The above declaration by Jewish intellectuals was printed in Le Monde yesterday.

Antisémitisme : « Nous demandons le retrait de la résolution Maillard »

More in the Nouvel Obs:

127 intellectuels juifs contre la définition de l’antisémitisme élargie à l’antisionisme

The resolution is “highly problematic,” says the group in its platform. First because it “equates […] anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism” . But “for many Jews considering themselves anti-Zionists, this conflation between the two is deeply offensive,” says the collective.

“Some Jews oppose Zionism for religious reasons, others for political or cultural reasons. Many Holocaust victims were anti-Zionists, “ says the collective.

“For Palestinians, Zionism represents dispossession, displacement, occupation and structural inequalities. […] They oppose Zionism not out of hatred of the Jews, but because they live Zionism as an oppressive political movement. “

The second reason is that IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism itself would be “highly problematic” , “unclear and imprecise” .

It is, moreover, “already used to stigmatise and silence critics of the State of Israel, including human rights organizations,” said the group.

“We can not consider this as independent of the Israeli government’s main political agenda of rooting out its occupation and annexation of Palestine and silencing all criticism,” say the signatories, who are worried about “political support”. , to France “ .

According to the group, “anti-Semitism must be fought on a universal basis, along with other forms of racism and xenophobia, in the battle against hatred” .

Today Radio France Internationale  (RFI) report, using the more precise language of “linking” antiSemitism and anti-Zionism,

French parliament adopts controversial law linking anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism

The text was passed by a very narrow margin, in a virtually empty parliament. Opponent of the legislation have notably complained that the law associates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Opening the debate, ruling party MP Sylvain Maillard warned the National Assembly that “Jews are once again being killed in France, because they are Jews”.

During the parliamentary discussion, the deputies were informed that more than one hundred Jewish graves had been desecrated with black swastikas on Tuesday in the north-western French town of Westhoffen.

Finally, 154 MPs voted in favour of the legislation, with 72 against. Many parliamentarians chose to leave before the vote on the controversial law. There were 550 deputies present for the earlier vote on the social security budget.

Fewer than one third of ruling party members supported the new law, with 26 voting against, and 22 abstaining.

Critics of the law point to the association made by the new legislation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

French President Emmanuel Macron has already stated his belief that anti-Zionism represents “one of the current forms of anti-Semitism”.

The French law accepts the controversial definition of anti-Semitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA): “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

That definition makes no reference to anti-Zionism, but, the examples which accompany the definition explain that “any unfair treatment of the state of Israel, demanding behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” is regarded as unacceptable.

Supporters of the French law claim that many anti-Semites hide behind the banner of anti-Zionism. The Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, explained that the law had only one objective and that was to remove all ambiguity about anti-Semitic statements, acts or gestures. Castaner further pointed out that the neither the word anti-Semitism nor the term anti-Zionism appear anywhere in the final text of the law.

Several dozen prominent Jewish intellectuals have actively campaigned against the law, saying it runs the risk of “criminalising ideas” without doing anything to fight racism.

The text was voted on by  a very low number of deputies.  At the heart of the criticism of opponents: the fact that it associates anti-Zionism with a form of anti-Semitism.

..

54 deputies voted for – out of the 577 who sit in the National Assembly  – 72 against. Many parliamentarians did not take part in the vote, even though they were nearly 550 present two hours earlier for the final adoption of the Social Security (Health and Family allowances) bill, a sign of the discomfort aroused by this text.

Macron’s own parliamentary group La République en Marche, (LRM)  was divided,

The LRM group, revealed by the analysis of the poll… of its 303 members, 84 voted in favor of the text, ie less than a third of the Macronist collective. 26 voted against when 22 abstained.

The Socialists (PS), Communists (PCF) and La France insoumise (LFI) voted against the new law.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 4, 2019 at 1:53 pm

Verso Publishes ‘Antisemitism and the Labour Party, Jamie Stern-Weiner’. Norman Finkelstein: “British-Jewish elites are terrorising Corbyn”.

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Verso have just put this out.

Antisemitism and the Labour Party

We are approaching the 2019 general election in bizarre circumstances. From the climate crisis to homelessness, Brexit to the NHS, the stakes could scarcely be higher. Yet a story about the Labour Party that has no basis in fact and whose partisan motivations are transparent is playing a significant role in our national conversation and might even influence the result.

The ‘Labour antisemitism’ controversy is, in its profile and its protractedness, unprecedented in modern British politics. Its prominence may increase still further as polling day draws near, while other progressive campaigns abroad—notably supporters of Bernie Sanders in the United States—are beginning to be targeted with the same allegations.

The Introduction sets the tone.

Like a creature from a horror film, the ‘Labour antisemitism’ controversy just won’t die.

The ‘antisemitism’ campaign is, in its profile and its protractedness, unprecedented in modern British political history. To find an analogy requires reaching back to those outbursts of collective madness which periodically stain the annals of human history and astonish all succeeding generations. If its consequences do not compare with those of the Salem Witch Trials or the McCarthyite purges, still, in, bottomless irrationality, and self-perpetuating moral hysteria, the propaganda offensive against Labour lies squarely in the trajectory of these infamous episodes.

Some might remark that Stern-Weiner, apparently a DPhil candidate in Area Studies at the University of Oxford,  sounds pretty over the top as well.

He predicts that any Labour election difficulty will mean that the

” ‘antisemitism’ charge will briefly take on renewed salience as factional opponents seek to engineer his ouster (translation from American, his removal) . If and when he is ejected, the whole issue will vanish overnight, consigned forever to Orwell’s memory hole. What happens if Corbyn wins is less certain. But his opponents will continue to have resort to the ‘antisemitism’ weapon, while there are already indications that the relentless smears have curtailed his radicalism.

Stern-Weiner draws wider conclusions,

In any case, the ‘Labour antisemitism’ campaign set a template that is sure to be deployed against other popular movements of the left – as supporters of Bernie Sanders are beginning to discover. It is therefore critical that the strange events that have warped British politics since 2015 are soberly examined and the truth about them established – not just for posterity, but to help kindred  governments avoid repetition of Labour’s mistakes. This volume brings together a selection of analytical writings on the ‘Labour antisemitism’ affair” as a contribution to this effort.

Jamie Stern-Weiner .

21 November 2019

Norman Finkelstein is keen to underline his contribution.

 

Not long ago Finkelstein caused a lot of controversy for his view on Jews in Britain,

Jews have too much power in Britain. The three richest Brits in 2016 were Jewish.[12] Jews comprise only .5 percent of the population but fully 20 percent of the 100 richest Brits.[13] Relative both to the general population and to other ethno-religious groups, British Jews are in the aggregate disproportionately wealthy, educated, and professionally successful …These data track closely with the picture elsewhere. Jews comprise only 2 percent of the US population but fully 30 percent of the 100 richest Americans, while Jews enjoy the highest household income among religious groups.

Jews comprise less than .2 percent of the world’s population but, of the world’s 200 richest people, fully 20 percent are Jewish. Jews are incomparably organized as they have created a plethora of interlocking, overlapping, and mutually reinforcing communal and defense organizations that operate in both the domestic and international arenas. In many countries, not least the US and the UK, Jews occupy strategic positions in the entertainment industry, the arts, publishing, journals of opinion, the academy, the legal profession, and government. “Jews are represented in Britain in numbers that are many times their proportion of the population,” British-Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer notes, “in both Houses of Parliament, on the Sunday Times Rich List, in media, academia, professions, and just about every walk of public life.” The wonder would be if these raw data didn’t translate into outsized Jewish political power.

The chimera of British anti-Semitism (and how not to fight it if it were real)

In the present E-Book Finkelstein argues the following,

The Labour Party’s code of conduct hitherto faithfully honoured its libertarian legacy as it allowed every idea, however bizarre or noxious, to be mooted. Prodded by the anti-Corbyn Jewish Labour Movement, the party’s leadership poured into the code a mass of verbal sludge  128 anti-semitism and the labour party that polluted the venerable principle of free speech. Now British-Jewish elites are terrorising Corbyn to accept a purported definition of antisemitism that, one, is and couldn’t but be gibberish, two, exemplifies ethnic special pleading, three, is not just pointless but also stifles vital debate, and, four, has nearly nothing to do with antisemitism and nearly everything to do with shielding Israel from deserved condemnation. The long and short of it is, to detoxify its code of conduct, Labour should junk the revised text, reject as a whole and in all its parts the IHRA text, and return to its radical roots.

If the Labour Party adopts them, it will become a willing dupe of Israeli hasbara; it will disgrace the party’s noble traditions; and it will betray Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to set the party on a new-old path of upholding Truth and Justice, wherever it may lead and whatever the price.

Why the Labour Party Should Not Adopt the IHRA Definition or Any Other Definition of Antisemitism.

Without going into the fraught debate on the code of conduct Finkelstein simply wishes Labour to adopt the US First Amendment and refuse to allow any abridgement of free speech.

Here is contributor Daniel Finn, in an article taken from the populist US journal Jacobin, arguing against what is now Labour policy on the Middle East,

A ‘two-state solution’ as envisaged by Israel and its Western allies would really be a ‘one state, several Bantustans solution’, with some pitiful fragments of the West Bank handed over to a supine Palestinian leadership to administer on Israel’s behalf. The longer Israel is shielded from any kind of effective pressure by euphemistic phrase-mongering, the more likely this outcome will be.

In the following contribution Finn writes on Chris Williamson,

This is where the Chris Williamson row comes in. The case against the MP mainly rests on the people he has defended rather than the things he has said. On that count, the charge-sheet is very uneven: it is one thing to criticize Williamson for circulating a petition in support of Gilad Atzmon, a true example of a Jewish antisemite (Williamson said he was unaware of Atzmon’s antisemitic comments, deleted his post, and apologised) it is quite another to attack him for supporting Marc Wadsworth, a black Labour activist who was the victim of an unpleasant stitch-up.

Overall, I find the arguments for his expulsion unconvincing and tendentious, even if you accept – as many of Williamson’s defenders do12 – that his interventions on the ‘Labour antisemitism’ controversy have often been clumsy, insensitive, and ill-judged. And to state a point that should be obvious: while some on the Labour left dislike Williamson and think he’s a liability who does more harm than good, disciplinary action has to be based on clear-cut principles, not political expediency. Unless he’s done something that clearly merits the harshest penalty, it should be up to Labour members in Williamson’s constituency party to decide whether he continues to be their representative.

But what really matters is how this case fits into the overall picture. If Chris Williamson had never been a Labour MP, the basic structure of the controversy would be exactly the same as it is today. And if Williamson is expelled from the party, retires from political life, and never says a word in public again, the controversy will still grind on remorselessly, for all of the reasons stated above. Williamson himself would just become one more link in the chain of guilt-by-association (‘X defended Y, who defended Z’) that has become wearingly familiar.

Williamson gets another defence here:

The Fake News Nazi Corbyn, Williamson, and the Antisemitism Scandal. 

David Edwards. Media Lens, 13 March 2019.

Both completely ignore the substance of the many weighty accusations against the – present – independent candidate in the General Election.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH CHRIS WILLIAMSON?

Amongst other issues this struck many people,

3. The time Williamson promoted a Syrian war crimes denier

For me, one of the most unforgivable things Williamson has done, last summer, was promote Vanessa Beeley, a war crimes denier and fake news merchant. Here is an extract from Oz Katerji in the New Statesman on this incident:

 

A thoughtful contribution by David Rosenberg tries to restore some sanity to this volume,

There is Another Way to Resolve Labour’s Toxic Wrangles Around Complaints David Rosenberg Rebel Notes, 24 July 2019

On Shami Chakrabarti’s  report comrade Rosenberg  notes

She sought to replace the paranoid and toxic atmosphere that was felt at times in the party, with an atmosphere ‘for learning, positive consensus and progressive change’ where members ‘discussed and debated difficult issues and differences, in an atmosphere of civility and a discourse of mutual respect’. For her that also meant ‘a moratorium on the retrospective trawling of members’ social media accounts and past comments’.

He argues (on the basis of how people who’d been on the far-right in the 1930s could be changed) in favour of this approach.

Chakrabarti added, ‘I do not recommend lifetime bans from the Labour Party. Present or future members of the NEC should not be robbed of their discretion to consider how someone may have changed their attitude’.

There are also Testimonies: Labour Jews Speak Out.

Many are important reading.

But does this volume bring ” together the most rigorous and penetrating analytical writings on the ‘Labour antisemitism’ affair?

For a start the (already over-used)  list, “Sixty Times Jeremy Corbyn Stood with Jewish People @ToryFibs November 2019″

Just stop at the start.

1. April 1977: Jeremy Corbyn helps organise the defence of Jewish populated Wood Green from a neo-Nazi march.

Jewish Voice for Labour (which is prominent in the present book) published the original, which says,

Corbyn organised the Apr. 1977 defence of Jewish populated Wood Green from a Neo-Nazi march.

I was there, in the thick of the violent counter-demo in the road outside Wood Green Tube station.

We had come down in coaches from Warwick University Students’ Union.

Yet it was known territory: I grew up just on the border (literally, my parents’ street at the time is the dividing line between Wood Green and New Southgate) and had lived there not that long before,  in Bounds Green.

Jeremy Corbyn, a young councillor, and a  minor trade union official,  was a liaison officer for Haringey councillors who worked with the organisers of the demonstration, labour movement, left, and campaigning bodies.

On 23 April 1977, a twelve hundred-strong National Front march through Wood Green was opposed by some 3,000 anti-racists, including delegations from Haringey Labour Party, trade unionists, the Indian Workers’ Association, local West Indians, members of Rock Against Racism and the Socialist Workers Party. While Communists and churchmen addressed a rally at one end of Duckett’s Com-mon, a contingent composed of more radical elements in the crowd broke away and subjected the NF column to a barrage of smoke bombs, eggs and rotten fruit. Eighty-one people were arrested, including seventy-four anti-fascists. Such are the bare bones of our history, but they explain little about what the National Front was, where it came from, and why so many people felt that it should be opposed.

The Battle of Wood Green 23rd April 1977 Keith Fleet (an invaluable post)

Fleet says, “One of the Labour Councillors at the time, and an organiser of the counter-demonstration, was Jeremy Corbyn, then a trade union official, now a Labour MP.”

Corbyn did a good job, but, as Fleet says, he was not alone, far from it, and I doubt if he’s every claimed otherwise.

The National Front were marching against immigration above all, from the sub-continent and the Commonwealth and were felt to target the black community, important in the area and next door Tottenham.

Wood Green has never been “Jewish populated” – although not far away Muswell Hill has a  Jewish community (see the transfer of the small Hornsey and Wood Green Synagogue to Muswell Hill here), and there is a Synagogue in Brownlow Road on the border with Southgate,  in Bounds Green, about a mile from the march…

The rest of list does not get better.

  • EDM3933 7 Nov. 1990: Corbyn signs motion condemning the rise of antisemitism
  • EDM634, 11 Apr. 2000: Jeremy Corbyn signs motion condemning David Irving for being a Holocaust Denier
  • EDM1124, 6 Nov. 2000: Jeremy Corbyn praised the ‘British Schindler’, Bill Barazetti, for his WW2 kindertransport
  • EDM742, 28 Jan. 2002: Jeremy Corbyn signs motion praising football clubs for commemorating Holocaust Day
  • EDM1233 30 Apr. 2002: Corbyn was a primary sponsor on a motion condemning antisemitism

And so it goes….mostly Early Day Motions  to Parliament….

This Blog agrees with some of Stern-Weiner’s Blog recent statement (if one replaces the word fascism with national populism and the extreme right),

This election is not like any other. The far-right is winning around the world. It might very well be that we are just one economic crisis, one climate shock away from the return of fascism across Europe.

This is the real threat to Jewish people.

It is the saddest of ironies that whereas Jews were a principal target of fascism in the 1930s, Britain’s Jewish leadership has now aligned itself against the chief bulwark of anti-fascism.

In the past and today, our best defence, our only defence, against the far-right, is a strong left, which promises a positive and inclusive plan for a fairer society.

If we want to defeat the far-right and to defeat the causes of the far-right, our only hope is Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

A BRIEF RESPONSE TO CHIEF RABBI MIRVIS

The present E-Book, with its message against ‘Jewish elites’, and denial that there are serious problems with a conspiratorial minority in the Labour party which includes an anti-Semitic fringe, is not likely to help that call.

Nor is its constant use of the words “elites” and this claim -itself;f with no research offered, or clarity about what “power elites” and theories about elites arem how the floating signifier of “elites” has developed within  present day national and other varieties of populism.

Is the Labour Party Against Empirical Sociology? Notes on Power, Elites, and Anti-Racism Tom Mills and David Miller

The Labour mini-site warns against ‘theories [that] ascribe to Israel influence on world events far beyond any objective analysis’. This sounds reasonable enough, but who then should be the judge of what is ‘objectively’ acceptable? More research on this topic would likely help the movement to navigate such questions for itself, but this has only been made less likely and more difficult in the febrile political atmosphere that has taken hold around this issue.

This forway from the political shallows  doesn’t even mention the hard right Brexit project that’s unleashed a Carnival of Reaction in which ‘elites’ are the main target.

But then the side of pro-Reform and Remain internationalist left gets no mention, only sneers at the ‘Blairite’ claims to be “liberal cosmopolitan progressiveness” (Jeremy Gilbert).

Nothing there about anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner and hardline ‘left’  Brexiter Paul Embery:

Image result for rootless cosmopolitan paul embery

Written by Andrew Coates

December 1, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Corbyn “Not Fit For High Office”, Chief Rabbi’s Article Faces Protest.

with 25 comments

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The way in which the leadership of the Labour Party has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud.”

From the article.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis

The party leadership have never understood that their failure is not just one of procedure, which can be remedied with additional staff or new processes. It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root in the Labour Party.

Many members of the Jewish community can hardly believe that this is the same party that they proudly called their political home for more than a century. It can no longer claim to be the party of diversity, equality and anti-racism. This is the Labour Party in name only.

How far is too far? How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office?

Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would support for a racist mural, depicting powerful hook-nosed Jews supposedly getting rich at the expense of the weak and downtrodden be enough? Would describing as “friends” those who endorse and even perpetrate the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not. What we do know from history is that what starts with the Jews, never ends with the Jews.

It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the following question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country?

When December 12th arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience.

The front page article has been followed by this: (Guardian)

The archbishop of Canterbury has in effect backed the chief rabbi’s comments on the Labour leadership’s record on antisemitism with a tweet highlighting the “deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews”.

Justin Welby does not explicitly refer to the Labour party, but his intervention a few hours after the chief rabbi’s excoriating public criticism of Jeremy Corbyn is significant.

The key words of the article are these, “How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office?”

In other words, Mirvis asserts that Corbyn is “complicit” in anti-Semitism, and is only open to discussion about “how far” this has gone to make him unfit for “high office”.

This is, one can see, highly offensive premise on which to begin a debate.

This is of course par for the course for some people who have accused Corbyn of anti-Semitism, if not fascism (the latter claim is not picked out from the sky but from the words of leading proponents of this line of thought).

Mirvis highlights three instances.

  • Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough?
  • Would support for a racist mural, depicting powerful hook-nosed Jews supposedly getting rich at the expense of the weak and downtrodden be enough?
  • Would describing as “friends” those who endorse and even perpetrate the murder of Jews be enough?

The first claim, “association” is given no details. The second, the Mural, was only “supported” by Corbyn in the sense that he – briefly – defended this Mural’s right to be there, and the use of the word “friends” refers, one assumes, to those for whom Corbyn  used this expression to all taking part in public meetings defending the Palestinian cause. I have heard him doi the same at countless meetings of all stripes. The word is, in many eyes, not always  unhelpful, but no more so than “comrade” or “colleague” in political parties.

References in Mirvis’ article to “faceless social media trolls”, “hounded parliamentarians, members and even staff out of the party for challenging anti-Jewish racism” are equally sweeping.

Where cases have been identified they have been dealt with, – it would not be hard to show this and this Blog cannot be alone in having followed some of them closely. Some have not been resolved quickly, and this is to be regretted.

From the opposing side Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) has protested vigorously at Labour’s keenness to deal with Antisemitism.

This indicates that Labour has acted.

A series of allegations, involving Chris Williamson,  has meant that he is not allowed to stand under Labour colours  in the General Election.

There is much to criticise politically on Jeremy Corbyn’s take on international issues, including the Middle East, and more broadly, on the way he, and others, have taken the anti-colonial movements of the days of Empire, and the ‘anti-imperialism’ of the post-war period, into the present day.

The Israel Palestine conflict is, in many people’s eyes, best approached through the angle of a two state solution and not a classic liberation of one country from ‘colonial’ occupation, as the more extreme pro-Palestinian supporters allege.

In a multi-polar world, where anti-democratic countries like China and the Russian Federation operate, and Trump’s US runs amok, in which threats from genocidal groups like ISIS remain high on the agenda, and countries like Burma and Turkey practice ethnic cleansing, the old division of the globe into two camps, imperialism and its opponents, no longer works.

Yet Labour’s Manifesto has a balanced approach based on human rights.

Labour’s policy on the Middle East in the Election Manifesto is the following:

Labour is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.

There can be no military solution to this conflict, which must be settled on the basis of justice and international law. All sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve.

That means both an end to the blockade, occupation and settlements, and an end to rocket and terror attacks. Labour will continue to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations leading to a diplomatic resolution. A Labour government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine.

Labour will take all lawful action necessary to counter and confront all forms of terrorism, and we will advocate a long-term multinational political strategy, led by regional actors, to tackle the spread of extremism.

To the Chief Rabbi’s  all-embracing charge-sheet Labour has responded.

“Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong campaigner against antisemitism and has made absolutely clear it has no place in our party and society and that no one who engages in it does so in his name.

“A Labour government will guarantee the security of the Jewish community, defend and support the Jewish way of life, and combat rising antisemitism in our country and across Europe. Our race and faith manifesto, launched today, sets out our policies to achieve this.”

The party also said that anti-semitism complaints “account for about 0.1% of the Labour Party membership”, and that “polls show anti-semitism is more prevalent among Conservative than Labour supporters”.

Labour meanwhile challenged the figure of 130 outstanding cases as “inaccurate”, and said it was “categorically untrue to suggest there are thousands of outstanding cases”.

They added: “We are taking robust action to root out anti-Semitism in the party, with swift suspensions, processes for rapid expulsions and an education programme for members.”

Politics Home.

One other immediate reaction will be to bring to the attention of the Chief Rabbi, who only represents a section of the Jewish Community, to be precise,  British Orthodox Jewish synagogues,  whose authority is recognised by around half British Jews, the positions of Labour’s rival, the Conservatives, on diversity, equality and anti-racism.

The Chief Rabbi states, “Convention dictates that the Chief Rabbi stays well away from party politics – and rightly so. However, challenging racism in all its forms is not a matter of politics, it goes well beyond that. Wherever there is evidence of it, including in any of our political parties, it must be swiftly rooted out. Hateful prejudice is always wrong, whoever the perpetrator, whoever the victim.”

What has he said about this?

 

These are very serious matters.

Bob from Brockley gives more details on how some Tories have extended their racism to anti-Semitism.

A vote for the Conservatives is not a vote against antisemitism

Don’t let the Tories use Jews as a political football

Bob has his own take,

Anyone who reads this blog regularly or follows me on Twitter will know that I see Labour antisemitism as a real and massive problem: there is a shocking level of antisemitism among grassroots Labour activists (including candidates for office), a chronically insufficient response to this from a leadership that at best suffers from a deep inability to recognise contemporary antisemitism, and a massive amount of denial and defensiveness that itself shades into paranoid conspiracism. Many British Jews and their good faith allies may decide not to campaign for Labour or even not to vote Labour; this position can be legitimately reached out of sincerely grounded existential fear, or out of anti-racist principle.

However, in a context where objectively the most likely alternative to Corbyn (probably the only alternative) is the re-election of the current government, to declare for “anyone but Corbyn” – or to go one step further and actually endorse the current government, as Ian Austin and John Woodcock have done – exceeds that legitimate position.

In this post, I will be arguing that – even if we ignore the most pernicious aspects of Johnson’s Conservative party (its disastrous hard Brexit strategy and its awful record on basically every single economic and social issue from the NHS to industry) – a vote that leads to a Johnson government is a vote for racism, both racism against Jews and racism against other minorities.

Update on how the intervention is already being used:

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