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Oppose the Attacks on Syria, Oppose Marching with Assad Supporters.

with 8 comments

Can the left March with Assad Supporters?

Then there is the latest tweet from this:

 

Iran, the other prop of Assad with Putin, is a theocratic Islamist dictatorship with a  blood-stained record.

Its own militias (Islamic Revolutionary Guard CorpsQods For) and Lebanese allies, Hezbollah, are fighting for their own religious and political interests.

Or daily papers of the left (Morning Star)  that publish this:

Russia claims it has ‘irrefutable’ evidence chemical attack was staged by foreign intelligence.

MOSCOW claimed today to have “irrefutable” evidence that an alleged chemical attack in Syria was staged by foreign intelligence agents pursuing a “Russophobic campaign.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference that an unnamed country was leading a campaign against Russia.

“We have irrefutable evidence that it was another staging and the special services of a state which is in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had a hand in the staging,” he said.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov accused Britain of staging the attack.

“We have … evidence that proves Britain was directly involved in organising this provocation,” he said.

Mr Lavrov warned that a strike against Syria risked a similar outcome to previous wars in Libya and Iraq.

Not to mention this a few days earlier.

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Many on the Left state rational opposition to Air strikes, other go loudly Mad – John Wight makes a Comeback.

with 5 comments

“Pattern of alleged chemical weapons attacks”.

By now the pattern of these alleged chemical weapons attacks is set in stone. They come at seminal junctures in the conflict, when Syrian government forces are on the verge of a significant strategic victory or advance against the alphabet soup of Salafi-jihadi groups that are operating in the country.

On Sputnik News RT writer  John Wight (lately of Socialist Unity until he fell out with Andy Newman)  continues,

Though no one is suggesting (at least certainly not me) that no attack took place, or that the footage of children stricken in the aftermath was fabricated, until independent verification is forthcoming the claim of Syrian army culpability cannot be taken at face value — not when we are dealing with probably the most heavily propagandized conflict of modern times, wherein the information war has been elevated beyond the status of an adjunct to the conflict on the ground to the point where it is now a key and crucial front in of itself.

 …

The clamour for Western military intervention follows these alleged attacks is deafening, whipped up by the usual complement of neocon ideologues and regime change fanatics for whom every day is a cruise missile day. Meanwhile, Trump’s threat that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would pay a “big price” is redolent of the posse-speak that has come to exemplify his administration’s engagement with a world that has long been straining under the weight of US hegemony.

By contrast Comrade Paul Mason has written a reasonable article on the Syrian crisis.

Futile air strikes on Syria won’t defeat Assad and Putin

The West should impose punitive economic and diplomatic measures on Russia and Iran, and back a secular-led military opposition.

I am against Britain joining a military strike on Assad’s Syria. It’s an inadequate and cynical gesture designed for domestic consumption by governments whose own legitimacy is being eroded. The idea that it will save significant numbers of lives is rubbish, and known to be rubbish, by the politicians and retired military people advocating it.

What would, in the short-term, save lives in Eastern Ghouta would be to place massive economic and diplomatic pressure on Russia and Iran, who are the real powers controlling Assad’s war in Syria; and to back or re-create a secular-led military opposition on the ground, starting with the Kurds of Rojava. But that is not going to happen.

..

A left foreign policy and defence strategy for Britain in a disintegrating global order has to start from the principle of defending human rights and observing international law and building capacity for democratic opposition in the countries stirring up conflict. The alternatives to a shower of guided missiles require more than bravado and rhetoric.

To bring the perpetrators of the war crime in Douma to justice means unblocking the multilateral system at the UN and the International Criminal Court. That in turn means persuading the Russian people to elect a government that does not sanction torture, chemical weapons attack, the assassination of opponents and the conquest of territory by brute force.

..

But strategically what’s going to end the regimes of Putin, Assad and Rouhani is the one event the west won’t countenance: their political overthrow by secular, democratic and pro-social justice movements. That’s my weapon of choice against the perpetrators of the Douma attack.

Meanwhile if you think this reasonable Wight does not.

Paul Mason replies to this kind of rubbish:

The big demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq gathered a very broad group of people together.

They included parties of the far-left, many Labour members, unions, the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats, and, under the aegis of the Stop the War Coalition, the Muslim Association of Britain, a group led by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. (1)

Today will we see MAB demonstrate against air strikes in Syria?

It is doubtful.

MAB deplores Syrian regime war crimes and massacre of innocent civilians

8th of April.

Last night forces loyal to Syrian dictator and war criminal Bashar Al-Assad used chlorine gas and other unidentified chemical weapons, banned under international law, in Douma near the capital Damascus. To date, 70 people have suffocated to death, with scores more still suffering, including women and children. The death toll is expected to rise. This comes amid continuous bombardment of the surrounding areas in Ghouta, which has levelled complete neighbourhoods and has left thousands dead and wounded.

What we will see is people like Wight who clearly back the Assad regime.

As in here, (September 2016).

Why the Syrian People Won’t Accept a Deal to Remove Assad

The Syrian government’s crime in the eyes of the West is not the lack of democracy – how could it possibly be given the longstanding alliance between Western governments and Saudi Arabia, run by a clutch of medieval potentates? – but rather the fact that Syria under Assad has long refused to bend the knee to US and Western hegemony, especially with regard to the country’s support for the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, and its friendship and alliance with Iran. Together they make up an axis of resistance which Washington and its regional allies have long been intent on breaking.

Despite the courage and tenacity of the Syrian Arab Army and people, there is little doubt they would have succeeded in this endeavour without Russia’s intervention in the conflict, beginning at the end of September 2015. When Vladimir Putin addressed the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations days prior to Russian aircraft flying their first sorties against anti-government forces in Syria, he effectively announced the birth of the multipolar world demanded by Russia’s recovery from the lost decade of the 1990s, caused by Washington and its European allies’ attempt to impose a Carthaginian peace on the country in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union, along with China’s ferocious economic growth and global footprint.

Russia’s military intervention was and continues to be a remarkable achievement of logistics, planning, and organization, necessary in the successful projection of hard power thousands of miles beyond its own borders. It has allowed it to showcase some of the most advanced aircraft, missile systems, and technologically advanced weaponry in the world today, beating Washington at its own game in the process. This, to be sure, is the real reason for the demonisation of Putin that has been a mainstay of Western media coverage over the past year and more.

The presence of such individuals, not to mention Wight’s new best friend, the notorious Neil Clarke (Hard Facts is with Neil Clark) and their groups will create great problems for an anti-War movement.

Who wants to march with those defending war criminals?

******

(1) On the latter’s involvement see Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent : inside British Islam  Bowen, Innes, 2013.

Gilad Atzmon, Anti-Semitism and the Left.

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Image result for Gilad atzmon jews

Former star at SWP and Respect events. 

Near the end of of one his humorous articles for the ‘I’ Mark Steel yesterday made this serious point (Who knew Jeremy Corbyn’s antisemitic beetroot would cause such anger at the Daily Mail?)

Parts of the left promoted the jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, who stated we should “take seriously” the idea that “Jews are trying to take over the world”. To be fair to him, constructing an argument that the race trying to take over the world is the one that came nearest to being systematically wiped out, is setting yourself quite a task, especially if you try to do it as a solo on the saxophone.

Indeed they did.

Which parts?

Gilad Atzmon and the SWP: a brief chronology

Bob from Brockley. 

Summer 2004: Gilad Atzmon speaks and performs at the Socialist Workers Party’s Marxism 2004 event. Atzmon criticised by SWP blogger Richard Seymour as “disgraceful, incoherent and completely at odds with what the SWP stands for” and a “crank”.

April 2005: Atzmon rave review in Socialist Review by Brian Richardson, announcing forthcoming gig at Marxism event.

Summer 2005: The SWP’s Socialist Review has a rave review of Atzmon’s Orient House ensemble tour (only note of criticism is that he likes Ken Livingstone too much), and Atzmon plays Marxism 2005 as well as speaking at Bookmarks. Jews Against Zionism picket the Bookmarks event. JAZ are not by any means an oversensitive pro-Israel group, but made up of left-wing people like Tony Greenstein, Moshe Machover and Hilary Rose. Leading left-wing anti-Zionist website Labournet plays major role in this. SWP responds with a statement that refuses to accept any truth in the allegations.

2006: SWP organises “Five for Trane” concerts featuring Atzmon and the SWP’s Martin Smith. At least six gigs (MarchJuneOctoberetcetc).

Autumn 2006: Atzmon speaks and plays alongside George Galloway (then in alliance with the SWP in Respect) and Martin Smith at an SWP-organised Stop the War event in Tower Hamlets. (The SWP boasted it was a successful fund-raiser for them, and Smith interviewed Atzmon for Socialist Worker. Atzmon told Smith “I will be playing at the Cultures of Resistance concert because I support the Socialist Worker appeal… “For me to play jazz is to fight the BOB (Bush, Olmert and Blair) world order.”)

January 2007: Michael Rosen, a high profile Jewish anti-Zionist very close to the SWP, criticises SWP for hosting Atzmon. Organisers of the SWP’s Cultures of Resistance (Hannah Dee, a current SWP CC member, and Viv Smith, a former CC member) deny he is an antisemite (archived). Evidence? “We would never give a platform to a racist or fascist. Our entire history has been one of fierce opposition to fascist organisations and antisemitism.” Therefore impossible that Atzmon could be a racist, because he was invited to our event.

Summer 2007: Atzmon plays Cultures of Resistance gig at Marxism 2007, and reprises the Martin Smith collaboration in Liverpool, and later Pete Segal in Socialist Review gives another rave review of his CD Refuge, with no note of criticism or mention of Rosen’s letter.

Autumn/Winter 2007: Atzmon plays an SWP fund-raiser, Now’s the Timer, with Martin Smith. Four gigs. Positive reviews (“Politics continues to drive Atzmon’s music forward”) of his records in Socialist Worker. Martin Smith also mentions him in another Socialist Review article.

January 2008: Atzmon now an explicit Holocaust denier, as revealed by Tony Greenstein and others, eliciting no comment from the SWP, despite their close association with him.

May 2008: Socialist Review again promotes Atzmon, listing him in their “Five things to get or see this month”

April 2009: Another Socialist Review rave review of an Atzmon CD, In Loving Memory Of America, again no note of criticism.

October 2010: SWP promotes the Jazza Festival, featuring Atzmon and several Atzmon-linked groups.

November 2010: No trace left on any SWP website of their earlier statements and clarifications about Atzmon.

Summer-Autumn 2011: Richard Seymour’s publisher, Zero, publishes an antisemitic book by Atzmon. Seymour and other authors issue statement against the publication, published on Seymour’s blog.

 

The American Socialist Worker (No relation!) published this in 2014.

A pass for anti-Semitism?

The career of Gilad Atzmon is an instructive case. Atzmon is an Israeli-born Jew and musician turned Palestine activist. His writings on Zionism contain venomous attacks on Jews, including the argument that Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians are not a product of imperialism but represent something wrong with Jews. Atzmon calls the accusation of anti-Semitism “a common Zionist silencing apparatus.”

In spite of this, a number of Left institutions have excused or rationalized Atzmon’s bile. For a few years, Atzmon regularly performed at the British Socialist Workers Party’s annual conference, before he was quietly dropped without an explanation or apology from the SWP’s leadership. Atzmon’s writings still appear in Counterpunch, perhaps the most widely read online publication on the American left. Finally, Zero Books, a British publisher that has published authors like Richard Seymour and Laurie Penny, published a treatise on Jewish identity by Atzmon which is still available through their website.

Another example is “leftist” academic James Petras, whose articles on Jewish control of the media and government still appear on Dissident Voice and in Counterpunch. A single pass for someone like Atzmon or Petras is a case of bad judgment. Multiple passes represent a pattern of unwillingness or inability by the left to address anti-Semitism.

Instead of an instinct to show solidarity with Jews, the pro-Palestine left has developed an instinctive skepticism towards reports of anti-Semitism, which makes the movement more open to real Jew-haters.

Weekly Worker 2008.

Time to say goodbye

Why does the SWP not break its links with holocaust-denier Gilad Atzmon? Tony Greenstein has more evidence of his anti-Jewish racism

 George Galloway was (and as far one can tell, is) another supporter of Atzmon.

Image result for atzmon George Galloway

We shall leave it to others to remark on Greenstein appearing on the same Galloway platform.

Here are some of Atzmon’s latest views.

How Antisemitsm Became Noise

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2018 at 1:06 pm

Once More on Anti-Semitism and the Labour Party.

with 29 comments

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Jeremy Corbyn at Liberation AGM 2018: Standing up For Universal Human Rights.

Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour must “do better” as a row continues over how the party deals with hostility to Jews.

BBC.

In a Passover message, he said it was easy to denounce anti-Semitism abroad but sometimes harder to see it closer to home.

It came as Jewish Labour peer Lord Winston said Mr Corbyn had “encouraged and endorsed” anti-Semites.

Dozens of Labour politicians are urging him to suspend a senior Momentum figure amid further anti-Semitism claims.

In an open letter, the 39 MPs and peers call for Mr Corbyn to suspend Christine Shawcroft from the party’s governing body after it emerged she had sent an email showing support for a council candidate accused of Holocaust denial.

After the letter was first published, four more MPs and Lord Mendelsohn added their signatures.

In the letter, they say it is “utterly wrong” and “highly offensive to the Jewish community” that she remained a member of the National Executive Committee.

Posting on Facebook, Ms Shawcroft said that she would not be seeking re-election to the NEC and that her term would end this summer.

There is an atmosphere of contrived hysteria on Labour and anti-semitism. For all this Blog’s fundamental differences with the extreme wing of  ‘anti-Zionism’ – as opposed to differences over Israeli policies – we want absolutely not part of it.

This letter by long-standing comrade Stan Newens means a lot to this Blog,

Before being elected as Labour party leader, Jeremy Corbyn chaired Liberation (formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom) in succession to me. Liberation, founded in 1954 on the initiative of Fenner Brockway, was in the forefront of the struggle against all forms of racism. When Jeremy took the chair it was accepted that one of our continuing fundamental purposes was opposition to racism – including antisemitism. Liberation has been critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians – and often had Israeli or Jewish speakers at meetings arguing the case.

It is patently obvious that criticism of Corbyn and the Labour party on grounds of antisemitism is being encouraged by individuals who – unlike the Labour leader himself – have rarely participated in the general struggle against racism. Most are motivated by opposition to Labour under Corbyn and any excuse to harass him will be taken.
Stan Newens
President, Liberation.

Liberation apart from carrying on the historic legacy of Fenner Brockway, has, by defending universal human rights, offered an independent voice on MIddle Eastern issues, and to those determined to defend Islamism and other “anti-imperialist” states.

Liberation AGM – Summary

Ararat Ratoosi, Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights and member of Liberation

Ararat presented the Liberation resolution on Solidarity with the Iranian people noting with concern: Iran’s theocratic government’s continued abuse of democratic rights; non-recognition of the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ILO conventions; the continued economic and social crisis; reports of torture and maltreatment of people arrested following recent street unrests throughout Iran.

He also talked about the importance of understanding the Iranian people’s deep-seated belief of rejection of any outside intervention in the internal affairs of Iran under any pretext, based on their own history and their experience of recent tragedies in the Middle East, and believe that the future of Iran should be decided only be the Iranian people themselves.

It was also noted that Liberation is totally opposed to the use of threat of military attacks or the imposition of economic sanctions on Iran. Liberation believes that all disputes in the Middle East should be resolved in accordance with international law, the UN Charter and through diplomatic channels and negotiations.

Liberation believes that that realisation of the demands of ordinary people for peace, progress and social justice is the best guarantee for Iran’s independence and for genuine popular sovereignty.

Ihsan Qadir, Secretary of Kurdistan Regions

Ihsan expressed his organisation’s deep concern about the current situation of the people of Afrin, who have been subjected to Turkish government’s aggression. He noted that Afrin has been one of the more stable parts of Syria, and like other parts of Rojava, it is run democratically and peacefully with an emphasis on religious and ethnic pluralism; Pointing out that the recent actions have worsened the prospects for peace in Syria and the wider Middle East. The resolution condemned the use of violence by Turkish army on the people of Afrin and the Kurdish forces in Syria, and asked the conference to support calls on the government, as a matter of urgency, to press the importance of respect for fundamental Human Rights and rule of international law.

Abdel Malik Elobeid, Sudanese human rights defender

Abdel Malik gave his report on Human Rights situation in Sudan and expressed his deep concern about the continued and worsening violation of Human Rights by the government of Sudan. The government violations include: the use of extensive force against the peaceful street demonstrators calling for the lack of freedom of expression, freedom of association in particular Trade Unions, freedom of press, food and decent living.

The resolution called upon Liberation to support the demand that upon the Government of Sudan stop harassing and intimidating Sudanese citizens including Human Rights Defenders, peaceful activists, journalists, and all others who seek to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly including freedom of the media.

Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP

Rosena began her talk on Rohingya refugee crisis, particularly on refugee camps in Bangladesh. She accounted for the devastating situation of these refugees – orphans, widows and elderly – who fled guns and fire from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh. The Rohingya refugees face daily struggle for lack of food, water and shelter. She talked about her plans of travelling to Bangladesh to visit those camps and reporting back to the Parliament which she hopes will be translated into immediate actionable plan for immediate humanitarian assistance.

There are many more letters in the Guardian.

Such as this,

The Board of Deputies of British Jews – drawn from synagogues and Jewish organisations – does not speak for the thousands of individual Jews in the UK who do not belong to these groups. The mass of Jews are probably liberal. However, the board’s president, Jonathan Arkush, told the Times of Israel that the last election results represented a “loss” and described the Tory-DUP agreement as “good news”. And he told the Jewish Chronicle that there must come a point when even groups like the Jewish Labour Movement or Labour Friends of Israel feel “it’s over” for Jewish links with the party.

He also supported Donald Trump’s moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem and has condemned criticism of Israeli settlers. His views are not necessarily mainstream Jewish views. For him to make it a precondition for meeting Corbyn that Labour should adopt all 11 examples illustrating the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism is a cynical political move.
Tracy Lindner
London

In the light of the relentless attacks this is worth considering, 

Hi everyone, in case anyone has been misled by the Press coverage, I am not a Holocaust denier and I would not support a Holocaust denier. I have been trying to support members who have been affected by all the shenanigans around Council selections, and thought this case was just another one of those. I had not seen the appalling and abhorrent post which was shared, and if I had seen it I would not have sent the supportive email. As soon as I saw it I told the member that he should have antisemitism training. It is entirely right that having made the initial mistake, I should resign as Chair of the Disputes Panel (which never meant I had to power to overturn suspensions anyway).This whole row is being stirred up to attack Jeremy, as we all know. That someone who has spent his whole life fighting racism in all its forms should find himself being accused of not doing enough to counter it, absolutely beggars belief.

Christine Shawcroft. FB.

In  case you thought some ill-considered remarks are a Shawcroft speciality there is this image shared by Alan Sugar, a harmless  bit of fun according to some.

Still there is this which is serious.

Leaked Minutes Show This Labour Councillor Proposed A Candidate Knowing He Had Shared An Anti-Semitic Facebook Post

Minutes of a local Labour Party meeting in November last year, seen by BuzzFeed News, show that Alan Bull was proposed by the Labour group leader Ed Murphy.

The broader impact of this climate is also greatly concerning,

In defence of Stan Keable!

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”.

Some of the background (for full information go via link).

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).

As Jewish Board of Deputies Protests, Labour, the Left, Jeremy Corbyn and Anti-Semitism.

with 21 comments

Jewish groups attack Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism

BBC.

“Enough is enough,” Jewish groups have said in a letter accusing Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism.

The Labour leader has said he is “sincerely sorry” for the pain caused by “pockets of anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party.

Mr Corbyn said he would be meeting representatives of the Jewish community to “rebuild” confidence in his party.

However, the organisations behind the open letter are planning a protest outside Parliament later.

The letter – drawn up by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council – said there has been a “repeated institutional failure” to properly address anti-Semitism. (1)

It accuses Mr Corbyn of being unable to “seriously contemplate anti-Semitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities”.

The organisations refer to Mr Corbyn’s apparently supportive message to the creator of an allegedly anti-Semitic mural in 2012 and his attendance at “pro-Hezbollah rallies”.

They say the Labour leader has “sided with anti-Semites” either because of “the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism” or “a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy”.

The letter says those who push anti-Semitic material view Mr Corbyn as “their figurehead” and that he is “the only person with the standing to demand that all of this stops.”

Response.

Labour is an anti-racist party and I utterly condemn antisemitism, which is why as leader of the Labour Party I want to be clear that I will not tolerate any form of antisemitism that exists in and around our movement. We must stamp this out from our party and movement.

We recognise that antisemitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour Party and the rest of the country. I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused.

Our party has deep roots in the Jewish community and is actively engaged with Jewish organisations across the country.

We are campaigning to increase support and confidence in Labour among Jewish people in the UK. I know that to do so, we must demonstrate our total commitment to excising pockets of antisemitism that exist in and around our party.

I will be meeting representatives from the Jewish community over the coming days, weeks and months to rebuild that confidence in Labour as a party which gives effective voice to Jewish concerns and is implacably opposed to antisemitism in all its forms. Labour will work to unite communities to achieve social justice in our society.

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Oppose antisemitism and malicious accusations by supporters of the Tory Party

Jewish Socialists’ Group statement

The Jewish Socialists’ Group expresses its serious concern at the rise of antisemitism, especially under extreme right wing governments in central and Eastern Europe, in America under Donald Trump’s Presidency and here in Britain under Theresa May’s premiership. The recent extensive survey by the highly respected Jewish Policy Research confirmed that the main repository of antisemitic views in Britain is among supporters of the Conservative Party and UKIP.

This political context, alongside declining support for the Tories, reveals the malicious intent behind the the latest flimsy accusations of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. These accusations have come from the unrepresentative Board of Deputies and the unelected, self-proclaimed “Jewish Leadership Council”, two bodies dominated by supporters of the Tory Party.

Between now and the local elections the Tories would love to divert the electorate on to accusations of antisemitism against the Labour Party rather than have us discussing austerity, cuts to local authority budgets, the health service, and social care. Many Jews within and beyond the Labour Party are suffering from these policies along with the rest of the population, and oppose them vehemently.

Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies, was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election as President of the United States on behalf of the Board. This action was harshly criticised by many Jews he claims that the Board represents. He also gives unqualified support to Israel’s pro-settler Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who enjoys good relations with the very far right political forces in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic who are fanning bigotry against minorities, including Jews.

Until very recently the Jewish Leadership Council was chaired by Sir Mick Davies, who was appointed Tory Party treasurer in February 2016 and is now the Chief Executive of the Conservative Party.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group includes many members of the Labour party, and we know many Jews who have joined or re-joined the Labour party enthused by the progressive leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour is the party that brought in anti-discrimination legislation at a time when many Tory members were open supporters of and investors in apartheid South Africa. The Tories are the party that have dished out the harshest treatment to migrants and refugees, especially when Theresa May was Home Secretary. Shamefully, they are still refusing to accede to the proposal of Labour peer, Lord Dubs, who came to Britain as a Jewish refugee on the Kindertransport, to take in a small but significant number of unaccompanied child refugees from Syria.

We have worked alongside Jeremy Corbyn in campaigns against all forms of racism and bigotry, including antisemitism, for many years, and we have faith that a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn and Labour-led councils across the country, will be best placed to implement serious measures against all forms of racism, discrimination and bigotry.

Some of us have long-standing views on the issues raised in this controversy.

For many on the left, including groups on the ‘far left’ there is a problem with anti-Semitism in today’s Britain and the rest of Europe.

That we consider that some parts of the more vocal left (notably those groups that run the Stop the War Coalition) in the name of ‘anti-imperialism, misunderstand the issues to the extent that they show a tolerance towards anti Semitism.

A stark example was given by the present Labour Executive Director of Strategy and Communications  Seumus Milne’s reaction to the Charlie Hebdo and the  Hypercacher massacre in 2015: The attacks in France are a blowback from intervention in the Arab and Muslim world. (Guardian January 2015)

Milne threw a few words around about nothing justifies the murders – except that it can be explained in the context of Charlie’s  ” repeated pornographic humiliation” of the ‘Prophet”.

He then went on to claim an insight into the origins of the killings, which singled out not just Charlie Hebdo but a Jewish supermarket.

“Of course, the cocktail of causes and motivations for the attacks are complex: from an inheritance of savage colonial brutality in Algeria via poverty, racism, criminality and takfiri jihadist ideology.

He concluded,

But without the war waged by western powers, including France, to bring to heel and reoccupy the Arab and Muslim world, last week’s attacks clearly wouldn’t have taken place.” 

Labour’s present head of spin not only ignored any moral responsibility in the killers themselves but failed to ask why “Amedy Coulibaly singled out a Jewish supermarket and  murdered four Jewish hostages, and held fifteen other hostages during a siege in which he demanded that the Kouachi (the gunmen in the Charlie attack) brothers not be harmed. The police ended the siege by storming the store and killing Coulibaly.”

Apart from this ‘anti-imperialism’ there is also the growth of “confusionist” politics, represented in the infamous Tower Hamlets Mural, which align anti-globalisation themes, classical hatred of Jews with conspiracy ideology on the New World Order.

Harry’s Place indicates one case today,

Antisemitism, homophobia and the NUS’s National Executive Council

Ayo quite proudly asks people to call him a ‘conspiracy theorist’ as he shares an antisemitic video about the “Rothschild’s master plan”. The video he shares goes on to talk about how the Rothschild’s run every central bank in the world (apart from North Korea, Iran and Cuba). It discusses how the Rothschild’s manipulate countries to go to war for them as they have an “unlimited amount of money and power”. The video suggests 9/11 was an inside job, carried out in order for the Rothschild’s to gain control of Afghanistan’s and Iraq’s banks. The video is quite simply a piece of antisemitic propaganda. Ayo tells people to “do a little research on this” – we did. Google “Rothschild’s master plan” and you will get taken into a world of antisemitic conspiracies, much coming from far-right, neo-nazi sites and forums.

It is true that limited parts of the left, and wider society, reflect these prejudices.

But to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of anti-semitism, as some in the Jewish community and commentators in the press are now doing (most openly on social media) is not only false, but beneath contempt.

Phil puts many related points in this post today.

Corbynism and Anti-SemitismPhil Burton-Cartledge

Unfortunately anti-semitism has yet again resurfaced and as everyone reading this knows, this time it’s Jeremy Corbyn who’s in the firing line for failing to notice the image above, which he commented on, was racist. In the world of social media there is a tendency to shoot from the hip without looking properly at what or who you’re commenting on/sharing. It’s happened to me enough times when posts shared on Facebook have been construed as supporting the Tories because of the titles (as such I was expecting some earache for Friday’s effort). And I’m happy to accept that Jeremy’s explanation that he wasn’t paying attention. After all, over the course of his career he has put his name to eight Early Day Motions attacking anti-semitism, and under his leadership Labour has adopted a line far harsher on anti-semitism than any of his predecessors. And still, this happened.

While the Labour Party does not have an anti-semitism problem distinct from the anti-semitism problem of society as a whole, unfortunately a section of the left does, particularly those that have historically prioritised anti-war and Palestine solidarity activity. We’re not talking conscious Jew hate a la neo-Nazis and assorted fash riff-raff, though some on the fringes of anti-war work order their conspiracy theorising with a side of anti-semitism, but rather a certain carelessness which, persistent and unchecked, amounts to anti-semitic behaviour. Cast your eyes over the Socialist Workers Party, for example. Previously the key organising force of Stop the War, Respect, and ‘official’ anti-fascism as per Unite Against Fascism, when it came to matters anti-war they tended to put a plus wherever the British establishment put a minus. They weren’t hard “defencists” (i.e. calling for the defeat of one’s own military and victory to whoever they are fighting), but in practice this meant tolerating far right Serbs on the small marches against the war in Kosovo, ditto with Islamic fundamentalists in the anti-war movement and, in the case of notorious anti-semite Gilad Atzmon, not just rubbing shoulders with but actively sponsoring his events. The SWP has a history of turning a blind eye to such characters. Sometimes this was for expediency’s sake, such as not wanting to threaten the “united front” of whatever bandwagon they’re riding at that moment. For others it’s because they are of some use. Atzmon was so promoted because a now disgraced former leading member was really into jazz.

The SWP have diminished influence these days, but their attitude to problem people is typical. For them, overlooking the foibles of allies could be justified in terms of their lust for the big time, which was always one more demo, strike, and paper sale away. For others not so invested in sect building, making episodic common cause with people who shouldn’t be touched with a barge pole was simply a fact of life of doing left-wing politics: you work with what you’ve got. Up until the sudden change of fortunes occasioned by the 2015 Labour leadership contest, self-described leftists were a small and dwindling bunch. The likes of Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, both of whom are prophylactics for socialist politics, were tolerated because there wasn’t exactly a massive pool of activists to draw upon. And it had been this way for a long time, so turning a blind eye was in many cases a condition of getting things done. Which also meant “left” anti-semitism wasn’t taken seriously – a culture of sensitivity was absent.

..

What should be done then? The party is now institutionally anti-anti-semitic, but there remains a persistent and stubborn layer of members who either believe there is no issue, don’t think it’s worth talking about, or is entirely a weapon used against the leadership by the usual suspects. Clearly, there is much political education to be done. I don’t mean every branch and CLP hosting its own diversity training or whatever, but rather a left declaration of war against anti-semitism specifically and the kind of thinking – conspiracy thinking – that incubates it and, in turn, finds a ready audience among large sections of Corbyn’s online support. As a rule, the so-called alt-left media sites are dismal failures in this regard and, indeed, stoke the fires of click bait conspiranoia. This has to be opposed by materialist analysis, of understanding the world as it is so we can make the world what we want it to be. This takes a concerted effort at building an intellectual culture that encourages comrades to think critically for themselves, and treat with extreme prejudice any and all explanations that place social ills, however they’re defined, at the feet of secret cabals working away in the shadows. Then, perhaps, the culture of carelessness can be overcome and “left” anti-semitism goes back to being what it should be: an oxymoron.

I do not think Corbyn is personally antisemitic, but it is evident that he has difficulty recognising that the problem takes a specific form on the left and the “anti imperialist” milieu. This stems from his own lack of political sophistication, his background in crude New Left “anti imperialism” and (possibly) with the fact that Stalinists are influential in his inner circle. Corbyn’s difficulty in recognising the problem is, sadly, typical of significant sections of the left.

What lies behind Corbyn’s difficulties with “left-wing antisemitism”?

(1) Full Text of Letter.

Today, leaders of British Jewry tell Jeremy Corbyn that enough is enough. We have had enough of hearing that Jeremy Corbyn “opposes antisemitism”, whilst the mainstream majority of British Jews, and their concerns, are ignored by him and those he leads. There is a repeated institutional failure to properly address Jewish concerns and to tackle antisemitism, with the Chakrabarti Report being the most glaring example of this.

Jeremy Corbyn did not invent this form of politics, but he has had a lifetime within it, and now personifies its problems and dangers. He issues empty statements about opposing antisemitism, but does nothing to understand or address it. We conclude that he cannot seriously contemplate antisemitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities.

When Jews complain about an obviously antisemitic mural in Tower Hamlets, Corbyn of course supports the artist. Hizbollah commits terrorist atrocities against Jews, but Corbyn calls them his friends and attends pro-Hizbollah rallies in London. Exactly the same goes for Hamas. Raed Salah says Jews kill Christian children to drink their blood. Corbyn opposes his extradition and invites him for tea at the House of Commons. These are not the only cases. He is repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly antisemitic views, but claims never to hear or read them.

Again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with antisemites rather than Jews. At best, this derives from the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel. At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy. When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, Jews expressed sincere and profound fears as to how such politics would impact upon their wellbeing. Our concerns were never taken seriously. Three years on, the Party and British Jews are reaping the consequences.

Routine statements against antisemitism “and all forms of racism” get nowhere near dealing with the problem, because what distinguishes antisemitism from other forms of racism is the power that Jews are alleged to hold, and how they are charged with conspiring together against what is good. This is not only historic, or about what Jeremy Corbyn did before being Party leader. It is also utterly contemporary. There is literally not a single day in which Labour Party spaces, either online or in meetings, do not repeat the same fundamental antisemitic slanders against Jews. We are told that our concerns are faked, and done at the command of Israel and/or Zionism (whatever that means); that antisemitism is merely “criticism of Israel”; that we call any and all criticism of Israel “antisemitic”; that the Rothschilds run the world; that ISIS terrorism is a fake front for Israel; that Zionists are the new Nazis; and that Zionists collaborate with Nazis.

Rightly or wrongly, those who push this offensive material regard Jeremy Corbyn as their figurehead. They display an obsessive hatred of Israel alongside conspiracy theories and fake news. These repeated actions do serous harm to British Jews and to the British Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn is the only person with the standing to demand that all of this stops. Enough is enough.

Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council

Corbyn Regrets Remarks on ‘anti-Semitic’ Mural.

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Jeremy Corbyn regrets comments about ‘anti-Semitic’ mural.

BBC.

Jeremy Corbyn has expressed “sincere regret” at failing to look more closely at an allegedly anti-Semitic mural in London before questioning its removal.

The Labour leader has been criticised for responding to a Facebook post by street artist, Mear One, in 2012, which asked why the image faced destruction.

Mr Corbyn had written: “Why? You are in good company” – but has now said the image was “deeply disturbing”.

The mural, “Freedom of Humanity”, was removed from East London in 2012.

“I wholeheartedly support its removal,” Mr Corbyn said.

Labour MP Luciana Berger – who highlighted the post on Twitter – called Mr Corbyn’s response “wholly inadequate”.

She said: “It fails to understand on any level the hurt and anguish felt about anti-Semitism. I will be raising this further.”

That it took this long for the story to surface is, to say the least, regrettable.

I think it is completely wrong to try to smear Corbyn with the accusation of anti-Semitism, and the effort expended in doing do is beneath contempt.

But there is no doubt that a hefty dose of myopia is involved here – not least indicated by Corbyn making his remarks following ‘Zionist Free Respect’  Yvonne Ridley’s own comments.

This is what top class commentator and Seer  Hegemony Jones wrote about the incident nearer the time.

The Socialism of fools.

It’s 2012 and Tower Hamlets council – which, as you may remember, was at the time run by a dubious group with links to Bangladeshi Islamists – orders the removal of this mural:

It’s not really hard to guess why. I mean, even the most charitable of us could see that a picture of a bunch of large nosed businessmen sat around a table made from the bodies of the poor, plotting their rule of the world, may be a teensy weensy bit “problematic”, as I believe the kids have it.

The artist in question – in true tabloid terms – “takes to Facebook” to angrily protest it being taken down. And in the thread of comments that follows, a voice pops up. An MP from a near-by constituency.

Now. Leaving aside the conflation of this paranoid stoner’s work with Diego Rivera, the thing that stands out for me here is the opening – “Why?”.

..

We – because I was one of that motley group of voices – were accused of accusing Jeremy of being antisemitic. But the truth is, I wasn’t accusing him of that. I don’t know many who were.

. My accusation – which ties into the “Why?” here – was a lot more simple. We were concerned that he didn’t know what antisemitism was. He didn’t acknowledge its existence when it came from sources he viewed as “progressive”. To him, antisemitism is Mosley marching through Cable Street.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 24, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Day of Strike Action in French Public Services Against Background of Unity Call for the Left.

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Image result for CGT jour pour la fonction publique 22 mars

Today is March the 22nd, the same day in March when, fifty years ago,  the revolt of May 68 began.

“when a a French student movement at the  University of Nanterre founded on 22 March 1968, started a prolonged occupation of the university’s administration building.”

After occupying the building, the school dean called the police, and a public scuffle ensued that garnered the movement media and intellectual attention.”

Today is March the 22nd when a day of strikes, from the Public Service to Trains, is taking place.

L’Humanité leads with the story,

Mobilisations. Les agents se battent pour sauver notre service public

A day of action in public services, joined by train drivers, is supported by all the unions,  CGT, FO, FSU, CFTC, CFE-CGC, Solidaires  and FA-FP. On the rail network a united front of the SNCF (CGT, UNSA, SUD-Rail, CFDT), backed by FO are moblising against the “reform” of the train service, which directly touches the conditions of workers, notably the locomotive drivers.

The Guardian reports,

Thousands of train drivers, teachers, nurses, air traffic controllers and other public sector staff have gone on strike across France and begun street protests against Emmanuel Macron’s latest reform drive.

France’s centrist president, who has been in power for nearly a year, has so far escaped large strikes and trade union action, managing to easily push through an overhaul of labour laws in the autumn despite limited street marches.

But Thursday’s strike marks a new joint phase in trade union action – it is the first protest against Macron that has brought together civil servants and railway staff.

Rolling news from LibérationFonctionnaires, cheminots…, tous ensemble

This happens against the background of successful appeal for left unity behind the strike action and protests, issued by Olivier Besancenot of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA).

Déclaration unitaire : Défendons tous les services publics ! Solidarité avec les cheminots et les cheminotes !

Une réunion unitaire s’est tenue dans les locaux du NPA la semaine dernière. Elle a aboutit à un appel unitaire large, d’une grande partie des organisations politique du mouvement ouvrier, en soutien aux mobilisations à la SNCF et dans les services publics. Une conférence de presse se tiendra également jeudi.

Le Monde dedicated a long report on this welcome initiative.

A gauche, l’unité (presque) retrouvée.

12 parties and groups have backed the call, from Alternative Libertaire (AL) ; EELV ; Ensemble ; Gauche Démocratique et sociale (GDS) ;  Géneration.s, (led by former Socialist Presidential candidate Benoît Hamon) ; Groupe Parlementaire FI ; NPA ; Nouvelle Donne ; PCF ;  PCOF ; Parti de Gauche (PG)  to République et socialisme.

The Parti Socialiste, and its newly elected leader, Olivier Faure, were, in view of the record of their recent government, not asked to join.

It goes without saying that the leader of La France insoumise (LFI), Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who considers his rally is the only force that counts on the left, is keeping his distance.

Strikes in France: A guide to navigating transport, childcare and more.

France 24.

Spring is officially here, and with it comes the start of strike season in France. With workers across the country set to walk out on Thursday, here is a brief rundown of which services will be affected and tips on how to survive the madness.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, France is the country with the second-highest number of days not worked due to industrial action in Europe, bested only by Cyprus, according to the European Trade Union Institute.

Yet despite the regularity of strikes in France, navigating disrupted services can be stressful for even the most experienced of locals. To make life easier, here’s a guide to Thursday’s strikes, as well as a few tips on how to survive.

Who’s striking?

 A total of seven trade unions have called on public sector employees across the country to strike on Thursday, including school and hospital staff, civil servants, air traffic controllers and Paris metro (RATP) workers.