Stroud News and Journal, 31 July 2019, p. 37 [also in the Glos Gazette and Glos and Wilts Standard, 1 August)
I read Royston Gay’s letter “Labour’s anti-Semitism shames us all” with the deepest dismay. As a Labour Party member of Jewish descent, I simply do not recognise the Labour Party he writes of.
The notorious Panorama programme he speaks of was a prime example of a tabloid hatchet job, which falls apart with any serious analysis. Apart from the fact it was concocted by a Murdoch acolyte, who paraded a succession of victims who nearly all belong to organisations with an axe to grind, where was the right of reply and counter-argument?
Let’s give the anti-Semitism issue a little context. Cases of anti-Semitism involving Labour Party members amount to less than .01% of the membership. While many hundreds of incidents have to be dealt with, and I hope each and every one receives the severest sanction, the number of members involved is still relatively small. Any is too many, but this needs to be been in perspective.
There is less anti-Semitism in Labour than in society in general, and certainly less anti-Semitism and other forms of racism than in the Conservative Party.
So why is it that all the media’s focus remains on the Labour Party? The elephant in the room is that anything that can be used to undermine Labour under its present leadership is regarded as fair game. Attacking Corbyn on this issue is absurd; he is a lifelong opponent of racism of all kinds.
Richard House throws down the gauntlet in a letter to the editor:
The squalid shenanigans of the Labour right over the Chris Williamson question are beneath contempt.
Good old Tosh McDonald for sticking up for him (MPs hounding Chris Williamson are ‘bullies,’ prominent trade unionist says, M Star June 29–30); and I want to respond to the call by Tosh’s for Chris’s defenders to stand up and be counted.
First, on the letters pages of this and other newspapers, I have said exactly what Chris said about anti-semitism in Labour, in the speech for which he was suspended from the party. His statements were absolutely correct and factually accurate. Chris and I both passionately believe that to the extent that there is anti-semitism in Labour, it is abhorrent and must be eradicated.
But the scale of the media coverage that the anti-semitism issue has generated is grotesquely out of proportion to the actual problem.
It has been stoked, orchestrated and weaponised in a despicable anti-Corbyn putsch attempt by the likes of Tom Watson and the Labour right.
So, I’m saying it again here, in black and white and without mealy-mouthed triangulation or equivocation, just as Chris has rightly pointed out.
So come on, rightists: suspend me from the party, too. And if you do, I look forward to seeing you in court, where, once and for all, I’ll take great pleasure in exposing your shameful shenanigans for all to see.
These people’s divisive disloyalty and misconduct are in effect making the election of a Labour government less likely, and so if anyone should be suspended from the party, it’s them, not the likes of Chris.
Dr RICHARD HOUSE
Stroud Constituency Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn – a strong believer in human rights – respects and values minority communities here, including our Jewish one. We are sure that the same applies to his leadership of the Labour Party.
We are dismayed by unbalanced media reporting ahead of the local elections of allegations of anti-Semitism against Jeremy. We believe this partly results from his legitimate criticism of Israel’s cruel and racist treatment towards its Palestinian and Bedouin populations.
This is because one definition of anti-Semitism includes criticism of the Israeli state as racist. We reject that definition. Indeed, many Israelis criticise actions of their state.
Any genuine anti-Semites and racists among the 600,000 members of the Labour Party should be challenged and, if necessary, expelled. The recommendations in the Chakrabarti Report will greatly help deal with such abuse.
We dissociate ourselves from the accusations of anti-Semitism made against Jeremy by the Board of Jewish Deputies and some Labour MPs. We confirm our confidence and support for Jeremy as MP and as a future prime minister of this country.
JENNY KASSMAN, Finsbury Park branch
JULIA BARD, St George’s branch
CLLR KAYA COMER-SCHWARTZ, Junction branch
LOUISA S KAPLIN, Junction branch
JULIAN LOUSADA, Highbury East branch
SUE LUKES, Highbury East branch
PROF MICA NAVA, St George’s branch
JENNY RICHARDSON, Tollington branch
DAVID ROSENBERG, St George’s branch
MONIKA SCHWARTZ, Junction branch
PROF LYNNE SEGAL, Highbury East branch
ANNABELLE SREBERNY, Highbury East branch
RUTH STEIGMAN, St George’s branch
ANNETTE THOMAS, St George’s branch
DR GILLIAN YUDKIN, St George’s branch
PROF JOHN S YUDKIN, St George’s branch
This is Richard House’s challenging assertion as anti-Corbyn Labour MPs deserted the party in recent days. He continues:
“It’s too easily forgotten that the deserters are the same people who never accepted Corbyn’s leadership of the party from day one, and who’ve continually done everything possible – eagerly aided by their establishment media friends – to undermine him at every turn, so making his leadership job quite impossible.
“Remember the attempted MPs’ coup led by these people in their unconstitutional attempt to get rid of Corbyn? – this was long before the Labour Party anti-Semitism hysteria had ever been heard of.
“And having failed to displace Corbyn with their spiteful coup attempt, their fall-back was to concoct a carefully choreographed plan: namely, create a hysterical (but fictional) media storm about anti-Semitism; allow it to rage for a few months; then re-kindle it (literally making it up as they went along); and finally, when the fire was raging again, use this as a baseless pretext for splitting the Labour Party so we can have another five years of heartless Tory rule. Establishment job done.
“These “courageous” people have discharged their quasi-Tory bidding very well.
“Oh, and of course it’s just a coincidence that these deserters are all virulent Remainers who’ve never accepted the democratic result of the EU referendum, and will continue to do anything possible to reverse it.”
“One thing that May and Corbyn do have in common is that at least they’re trying to stay true to the democratic result of the EU referendum.
He concludes that – rather than having to devote huge amounts of time and energy defending themselves from relentless attacks from ‘serial underminers‘ within their own party – Corbyn and his team can now spend all their time on exposing the nation’s headlong social disintegration under Tory austerity.
And above all “inspiring us with their stellar policy portfolio”.
Dr Richard House
Source: Western Daily Press, 25 February 2019, p. 16–17
Williamson is right: Labour has done more – and spent more – to address anti-Semitism than any other political party
In Sheffield last week, MP for Derby North Chris Williamson said that the Labour party, and in particular the leader, have been ‘demonised’ as racist. He continued:
“I have got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic. We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any political party.”
Anna Boyle has listed forty reasons who the leader and/or the party reasons illustrating the truth of his statement which may be read here.
Those who have difficulty in accessing them may ask for an attachment, using the Comments facility.
After describing actions taken before Jeremy Corbyn was elected as party leader – including his leadership of a clean-up and vigil at Finsbury Park Synagogue which had been vandalised in an anti-Semitic attack – Anna points out Jennie Formby, after her appointment as general secretary of the party last year, selected a highly-qualified in-house Counsel.
By 2018 the size of the party’s staff team handling investigations and dispute processes had almost doubled. The entire backlog of outstanding cases was cleared within 6 months of Jennie taking up her post.
MP Margaret Hodge – a leading critic – said that she had submitted a dossier of 200 examples of antisemitism. Ms Formby commented that those complaints referred to 111 reported individuals, of whom only 20 were members.
Smaller panels of 3-5 NEC members were established to enable cases to be heard more quickly and every complaint made about antisemitism was allocated an independent specialist barrister to ensure due process is followed.
Below in Broxstowe last weekend
And young supporters are also not swayed by media, career-minded ‘independents’ and deputy leader
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said:
“I’ve had a very interesting week in politics. I’m obviously very sad at some of the things that have happened and very sad at some of the things that have been said. Walking away from our movement achieves nothing. Not understanding where we have come from is a bad mistake.
“Because when people come together in a grouping, in a community like the Labour Party, there’s nothing we can’t achieve together for everybody . . .
“Labour, for me, is my life – and I’m very sad at people who have left our party. I really am. I say this to them: in June 2017, I was elected on a manifesto, Emily was elected on a manifesto, Richard was elected on a manifesto, Gloria was elected on a manifesto – it was the same manifesto . . . the Labour Party believes in equality and justice, that is what was the centre of our manifesto, and that will be at the centre of our next manifesto . . .
“When the media talk about the bravery of those who walked away, Anna Soubry voted for austerity and said it was a good thing. Almost immediately after leaving Chris Leslie tells us that we should not be ending university fees … and we should be cutting corporation tax and increasing the burden on others.
Mr Corbyn also addressed the anti-Semitism issues within the party, which MPs Luciana Berger and Joan Ryan both cited as they quit Labour this week:
“When people are racist to each other, then we oppose it in any way whatsoever. If anyone is racist towards anyone else in our party – wrong. Out of court, out of order, totally and absolutely unacceptable. Anti-Semitism is unacceptable in any form and in any way whatsoever, and anywhere in our society.”
He added: “I’m proud to lead a party that was the first ever to introduce race relations legislation and also to pass the equality act and the human rights act into the statute book.”
Charedi activists, including 29 Orthodox rabbis, express support for Jeremy Corbyn, challenging the Board of Deputies
Shraga Stern, a Charedi (Orthodox) Jew, is one of the organisers of a letter (below) published last week in support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by twenty-nine leading Orthodox rabbis.
The Jewish Chronicle reported that the Jewish Community Council of North London (JCC), a ‘nascent’ communal group based in Stamford Hill, initially disputed the letter’s legitimacy, while others suggested the 29 rabbis were not fully aware of its content when they agreed to put their names to it. But the JCC has since backed down after a challenge by Stamford Hill activists Shraga Stern and Naftoli Friedman who have since taken responsibility for the letter. Three of the signatories, Rabbis Eliyakim Schlesinger, Azriel Schechter and Ze’ev Feldman, all confirmed they had read and signed the letter.
Shraga Stern added: “Jeremy is a long friend and neighbour of the Charedi community here and everyone who knows him personally says that he loves Jews and is against real anti-Semitism, and this is what he has done all his life”.
Mr Stern has issued a strongly-worded statement (below), contesting claims by the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and Board of Deputies (BoD) to represent mainstream Jewish opinion in the UK and the claims that antisemitism in the Labour Party is widespread.
We believe that the anti-Semitism smear and witch hunt against Jeremy Corbyn is a Zionist agenda and has all the footprints leading to that direction. It is being promoted by the Board of Deputies and by the self-made unelected JLC, who are a well-known pro-Israel bodies- and it’s completely cruel and unjustified.
The Board of Deputies and JLC do not represent Charedi Jews, who do not have voting rights at BoD elections and number today over fifty thousand in the UK, of which 30,000 live in Stamford Hill. According to a 2007 study by Dr Markov Wise at the University of Manchester, almost three out of every four Jewish births in the UK – home to the largest strictly Orthodox community in Europe – are in the Charedi community.
The strange thing here is that there are 263,000 Jews living in UK according to the 2011 census. Half of them do not belong to a synagogue according to BoD population statistics, so this half would not have voting rights in the BoD elections. Add this up with 50,000 Charedi Jews it equals 181,000 out of 263,000 who will not fall under the BoD and the BoD do not represent them. So how on earth can the BoD have the chutzpah to say they represent the Jews in UK? BoD is a pro-Israel body and only represent a very particular part of Jews who are pro-Israel.
Charedi Jews and most mainstream Jews in the UK are only interested in Anglo Jewry matters and do not get involved in Israel politics. However saying this we do recognise that real anti-Semitism is an issue all over the country and in all political parties. We are convinced that Jeremy Corbyn is doing his best to tackle real anti-Semitism in his party while still giving his people of his party freedom of speech to criticize Israel.
However, we are nowhere near to fleeing this country because of this. As a Charedi Jew I can say that Charedi Jews are the most vulnerable to anti-Semitic attacks as they dress differently and one can see that they are Jewish, therefore this support letter from leading Charedi rabbis from Stamford Hill including Chief Rabbi Padwa from the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC) says it all.
Jeremy is a long friend and neighbour of the Charedi community here and everyone who knows him personally says that he loves Jews and is against real anti-Semitism, and this is what he has done all his life.
Times have changed and we will not stop here. We will not be hijacked by the BoD and JLC. We will go further than this to make it clear to all the government bodies and to the press, not to fall into the trap of the BoD and JLC who are extremist Zionist bodies and do not represent mainstream Jews.
Discussions are now taking place that I’m personally aware of and talks are in place on considering setting up a new body of Board of Deputies of mainstream British Jews that will focus only on anglo-jewish matters and will represent the entire Jewish population no matter if they are associated to a BoD synagogue or not and act for the many Jews not the few.
Shraga Stern asks “How on earth can the Board of Deputies have the chutzpah to say they represent the Jews in UK? BoD is a pro-Israel body and only represents a very particular part of Jews who are pro-Israel”.
Extract from the latest article:
In his outstanding essay, ‘The chimera of British anti-Semitism (and how not to fight it if it were real)’, Norman Finkelstein, Jewish author of ‘The Holocaust Industry’ and the son of Holocaust survivors, comments:
‘The degree of anti-Semitism infecting British society has been the subject of numerous polls over a sustained period of time. These surveys have uniformly, consistently, and unambiguously concluded that anti-Semitism:
(1) has long been a marginal phenomenon in British society, infecting under 10% of the population,
(2) is far less salient than hostility to other British minorities, and
(3) is less pronounced in the UK than almost anywhere else in Europe.’
Finkelstein argues that Jews have considerable power within British society. Indeed, the intensity and longevity of the campaign targeting Corbyn’s ‘antisemitism’ in part reflect that influence:
‘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.”‘
As Finkelstein says, ‘it cannot be right to deny (or suppress) critical socioeconomic facts’ of this kind. Noting them has nothing to do with ugly, racist fantasies about Jews controlling the world.
‘Jeremy Corbyn is the democratically elected head of the Labour Party. His ascendancy vastly expanded and galvanized the party’s ranks. Corbyn has devoted a lifetime to fighting racism; like eponymous labor organizer Joe Hill, where workers strike and organize, it’s there you’ll find Jeremy Corbyn.
‘By British and even global leadership standards, he cuts a saintly figure. On the opposite side, mostly unelected Jewish bodies have dragged Corbyn’s name through the mud, slandering and defaming him. They have refused to meet with Corbyn, even as he has repeatedly extended olive branches and offered substantive compromises. Instead they issue take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums.‘
Finkelstein summarises accurately: ‘The transparent motive behind this cynical campaign is to demonize Corbyn, not because he’s a “fucking anti-Semite,” [the words of former Labour minister Margaret Hodge] but because he’s a principled champion of Palestinian rights’, although ‘a broad array of powerful entrenched social forces, acting on not-so-hidden agendas of their own’ are all seeking to destroy Corbyn.
Indeed, no rational observer can see this as anything other than an extension of the relentless establishment attack on Corbyn, the mild socialist threatening to let democracy loose from its box. The objective of the antisemitism moral panic is obvious, writes Lindsey German of Stop the War:’removing Corbyn from the Labour leadership and his replacement with someone much more amenable to the needs of British capital, whether in the arena of foreign policy or in terms of domestic policies’.
David Hearst, a former Middle East editor at the Guardian, concurs: ‘The Labour leader’s opponents don’t care about anti-Semitism. They’ll just do anything to remove Corbyn.’
Hearst argues that Corbyn’s opponents are using: ‘the tactics of fascists – smearing, libelling, intimidating: ‘Unable to put up a candidate capable of defeating him by democratic means, at the ballot box, unable to attack him on his polices for which there is majority support in the country, Corbyn’s detractors have methodically and consistently set about the task of character assassination.’
We asked Noam Chomsky for his view on these issues. He replied: ‘The charges of anti-Semitism against Corbyn are without merit, an underhanded contribution to the disgraceful efforts to fend off the threat that a political party might emerge that is led by an admirable and decent human being, a party that is actually committed to the interests and just demands of its popular constituency and the great majority of the population generally, while also authentically concerned with the rights of suffering and oppressed people throughout the world. Plainly an intolerable threat to order.’ (Noam Chomsky, email to Media Lens, September 9, 2018