3 October 2016

Jon Lansman Replies to the Letter from Jewish Momentum Supporters

Lansman describes his treachery as a ‘loss of confidence’

Jon Lansman has made strenuous attempts to undermine Jackie Walker despite her overwhelming support from Momentum's grassroots

Jon Lansman, Chair of Momentum, replied earlier to the letter from 16 Jewish members of Momentum.  The letter and my reply are self-explanatory

Dear Jon,

Probably the only statement in your letter that we can both agree on is where you say we are unlikely to agree. 

I do not lightly accuse anyone of betrayal but in this case it is fully merited and I am not alone in making it.  You have been deluged with emails and messages of support for Jackie Walker, up and down the country.  As you are fully aware, Momentum groups and supporters have given Jackie Walker their full support.

People cannot understand that when the Jewish Labour Movement, the British branch of the deeply racist Israeli Labour Party (whose leader speaks of his ‘nightmare’ that Israel might one day have an Arab Prime Minister)  engages in a campaign that can only be described as a political lynching, you as the unelected Chair of Momentum should give the green light to Iain McNicol to suspend Jackie a second time.  –
Jackie Walker has been subject of a Zionist political lynching for months because of her opposition as a Black-Jewish woman, to Zionism.  She has been race baited by Zionists who deny a Black person can be Jewish.  Not once has the Jewish Labour Movement condemned this abuse by their supporters.
If Jackie had spoken of her ‘nightmare’ that Britain might one day have a Jewish Prime Minister, then there would be grounds to accuse her of anti-Semitism yet Jeremy Newmark has no criticism of the ILP.  You have repeatedly been quoted in the press as being ‘at the end of your tether’ with Jackie.  You have engaged in a deliberate process of leaking in order to create a climate that enables the removal of Jackie as Vice Chair. 

You have gone out of our way to undermine her position, for example with the article Jackie Walker’s position is untenable, she should go on the Left Future’s site which you edit, by Andy Newman. 
What I find particularly outrageous is the Independent article which states that Jackie had been secretly filmed at a Labour anti-Semitism event appearing to criticise Holocaust Memorial Day for commemorating only Jewish victims’  You went on to say that ‘ “I spoke to Jeremy Newmark of the Jewish Labour Movement this morning, he’s very upset and I can understand that – I work closely with Jeremy, … I was very, very unhappy about… and I did comment on it, about it, what she had previously said.
Jeremy Newmark - condemned as a perjurer by Employment Judge is described as 'upset' after having led a political lynching of Jackie Walker who he had secretly filmed
This is an organisation which is an emanation of the Israeli state. Whose recently appointed Director, Ella Rose, came as a transfer from the Israeli Embassy.  Jeremy Newmark believes it is “ ‘rather odd” to suggest that the organization should have no contact with the embassy.’  Most people consider that working with the Israeli Embassy as being odd.

What is outrageous is the fact that participants in a Labour Party approved JLM ‘training session’, should have been secretly filmed with the film being leaked to the media.  This is what is really outrageous yet you have nothing to say about it.

Chakrabarti (p.22) found that ‘it is not my view that narrow anti-racism training programmes are what is required. There is a grave danger that such an approach would seem patronising or otherwise insulting rather than truly empowering and enriching.’  This ‘training’ session proves the point entirely.’

Newmark claims to be ‘upset’.  Do you seriously believe this of someone who has race baited Jackie Walker for months?  More likely delighted.  By your own admission nothing Jackie said was remotely anti-Semitic.  On the question of HMD she was correct.  As we wrote in our letter to you, Zionist historians and ideologues have long argued that the Nazi holocaust is a Jewish only event and in practice HMD has excluded not only commemoration of the Gypsy and Disabled holocausts but the mass genocide of Africans, in the slave trade and the Belgian Congo.
Lansman in his earlier left-wing days with Tony Benn
Jackie’s comments about the security around Jewish schools are equally valid.  I have also expressed concerns about the deliberate hyping of fears of parents concerning anti-terrorism in order to build a climate of insecurity that enables Israel to then step forward as the ‘protector’.

What is particularly outrageous in your letter is the suggestion that Jackie should answer to a charge she has already been acquitted of, viz. her private Facebook discussion on slavery and her Jewish ancestors’ involvement.  Have you never heard of the legal principle of double jeopardy?
Jackie’s private discussion was broken into by the Israeli Advocacy Movement, a group funded by the Israeli state.  It was a conversation with a Jewish (& Zionist) friend and the context of her comment lay in particular aspects of the slave trade.  Seymour Drescher, who is one of the world’s foremost academics on the slave trade held that at its height 17% of the Dutch slave trade was financed by Jews.  You can find this in the Jewish Journal not the Nation of Islam.  Or is the truth anti-Semitic?

What caused offence were not Jackie’s comments but the deliberate distortion of them and the wide publicity given to these distortions by people like Jeremy Newmark, a man who has previously falsely accused the University Colleges Union of ‘anti-Semitism’ and then lied on oath to an employment tribunal.  A man whose evidence was described by Judge Snelson as ‘preposterous’ and extraordinarily arrogant but also disturbing’.   This is the man whom you trust more than your own Vice Chair.
Lansman has now given his support to the snake Tom Watson
I find it extraordinary that you say that the party would want to investigate the matter’ as if this is some neutral judicial investigation.  Iain McNicol, the party General Secretary has suspended thousands of Jeremy Corbyn supporters to prevent them voting yet you are quoted as supporting him remaining in post in today’s Observer and now apparently you believe the disciplinary process is fair and honest.  You are also quoted as supporting Tom Watson.

You speak of a ‘a loss of confidence’ in Jackie by her colleagues on the Momentum Steering Committee.  I can assure you that this is as nothing compared to the loss of confidence that there will be in you if Jackie Walker is removed as Vice-Chair.  Jackie Walker has the full confidence of Momentum’s membership.

You say that ‘none of the issues of concern above relate in any way to Israel, Zionism or the Palestinians’.  The sole purpose  of the JLM is to defend Israel and Zionism and their method in so doing is  by attacking their opponents as anti-Semitic.  Despite their claims, the JLM have never once criticised the Israeli government, its apartheid  policies or the military occupation of Palestinian territories.

I find your response and your behaviour truly shocking.  I only hope that, even at this late hour, you reconsider your decision to throw Jackie to the wolves.

In solidarity

Tony Greenstein
The virulent racism of the Israeli Labour Party and its leader Isaac Herzog has never once been condemned by the Zionist 'Jewish' Labour Movement or its Chair Jeremy Newmark
Dear Tony

I accept on previous experience that we are unlikely to agree, as your language of betrayal and accusations of throwing people to the wolves makes clear but shall nevertheless respond. However, I do not intend to get into a lcorrespondence.

I note your concern about the allegations which have led to her suspension by the Labour Party. So far as I know, the reasons for the suspension have not been made public. Having read reports of what Jackie Walker is alleged to have said and having listened to the leaked video, I do not regard any of the comments she appears to have made, taken individually, to be antisemitic though I do regard her comments on Holocaust Memorial Day and on the security of Jewish schools to be ill-informed, ill-judged and very likely to cause offence. 

I imagine however that the party is likely to take into account her earlier comments about Jews and Slavery which included the comment “many Jews (my ancestors included) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade”. I do regard this comment as much more problematic since it is extremely similar to a widely repeated antisemitic trope associated with the publication "The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews” published by the Nation of Islam. 

Although I personally accept Jackie’s personal explanation for this comment - being in the context of a seemingly private discussion (albeit on Facebook) about her own ancestors’ involvement in slavery as both victims and perpetrators - I do not find it surprising that it caused many others great offence and was widely regarded as being antisemitic. In such circumstances I think that Jackie should have been very careful about further statements on this and related subjects whatever her record as an anti-racist. 

I think it is inevitable that the party would want to investigate the matter following on a reported complaint by a left-wing trade union general secretary. Like Jeremy Corbyn, I take allegations of antisemitism very seriously. However, I certainly hope that the party will apply the principles laid down in the Chakrabarti report in doing so and would argue that if there are any indications that it is not doing so. 

As far as Momentum is concerned, I am afraid that the consequence of Jackie’s actions has been a loss of confidence in Jackie’s judgement by a number of her colleagues on the Steering Group which elected her as Vice Chair. We are convening a meeting of the Steering Group tomorrow to enable Jackie to respond to concerns and to consider what action to take on which subject I note your views.

I would add that none of the issues of concern above relate in any way to Israel, Zionism or the Palestinians, and we have just had a conference in which Jeremy has been congratulated for his interventions on antisemitism in his speech and at meetings with Jewish organisations.

In solidarity

Jon Lansman
Chair of Momentum

On 30 Sep 2016, at 22:23, Tony Greenstein <tonygreenstein111@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear James Schneider and Jon Lansman,

We are Jewish members of the Labour Party.  We are writing to you concerning reports in the press, which you have not denied, that Momentum’s Executive Committee is preparing to throw Jackie Walker to the wolves at its meeting next Monday.  The reason for this is because of the wholly false anti-Semitism accusations that have been leveled against her.  

We urge you not to remove Jackie as Vice-Chair of Momentum.  When a comrade is under attack then you defend them and extend the hand of solidarity.  An injury to one is an injury to all.  Betraying a comrade in order to ease the pressure on you is contrary to all Labour movement traditions of solidarity.   The Jewish Labour Movement [JLM] will not stop at Jackie Walker.  They will look for new targets for their ‘anti-Semitism’ witch hunt.

The JLM is not an ordinary affiliated socialist society.  It has a close relationship with Israeli state agencies, for example its newly appointed Director, Ella Rose, came directly from the Israeli Embassy.  The ‘anti-Semitism witchhunt’ over the last year has been a carefully orchestrated and co-ordinated affair alongside papers like the Daily Mail.  Jackie is but the latest target for those who are using ‘anti-Semitism’ as a means of attacking Jeremy Corbyn. 

The JLM invited to Labour Party Conference representatives of Ha Avodah, the Israeli Labour Party.  This is a party that presided over the forcible expulsion of ¾ million Palestinian refugees and placed Israel’s Arabs under military rule until 1966.  The ILP initiated the settlements in the West Bank.  Earlier this year, its leader Isaac Herzog stated that the ILP mustn’t be identified as an ‘Arab lovers’ party.  If Jackie Walker had talked about ‘Jew lovers’ then the charges of anti-Semitism against her would be justified.  Herzog later described his ‘nightmare’ of waking up to find that Israel had an Arab Prime Minister.  If Jackie had spoken of her fears that Britain might one day have a Jewish Prime Minister then she would rightly be called an anti-Semite.  If anyone should be called out for racism it is the JLM.

Jews who are not Zionists cannot join the JLM because of its affiliation to the World Zionist Organisation and its Jerusalem Programme, which speaks of ‘the centrality of the State of Israel … in the life of the (Jewish) nation’.  The ‘Jewish nation’ means Jews in Israel or the Diaspora.  This includes ourselves and Jon Lansman.  The idea that we are Jewish not British nationals and Israel is the centre of our lives is a deeply anti-Semitic one.

The Jerusalem programme also speaks of ‘Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.’ Settlement means occupying the West Bank and Golan Heights as well as Judaising Israel.  That is why Israel is a racist settler colonial state.

Last Monday the JLM held an ‘anti-racism training’ session at Labour’s conference.  The session was filmed without the agreement of participants and contrary to all ethical considerations.  It was then leaked to the media in order to wage a vicious racist attack on Jackie Walker and other Jewish dissidents present. 

Even before the ‘training session’ the JLM had been conducting a political lynching of Jackie.  It had refused to accept that the false accusations made against Jackie, that she had alleged that Jews were the main financiers of the slave trade, were untrue, despite her being acquitted of these allegations last May. 

In the Jewish Chronicle of 24th September Jeremy Newmark, Chair of JLM was quoted as saying of John McDonnell’s appearance on a platform with Jackie that

"The Shadow Chancellor … must explain his defence of Walker which is inconsistent with his call for zero tolerance (of antisemitism). This raises serious questions. Our members expect him to explain himself.’

What happened at the session was all too predictable.  Having the JLM hold an anti-racist training course was like the General Medical Council asking Harold Shipman to organise a course on medical ethics.  This was why the Chakrabarti Report stated that:

‘having gauged the range of feelings within the Party, it is not my view that narrow anti-racism training programmes are what is required. There is a grave danger that such an approach would seem patronising or otherwise insulting rather than truly empowering and enriching for those taking part.’

Instead of stabbing Jackie in the back and running scared of the media’s faked concern for ‘antisemitism’ you would be better spending your time finding out why the JLM was allowed to undertake an ‘anti-racist training session’ in the first place.

What Jackie Walker said may have enraged the Zionists, for whom the holocaust serves primarily as an ideological justification for Israel’s crimes, but it was not anti-Semitic.    

It is a fact that Holocaust Memorial Day has focused almost exclusively on the Nazi holocaust and has ignored the extermination of the Disabled and the Gypsies.  The doyen of Zionist holocaust historians, Professor Yehuda Bauer argued, in a debate with the late Dr Sybil Milton, Senior Historian at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum that ‘the Nazis only attempted to annihilate one people, the Jews: Roma were not Jews, therefore there was no need to murder all of them.’  According to Bauer, ‘the Holocaust is very much a unique case.’ [“Gypsies and the Holocaust” Yehuda Bauer; Sybil Milton The History Teacher, Vol. 25, (Aug., 1992)].  As the late Elie Wiesel put it, to compare the sufferings of others with Jews was a “betrayal of Jewish history”. [Elie Wiesel, Against Silence, v. iii, 146.]  The truth may be uncomfortable but it is not anti-Semitic. 

Jackie Walker was also right to question the JLM’s assertion that the EUMC’s Working Definition of Anti-Semitism was the standard definition of what constitutes anti-Semitism.  This is simply dishonest.  In 2013, this definition was scrapped by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency, as the Times of Israel reported ‘’The European Union’s agency for combating racism dropped its definition for anti-Semitism… We are not aware of any official definition [of anti-Semitism],” Blanca Tapia of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency told JTA on Tuesday.’

We are seriously disturbed by the report in the Guardian Momentum likely to oust Jackie Walker over Holocaust remarks and a similar report in the Independent that ‘Senior members of Momentum are "fuming" at her remarks’. It is your duty not to betray comrades. 

The JLM voted 92-4% in favour of Owen Smith.  Anti-Semitism is a weapon to attack the left.  Any betrayal of Jackie Walker will be unacceptable to grassroots Momentum supporters who are sick to the back teeth of the cynical use of anti-Semitism to ward off criticism of Israel.

We also understand that Jackie Walker has not even been invited to the meeting which it is intended will dismiss her.  What kind of democracy is this?  Because of the racist abuse she has received from the JLM’s supporters Jackie has had to suspend her Twitter account.  Of, not being an  MP, this kind of abuse will not make the headlines.  Jackie is suffering extreme abuse which the JLM has given a green light to.  Abuse which openly states that Black people can’t be Jewish.  If you attack Jackie you will be a party to this abuse.

We are writing to you to demand that you stand up to the JLM when it demands the head of a well respected Black and Jewish anti-racist.  You will not be forgiven if you betray her.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Bash                Hackney North CLP
Haim Bresheeth             Hornsey and Wood Green CLP
Mark Elf                        Barking CLP
Tansy Feltis                
Brian Chinnery               Enfield Southgate CLP
Helen Marks                  Riverside CLP
Kenny Fryde                 Cambridge CLP
Lynda Gilbert                Milton Keynes North
Tony Greenstein            Brighton & Hove District Labour Party
Abe Hayeem                 Harrow East CLP
Elizabeth Morley            Ceredigion CLP
Diana Neslen                 Ilford South Constituency Labour Party
Dr Brian Robinson         Milton Keynes South CLP
Leon Rosselson                        Brent Momentum
David Selzer                 City of Chester CLP
Sam Semoff                 Riverside CLP

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