7 January 2018

Decisive Victory as Labour Against the Witchhunt Meeting Excludes Socialist Fight

Anti-Semitic Group Told They Are Not Welcome
The Independent's coverage of the LAW meeting, which was extremely inaccurate, led to its cancellation
After publicity in The Independent and the Tory Guido Fawkes blog,  the landlord of the pub where we were supposed to meet, the Calthorpe Arms, cancelled the meeting.  So we had to quickly book the Union Tavern 5 minutes away.  As it happens this was a good thing as so many people turned up to vote out the anti-Semitic Socialist Fight.
Although a few Socialist Fight members left, the room was still packed

A packed meeting of Labour Against the Witchhunt voted by over 2-1 to exclude Socialist Fight from participating in LAW.  Led by Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan, SF has a theory that the Jewish Question is still relevant today, i.e. that Jews fulfil a distinctive social or economic or political role under capitalism.
The irony is that the International Jewish Anti-Zionist group here does not support Socialist Fight and it is one of those Jewish groups which are really a Zionist wedge!
What this means concretely is that the allegedly disproportionate number of rich Jews and billionaires are responsible for the United State’s support for Israel.  In particular that the relationship between Israel and the United States was such that the latter was ‘servile’ to the former.  SF argue that:

It is factually demonstrable that there exists a Jewish component within the ruling classes of Western countries that exceeds by many times over the proportion of Jews in the general population, and that this part of the ruling class is overwhelmingly loyal to Israel. This does not determine the bare existence of a Western alliance with Israel.

What it does, however, is play an important role in transforming what would otherwise be a ‘normal’ relationship similar to that of the US, UK, Germany etc. with each other as NATO allies, into a servile relationship where states like the USA give barely critical support to Israeli atrocities against Palestinians that certainly do not accord with obvious US, UK etc. imperial interests. It also gives Zionism a social power to persecute critics of Israel in Western societies not possessed by any other allied state. Including in the British Labour Party…
There were 2 motions on the floor – one from the Steering Committee and another from Socialist Fight. 

Tony Greenstein and Gerry Downing respectively moved the motions.  Tony Greenstein stated that given that we were fighting a false anti-Semitism witch hunt, the presence of an anti-Semitic group in our midst was not helpful!  Downing responded that this was caving in to the Zionists and Labour’s crooked General Secretary, Iain McNicol.  We were joining in with the witchhnters.

Tony Greenstein also drew attention to the interview that Downing had very recently done with Gilad Atzmon, a notorious anti-Semite who Donovan has defended as an ‘Israeli dissident’.  Downing said that this was no different from talking to a dotty aunty with reactionary views but it was pointed out that Atzmon was not a batty relative but someone who had flown to Canada to give evidence in support of the neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel at a hearing before the Canadian courts.
Jews don't need to apologise for the role they play in the movement - the only people who take exception to Jewish anti-Zionists are either Zionists or anti-Semites
Tony Greenstein also expressed wonderment at the fact that SF wanted to work with us anyway as they had stated in Defend Marxism and Labour Movement democracy against capitulators to Zionism

Today, he [Greenstein] and his bed mate Jack Conrad are in a bloc with the same Iain McNichol who is framing him up for anti-Semitism. This is class treachery at its most pathetic.’  

Below I have included material on both Socialist Fight’s and Gilad Atzmon that demonstrates that both are, without doubt, anti-Semitic.
During the course of the debate Ian Donovan, who is the main theoretician behind SF’s anti-Semitic orientation denied that SF spoke of Jews as an ‘oppressor’ people.  This was, as Moshe Machover has pointed out, quite clearly a lie.

Over 60 people attended this all members meeting and some people came down from as far as Sheffield and Liverpool.  A large number of people spoke in the debate and it went on for nearly one and a half hours.  I chaired the debate and then Jackie Walker took over afterwards.
After SF had been excluded a number of decisions were taken such as to establish a membership (£5/£10), affiliations (£25 trade union branches) and to prioritise a number of activities.  In particular we are organising pickets of the National Executive Committee on 23rd January at Southside, London, a picket of Marc Wadsworth’s hearing before the National Constitutional Committee on 24th January (venue unknown) and a picket of Tony Greenstein’s hearing on 26th January.  We also have a public meeting on January 29th at Conway Hall with Ken Loach.  We also agreed a submission to Labour’s Democracy Review.

We also decided to make Professor Moshe Machover, who was auto excluded then reinstated in the Labour Party in October 2017 our Honorary President.  We also co-opted Sally to the Steering Committee as being responsible for social media.
Gerry Downing and  Gilad Atzmon unite in defence of anti-semitism
Steering Committee motion:

Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) is a Labour Party campaign. We urge all those who oppose Labour's witchhunt against Corbyn supporters and critics of Israel/Zionism to stay in the Party and fight.

LAW reaffirms its three key demands:
   1.    That the Labour Party ends the practice of automatic, instant, expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members without a hearing, with no right of appeal.
   2.    That the Labour Party rejects the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance (IHMA) definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people.
   3.    That the Labour Party immediately abolishes its 'compliance unit'. Disciplinary decisions should be taken by elected bodies, not paid officials.

As shown by the September 2017 Labour Party conference, the formation of Free Speech on Israel and Jewish Voice for Labour, and by the surge of support which quickly achieved the reinstatement of Moshé Machover, we believe our campaign is capable of stopping the witchhunt.
Professor Moshe Machover, the veteran Israel anti-Zionist that McNicol was forced to reinstate in the Labour Party, is our new Honorary President

LAW campaigns for the immediate lifting of all suspensions and expulsions from Labour Party membership which were
·         connected with the rightwing witchhunt of Corbyn supporters;
·         carried out "automatically", without a hearing, without the right of appeal;
·         connected to the 'anti-Semitism' smear campaign.
LAW rejects the view, promoted by the Zionist movement and the Jewish Labour Movement, that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. Those, such as the Alliance for Workers Liberty, who conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel, are not eligible for membership. Those who regard Moshé Machover, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker or Ken Livingstone as anti-Semitic or who regret the reinstatement of Moshé Machover and/or support the expulsion of Ken Livingstone, are not welcome in LAW.

However, our support will be weakened if we allow the campaign to be associated with those who promote views which are anti-Semitic. LAW condemns anti-Semitism and all forms of racism. Those groups or individuals, such as Socialist Fight, who promote a form of anti-Semitism, for example the view that imperialist support for Israel has any connection to the "overrepresentation" of Jews in the ruling class; or that Jews are "an oppressor people"; or that Jewish campaigns in support of the Palestinians such as Jews Against Zionism, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods or Jewish Voice for Labour are racist because they operate on the basis of a supposedly "Jewish moral superiority", are not welcome in LAW

Socialist Fight Motion
This meeting rejects the motion to expel Socialist Fight from the LAW and rejects the accusations of anti-Semitism against them.

Socialist Fight’s Anti-Semitism
An Oppressor People

In Defend Marxism and Labour Movement democracy against capitulators to Zionism Donovan speaks of 

the transformation of the Jewish Question into its opposite, from a question involving a people that suffered considerable, and at times enormous and genocidal, oppression in the early period of imperialist capitalism, to a question involving a people, who, insofar as they act in a collective manner under a quasi-nationalist leadership today, act as oppressors of another people, namely Arabs.

Under Breaking with oppressor Zionism, Donovan writes that

‘This view of Jews as having escaped oppression and become, insofar as they link themselves to Israel and give that state their support, an oppressor people, also gains Greenstein’s ire.’

He continues explaining that

‘Zionism is an unusual oppressor-people movement in that it partly operates on an extra-territorial basis’
‘Greenstein attempts to mock our interlocking points that Jews in the imperialist countries have become an oppressor people by various kinds of demagogy.’

In Third-Camp Stalinoids bring Witchhunt into ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ Donovan speaks of: 

‘a pandering to the nationalism and communalism of an oppressor people, as Jews have become today insofar as under Zionist leadership they manage to act collectively.’

ID  goes on to write that:

‘Jews are the one people in the imperialist epoch that have comprehensively escaped from systematic oppression and joined the ranks of oppressor peoples in the imperialist world order.’ 

This is not only an anti-Semitic position, it is a Zionist notion as Sally said from the floor because what it is saying is that Jews outside Israel constitute one people i.e. a nation, precisely the position of the Zionists.  This is another example of how anti-Semitism and Zionism are congruent.

ID states that  

It is factually demonstrable that there exists a Jewish component within the ruling classes of Western countries... This does not determine the bare existence of a Western alliance with Israel What it does, however, is play an important role in transforming what would otherwise be a ‘normal’ relationship... into a servile relationship

Jewish anti-Zionist groups are accused of operating as a 5th column inside Palestine solidarity groups, whose ‘opposition to Israeli crimes is suspected to be anti-Semitic unless validated by a special Jewish endorsement.’ 

These groups are indirectly a transmission belt for Zionist influence into the left, despite their subjective intentions as anti-Zionists.’

Donovan accuses the CPGB of engaging in the ‘indulgence of Jewish sensibilities and ‘left’ forms of Jewish communalism.’

In Greenstein and Conrad circle the wagons Donovan explains the basis of all this:  ‘There is a huge disproportion between the number of Jewish bourgeois in the US and other Western ruling classes, and the number of Jewish people in society.’

Donovan - An Echo to the Anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon

ID has long been a supporter of Gilad Atzmon, the anti-Semitic Jazzman.  He therefore picks up on all his themes such as opposition to Jewish only groups to combat Zionism and his hatred of the Bund, the mass anti-Zionist Jewish political party that led the Warsaw Ghetto resistance.   

In Third-Camp Stalinoids bring Witchhunt into ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ he writes of ‘The CPGB’s bloc with Bundist-influenced Jewish socialists such as Tony Greenstein and Moshe Machover, who have played initiating or supporting roles in various Jews-only political campaigns, such as Jews Against Zionism, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBiG) etc, only underlines this philo-semitic, Islamophobic bias.’

Indeed throughout his articles ID has an obsession with attacking the Bund, who the Socialist Zionists bitterly hated.  They were the main enemies of the Zionists in Czarist Russia and Poland.  It is no accident that Donovan and his mentor, Gilad Atzmon are so hostile to them.

Jewish Moral Superiority
Under the heading Moral Superiority and Zionist Racism Donovan writes that This concept of Jewish moral superiority does not however originate with Greenstein or the CPGB. It is a general social phenomenon...’   He goes on to explain that ‘it is precisely the concept of Jewish moral superiority, not crude concepts of racial superiority, that drives that hegemony.’  It is as if there is some homogenous Jewish people that all have one particular characteristic.  Now it might be possible to make such a characterisation in reference to the settler Jewish people in Israel, who quite clearly are an oppressor people, but ID doesn’t confine his remarks to Israel. 

Jewish only Groups

In a particularly vile attack on Jewish groups specifically set up to counter the lie that Zionism speaks for all Jewish people, Donovan writes:

In the way these groups operate within the Palestine solidarity movement, they often appear to play a paternalistic role and actively reinforce, instead of fighting against, the widespread racist prejudice, based on the notion of Jewish moral superiority to non-Jews as a result of past suffering, that opposition to Israeli crimes is suspected to be anti-Semitic unless validated by a special Jewish endorsement. Greenstein has been involved in creating a number of Jews-only organisations connected with the Palestine Solidarity Movement, such as Jews Against Zionism (JAZ) and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBiG). These groups are indirectly a transmission belt for Zionist influence into the left, despite their subjective intentions as anti-Zionists, because a widely accepted notion of Jewish moral superiority is a sine-qua-non of Zionism’s influence and legitimacy in this society.’
This is a lie.  No anti-Zionist Jewish group has ever said that opposition to Israeli crimes is suspected to be anti-Semitic unless ‘validated by a special Jewish endorsement.’  What is noticeable is that he feels the need to lie in order to align him with the openly anti-Semitic Atzmon.

In Defend Marxism and Labour Movement democracy against capitulators to Zionism Donovan refers to Atzmon as ‘the expat-Israeli dissident Jazz musician’.  He speaks of ‘Greenstein’s campaign between 2005 and 2010 to witchhunt the Socialist Workers Party for hosting Atzmon’s gigs’. 

What we opposed was not so much Atzmon doing gigs but being invited as a speaker to SWP events or, since these were antiracist events, an open anti-Semite playing and vocalising at such events.  Yes we criticised the SWP heavily for having anything to do with Atzmon but this was not a witch hunt, it was an exercise in anti-racism.  

That is why in June 2005 Jews Against Zionism and other Jewish and non-Jewish socialists picketed a Bookmarx talk given by Atzmon on Otto Weininger, a Jewish fascist in Germany of whom Hitler was reported to have said that he was the only decent Jew and he went and killed himself.

In Third-Camp Stalinoids bring Witchhunt into ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ ID describes Atzmon as an ‘Israeli dissident’.  ID states that ‘Atzmon and Greenstein are both ‘Jewish anti-Zionists” which is untrue as Atzmon specifically rejects the notion that he is Jewish.
Gilad according to Ian Donovan is not anti-Semitic despite 'absolutely detesting the Jew in you'
Gilad Atzmon
These are just a few examples of why Gilad Atzmon   is a vehement anti-Semite and why it is  disgrace that Socialist Fight treat him as some kind of comrade in arms.

In his essay ‘On Anti-Semitism’ Atzmon stated that ‘we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously.’ 

In Truth History & Integrity Atzmon doubted that Auschwitz was an extermination camp, writing:
if the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? Why didn’t the Jews wait for their Red liberators?
I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws. We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place’
A good example of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism was when he cited John Reynolds, Chair of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group during the financial crash of 2008-9: Reynolds said that "Above all we need more individuals to make a stand. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York should go further and call for more Christians to work in the city." The Observer 28.9.08.

Atzmon took this to mean that this was a call to rid the City of Jews:
'One may wonder what Reynolds refers to when calling for more ‘Christians to work in the City’... By pleading the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to send more Christians to the City he may try to suggest to us that our financial world must be spiritually de-Judified. I must admit that it took me by complete surprise to read such a suggestion in the politically correct Guardian.’
It also came as a complete surprise to John Reynolds who, once he’d recovered, threatened to sue for libel. Atzmon therefore issued a ‘Clarification and fulsome apology.

 ‘Clarification: In the course of an article entitled "Credit Crunch or rather Zio Punch?" I recently made a comment about Mr John Reynolds, the Chief Executive of Reynolds Partners and chairman of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group. I suggested that some people may think that his call in The Observer to send more Christians to the City was a plea for the financial world to be "spiritually de-Judified". I want to make it clear that I did not intend to suggest that Mr Reynolds was anti-Semitic or in any way hostile to Jewish people or those of the Jewish faith and I am sorry if my comment was understood by anybody in that way. Mr Reynolds has asked me to clarify the position and I am happy to do so. I would like to apologise for any distress caused.’

I have previously referred to Atzmon’s hatred of the Bund, the General Jewish Workers Union in Russia, Poland and Lithuania.  In the delightfully named Swindler’s List Atzmon explained that 
Bundists believe that instead of robbing Palestinians we should all get together and rob who is considered to be the rich, the wealthy and the strong in the name of working class revolution.’
Atzmon, who Donovan describes as an ‘Israeli dissident’ and an anti-Zionist has come up with the unique formulation of ‘Jewish Marxism’.  In Tribal Marxism for Dummies’ Atzmon explains that 
‘While Marxism is a universal paradigm, … Jewish Marxism is basically a crude utilisation of ‘Marxist-like’ terminology for the sole purpose of the Jewish tribal cause. It is a Judeo-centric pseudo intellectual setting which aims at political power.’
In one of a number of attacks on Moshe Machover, Atzmon explains that

We are therefore entitled to assume that Machover’s ‘settler state’ is just another Judeo Marxist spin that is there to divert the attention from the clear fact that Israel is the Jewish state.

The last people who referred to Judeo-Marxists were the Nazis who held that the Jews had given birth to Bolshevism.  It is therefore somewhat of a surprise that a so-called socialist group is now taking to its bosom this vile anti-Semite.

Despite saying that they oppose Zionism and support the Palestinians Donovan and Socialist Fight directly contradict the statement of Ali Abunimah, Professor Joseph Masad and Omar Barghouti and other Palestinian activists and intellectuals.  
The Tories loved the internal dispute in LAW
Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew is to be a Zionist.
We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our Jewish allies, Jews, or Judaism; nor denying the Holocaust; nor allying in any way shape or form with any conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities. Challenging Zionism, including the illegitimate power of institutions that support the oppression of Palestinians, and the illegitimate use of Jewish identities to protect and legitimize oppression, must never become an attack on Jewish identities, nor the demeaning and denial of Jewish histories in all their diversity.

Indeed, we regard any attempt to link and adopt antisemitic or racist language, even if it is within a self-described anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist politics, as reaffirming and legitimizing Zionism. In addition to its immorality, this language obscures the fundamental role of imperialism and colonialism in destroying our homeland, expelling its people, and sustaining the systems and ideologies of oppression, apartheid and occupation. It leaves one squarely outside true solidarity with Palestine and its people.

The reality is that SF are a racist throwback to the early days of the 20th Century when the Social Democratic Federation and British Socialist Party under Henry Hyndman tried to combine socialism and racism and ended up forming a British National Socialist Party.

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