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Sunday, 8 April 2018

Corbyn Should Refuse to Meet Jonathan Arkush and the Board of Deputies as and until they take anti-Semitism seriously!


The Demands of Arkush on Corbyn would reduce Labour to little more than prisoner status

After the Jewdas Debacle the Board of Deputies of British Jews Drop Their ‘Preconditions’ for a Meeting


The most recent wave of false ‘anti-Semitism’ campaigns began with the thinnest of pretexts.  A six year old mural, long erased, that Luciana Berger MP, a former Director of Labour Friends of Israel had stumbled upon. It wasn’t even clear that a picture of 6 bankers playing monopoly on the backs of Black workers was even anti-Semitic. Only 2 of the 6 bankers were Jewish. Indeed if you associate bankers automatically with Jews then it is you who are anti-Semitic.
The Zionists 'anti-racist' demonstration where the main chant was 'Corbyn is a racist'
But any pretext will do when needs must.  Berger, who was parachuted into Liverpool Wavertree in what was a nakedly corrupt selection process, has a history of making false allegations of anti-Semitism from her student days.
After getting egg on their faces over Jewdas the Board dropped their preconditions for meeting Corbyn
This pretext was however enough to set off an ‘anti-racist’ demonstration organised by the Board of Deputies outside Parliament.  Such was their commitment to ‘anti-racism’ that well known anti-racists such as Norman Tebbit of ‘cricket test’ fame participated. For those who have forgotten perhaps a reminder is due.  Tebbit when an MP remarked that ‘"A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It's an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?"  Tebbit was of the view that British Asians really belonged back in India and Pakistan.

In 1991 Tebbit told Woodrow Wyatt that ‘"because some of them insist on sticking to their own culture, like the Muslims in Bradford and so forth, and they are extremely dangerous."

There were also those well known anti-racists from the Democratic Unionist Party such as Ian Paisley Jnr., who when not calling forth hell-fire and damnation upon Catholics is doing his best to prevent the scourge of sodomy from infesting Ireland’s green and pleasant land.  In 2007 young Ian was quoted as saying that ‘"I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. "I think that those people harm themselves and - without caring about it - harm society. That doesn't mean to say that I hate them. I mean, I hate what they do."

The heads of the unelected Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, Jonathans Arkush and Goldstein wrote an Open Letter to Corbyn in which they made it crystal clear that the ‘anti-Semitism’ they were talking about was integrally related to anti-Zionism:

“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,”

In response to a letter from Corbyn apologising for Labour’s non-existent anti-Semitism, Arkush and Goldstein presented a set of preposterous demands which is printed below.  In the letter, which set down a series of preconditions to be fulfilled even before a meeting took place, Arkush and Goldstein demanded:

Ian Paisley MP, one of the 'anti-racists' at the demonstration outside Parliament

   1.     The appointment of an ombudsman ‘to oversee performance’ in anti-Semitism disciplinary cases which should report to the Labour Party, the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council.

   2.      MPs, councillors and other party members should not share platforms with people who have been suspended or expelled for antisemitism and if they do then they themselves should be suspended or, in the case of MPs, should lose the whip.

    3.       ‘The Party should circulate the IHRA definition of antisemitism’, the full definition of the IHRA with all 11 examples, 7 of which relate to comparisons with Israel.  So for example anyone denying the right of the Jewish people to self-determination or saying that Israel is a racist state is automatically an anti-Semite.
   
     4    The Party will not work ‘through fringe organisations who wish to obstruct the Party’s efforts to tackle antisemitism’.

If Jeremy Corbyn were to adhere to any or all of these demands he may as well resign, which is the whole purpose of these demands.  The idea that Labour’s disciplinary process should be subject to an external Ombudsman who reports to the unelected anti-Labour Board and JLC is too absurd for words.

The suggestion that the penalty for sharing platforms with people not to Arkush’s fancy, even people who are suspended (and therefore presumed to be innocent) is outrageous.  But people who are expelled are also in many cases innocent, given the kangaroo court structure that operates in the Labour Party today.  This is an example of McCarthyism nothing more to have a list of people you can’t even speak with.
The Zionists complain that it is a ‘smear’ to suggest that their concern over ‘anti-Semitism’ is dictated by their support for Israel.  Yet what is one to make of their demand that Corbyn distribute the ‘full’ International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance  definition of anti-Semitism, even though the actual IHRA definition is just 39 words.  The actual definition is not only pretty useless but it is, by its own admission, non-legally binding.  It is open-ended, uncertain in meaning and anything but a definition.  It states:

‘Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non- Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.’

The IHRA has been more than adequately criticised by both Sir Stephen Sedley, a former Court of Appeal judge in Defining Anti-Semitism and in an Opinion by Hugh Tomlinson QC.  However the BOD and the JLC want Corbyn to adopt not only the IHRA definition but the accompanying 11 examples, even though in the original documentation it states quite clearly that ‘To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations:’  Note the ‘may’.  In other words they are not part of the actual definition.

What makes this worse is the hypocrisy of both these Zionist organisations.  Both are unelected by the Jewish community in Britain.  The Board is based on synagogue membership and Zionist organisations, thus entirely bypassing secular Jewry.  The JLC is entirely self-appointed, previously consisting of Jewish capitalists but now various Jewish community organisations.  When they talk of ‘fringe’ organisations they mean any organisation that is at all radical or anti-racist.

We saw what they meant last week when Corbyn went to a seder evening with Jewdas.  The Jewish Chronicle reportedBoard of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush has launched a scathing attack on the controversial Jewdas group, suggesting they are asource of virulent antisemitismand claiming that their members “are not all Jewish”. This is a Jewish group which has contributed significantly more to opposing fascist organisations and racism in its short history than the Board has done in its nearly 280 years existence.

The Board of Deputies in the 1930’s told Jews NOT to oppose Sir Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists and in the late 1970’s refused to work with the Anti-Nazi League in its fight against the National Front because they held that anti-Zionism was worse than fascism.  This is a group that now claims it held an anti-racist demonstration with right-wing Tories and sectarian Ulster Protestants!

It is a great pity that Corbyn has agreed to meet with these people at all.  Their real agenda was made clear in the wake of the murder last week of 18 Palestinians in Gaza.  The Board blamed Hamas for using civilians and children ‘as pawns’.  It had nothing to say about the deliberate use of live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators.  This is just a continuation of its shameful record concerning Israel.  The anti-Semitism controversy has to be seen in the context of its unflinching support for Israel.

Jonathan Arkush himself is a prime hypocrite.  When Donald Trump came to power, after having used all sorts of anti-Semitic hints, ads, dog whistles and allusions to Jewish financial power Arkush welcomed him and his anti-Semitic advisers – Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka.  As Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post Anti-Semitism is no longer an undertone of Trump’s campaign. It’s the melody. 

If Arkush or Goldstein were at all serious about anti-Semitism they would question the links that the Tories have in the European Parliament where they are members of the European Conservative and Reformists group with Poland’s Law and Justice Party and the Latvian For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK Party.

The Law and Justice Party is not only a far-Right racist party but many of its members are explicitly anti-Semitic.  Ha’aretz reported that Polands new defence minister Antoni Macierewicz has asserted that the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion is true. In 2002, Macierewicz told Radio Maryja, a right-wing Catholic station that he had read the Protocols and, while they  may not be authentic they are nonetheless true!  The Nazi took the Protocols as their bible and Hitler praised them in Mein Kampf.
Anna Bikont
In January of this year the Polish parliament passed a Holocaust law which outlawed any mention of Polish complicity in the Holocaust or Nazi crimes on pain of a 3 year sentence. Yet it is a fact that in July 1941 villagers in Jedwabne in the East of Poland herded up to 1600 of their Jewish compatriots into a barn which they then set on fire.  Two Polish historians, Anna Bikont in the Crime and the Silence and Jan Tomasz Gross’s Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland detailed what happened.

In 2009 this controversy broke out in this country when David Miliband criticised the then Tory Opposition for their links with the leader of the ECR group, Michal Kaminski. Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian’s liberal Zionist commentator also got in on the act in an article Once no self-respecting politician would have gone near people such as Kaminski


What was the reaction of the Zionists?  To jump up and down about David Cameron’s tolerance of anti-Semitism?  Perhaps the Jewish Chronicle had some particularly pungent articles criticising anti-Semitism in the Tory Party?  Not a bit of it.  JC editor Stephen Pollard wrote that ‘Poland's Kaminski is not an antisemite: he's a friend to Jews’.  How, one might ask, was the MP for Jedwabne and the surrounding area (where other similar pogroms had occurred) and who had been a strong supporter of the Committee to Defend the Good Name of Jedwabne, a group dedicated to denying the village’s complicity in what had happened,  and who opposed a national apology for the massacre, a good friend to the Jews?

Well the answer was that Kaminski, although he was a fascist sympathiser, was also ‘one of the greatest friends to the Jews in a town where antisemitism and a visceral loathing of Israel are rife.  In other words he was a strong supporter of Israel, just like Trump and his friends, and that therefore exonerated him.  Pollard also defended Latvian MP, Robert Zile, also in the ECR group, who every year took part in a demonstration with the veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS.  He too was a strong supporter of Israel even if he wasn’t too keen on Latvia’s Jews!
Kaminski pays a visit to Yad Vashem which is used to sanitise all visitors to Israel - whatever their pedigree
 And what of the Board of Deputies and JLC?  What was their reaction to Kaminski?  Well in October 2009 Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prossor, spoke with Kaminski on the Conservative Friends of Israel [CFI] platform at the Conservative’s annual conference. When the President of the BOD, Vivian Wineman, wrote to Conservative leader, David Cameron, querying whether the Tories had checked out Kaminski’s political record, Is Michal Kaminski fit to lead the Tories in Europe?  
Kaminski’s Zionist allies rushed to his defence. [see Howard Cooper  A Small Scandal at the Jewish Chronicle on how the JC defended this tie up with Kaminski].  Wineman’s innocuous letter to Cameron caused a rift with the JLC. One JLC member described colleagues as “livid” at the timing of the letter. Another was “incandescent”. Leaders split over David Cameron's Euro allies’ JC 8.10.09.

Yet  despite this, even today, nine years later the Conservatives are still members of a European Conservative & Reformists group in the European Parliament with the same far-Right Law and Justice Party and For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK.

I have a suggestion to Jeremy Corbyn.  He should refuse to meet with Arkush and company as and until he sees concrete evidence that they are going to hold their Tory friends to account and insist that they dissociate themselves from Polish and Latvian anti-Semitic parties.  Indeed the composition of the ECR group is so toxic that they should insist that the Tories pull out altogether.


Dear Mr Corbyn,

Thank you for your letter of 26 March, setting out your detailed views on the problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party.

We are sure you saw the strength of feeling in the mainstream Jewish community that was expressed in our open letter and in Parliament Square on Monday. These were unprecedented steps on our part and we hope you understand the seriousness of such a communal action. It arose from nearly three years of cumulative anger and despair in the Jewish community at repeated, numerous cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party and failures to deal with them in a decisive, swift and public manner. For whatever reasons, you have not, until now, seemed to grasp how strongly British Jews feel about the situation. Your letter was a welcome change in this regard, but only if it kick starts strong actions and leadership against the problem. 

Consequently we appreciate your apology for the pain caused by antisemitism in the Labour Party and for your prior comments regarding the antisemitic mural; and your acknowledgement that this is not just “a matter of a few bad apples”, but represents a particular way of thinking. For the situation to meaningfully improve, rather than keep worsening, this understanding will require embedding across the Party.

Any meeting between us must produce concrete, practical outcomes to be implemented by the Party; there is no point in meeting if the situation remains the same or continues to worsen. In this spirit, and to enable a meeting to take place, we propose an agenda of actions for discussion:

Leadership

The Party leadership, and you personally, must be seen and heard to lead this work. Only your voice can persuade your followers that this a necessary and correct course of action. If actions need to be passed by the NEC or other Party bodies, you need to take personal responsibility for ensuring this happens. 

Antisemitism disciplinary cases
Outstanding and future cases to be brought to a swift conclusion under a fixed timescale. An independent, mutually agreed ombudsman should be appointed to oversee performance, reporting to the Party and to the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council.

Relations with suspended members
MPs, councillors and other party members should not share platforms with people who have been suspended or expelled for antisemitism and CLPs should not provide them with a platform. Anybody doing so should themselves be suspended from membership; in the case of MPs, they should lose the party whip.

Education
The Party should circulate the IHRA definition of antisemitism, with all its examples and clauses, to all members and branches. The Party should work with mainstream Jewish community organisations to develop and implement education about antisemitism. This should include a clear list of unacceptable language, based on the full IHRA definition and on the examples included in your letter of 26 March.

Engagement
Public confirmation that the Party will seek to understand and engage with the Jewish community via its main representative groups, and not through fringe organisations who wish to obstruct the Party’s efforts to tackle antisemitism.

Process
These changes must be sustained and enduring. There needs to be an agreed process to monitor the progress and implementation of these actions in the future.

To conclude, your personal pledge to be a “militant opponent” of antisemitism and to always be our ally are vital statements: the situation demands it and we would expect nothing less. In this light, there is an urgent matter that we need you to address. People inside and outside the Jewish community are repeatedly subjected to abuse and insults for raising the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party. This even affects those Labour MPs who showed their solidarity with the Jewish community on Monday.

This is a disgrace: nobody should be vilified for opposing antisemitism. Those Labour Party members and Labour-supporting blogs pushing the abuse are largely doing so in your name.

They need to hear you say, publicly and in your own voice, that we had every right to protest about antisemitism, and that Labour MPs had every right to support us; that our concerns about antisemitism are sincere and not a “smear” as has been widely alleged (including on your own Facebook page); and that anyone directing abuse, intimidation or threats at those of us who oppose antisemitism is damaging your efforts to eliminate it and to start rebuilding trust. We firmly believe that this must happen urgently, and certainly before we can meet.

We hope this can be the start of a process of constructive anti-racist work in the Labour Party, one that will help to rebuild the relationship between the Party and the Jewish community. The Party and the Jewish community deserve nothing less.

Your sincerely

Jonathan Arkush - Board of Deputies president
Jonathan Goldstein - Jewish Leadership Council chair


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