30 May 2020

Open Letter to the Socialist Group of Campaign MPs - Reject the New McCarthyism – Reject the Board of Deputies 10 Pledges


For over four and a half years there was a sustained campaign of vilification and defamation alleging that the Labour Party was overrun by ‘anti-Semitism’. It was a campaign initiated by that well known opponent of racism, the Daily Mail in an article written even before Jeremy Corbyn had even been elected, alleging that he had associated with a holocaust denier.

Of course there were a handful of anti-Semites in the Labour Party but that was not the purpose of the campaign. There are in every party.  No doubt there are some paedophiles amongst Labour’s half a million members.  Would anyone say it is ‘overrun’ by them?

The purpose of the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign was clear from the start. To remove and destabilise Corbyn. It succeeded in its objective because a large section of the Labour Left, including the Campaign Group and Jon Lansman’s Momentum bought into it.

That is why a key demand of the Zionists and Jewish Labour Movement was to redefine anti-Semitism. If you asked the average person what anti-Semitism was they would answer that it was someone who didn’t like Jews. The OED defines anti-Semitism as hostility to or prejudice against Jews’. The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which after 3 years of an incessant campaign the NEC adopted, defines anti-Semitism in terms of hostility to Israel.

Even Kenneth Stern, who drafted the IHRA has written opposing the use of the IHRA to chill free speech. Why is it that Campaign Group MPs are so frightened of doing the same?

It is therefore no accident that the first victims of the ‘anti-Semitism’ witchhunt were Jewish and Black anti-racists such as Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth. It is also no surprise that Asa Winstanley, a journalist on Electronic Intifada who wrote extensively on this campaign for example How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis was also suspended.

In the past week Professor David Miller, co-author of Bad News for Labour, has also been suspended. Its book launch during Labour Party conference was cancelled by Waterstones after the normal volley of abuse and intimidation from Zionists. Understandably they feared that a book by 5 academics which carefully examined the evidence for Labour ‘anti-Semitism’ would be embarrassing. In the end the book launch was put on by Brighton and Hove Labour Left Alliance and the Rialto Theatre.

Pluto Press described the book as revealing “shocking findings of misinformation spread by the press, including the supposedly impartial BBC, and the liberal Guardian.” It is no surprise that the ‘anti-Semitism’ witchhunt has ensnared Black and Jewish anti-racist activists, journalists and now academics. This is how McCarthyism spreads its wings.

By buying into the ‘anti-Semitism’ narrative and failing to see where it came from the Socialist Campaign Group and Momentum aided a campaign whose only purpose was to remove Corbyn as leader.

Despite doing everything asked of him, the campaign against Corbyn was relentless. In the words of Len McCluskey the Board of Deputies ‘won’t take yes for an answer’. Of course they wouldn’t.  Their only aim was to remove Corbyn. The only MP who had the courage to stand up to this campaign was Chris Williamson and to its shame, the Campaign Group refused to give him its support when Tom Watson and company were on the attack.

The Board of Deputies 10 Commandments (Pledges)

During the leadership election Campaign Group member Rebecca Long-Bailey pledged her support for the 10 Commandments.  Commandment No. 5 stipulates that anyone who shares a platform with someone who has been expelled/ suspended should be suspended. This is McCarthyist guilt-by-association.

No Platform has traditionally been reserved for fascists not socialists. In accepting the BOD dictates members of the Campaign Group are abandoning free speech and civil liberties.

When Diane Abbot and Bell Ribeiro-Addy addressed a Zoom meeting they were targeted by the BOD for having been in the same meeting as Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein. Both Jackie and Tony are Jewish. Their only ‘crime’ is to oppose Zionism.

The BOD represents the most reactionary section of British Jews. It is the same Board which warmly welcomed Donald Trump to power in the United States, despite him running an anti-Semitic election campaign. Trump, the most pro-Zionist President in US history, has just praised the ‘good bloodlines’ of Henry Ford, who received the highest civilian award from Nazi Germany. Yet unsurprisingly the Israeli government is full of praise for Trump.

This disinformation paradigm was built on the lie that ‘anti-Semitism’ drove the Jewish community away from Labour. Ever since the 1960’s the majority of British Jews have voted Tory. In 2015 the JC reported Huge majority of British Jews will vote Tory and just 22% would vote Labour, despite it having its first Jewish leader, Ed Miliband.

In 1939 both Aneurin Bevan and Stafford Cripps were expelled from Labour. Even the most Neanderthal right-winger didn’t demand that anyone speaking with them should be expelled.

If the Board demands that people should be suspended for associating or speaking with those expelled then there is just one reason - to protect the Israeli state.

Israel is a state which from its inception was based on ethnic cleansing. Today it rules over 5 million Palestinians who have neither civil or political rights. This is what the IHRA and you, by your silence, are defending. This is imperialism not anti-racism.

Historically the Labour Party was as much a party of the Empire as the Tories, except we dressed it up in the language of trusteeship. Today Labour has become the party of Zionist settler colonialism, all in the name of fighting ‘anti-Semitism’.

The Board of Deputies’ concern about anti-Semitism is very recent. In 1936 they advised Jews to stay indoors and allow Moseley’s British Union of Fascists to march unhindered, at the Battle of Cable Street, through the Jewish areas of East London.

When the Anti-Nazi League was formed in response to the growth of the National Front in 1977, what was the Board’s response? Total hostility. Searchlight Magazine wrote that:

"In the face of mounting attacks against the Jewish community both ideologically and physically, we have the amazing sight of the Jewish Board of Deputies launching an attack on the Anti Nazi League with all the fervour of Kamikaze pilots... It was as though they were watching a time capsule rerun of the 1930's, in the form of a flickering old movie, with a grim determination to repeat every mistake of that era. " (Issue 41, November 1978)

The Board’s position is committed to defend Israel, right or wrong. Clause 3(d) of its Constitution states that the Board shall take ‘Take such appropriate action as lies within its power to advance Israel's security, welfare and standing.’

In March 2018 the Board blamed unarmed protesters in Gaza for their own deaths when Israeli snipers fired on them. Today it refuses to criticise the annexation of the West Bank.

Israel is an apartheid state. Racism is part of the DNA of a state whose Prime Minister openly states that Israel is not a state of all its citizens. For example hundreds of Jewish communities legally refuse to admit Arabs, who are confined to just 2½% of the land. In South Africa this was called Apartheid. In Starmer’s Labour it’s called ‘Jewish self-determination’.

Have you ever wondered why Richard Spencer, the neo-Nazi founder of the alt-Right declares that he is a ‘White Zionist’? Or why racists and anti-Semites the world over, from Bolsonaro, Duterte and Hungary’s Orban are the best friends of Israel?

The Jewish Labour Movement

The driving force of the ‘anti-Semitism’ smears is the JLM which is not Labour’s Jewish wing. The JLM is affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation whose Land Theft Division has pioneered the settlements in the West Bank.

The JLM calls itself the ‘sister party’ of the Israeli Labor Party. In fact it is the British wing of this racist party. Today the ILP, the part of government for 30 years, is reduced to just 3 seats. The ILP has just gone into coalition with Netanyahu and it too has made a Pledge. To support the annexation of the West Bank settlements.

Have you ever wondered why it is that the veterans of the fight against Apartheid in South Africa have called Israel another form of apartheid? Archbishop Desmond Tutu has termed Israel as worse than South African apartheid. Ronnie Kassrills, the Jewish commander of the ANC’s military wing wroteI fought South African apartheid. I see the same brutal policies in Israel’. This is what the false allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ are about.

Keir Starmer has made his position clear in an interview with the Times of Israel: “I support Zionism without qualification.” Zionism is about establishing a Jewish ethno-nationalist state that today’s White Supremacists see Israel as a model and with good reason. When Israel bars asylum seekers and seeks to deport those that have slipped through it is because they will dilute the ‘Jewish identity’ of the state.

When Israel’s Education Ministry bans a book depicting a teenage romance between a Jew and Arab from the High School syllabus it does it because it undermines students’ understanding of their ‘Jewish identity’. Opposition to sexual relations between the races was fundamental to South Africa, the Deep South and Nazi Germany.

We are asking you to:

1.            join us in opposing the continuation  of the anti-Semitism witch-hunt.  It is aimed at anti-racists and anti-imperialist supporters of the Palestinians not anti-Semites.

2.           oppose the Board of Deputies 10 Pledges whose aim is to close down discussion and debate on Palestine and Zionism.

3.           recognise that Keir Starmer represents the hard-Right in the Labour Party. His attempt to bury the leaked Labour Report with a Whitewash by appointing a panel of Progress supporters confirms that. He has made it clear that he is returning Labour to the austerity-lite politics of Ed Miliband.

4.           That we should do what the Right did for the duration of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. We should oppose the attempt by Starmer to return us to the era of New Labour.

We believe that no member of the Campaign Group should serve in the Shadow Cabinet and provide Starmer with ‘left’ political cover.  Starmer is a member of the British Establishment and the Trilateral Commission alongside such luminaries as Henry Kissinger. Starmer is the darling of the Tory press. He has even been endorsed by George Osborne.

The history of the Labour Left is one of appeasing Labour’s Red Tories. That is why the Scottish working class has abandoned the Labour Party. The only way of winning back the Red Wall is by offering them some red meat.

In Solidarity   


Tony Greenstein and others

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