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Statement of Principles:

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The politics of the UJS (Union of Jewish Students)

Joseph Findlay reports on the recent elections in the overwhelmingly Zionist Union of Jewish Students where, last year and this, non-Zionist candidates have run (and lost). Their very existence – with Jewdas having created space in recent years for radical Jews to meet, practice Judaism, and organise politically together – has put squarely on the agenda the question of what being Jewish means today.

David Davidi-Brown, CEO of the UJS, responds. He doesn’t see it that way at all. […]

Zionism, Antisemitism and the Left Today

“I am seeking a change in the way in which Zionism is spoken about on the left. I am also calling for a more thoughtful response when the question of antisemitism is raised.”

Brian Klug’s talk, a transcript of which is reproduced here, was given as the opening contribution to a debate organised by Marxism 2017 on Zionism, Antisemitism and the Left Today. It is the first of a series of discussion articles we will be republishing about antisemitism and Zionism in the near future. […]

Saying the unsayable

Uri Avnery, founder and guiding spirit of Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, is utterly committed to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Yet, if Avnery were in the British Labour Party today he would no doubt have been suspended by now.

For he is under few illusions about what has and is done in the name of Zionism. He rejects the idea that Jews worldwide are a nation or, as he puts it: “THE BASIC trouble is that the entire relationship between Israelis and Diaspora Jews is built on a lie: the belief that they are the same people. They are not.” And he argues further, and provocatively: “ZIONISM IS an anti-Semitic creed. It was so right from the beginning.”

You don’t have to agree with Avnery to see that the ideas he is expressing are important ones, deserving a clear-headed interrogation, not hands raised in shock and horror. […]

Moshé Machover – an interview

In an international campaign organised to defend Moshé Machover by Science for the People , several important political questions emerged. In this wide-ranging interview with Machover some of these are explored: How to understand the debates and manoeuvers within the Labour Party? What is the history of Palestine solidarity activism within Labour? Why is Machover himself such a red rag to those who support Israel? […]

Anti-Zionism and antisemitism

Phil Edwards continues his argument, started in “Antisemitism and the left – deconstructing the arguments”, against the theses advanced in the Jacobson/Schama/Sebag Montefiore letter (reproduced in Part 1 of this analysis) which tries to claim that anti-Zionism inevitably has antisemitic characteristics. […]

Antisemitism and the left – deconstructing the arguments

In a multi-part posting, Phil Edwards looks carefully at who is being accused of what as he probes the accusations of – vs the reality of – antisemitism on the left. Part 1 clears the ground for a surgical dissection of the Howard Jacobson/Simon Schama/Simon Sebag Montefiore letter about anti-Zionism in part 2. It will be followed by a separate posting of Part 3 in which Edwards engages in a thorough demolition of what he thinks the writers’ are really getting at. With a further Part or Parts to follow. […]

Zionism 101 – for historians

Historian Simon Schama co-authored a letter to The Times this week about Zionism and antisemitism in the Labour Party, with fellow historian Simon Sebag Montefiore and novelist Howard Jacobson. Robert Cohen takes them to task for the slippages and elisions in the argument which only add to the lock down of freedom of speech on Israel by attempting to make criticism of Zionism toxic by association. He concludes that: “There are other ways to define Jewish self-determination that do not undermine the rights of another people. There are other ways to achieve Jewish security that do not involve creating a heavily armed Jewish Sparta in the Middle East. There are other Jewish options that need exploring 100 years after Balfour.” […]

Antisemitism and the far-right today

In a careful and nuanced analysis, first published in April 2017, Rob Ferguson: (1) argues that we face a growing threat of antisemitism from the right, in the context of a general rise in racism, and above all, Islamophobia; (2) examines the charge that a “new antisemitism” has emerged on the left and among Muslims; and (3) looks at the extent and character of antisemitism in the Middle East and among Muslim communities and asks how we should respond. […]

Jonathan Rosenhead on the Daily Politics show

Jo Coburn is joined by Jonathan Rosenhead and Labour MP Luke Pollard on the Daily Politics programme to discuss the case of Moshé Machover. A 5-minute snippet starting at 45.28 minutes. […]

The Israeli Labor Party – a fit sister party for Labour?

The Israeli Labor Party is, like our Labour Party, a member of the Socialist International.

The Haaretz editorial reprinted here is a bitter critique of that Party and its move even further to the right under its newest leader, Avi Gabbay. And Ben White in the Independent argues:”The uncomfortable reality is that Gabbay’s racism, as well as his support for settlements and disproportionate military force, is entirely consistent with the [Israeli] Labor Party’s past and present.”

We trust that all Jewish members in and around the Labour Party, starting with Labour Friends of Israel and Jewish Labour Movement, will be appalled by these developments and hope to hear loud voices of condemnation from all concerned. […]