Black Lives Matter – Worthing demonstration

Glyn Secker spoke for JVL at an enthusiastic Black Lives Matter demonstration organised by Stand Up to Racism in Worthing on Saturday 6th June which many hundreds took part in (see report  in the Worthing Herald).

We reproduce the text of his speech below with some photos taken by him.

Jewish Voice for Labour stands in the tradition of the Bund, the socialist organisation of Jewish workers during the revolutionary period at the beginning of the last century.

We are always with the oppressed, never with the oppressor.

It was our forebears in the United States who fought alongside the black members of the civil rights movement.

So we are here now in complete solidarity with George Floyd’s family and all African Caribbeans who are facing an explosion of the extreme right, legitimised by the most racist president in modern history.

But the demonstrations here and across the world are not just expressions of solidarity – they are risings against their own experiences of state racial violence.

And that is as true here in the UK as anywhere else – with a litany of deaths & violence at the hands of both white extremists and the police.

But you wouldn’t know that, you wouldn’t know any of that from our national media, because they chose to blanket cover their pages and airwaves with the false story that the Labour Party is awash with antisemitism: the true figure of 0.6% inflated into a tsunami of fake information convincing the public that 30% of the party is antisemitic.

A narrative which served to obliterate coverage of the racial violence experienced by the Black and Asian communities, and one which has been given a green light by our very own Trump in the House of Commons.

Here, just as in the States, the highest Covid related death rate suffered by the black and ethnic communities is up to four times higher than that suffered by the white community.

Here, just as in the States, there is inadequate PPE for care homes, and no programme of testing and tracing.

The distribution of huge financial grants to corporate business and the lucrative contracts to incompetent private health providers reveals a callous cementing of racist profiteering at the heart of this government.

If this summer there is an explosion on the streets here too, then the BBC and the rest of the media will have some serious questions to answer.

But I’m speaking as JVL, so I have to speak about the Labour Party and therefore about the infamous leaked report. If you don’t follow these things let me explain: the Labour Party has been reported to the Equalities & Human Rights Commission for allegedly not dealing with complaints of antisemitism, so the Party conducted its own report – which happened to reveal a right-wing coterie of very senior officers in its very HQ, on record as spouting the most foul racist abuse about two leading black female party members, one of whom was an MP.

Yet unlike hundreds of antisemitism case of flimsy evidence, there have been no suspensions let alone auto-expulsions, just an enquiry into the report, which gives a very strong message that this racism is embedded in the party.

And this very same coterie acted to sabotage the party’s chances in the 2017 general election by diverting substantial sums from marginal seats to those of right wing candidates hostile to the socialist manifesto.

In other words they worked for a Labour defeat and a Tory victory. This was a class betrayal the level of which can be judged by the fact that it has been calculated that Labour lost that election by a mere 2,500 votes nationally – a hair’s breadth.

The message could not be clearer – race and class were two sides of the same coin.

Yesterday Sir. Keir Starmer published a forthright condemnation of the killing of Floyd, he said ’Now, more than ever, it is incumbent on all of us to face up to, understand and address the systemic racial discrimination that exits in our own communities.”.

Dear Sir Keir Starmer, please read you own lips, apply your fine words to your own community, the Labour Party.

If you do not want black and ethnic minority members to walk away, If you do not want the black and ethnic minority electorate to desert the party.

Then you must suspend those racist culprits in your HQ now, subject them to the disciplinary process and if guilty, expel them, and if they have broken the law have them prosecuted.

But I am also speaking as a Jew, as a member Jews for Justice for Palestinian. One of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations on Tuesday was in Haifa, Israel. It was a demonstration by black Ethiopian and Mizrachi Jews together with Palestinians, voicing their anger at the very same racist treatment meted out by the Israeli police.

Their placards read Justice for Eyad al-Halak, (shot dead just days before by Israeli police), Justice for George. Palestinian Lives Matter.

Gaza is under lockdown – but a very different order of lockdown.

It has been under siege for 13 years by Israel. 2 million people do not have a supply of drinkable water, the Israeli military keep them on a diet, restricting food supplies, 1 million are in dire poverty, medical services are skeletal, many destroyed by Israel air attacks. An Israeli General once boasted that no-one in Gaza dies of old age. Just think about that.

And now Covid-19 is spreading. Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on earth – social distancing is not possible.

Gaza has been under Israel’s knee for 13 long years. No one in Gaza can breathe.

At a memorial for George Floyd there was an amazing oration, one which, from the depth of suffering raised a spectre of hope.

In his speech on Friday the civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton proclaimed.

 “When I looked this time and saw marches where in some cases young whites outnumbered the blacks. I know that it’s a different time and a different season. When I looked and saw people in Germany and London marching for George Floyd, it’s a different time and a different season”.

That was an amazing call, that was the most courageous belief in solidarity.

We must be there to answer that call.

Together, united, we can turn this tide.

No justice, no peace, black and white unite and fight.

Together we will, we really can win our freedom to breath…

Comments (4)

  • Mary Davies says:

    Totally agree that the disgusting racists exposed in the leaked report should be suspended immediately. Keir Starmer is a hypocrite.

  • Amanda Sebestyen says:

    I’m really glad Glyn was allowed to speak with Stand Up to Racism (after their fearful cancellation of an earlier rally where he was due to speak in Tower Hamlets). But I would like JLVL to represent more diverse and various socialist/ progressive traditions, and I think saying we are ‘in the tradition of the Bund’ is very restrictive. Most people have no idea what the Bund was, most of its members were murdered in the 1940s, and the Yiddish speaking past is not the only history of Jewish struggle. Bundism leaves out Sephardic and Central European Jews who did not come from inside the Pale of Settlement. Anyway, it’s obscure! Sorry Glyn, I love your speeches but not this resort to a reductive history.

  • RC says:

    “In the tradition” need not be an exclusive phrase. But ‘do-igkeit’ (no Hebrew lettering available on this machine), a basic foundation of Bundism, is surely an enabling principle worth upholding. Of course, it must apply to Palestinians – they must be enabled to inhabit their current and ancestral homes, back to the third and fourth generation as I write.
    After all, Netanyahu himself in his current discussions with Heiko Maas, German FM, has said it is inconceivable that people be uprooted from their homes…..(just a bit of Jewish humour, if not very kosher). This return is certainly a moral right, and Hebrew citizens of Israel must be convinced in strategically large numbers of this right. BDS is surely one vital instrument in this task, but JVL and the entire LP must help, at pain of enabling and supporting Zionist ethnic cleansing, theft and murder.
    There are certainly fine examples of Jews playing a part in socialist struggle outwith the Pale, but usually in non-communal parties and organizations: need you be reminded of Marx, Luxemburg, Zinoviev (Apfelbaum), Eisner, Trotsky…? But the parties of the socialist Internationals such as the SPD, the RSDLP/CPSU and indeed the LP are non-communal organisations – as indeed are JVL. Sephardis and Ashkenazim are obviously welcome, and is it not a little touchy of Ms Sebestyen to assume that Glyn intended to exclude them?

    [Editors note. It is usually transliterated as ‘do’ikayt’ and translated as ‘Hereness’: the right of Jews to live in freedom and dignity wherever it was they stood. As the Bund song put it -in translation:

    You want to take us to Jerusalem
    So we can die as a nation
    We’d rather stay in the Diaspora
    And fight for our liberation]

  • Annie Sheen says:

    We need to improve communications in Worthing. I’m a committed socialist, but didn’t know about the demo in Worthing – if I didn’t know a lot of other people didnt either

Comments are now closed.