Jewish Socialists’ Group statement

Jeremy Corbyn addressing the huge rally at Cable Street 80 in 2016

Oppose antisemitism and malicious accusations by supporters of the Tory Party

Jewish Socialists’ Group statement

The Jewish Socialists’ Group expresses its serious concern at the rise of antisemitism, especially under extreme right wing governments in central and Eastern Europe, in America under Donald Trump’s Presidency and here in Britain under Theresa May’s premiership. The recent extensive survey by the highly respected Jewish Policy Research confirmed that the main repository of antisemitic views in Britain is among supporters of the Conservative Party and UKIP.

This political context, alongside declining support for the Tories, reveals the malicious intent behind the the latest flimsy accusations of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. These accusations have come from the unrepresentative Board of Deputies and the unelected, self-proclaimed “Jewish Leadership Council”, two bodies dominated by supporters of the Tory Party.

Between now and the local elections the Tories would love to divert the electorate on to accusations of antisemitism against the Labour Party rather than have us discussing austerity, cuts to local authority budgets, the health service, and social care. Many Jews within and beyond the Labour Party are suffering from these policies along with the rest of the population, and oppose them vehemently.

Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies, was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election as President of the United States on behalf of the Board. This action was harshly criticised by many Jews he claims that the Board represents. He also gives unqualified support to Israel’s pro-settler Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who enjoys good relations with the very far right political forces in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic who are fanning bigotry against minorities, including Jews.

Until very recently the Jewish Leadership Council was chaired by Sir Mick Davies, who was appointed Tory Party treasurer in February 2016 and is now the Chief Executive of the Conservative Party.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group includes many members of the Labour party, and we know many Jews who have joined or re-joined the Labour party enthused by the progressive leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour is the party that brought in anti-discrimination legislation at a time when many Tory members were open supporters of and investors in apartheid South Africa. The Tories are the party that have dished out the harshest treatment to migrants and refugees, especially when Theresa May was Home Secretary. Shamefully, they are still refusing to accede to the proposal of Labour peer, Lord Dubs, who came to Britain as a Jewish refugee on the Kindertransport, to take in a small but significant number of unaccompanied child refugees from Syria.

We have worked alongside Jeremy Corbyn in campaigns against all forms of racism and bigotry, including antisemitism, for many years, and we have faith that a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn and Labour-led councils across the country, will be best placed to implement serious measures against all forms of racism, discrimination and bigotry.

Comments (9)

  • Mike Scott says:

    I do think we should keep making the point that the self-proclaimed “Jewish Leaders” only represent a small minority of those of us who identify as Jewish – I’ve certainly been in touch with the Guardian a couple of times in the past about this. Perhaps a letter with lots of signatories to all national newspapers would be worth a try? And, of course, individual letters to the papers that might print them.

    And what about a social media campaign to say “We are also Jewish” or maybe “we are the many Jews, not the few”?!

  • John Payne says:

    I am disappointed with the treatment of prominent Labour members who have been disciplined by Jeremy Corbin at the behest of the Zionist lobby e.g. Ken Livingstone. This is a time to stand up to the redefinition of anti-Semitism as anything that is said against Israeli government actions not to meekly apologise for unsubstantiated accusations by an unrepresentative minority.

  • Liza Dresner says:

    Completely agree with Mike Scott. Let’s do it. Social media. Letters. As loud and many as we can. These people do not represent us!

  • Jim Denham says:

    Corbyn’s letter to organiser’s of this evening protest. It’s pretty good (or at least heading in the right direction, and way better than the JVL or JSG response).

    “Dear Jonathan and Jonathan,

    Thank you for your letter to the Labour Party concerning antisemitism issued as a press statement last night.

    First of all, let me acknowledge the anger and upset that provoked it, and repeat my offer of an urgent meeting to discuss the issues you have raised as soon as possible.

    I stated yesterday, and repeat today, that I will not tolerate any form of antisemitism that exists in or around our party and movement. I am committed to eliminating antisemitism wherever it exists.

    As I told the Labour Party conference in 2016, antisemitism is an evil that led to the worst crimes of the 20th century. Prejudice and hatred of Jewish people has no place whatsoever in the Labour Party, and every one of us has a responsibility to ensure it is never allowed to fester in our society again.

    I recognise that antisemitism has surfaced within the Labour Party, and has too often been dismissed as simply a matter of a few bad apples. This has caused pain and hurt to Jewish members of our Party and to the wider Jewish community in Britain. I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused, and pledge to redouble my efforts to bring this anxiety to an end.

    While the forms of antisemitism expressed on the far Right of politics are easily detectable, such as Holocaust denial, there needs to be a deeper understanding of what constitutes antisemitism in the labour movement. Sometimes this evil takes familiar forms – the east London mural which has caused such understandable controversy is an example. The idea of Jewish bankers and capitalists exploiting the workers of the world is an old antisemitic conspiracy theory. This was long ago, and rightly, described as “the socialism of fools.” I am sorry for not having studied the content of the mural more closely before wrongly questioning its removal in 2012.

    Newer forms of antisemitism have been woven into criticism of Israeli governments. Criticism of Israel, particularly in relation to the continuing dispossession of the Palestinian people, cannot be avoided. Nevertheless, comparing Israel or the actions of Israeli governments to the Nazis, attributing criticisms of Israel to Jewish characteristics or to Jewish people in general and using abusive phraseology about supporters of Israel such as “Zio” all constitute aspects of contemporary antisemitism. And Jewish people must not be held responsible or accountable for the actions of the Israeli government.

    The Labour Party has always opposed antisemitism, old and new, and always will. We are proud of our deep historical links with Jewish communities, and to have fought alongside generations of Jewish men and women against fascism, prejudice and discrimination. This is a part of our common heritage from which we will never be separated. But I acknowledge that antisemitic attitudes have surfaced more often in our ranks in recent years, and that the Party has been too slow in processing some of the cases that have emerged. Early action has nevertheless been taken, and we will work to speed up procedures, to deal with cases of antisemitic abuse or attitudes.

    I am committed to making our Party a welcoming and secure place for Jewish people. Zero tolerance for antisemites means what it says, and the Party will proceed in that spirit. That demands among other things the overdue full implementation of the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report, including a programme of political education to increase awareness and understanding of all forms of antisemitism.

    The battle against antisemitism should never become a party political issue. It must unite all of us if we are both to honour the memory of the victims of the bestial crimes of the 20th century and build a future of equality and justice for all.

    In that spirit, I must make it clear that I will never be anything other than a militant opponent of antisemitism. In this fight, I am your ally and always will be.

    Best wishes,

    Jeremy Corbyn MP

  • PAULA GRAINGER says:

    There are those who think it is a put up job. Blairites doing the Tories work for them, while they get on with the job of ruining the country. Sorry but I can’t help but feel cynical about the accusers.

  • Alan Burgess says:

    Yes this is very necessary

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