Jews for a Labour victory

Respectful discussion about antisemitism is possible and necessary – Jeremy Corbyn talking to young people on the streets of his constituency, 8th November 2019. Photo: Julia Bard

JVL Introduction

The Jewish Socialists’ Group has just issued its statement on the General Election.

We endorse its calls on Jews in Britain to:

* be vigilant and to act against all antisemitism…

* to vote Labour for a better, more just and equal future for everyone, and especially for those suffering poverty and discrimination.

This article was originally published by the Jewish Socialists' Group on Sat 23 Nov 2019. Read the original here.

Jews for a Labour victory

Statement by Jewish Socialists on the coming UK General Election

We live in dangerous times. In the USA and many countries in Europe, populist right wing governments and movements, preaching ultra nationalism, racism and other bigotry, have consolidated power or are gaining more support. There have also been shocking terror attacks in the last two years on Jewish and Muslim targets in the USA, Europe and New Zealand perpetrated by individuals who are inspired by neo-Nazi ideology.

When Donald Trump stood for the US presidency on a Republican ticket in 2016, some 70% of American Jews voted against him. Mainstream Jewish bodies in Poland and Hungary have strongly criticised antisemitic tendencies in their governments.

Here in Britain, all Jews are rightly concerned that antisemitic incidents have been rising year on year over the last decade. That has happened under a Tory government which maintains close relations with the governments of the US, Poland and Hungary, and has itself openly declared a Hostile Environment against migrants and refugees, the policy that spawned the Windrush Scandal.

Uniquely, though, in the British case the governing party has managed to deflect responsibility for rising antisemitism on to the opposition – the Labour Party. Since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015, pro-Tory newspapers and Jewish leadership organisations have made repeated allegations of antisemitism against Labour members, or those believed to be Labour members. Despite his longstanding record of outspoken opposition to racism, Corbyn himself has been branded an antisemite, and these allegations against him have been conflated with his outspoken support for Palestinian rights. Jews who question this narrative and who are critical of Israeli government policies have themselves been accused of colluding with antisemitism.

Antisemitism exists in all classes of the population and it is likely that there are pockets of antisemitism in all political parties. The most reliable survey information suggests it is far more common on the right rather than on the left of the political spectrum, where it sits comfortably alongside Islamophobia and anti-refugee sentiment.

While it is true that there have been some proven incidents of antisemitism among a small number of individual Labour members, these members have been subject to a disciplinary process resulting in sanctions, including expulsions. But it is also true that many allegations have been found to be without substance, or to relate to actions that were perpetrated by people who were not Labour members.

Many members of the Jewish Socialists’ Group also belong to the Labour Party, and have participated in anti-racist and anti-fascist initiatives with fellow party members.

We can see no evidence that a victorious Labour government would persecute, disadvantage, hurt, oppress or delegitimise Jewish citizens. On the contrary, the party’s commitment to equality and to challenging racism and discrimination, are key to its values and manifesto commitments. As are its commitments to benefit the majority of the population, especially the working poor, disabled people, those who are homeless, unemployed or young, as well as disadvantaged ethnic minority groups and refugees.

The manner in which Jewish establishment bodies and the most prominent Jewish newspapers talk about the political needs of Jewish people in Britain seems to treat us as a community apart and even accept some stereotypical portrayals of Jews as a homogeneous and wealthy group. It is as if Jewish people have not shared any of the hardships of the last 10 years of Tory austerity, aided and abetted between 2010 and 2015 by the Liberal Democrats.

Unemployed Jews, struggling Jewish single parents and pensioners, young Jews facing spiralling tuition fees for higher education, Jewish users of the NHS and mental health services that have been cut to the bone, all need a radical reforming Labour government to help and support them, in the same way as their counterparts in other communities.

The many Jews who work in the fields of health, education, social care and other public services know that they, along with their non-Jewish colleagues, will benefit from Labour policies that support these services and defend them from cuts and privatisation.

We call on Jewish people in Britain to be vigilant and to act against all antisemitism. We also ask them to recognise that the source of most antisemitism, along with other forms of racism, is coming from a resurgent nationalist right wing that is firmly embedded in today’s Conservative Party.

We call on Jews in Britain to vote for a better, more just and equal future for everyone, and especially for those suffering poverty and discrimination.

Vote Labour on 12th December!

Comments (17)

  • Allan Howard says:

    What a brilliant, uplifting and inspirational statement, and if I’m honest – unlike a few – it brought a tear to my eye.

  • Teresa Steele says:

    Thank you so much for this, and in solidarity with all good socialists of differing races and creeds. I am waiting in anticipation for a socialist government on 13 December.

  • Janet Crosley says:

    Thank you for a wonderful, articulate and important statement. Should be on the front page of every news paper.

  • Jenifer Flintoft says:

    There’s nothing new about the Tories being antisemitic. They always have been. In fact, it’s a thoroughly racist party.

  • Mary Davies says:

    Well done to the Jewish Socialists Group!

  • Derek Taylor says:

    I couldn’t agree more. This is the definitive statement about Labour and its attitude to racism in all its clothes, including anti-Semitism but I believe it’s just not getting through. Almost every time I’ve heard Jeremy Corbyn interviewed about labour values, the interviewer falls back on what they feel is proven anti-Semitism within Labour. I’m so frustrated. I support the Palestinians’ fight for justice but having joined the party around 1970, I can say I have never, ever heard an anti-Semitic remark from a Labour member or supporter. The media fall for it every time.

  • Steve Jack says:

    Thanks for this statement – it is absolutely spot-on.

  • Frances Kay says:

    This is perfect. As a non-Jewish Labour supporter, I have close Jewish friends in Labour who respect, support and like Jeremy, and know the falsity of the accusations against him. We need more Jewish Labour voices putting the case you put so beautifully. Thank you.

  • Nico Pollen says:

    Spot on!
    And in the light of the Chief Rabbi’s statement we all need to speak out.

  • Susan Calvo says:

    I am so pleased, and happy, that you have put this article forwards…. Nothing, nothing, is perfect in life, but to work towards making things better, rather than more ‘divide & conquer’, instilling more hatred & lies, is the only way that I can see to go…. Thank you XX

  • Simon Danby says:

    I needed to read that! -especially after listening to Mike Katz on the World Service this morning, (getting the boot in at ca 8.15). A bit fed up with the BBC, I swapped to the Today programme immediately. The interviewer was giving Lord Dubs a hard time! Luckily, he fought back well and was later paraphrased in a more decent light. Keep the pressure on!!

  • Liz Brynin says:

    This is a refreshing antidote to yet another attack on Jeremy Corbyn by the Chief Rabbi, with precious little effort to maintain a semblance of impartiality on the part of the BBC.
    I am not Jewish myself, but have a Jewish husband, who unfortunately has bought into the prevailing myth about JC lock, stock and barrel. If only this letter could be published more widely!

  • ROB says:

    Agree with this article, ignore all that masquerade as some sort of moral compass ,( CHIEF RABBI’S) when they are friends with a confirmed racist ie boris johnson. vote labour for a better society for all

  • Ian Battye says:

    Great statement, thank you Jewish socialists’ groups
    I am half Palestinian and would like to give a more supportive contribution, but i’m concerned it would be construed by some as anti semitic.

  • Robert Grimes says:

    This is an axcellent article and very accurate. I am in my 80s, a long standing LP member and I Have never heard, or seen any anti- semitism or for that matter any other form of racism at any meeting or function run by the Labour Party. How these people can use such an evil thing as anti semitism for political purposes isbeyond my understanding. Iove to all.

  • Julian Jackson says:

    Totally support this statement. We are fighting for a better world together. Against the worst Mccarthyite smear campaign in British history.

  • David Stretton says:

    Thank you my wonderful Jewish comrades for your support.

Comments are now closed.