Jon Lansman – a rebuttal

Jon Lansman. Photo: twitter

JVL Introduction

John Lansman gave a radio interview on the Today programme on 25th February about antisemitism in the Labour Party. The Guardian reported it under the headline Labour has widespread problem with antisemitism – Momentum founder

Mike Cushman was asked by members of his local Labour Party to respond to it. This was his retort.

Jon Lansman – a rebuttal

Mike Cushman, 26 February 2019

I will respond but it is a sign of the intimidation of party members that many of them feel frightened to comment on this issue and have asked me to write on their behalf..

There are a few points in John Lansman’s piece I agree with. Tweets and Facebook comments leave a trace that can be exploited by those trying to damage the Labour Party; gossip in the golf club bar leaves no such trace for those seeking to explore Tory members’ attitudes.

He is right that Jeremy is no racist or antisemite and as leader he should not meddle in individual cases – it is the General Secretary’s responsibility to manage the process and she is doing a good job. Her report to the PLP which they demanded like petulant 4-year olds was detailed and thorough but all it demonstrated that no matter what the Party does it will never satisfy those who are set on defaming it. The Party can never do enough.

Are there some conspiracy theorists among the hundreds of thousands of new members? Quite possibly. Are there a significant number? No one has produced any evidence of that. Are the new members (and most of the old members) overwhelmingly people motivated to build a better Britain and a better world on the basis of equality and human rights? Certainly.

Where I see a mass of conspiracy theorists it is on the right of the Party among those who keep on asserting there is a conspiracy to turn the Labour party into a Jew-hating machine. The lack of evidence for their claims and the damage they do is similar to the anti-Vaxxers. The anti-Vaxxers are making our children vulnerable to measles and other preventable diseases; the antisemitism witch hunters are making Palestinians vulnerable to abuse by the Israeli regime by making people scared to speak in their defence.

Whether the number of ‘hardcore antisemites’ are a handful or a few dozen I don’t know but I doubt very much they are the few hundred Lansman claims. I have seen no tweets that appear to be driven by hatred of Jews, I have seen screen shots of some that confuse Jews, Israelis and Zionists and drift into making hurtful statements. Such statement cannot and must not be tolerated but the response is intelligent engagement and education not knee-jerk reaching for the executioner’s axe. If people keep on getting it wrong after engagement then, of course, sanctions must follow.

The confusion that individuals make between Jew, Israeli and Zionist is not surprising when the Israeli Government asserts it represents Jews worldwide (full disclosure: they don’t represent me). Similarly when the Board of Deputies and the Chief Rabbi, who are both representative of only a minority of British Jews, claim that Zionism is integral to Jewishness, that further confuses. The Zionist movement only dates back to 1880 and until the Holocaust was a minority movement among European Jews. Bundism, the commitment to using Jewish traditions to build a home where we live in a free and equal society, was the dominant trend based on a principle of hereness (doykeyt). This is the diaspora tradition that JVL seeks to continue: we live here, we belong here, we are committed to struggling for a better, fairer society for all.

Lansman says ‘”I don’t want any Jewish member in the party to be leaving. We are absolutely committed to making Labour a safe space.” It would be good if there was a commitment to making the Labour Party a safe space for non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews and would take the daily abuse we face seriously and sanction those who call us ‘fake Jews’ and ‘self-hating-Jews’ and Kapos and Quislings. It’s open season on Jews who try to speak up for what we see as a struggle for freedom and justice for the Palestinians and who try to advance the Corbyn project.

Whether Jon Lansman is driven by personal ambition, a residual commitment to his childhood Zionism and a totally mistaken concept of how to defend Jeremy is between him and his therapist and not for me to comment on – it is a mystery to me.





Comments (14)

  • Michael Westcombe says:

    Brilliant article, Mike. And so polite. A tour-de-force. There is now a huge well spring of anger both within and without Momentum. It is both a tragedy, and a pity.


    There are more and more reasonable people speaking out on these gross exaggerations concerning Labour members, thank you Mike.

    Of course there is some antisemitism in Labour, and we are dealing with it, but surveys suggest it is more prevalent on the right so why is only Labour scrutinised publicly and repeatedly?

    Perhaps of some relevance is that other forms of racism (also mentioned in the Chakrabarti report) are far more common and also more prevalent on the right.

    I say this because 76% of hate crimes are motivated by racism and only 1.1% by antisemitism.

    Because women BAME MPs, according to surveys, get more on-line abuse than Jewish women MPs despite more complaints to the media from some of the latter.

    We have a problem of racial prejudice and antisemitism in society that needs to be addressed with balance. Not just singling out the 1% who are Labour members. This is exactly what Tories prefer us to do.

    Don’t let us feed their lies.

  • Jan Brooker says:

    If Lansman was committed to democracy, then Momentum would be run democratically. As it is, Lansman, through Companies he controls, ‘owns’ the membership data [and, it seems, the subs we pay].
    Don’t know what his real ‘agenda’ is, BUT it isn’t open democracy. His one-sidedness ove the anti-semitism ‘issue’ shows a contempt for Jewish members who do not bend their knee to the Zionist and Israeli-government ‘lobby’, and people like Deputy Watson, who has taken the King’s shilling [or rather £60,000 + £250,000].

  • Gavin Sealey says:

    You note:

    >>Lansman says ‘”I don’t want any Jewish member in the party to be leaving. We are absolutely committed to making Labour a safe space.” It would be good if there was a commitment to making the Labour Party a safe space for non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews and would take the daily abuse we face seriously and sanction those who call us ‘fake Jews’ and ‘self-hating-Jews’ and Kapos and Quislings. It’s open season on Jews who try to speak up for what we see as a struggle for freedom and justice for the Palestinians and who try to advance the Corbyn project.<<

    It would be good thing if there was a commitment to making the Labour Party a safe space for all its members.

  • Felicity De Motta says:

    I have thought for some time that Jon Lansman is returning, as he ages, to his ‘roots’ & a sense of belonging. I saw this with my older father who during my childhood was not religious yet as I became a teenager became increasingly more religious & observant. He returned to a sense of certainty & security which left our lives changed & less free.

  • David wilkinson says:

    The labour party wrote the book on antisemitism.Comrade Corbyn is hand in.glove with Hezbolla, hamas and the muslim brotherhood arch enemies of the jews.Ken Livingstone was dismissed for his open antisemitism.Socialism in particular seems to attract anti semites as did socialist Germany in the 1930’s.It is rife in the labour party and people of all political persuasions know it.People on the political right of politics are less be antisemitic because of the shared ethic of buisness and enterprise leading to job creation

  • Daniel Sevitt says:

    “between him and his therapist and not for me to comment on…”

    This is classic gaslighting and a perfectly revolting way to write about someone.

    Are there any lows you won’t sink to in denial of antisemitism?

    Don’t worry, I have little hope of this comment getting out of moderation. Have a blessed day.

    Mike Cushman responds:

    Gaslighting, Schmaslighting. Gaslighting is about is a form of coercive control where the perpetrator uses their position of power to convince their victim through repeatedly undermining their psychological security to convince them they are ‘mad’. I am neither in a position of power over Jon Lansman nor is there a sustained pattern of undermining. Gaslighting is not a get out of jail free card to try to dismiss an argument you are not able to, or do not wish to, challenge.

    Frivolously throwing around this allegation diminishes the very great distress that real victims of gaslighting suffer.

    I do not regard talking about therapy as abusive. I, like many other people I know, have gained much from undergoing therapy and I have also recommended many people in my time to avail themselves of it. As a trade union caseworker I have fond that supporting my members to access therapy has been extremely helpful in giving them the resilience to confront abusive situations at work so they can pursue their cases with more strength and confidence.

    From his statements Lansman appears conflicted about his wish to support Jeremy Corbyn while undermining him by attacking the Labour Party with misplaced allegations of tolerating antisemitism. Such conflicts are the bread and butter of therapy and counselling.

    BTW exactly where did I deny the existence of antisemitism?

  • Richard Hayward says:

    I understand why Mike Cushman steers away from a ‘conspiracy’ explanation – I have the same natural reluctance.

    Certainly ‘conspiracy’ doesn’t explain everything, and can be too easily be a knee-jerk.

    But … but … what else can explain the concerted effort that has led to the total shutdown of intelligent examination of the evidence in the media – the ‘don’t mention The Lobby’ mentality etc. and other issues that intelligent readers here will be fully aware of.

    In summary, and with no exaggeration, a totalitarian regime would be extremely proud of the omissions and distortions that have become quotidian fare in this area. Simply – you cannot access unbiased investigative reporting on the subject in the media at large. The spin comes overwhelmingly from one distorted perspective.

    Today’s news, for instance, focuses on the distortion and decontextualisation of comments by Chris Williamson. The coverage I have see also takes for granted the trope that he is supporting an ‘antisemite’ and her propaganda film ‘Witchunt’. Do you recognise Jackie Walker in that typification? Or does it smack of concerted, one-sided propaganda that goes beyond simple bias?

  • Richard Hayward says:

    That seems to be an accurate satire of The Lobby’s rantings.

  • Alan Stanton says:

    Attacks on Labour Party members for supposed anti-Semitism make me curious about those who are attacked. Are the allegations true?

    With people I know, the answer is almost always ‘No’. Although some may be critical of the policies and actions of the Israeli Government.

    Most of those named in pubic debates I don’t know; hadn’t met; hadn’t read their publications; or seen them on the media. Until they were named.
    With these names I’ve greatly added to my books, ebooks, downloaded videos, and articles.

    I’d never heard of Jackie Walker before she was accused of anti-Semitism. An accusation based on what seemed to me highly dubious grounds.

    This was followed by an attempt to prevent her speaking to a Momentum meeting in Wood Green – a busride from my home. I am not a member, but that was enough to persuade me to go and listen to her.
    It was not greatly informative. But seeing her talking in person I didn’t hear anti-Semitism. Though it made me think her study of history might be faulty. But then my own is shamefully patchy.

    I then had long conversations with an American historian friend, who gave me the U.S. context for what Jackie Walker was raising. This prompted me to read far more about the history of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade.

    Coming to the present, I’m not a JVL member and didn’t know about the film “WitchHunt”. I’ve now seen the trailer and will try to get along to a showing. I may or may not question or agree with the views it presents and the balance of material it contains. I like to think about things and make my own mind up.

    As Ken Loach says (quoted on the JVL website).
    “The case of Jackie Walker is important. This film asks whether her lengthy suspension from the Labour Party and attempts to expel her are fair, or an injustice which should be challenged. She is not the only one in this position.”
    As Ken Loach suggests, I and others will see the film and reach our own judgements.

    To me that seems a good idea. In fact I thought the Labour Party was in favour of such open debate with freedom of expression and information. Apparently not everyone agrees.

    Alan Stanton
    27 February 2019.

  • Daniel Sevitt says:

    That’s an odd way to publish a comment with the rebuttal already in place.

    Your defence of gaslighting is unsurprising but dull. You brought up therapy with relation to Lansman. Your intent was to portray him as flaky. It was a cheap shot.

    The comment about denial of antisemitism was more about JVL as a whole which seems to have been created simply to oppose Jewish concerns about antisemitism in the Labour Party. That was a cheap shot on my part as I was convinced this was never getting posted as my last two comments never made it out of moderation. I’m happy to withdraw that accusation.

    The gaslighting thing stands. It was a shitty thing to write.

  • Richard Hayward says:

    ” Jewish concerns about antisemitism in the Labour Party.”

    Do, please exemplify. Not in general terms about Facebook posts that may or may not originate from members – but in specific, evidenced terms clearly related to the Party.

    Where evidence is available in the public domain, I am more aware of false allegations against anti-racists who have supported the Palestinian cause – particularly Jewish or Black members of the Party. Real antisemitism seems rare.

  • John says:

    Lansman says ‘ ‘”I don’t want any Jewish member in the party to be leaving. We are absolutely committed to making Labour a safe space.” ‘
    So why was he the very first to start hounding-out Jackie Walker from Momentum and the Labour Party?

  • Alan Smith says:

    @David wilkinson Bit of a generalisation there: “shared ethic of buisness and enterprise leading to job creation”. Are you suggesting Jews are right wing business men? That to me seems like a racist generalisation of all Jews- or have I mis undrstood?

Comments are now closed.