JVL defends Derby MP who criticised “politically motivated antisemitism smears”

Jewish Voice for Labour defends Derby MP who criticised “politically motivated antisemitism smears”

Jewish Voice for Labour has expressed its support for Chris Williamson MP, the latest leading Labour Leftwinger who supports justice for Palestine to face attacks from the pro-Israel lobby. The Derby North MP has been attacked by Marie van der Zyl, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, for suggesting that many people in the Jewish community are appalled at the misuse of antisemitism allegations for political ends. People, Williamson said, “have stopped listening to the smears and lies and dirty tricks.”

Van der Zyl said: “The Jewish community would expect a Labour MP and shadow minister like Chris Williamson to show solidarity with those suffering racism within his own party rather than blaming the victims.”

But Williamson had explicitly made clear that he stands “in absolute solidarity with anyone who is a victim of antisemitism or other forms of racism, as the Labour Party has done. Antisemitism is repugnant and a scourge on society.”

Why then did Van der Zyl call on Labour to consider sacking Williamson from the Shadow Cabinet for his interviews with the Guardian newspaper and Radio Derby last week?

Because he also said: “What can’t be acceptable is where it [antisemitism] is being used in order to wage a proxy war against the leadership of the Labour Party and Momentum”. He put his finger on the connection between charges of antisemitism and the onslaught that he expects Corbyn to face from his opponents before the next election – a connection that Van der Zyl does not wish to be exposed.

Williamson cited the Jewish Socialists’ Group and others in the Jewish community who “are appalled by what they see as the weaponisation of antisemitism for political ends.” Van der Zyl denied that this was happening and called the suggestion “absolutely offensive.” Yet only days before, she had attempted to have a Palestinian sci-fi video installation she had not seen banned from being shown at the Barbican for being “antisemitic”.

Williamson echoed the views of the newly founded and rapidly growing Jewish Voice for Labour when he told the Guardian: “It is pretty repellent to use that [antisemitism smears] to attack somebody like Jeremy Corbyn, who has spent his whole life fighting for social justice and standing up for the underdog.”