Labour ditches Jewish Labour Movement for antisemitism training…

JVL Introduction

We’re delighted to reproduce this article from the Jewish Chronicle.

Stop press: we have just received the JLM official response. It is appended below

Labour ditches Jewish Labour Movement for antisemitism training, backs new university course instead

Party expressed ‘interest’ in Birkbeck course on Jew-hate, taught by co-chairman of Chakrabarti report

Lee Harpin, Jewish Chronicle
11 March 2019, 20.38; revised 22.22

Labour has committed to a university course on antisemitism, ending a three-year association with the Jewish Labour Movement for giving training on antisemitism to branches across the country.

General Secretary Jennie Formby told last week’s meeting of Labour MPs in Westminster about the new initiative. At the weekend at the Scottish Labour conference, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell spoke about a new education programme being unveiled by the party that will “ensure that everybody now is educated around the issues of antisemitism in a way maybe we haven’t been good enough in the past.”

The party is committing itself to new university course, devised by Birkbeck, University of London, and the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism.

One JLM source was furious, saying: “For the Labour Party to institute training without the consultation of their Jewish affiliate at this point is an astonishing level of arrogance. JLM should continue to train those who wish to stand in solidarity with Jewish members”.

There are unconfirmed claims that Labour now plans to ask JLM representatives if they wish to carry out training sessions using the newly developed course as their content.

Another JLM source suggested this would succeed only in making the organisation look like “useful idiots.”

JLM carried out training sessions over the past three years.

But some branches made false allegations of Israeli involvement and one Labour member in Birkenhead claimed that JLM was somehow affiliated to ISIS.

Birkbeck confirmed Labour’s “interest” in the project – which has been developed with Professor David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism.

Professor Feldman was vice-chairman on Baroness Chakrabarti’s report into Labour antisemitism on, which was widely criticised as a “whitewash”, with critics saying it failed to define contemporary antisemitism or give any indication of how to spot it.

After Baroness Chakrabarti was offered a Labour peerage, Prof Feldman was forced to admit this damaged the credibility of the report she produced alongside him.

He been an outspoken critic of the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

Discussing about the 11 examples the definition gives of how criticising Israel can be antisemitic, Prof Feldman wrote: “Crucially, there is a danger that the overall effect will place the onus on Israel’s critics to demonstrate they are not antisemitic.”

In another article he wrote: “The greatest flaw of the IHRA definition is its failure to make any ethical and political connections between the struggle against antisemitism and other sorts of prejudice.”

He added: “But racism can inform acts of resistance and solidarity as well as domination.

“If we fail to recognise this we will be poorly equipped to identify racism when it is directed against a group that is relatively affluent, coded as ‘white’, and most of whose members feel attached to the strongest power in the Middle East.”

In a statement to the JC, a Birkbeck spokesperson said: “Birkbeck is developing a portfolio of short non-degree courses to extend its educational reach. One of these will be on the sources, development and contemporary forms of antisemitism.

“This unit will be taught at Birkbeck by its own academic staff from the departments of history and psychosocial studies and the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism.

“It will be open to individuals and to institutions who wish to enrol people on the course. The Labour Party has expressed an interest.  Birkbeck has world class research and teaching expertise in the study of antisemitism, racialization and prejudice.”

Statement on Antisemitism Training

Posted by 5sc on March 11, 2019

A statement following reports that the Labour Party have commissioned Birkbeck University to replace JLM as the provider of its antisemitism awareness training:

“Over the last few weeks, JLM has been contacted by hundreds of people asking us to run our antisemitism awareness training at CLPs, branches, Labour groups.

This reflects the fact that we have for a number of years provided this training to the Party for free, sending volunteers to speak at meetings across the country, paid from the subs we raise from our members, often to hostile audiences. This training was commissioned by the Labour Party in 2016, and had the support and involvement of Jewish communal organisations.

We have made this training available to the Labour Party NEC, NCC, and staff which has not been taken up. Since the Party sought to redefine the IHRA definition of antisemitism last summer, and with no consultation having taken place on the Party’s still active antisemitism code of conduct, we have made it clear to the Party leadership that we cannot support attempts to commission new awareness training from their own preferred providers.

In 2018, we were asked if JLM would provide antisemitism awareness training to those subject to disciplinary proceedings. We made clear at the time that we did not believe training was an appropriate sanction in the Party’s disciplinary process.

In the past, the Party has said that they wish to deliver a “gold standard” antisemitism training programme. We cannot accept the suggestion that the Party knows better than its Jewish affiliate, or the Jewish community what constitutes antisemitism. Particularly when in recent days press reports have demonstrated the Party has failed time and again to identify clear cases of antisemitism, with senior members of the Leader of the Opposition’s Office directly intervening in disciplinary cases.

Whilst the Equalities and Human Rights Commission explore our referral of the Labour Party for institutional racism, we cannot in good faith continue to provide our training whilst the Party seek to undermine our role in this way.

We will shortly be writing to all CLPs and organisations where training is currently scheduled to suspend our involvement.

The Party leadership have a choice. They can either address the concerns of its Jewish affiliate and those of the Jewish community. Alternatively, they can continue to act in a reckless and damaging way.”

Comments (3)

  • Bernard Miller says:

    The decision of the Labour Party to shift its anti-semitism training away from JLM to a college of London University and the Pears Institute for the study of anti-semitism poses a series of questions about what has been going on for the past three years, including:

    – if the JLM has been providing antisemitism training for the Labour Party for the past three years, during which the JLM has campaigned against the Labour Party, claiming it is anti-semitic, what has its antisemitism training been doing?

    – is JLM criticising the Labour Party’s antisemitism training which it provided?

    – on what basis does JLM object to an independent body providing training?

    – what exactly is the training provided by JLM, by which bodies specialising in antisemitism was it approved and how was it delivered and to whom?

    and I’m sure there are several others.

  • Alan Marsden says:

    The JLM has on many occasions been publicly accused of being a proxy for the Israeli Zionists. They have discharged this function by maliciously attacking the Labour Party and its Leader. Not so much Jewish Labour Movement, more like Jewish Labour Malcontents. And now they have launched a vexatious attack through the EHRC. That lofty organisation needs to look carefully at the credentials of JLM and the other complainant, the CAAS before joining them in this this disingenuous action.

  • Alex says:

    Yes there is a rather humorous enigma here – if JLM claim anti semitism is on the rise, on their watch as the people who were supposed to be delivering first class anti semitism awareness courses…. Then surely the courses do need changing?

    Also this – they claim they’ve been contacted by hundreds of people just in the past few weeks…. And then go in to say they often deliver to hostile audiences?? There is no logical sense to thier press release at all.

    Are they saying there’s been an upsurge in requests for training about anti semitism, from antisemites????

    Is this perhaps where they’ve been going wrong????!

Comments are now closed.