Leadership Contenders Cave In To The Board Of Deputies

JVL Introduction

The Jewish Dissident has been quick off the mark with a condemnation of the Board of Deputies and its 10-pledges demand on Labour leadership contenders.

As the author points out: “The BoD certainly doesn’t have anything to do with socialism. While foregrounding the issue of antisemitism, it has been remarkably coy when it comes to flagging up other forms of racism, let alone the social injustices of Tory Britain. That this hostile body should be given a prominent – if not dominant – voice in the internal affairs of the Labour Party beggars belief. ”

An official JVL response to the Board’s demands will be published tomorrow.

This article was originally published by Jewish Dissident Blogspot on Mon 13 Jan 2020. Read the original here.

Leadership Contenders Cave In To The Board Of Deputies

The Israel lobby must be delighted with the events of the last 48 hours. With the exception of Clive Lewis, all the Labour leadership candidates have signed up to the BoD’s (Board of Deputies’) ten point pledge. And Lewis, struggling to secure the PLP signatures he needs to progress, will now be under immense pressure to follow suit. This signals the collapse of the finest achievement of Corbyn’s leadership – the commitment to an ethical foreign policy.

Labour conference last year made a significant break from its long tradition of support for Israel. That break wasn’t as radical as some of us would have liked, but – as I wrote on here recently – it adopted a policy that gave us something worth fighting for. Conference stopped short of openly endorsing the BDS campaign, but like the previous year it was crystal clear where the majority of Party delegates stood on the question of Israel-Palestine. It was a huge step forward.

How different things look just a few months on. Now it seems that the gains we made will be rolled back by a new leadership that is running scared of the Israel lobby. The machers at the top table seem to have decided that the damage done to the Party by constant bogus allegations of antisemitism can only be put right by ditching criticism of Israel. Caving in to the BoD is apparently a price worth paying for an end to the attacks, not just in the eyes of right wingers and ‘centrists’ like Jess Phillips and Keir Starmer, but for Corbyn loyalists like Rebecca Long-Bailey too.

The leadership contenders appear to have learned nothing from Jeremy’s experience. A peacemaker at heart, he made one concession after another to the Israel lobby, only to find that every retreat was met by demands for another, and yet another. None of Corbyn’s attempts to find a reasonable compromise bore fruit. For those of us coming from a Zionist background, that was no surprise. Zionism does not take prisoners – either literally or metaphorically – and every inch of ground given is the prelude to calls for more.

Some of the BoD’s demands are particularly toxic.

Outsourcing of disciplinary processes
The BoD states that the Party must outsource ‘all complaints’ to ‘an independent provider’. Presumably this ‘independent provider’ will have to meet with the approval of the BoD. It is hard to imagine any political party handing its internal disciplinary processes over to an outside body, yet this is what the leadership candidates have enthusiastically signed up to. We can imagine the media storm had the Tory Party agreed to outsource its handling of Islamophobia complaints to the Muslim Council of Britain – yet the media are predictably sanguine about the BoD’s proposal.

BoD oversight of disciplinary cases

Following on from the above, the BoD is demanding that ‘Jewish representative bodies’ – including, one assumes, the BoD – should be ‘given the right to regular, detailed case updates’. Again, this is unprecedented; breaking every principle of confidentiality and natural justice. It would secure, as a principle, ongoing outside interference in an independent political party. No socialist or labour movement organisation can or should brook such meddling.

No readmittance of ‘prominent offenders’

The BoD insist that what they term ‘prominent offenders’ – and they specifically name Jewish socialist Jackie Walker alongside Ken Livingtone as examples- should never be readmitted to the Party. Once expelled, in a process controlled by a non-labour movement body, there would be no possibility of rejoining, or – presumably – of having one’s case reviewed. Again, this proposal breaches every principle of common sense, as well as running counter to the demands of natural justice.

The pro-Israel JLM must oversee education on antisemitism

In another telling demand, the BoD insists that the aggresively pro-Israel JLM (Jewish Labour Movement) must be given the franchise for the Party’s internal education on antisemitism. JLM places Israel and Zionism at the core of its work, and enshrines Zionism in its statement of principles. It does not, however, require that its members are either (a) Jewish, or indeed (b) members of the Labour Party. Handing antisemitism education over to them would mean finally accepting the conflation of antisemitism with criticism of the Israeli state.

Labour must engage with the Jewish community via ‘mainstream’ bodies

This is shorthand for arguing that dissenting voices from the Jewish community must be sidelined. The BoD is clearly determined to silence JVL and other pro-Corbyn organisations and individuals, both inside and outside the Labour Party. Their demand reveals the BoD’s underlying agenda – that only Jews wedded to Zionist ideology will be considered legitimate from now on. Any Jews failing to dance to the BoD’s tune will be placed firmly beyond the pale.


The BoD’s ten demands represent a wholly unprecedented abrogation of the democratic prerogatives of an independent political party by a lobby group that sees its interests as ineluctably tied to those of a foreign state. 

It is worth remembering that the BoD, if it represents anything at all aside from a self-selecting ‘Jewish establishment’, actually represents far less than half of all Jews in the UK. But it does represent – effectively, aggressively and remorselessly – that section of the Jewish community which identifies more or less uncritically with the Israeli state.

The BoD certainly doesn’t have anything to do with socialism. While foregrounding the issue of antisemitism, it has been remarkably coy when it comes to flagging up other forms of racism, let alone the social injustices of Tory Britain. That this hostile body should be given a prominent – if not dominant – voice in the internal affairs of the Labour Party beggars belief.

The fact that the main leadership contenders have caved in so swiftly to the BoD’s demands is a sobering reminder of how great a struggle we face, both inside and outside the Labour Party, when it comes to resisting the agenda of the Israel lobby and the conservative establishment.

In the past, Labour leaders have waited till they’re in office to betray the principles of the people they claim to represent. This time they’ve got their betrayal in early. At least we know where we stand.

Comments (14)

  • Gerry Glyde says:

    These proposals must surely breach the Data Protection Regs and almost every other principle of Natural Justice. The BoD holds no legal role in society except for having established itself.

    It prevents an accused person establishing witnesses on the basis that the witness would then be suspended and continuing for each successive person. It will be manna from heaven for lawyers – except members won’t be able to afford it.

    Will Starmer and Long Bailey so keen on these demands be prepared to do pro bono work ! Of course they cannot.

  • Tim says:

    What if the new leader, once installed, reneged on the terms of this agreement and stood by Corbyn’s ethical foreign policy and told the BOD/JLM/MSM where to go? What dirt would they have on him/her to use in reprisals? Certainly nothing to compare with the “dirt” they had on Corbyn…

    We need to fight deceit with deceit!

  • RH says:

    I don’t think that ‘disgust’ is too strong a word to describe my reaction to the grovelling cowardice of the candidates (irony : for ‘Leadership’) who signed up to these sectarian, undemocratic demands. My present feeling is that I can’t endorse any candidate who has done this – and the fact that the PLP hasn’t endorsed the one candidate who didn’t suggests that, for the immediate future, the notion of an effective opposition id dead. It will be interesting to watch any vote of the BDS issue.

    The cave-in is so egregious that it takes the breath away, and essentially tars all supporters of Palestinian rights with the ‘antisemitism’ nonsense.

    We hear a lot of talk of ‘offense’ in the context of prejudice and (real) hate speech. It’s about time we took up cudgels more forcefully against the offensiveness of calling people who are fully aware of the horrors of the Holocaust ‘antisemites’, and, contrariwise, the disgusting nature of using the victims as a weaponised tool for political gain.

    I note that John Lansman, the egregious pontificator has said :

    ““It is never OK to respond to allegations of racism by being defensive”

    I wonder if he recognizes the irony of how apt that statement is for those of us who have watched a sequence of mealy-mouthed apologias for fictional sins?

  • Harry Lyon says:

    So glad The BOD views JVL as a fringe group.
    You are a small cohort of Juvenile ideologues.
    Your pathological hatred of The State of Israel is laughable.

  • Stephen Richards says:

    Goodbye Labour Party. I am 70 years old & have been a member of the Labour Party for most of my life, but these demands are an affront to decency & Freedom of Speech.

  • Patricia Wheeler says:

    This is horrifying. The candidates for Labour leader are running scared of a manipulative though actually powerless lobby whose thinking is dictated by Israel. Last week I was physically assaulted and sworn at by a self-described Jewish man (I am a woman) for questioning the veracity of the multiple allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. To which I belong, unless it throws me out!

  • Vera Lustig says:

    The BoD and similar groups accuse certain elements in the Labour Party of formenting anti=Semitism. These people, who would silence legitimate criticism of Israel, lack the self-awareness to see that you can also provoke anti-Semitism. They can’t have it both ways: they claim to speak for British Jewry (of which I’m a member) and yet they act in a high-handed, anti-democratic way — this could lead people to think that British Jews don’t believe in democracy. Is this what they want?

  • John Bowley says:

    Thank you for this honest account of the craven betrayal of the Labour Party, its members and our country by those who puport to be leaders.

  • different frank says:

    Harry Lyon.
    Oh Dear.
    Any evidence for that rant?

  • different frank says:

    Dear British Board of Deputies

  • John Bowley says:

    We have all read the evidence and a correct summary of it here. Thank you.

  • David Mond says:

    The BOD are a political party masquerading as a religious body, which up to now has made them invulnerable to criticism. These Ten Commandments may be their first serious misstep.

  • Margaret West says:

    Well to cheer you all up the candidates for Deputy Leadership have NOT
    all signed up to the 10 demands but expressed reservations.

Comments are now closed.