Some people don’t seem to like JVL…

Jon Lansman

JVL Introduction

At Limmud this year in a session on antisemitism and the Labour party, Jon Lansman is reported as being highly critical of JVL: while he “did not support closing down JVL, he was dismissive of it.” Thanks a bundle Jon (always assuming we can trust anything that appears in the JC). David Rosenberg responds.

Luke Akehurst of We Believe in Israel was more forthright saying ‘there was a case for proscribing the organisation Jewish Voice for Labour, which served “no useful purpose” and had been set up to delegitimise the Jewish Labour Movement’.  When asked to comment by Skwawkbox, Akehurst doubled down, with undoubtedly libellous bile, as reported below. (For those who don’t know, Akehurst is one of a number of non-Jews like Euan Phillips and John Mann who have made it their task to deride Jews who do not follow their script.)

Jon Lansman faces sceptical audience at Limmud

Momentum founder says Labour’s biggest obstacle in dealing with antisemitism is ‘denial’

Simon Rocker, Jewish Chronicle
34 December 2018

Jon Lansman, the founder of the pro-Corbyn Labour group Momentum, said the biggest problem in dealing with antisemitism in the party was those who were “in denial” about it.

He told the Limmud Festival on Monday that it was important to draw party members away from those who denied antisemitism but that “the most influential antisemitism-deniers, unfortunately, are Jewish anti-Zionists”.

The Momentum leader, appearing at Limmud for the third year in succession, attempted to convince a largely sceptical audience that Labour was trying to tackle its antisemitism problem. While it was trying to speed up disciplinary investigations, he conceded the pace had been to slow.

He said Mr Corbyn had been “very hurt by accusations that he is an antisemite, which I do not believe are true” and rejected suggestions the Labour leader was obsessed with the issue of Palestine.

But Luke Akehurst, secretary of the moderate Labour group Labour First and director of We Believe in Israel, argued the party’s failure to deal with antisemitism stemmed from the leader and some of those in his office. He was “sadly pessimistic” about the possibility of sorting it out on Mr Corbyn’s watch.

Mr Lansman disappointed many in the audience when he did not echo calls for the whip to be removed from Labour MP Chris Williamson following a tweet supporting a petition against Islington Council’s ban on a performance by the antisemitic Israeli musician Gilad Atzmon.

He doubted significant action would be taken since Mr Williamson had deleted the tweet and apparently apologised.

But he added, “we can’t tolerate this continuing” and believed  it was matter of time before the Derby North MP “ does something which results in a complaint being made which will then have to be investigated”.

Mr Akehurst said there was a case for proscribing the organisation Jewish Voice for Labour, which served “no useful purpose” and had been set up to delegitimise the Jewish Labour Movement.

While Mr Lansman did not support closing down JVL, he was dismissive of it. “It is an organisation which is not just tiny but has no real connection with the Jewish community at all,” he said. “It doesn’t  represent the Jewish community in a way that JLM clearly does represent the Labour wing of the Jewish community.”

Mr Lansman is due to return to Limmud later in the week to interview Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, while other Labour politicians taking part in the programme are MP Wes Streeting and former Shadow International Development Secretary Mary Creagh.


David Rosenberg commented on Facebook on this JC report:

This Jewish Chronicle report is from Simon Rocker – the one JC journalist I have complete respect for, and who sticks to the truth – so we can assume it is accurate.
It quotes Jon Lansman as saying about Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL): “It is an organisation which is not just tiny but has no real connection with the Jewish community at all,” and “It doesn’t represent the Jewish community in a way that JLM clearly does represent the Labour wing of the Jewish community.” Simon also quotes Lansman on “antisemitism-deniers” saying: “the most influential antisemitism-deniers, unfortunately, are Jewish anti-Zionists”

Disappointed to hear Jon talk about JVL in exactly the same way that right wingers in the Jewish community talk about Jon himself. Far from having no real connection, we come from the same communities as people from the Jewish Labour Movement, but we have drawn significantly different conclusions, and are not prepared to ignore the crimes against humanity of the Israeli government and military. We are not prepared to stay * absolutely * silent – as JLM disgracefully did – when the Israeli military was murdering dozens of Palestinians, young and old, including disabled, medical workers, journalists etc in cold blood at the Gaza fence earlier this year, never mind on other occasions.

JLM does not represent the “Labour wing of the Jewish community – but the Labour wing of the *Zionist* community.

Jews in the Labour party come in many political stripes with regard to Zionism: some are Zionist, some are non-Zionist, some are anti-Zionist, some consider many other issues more important than Zionism. Jewish Voice for Labour does not make a particular position with regard to Zionism a condition of membership but JLM does. You have to sign up to supporting Zionism, to join JLM, so how can it legitimately claim to represent all Labour Jews?

The comments about Jewish anti-Zionists denying antisemitism are insulting given the proud tradition of fighting antisemitism, fascism, apartheid in South Africa, and other forms of racism, that Jewish anti-Zionists can claim. It is a tradition considerably greater than that of Labour Zionists.

This slur is also one I take personally. I am proud to be a member of the Jewish Socialists’ Group and Jewish Voice for Labour. For the last three years I have been part of the organising team of Unite Against Fascism’s annual educational trip to Auschwitz and Krakow, where we have been educating trade unionists and anti-racist activists about antisemitism past and present. I was very pleased that on our most recent trip (November 2018) several Jewish Voice for Labour members took part.


And here is the Skwawkbox follow-up:

Labour right-winger intensifies attack on non-‘useful’ Jews with ‘Soviet’ smear


Labour First secretary Luke Akehurst has reacted to criticism of his call for non-‘useful’ Jewish people to be banned from the Labour Party – by doubling down and confessing that he went even further during a debate with John Lansman at this week’s Limmud festival.

Akehurst, who is not Jewish, responded to a Twitter thread attacking his advocacy for the proscription of left-wing Jewish members of JVL – Jewish Voice for Labour – by comparing them to the ‘Yevsektsiya’, a group set up by Lenin whose stated mission was the ‘destruction of Jewish life…and Hebrew culture’:

SKWAWKBOX comment:

Akehurst’s brazen attack on pro-Corbyn, Jewish members of the Labour Party typifies the abuse directed at left-wing Jews by parts of the right and suggests he feels immune to accusations of antisemitism.

Nonetheless, the SKWAWKBOX understands that a number of complaints have been made to the Labour Party about his comments.


Comments (8)

  • Mike Scott says:

    I have to say this is beyond outrageous: while we might expect Labour right-wingers to attack JVL, Lansman’s reported statements are just appalling.

    JVL officers should contact him urgently to check if the statements are accurate and offer to meet with him to discuss them. As a member of Momentum, I have been having increasing concerns over the way it’s run and the almost complete absence of democracy in the organisation. There has been no attempt to discuss these issues with Momentum members and they appear to simply reflect Lansman’s personal view, which seems more tactical than principled.

    This cannot be allowed to pass without a response.

  • Dr ALAN MADDISON says:

    There is huge difference between,
    1. Denying that some antisemitism exists in the Labour Party (which JVL has NEVER done).
    2. Observing that there is no convincing evidence that antisemitism is more prevalent in the Labour Party than in society (which some JVL members HAVE done).

    I can’t help but feel that Lansman and others are aware of this and are being totally dishonest with their unfounded allegations about JVL.

    Such repeated and disgraceful attacks damage not just Labour and JVL but the genuine fight against antisemitism. Shocking behaviour indeed.

  • Michael Costello says:

    Best wishes for 2019. Keep up the good work and confound the racist and murderous policies of the Israeli government and its apologists. May you go from strength to strength, adding to the great work you already do.

  • Amnon says:

    If Jon Lansman had an iota of Mesnchlichkeit about him, he would have condemned Akehurst’s attack on Jewish Labour Party members.

  • RH says:

    The position of Lansman has been questionable for some time. It is pretty clear that Momentum cannot afford him as a representative figure if it is to maintain credibility.

    As to the compatibility of organisations with Labour principles and policy – it is clear to any informed observer that it is LFI and JLM that have questions to answer after the mounting evidence of attempts to undermine the Party on behalf of Israeli interests.

    The problem within Labour isn’t apologists for antisemitism – of whom I have no experience (as a non-Jew) in 40 years, and for whom, if exposed by a rational disciplinary process, there will be no sympathy.

    No. The problem is with apologists for Israel’s unacceptable (and essentially antisemitic) behaviour and with those who manipulate the concept of antisemitism for their own political ends to the detriment of the Party.

  • Daniel Sevitt says:

    Here’s my genuine question. What IS the point of JVL?

    The Jewish Labour Movement has been around in one form or another for over 100 years representing the mainstream Jewish community within Labour and representing Labour within the Jewish community.

    The JVL seems to do neither.

    I understand your frustrated notion that the JLM doesn’t represent you and your opinion as a Jewish Labour voter, but surely the answer to that is to get more involved with JLM and work within a democratic process to express your point of view.

    Out of curiosity, how many years were you an active member of JLM before deciding to splinter off and join JVL?

    I find it oddly undemocratic that the members of JVL should take their minority views and try to give the impression that they represent more than a tiny number of Britsh Jews. Of course they are perfectly entitled to their views and I don’t subscribe to that ugly idea of “the wrong sort of Jew”, but I felt that over the Summer JVL received a disproportionate share of voice in the debate over IHRA given how little they represent the views of Britain’s Jews.

    I also have concerns about some of the people running JVL. Jenny Manson has been quoted as saying, “I began to identify as a Jew in order to argue against the state of Israel.” This seems problematic in its exceptionalist attitude towards Israel and an unusual platform for someone who wants to represent British Jews.

    I don’t anticipate anyone trying to address any of my questions, but I’m happy to engage if you do.

  • Dave says:

    Daniel, the key to JVL is to combat the weaponisation of antisemitism against the left, which the right has latched onto. It is also the case that there are plenty of other Jews who are firmly against this weaponisation and indeed oppose the Zionist lobby (such as the orthodox Haredis).

    The issue isn’t really antisemitism – it’s a continuation of the long struggle between left and right in Labour, and also of course about Israel and Palestinian rights.

    I do have issues with JVL though because of this – the Jewish component to me is irrelevant. As someone Israel would accept as Jewish, I do not identify as such as an atheist and humanist, and I agree with you that it is hypocritical to pretend to be Jewish to suit the eyes of others not yourself. I support JVL but I am not going to invoke my Jewish mother to join it.

  • Robin Jarvis says:

    ‘Appalled’ would be to understate my reaction to the ‘Newspeak’ initiative which Zionists continue to pursue. Their very presence within Left-leaning configurations, serving any sectors of the public, can only be described as a concerted programme of misinformation and misdirection. I lived my entire adult working life in South Africa, from 1966 to 2008. I worked amongst apartheid government departments, utilities and blue chip financial corporations. I can assure you that the Zionist ‘alliance’ with that regime was a very significant part of apartheid’s life-blood… as was the daily high-tech support they enjoyed throughout those years from the hypocritical and deceitful support of the USA government, no doubt actively encouraged by the Zionist lobby in that country. JVL is far from being an insignificant diversion on the Labour political landscape… it is the first sign of major changes to come. Why else would the Zionists waste their breath on seeking to protect their self-assumed leadership as opinion maker for all Jewish Members of the LP? Very clearly, they are seriously worried that their deceit is so facile that it is very easily ‘delegitimised’ by even one sincere voice speaking the truth!

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