Why on earth is citing me antisemitic? – asks Jewish blogger Robert A.H. Cohen

Patheos: photo: Ben Brosnan

JVL Introduction

We are grateful to Robert A.H. Cohen, Jewish author of the Writing from the Edge blog, for sending us this letter, sent today to Keir Starmer, for publication.

It appears that some individuals have been issued with Notices of Investigation solely on the grounds that they have shared one of Cohen’s blogposts.

He takes great exception to any suggestion that his most Jewish of writings are, in any way, antisemitic.

At the very least, he says to Starmer, it “displays a lack of knowledge and judgment by the Labour Party concerning current and historical Jewish dissent over Israel and calls into question your Party’s understanding of honest opinion and free speech.”

Here is Robert Cohen’s response

Dear Sir Keir Starmer

It has come to my attention that the Labour Party is investigating charges of antisemitism against individual Party members based solely on the basis of them having shared a blog post I wrote in July 2018.

I write to point out how inappropriate and nonsensical it is to suggest that my work is in any way antisemitic. I also insist that you cease making accusations of antisemitism based on your members sharing or endorsing my words.

Although I am yet to seek formal legal opinion, it may be that the use of my writing in these disciplinary procedures amounts to public defamation. It certainly displays a lack of knowledge and judgment by the Labour Party concerning current and historical Jewish dissent over Israel and calls into question your Party’s understanding of honest opinion and free speech.

Frustration and despair

On July 28th 2018 I published a blog at Patheos, a non-denominational, non-partisan online website based in the United States which provides information and commentary from various religious and nonreligious perspectives.  “The Jewish establishment’s ‘war against Corbyn’ risks bringing real antisemitism to Britain” was a piece of political commentary, written in frustration and despair, about the state of the debate surrounding antisemitism in the UK. It was aimed (very precisely) at criticising the positions being taken by Jewish communal bodies and Jewish community newspapers against the Corbyn led Labour Party at that time. The title of the blog deliberately echoed the accusation made by the President of the Board of Deputies, Marie van de Zyl, that “it was like Jeremy Corbyn had declared war on the Jews”.

I stand by the observations and commentary I made in the article. I also note that the EHRC report published in October 2020 did not address the fundamental concerns I was expressing in 2018 regarding the scale of antisemitism within the Party; the disproportionate fear the tone of the debate was generating within the Jewish community; and the wider implications for the political strategy adopted by the formal leadership bodies within the Jewish community.

My blog took the position of a concerned and engaged British Jew who, in July 2018, saw the heated debates around antisemitism as deeply flawed and indeed dangerous for British Jewry. The piece was also highly critical of the IHRA document on antisemitism, seeing its championing by the Board of Deputies, and other Jewish communal leaders, as a political and moral mistake. I note that since 2018, the IHRA definition has continued to receive extensive criticism within the global Jewish diaspora (and of course from the global Palestinian solidarity movement) despite its presentation by UK Jewish leaders as being definitive and internationally accepted.

At no point in the blog did I show hostility or prejudice against Jews or Judaism in general or present stereotypes that are (in the words of the Party’s code of conduct): “mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical about Jews as such” or “the power of Jews as collective”. On the contrary, the blog aims its criticism not at Jews in general but at named organisations and those in leadership positions. The Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and specific Jewish community newspapers are not, and should not be treated as, the only ‘voice’ of the Jewish community, as if British Jewry were a homogenous entity, devoid of the politics and diversity we see in every other aspect of British life and certainly within other religious and ethnic minorities. To do so, itself risks antisemitic attitudes which treats Jews as ‘all the same’.

The blog post itself, along with my ten years of blogging and speaking on issues of Jewish concern over Palestinian rights, demonstrates that the Jewish community is not monolithic in its outlook on political matters and should not be assumed to be by either Jewish or non-Jewish organisations. Furthermore, this blog does not, nor do any of my other writings, engage in “stereotypical allegations of Jewish control of the media, economy, government or other societal institutions”. Nor have I ever accused Jewish citizens of being “more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations”.

Challenging the analysis

The only ‘crime’ the blog appears to have committed is to have challenged the analysis and strategy that was being pursued by specific Jewish institutions including Jewish media outlets. While the blog may be seen as an irritant by those criticised by it, it does not, by any stretch, amount to antisemitism. Nor can my work be portrayed as ‘antisemitism denial’ simply because it offers an alternative reading and analysis to that of the Board of Deputies. There are complex and nuanced debates to be had about expressions of Jewish nationalism and what constitutes Jewish autonomy and Jewish self-determination in light of the experience of the Palestinian people over the last 100 years. Sadly, there appears to be no space for such recognition and reflection within the Labour Party, or indeed within the mainstream of the UK Jewish community.

I’m sure you are aware that there is a very long tradition of internal Jewish criticism of establishment Jewish leadership positions. It dates back to the Hebrew prophets of ancient Israel – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah – and it can be seen in every generation since.

In fact, internal Jewish debate is a long-standing and well-celebrated Jewish value – apart from when contemporary politics makes it inconvenient to those in leadership positions.

Over the years my work has been quoted by academics and theologians as being a principled, radical voice in British Jewry. I have been a guest on the BBC’s Moral Maze and Beyond Belief radio programmes and have spoken at conferences around the UK. I now live in Leeds where I am a member of Leeds Reform Synagogue.

At the very least, my work (including the blog post in question) should be seen as honest opinion and fair comment. To characterise it as antisemitism demonstrates a lack of basic knowledge concerning the spectrum of current Jewish opinion on Israel. It also shows no awareness of the extensive literature of modern Jewish thought stretching back to the late 19th century which expressed dissent on numerous grounds (secular and religious) to the project of Zionism. The Labour Party’s use of my blog in disciplinary procedures against its own members (including Jewish members) is not only ignorant and unfair, it is unjust and dishonest.

As for the allegation that sharing my blog post online and/or endorsing it could be: “undermining the Party’s ability to campaign against racism”, that is a political and strategic question for the Labour Party and for the formal leadership of the Jewish community to work through. My blog showed the challenges of addressing that question. That does not make it antisemitic in content or intention.

Obscuring diversity

In the 2018 blog, I expressed my hope that: “the British public will be able to understand the diversity of Jewish opinion on Israel that’s mostly obscured by those who claim to speak for us in our entirety”. I concluded the piece with the following observation, which the Party’s disciplinary approach appears to have validated in 2021.

“It is difficult, if not impossible, for non-Jewish voices to call out the attacks on Corbyn as disingenuous or at least motivated by an agenda more complicated than is being admitted to.  The antisemitism allegations come thick and fast”.

Sir Keir, I ask that you desist from using my work to accuse your members of antisemitism and that you apologise for misrepresenting my work in this way.

Robert Cohen,
November 2021

Addressing specific charges:

I now address the specific ‘charges’ being made against the blog post in letters I have seen sent to Party members. The ‘evidence’ of antisemitism is quoted from the letters to members in italics.

  1. The article states: “Britain remains one of the safest places to live as a Jew on the entire planet. That doesn’t mean there’s no anti-Jewish prejudice here. It’s just that there’s a great deal less of it than some people want you to believe.”

RESPONSE: I would hope that the disciplinary department will have noticed that this sentence in the blog is hyperlinked to a page on the website of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, the most respected Jewish data collection body in the UK. There you will have found the JPR’s 2017 report on antisemitism in Britain. On page five of the report it states that “levels of antisemitism in Great Britain are among the lowest in the world”. So, I am quoting from reliably collected data and analysis. I then make clear that antisemitism DOES exist, but I wish to draw attention to the climate of fear created by the joint headline in three Jewish communal newspapers which claimed that there was an “existential threat” to “Jewish life” in the UK. This, I argue, is a gross exaggeration of the problem and distorts the available facts.

This is an honest opinion and not antisemitism on any of the measures listed in the Code.

  1. The article states: “Thanks to a Jewish communal leadership and a Jewish press which have merged Jewish interests in Britain with the need to defend the interests of the State of Israel, we are set on a path that risks turning fake antisemitism into real antisemitism.”

RESPONSE: The first part of this quote gets to the heart of my critique and indeed to much of my writing over the last ten years. Any scholar of contemporary Jewish life accepts how Zionism and support for Israel (along with Holocaust remembrance) has become central to the attitudes and outlook of Jewish institutional bodies in all parts of the Jewish diaspora. This is NOT a controversial observation. The Board of Deputies of British Jews regularly issues statements to defend the actions of the State of Israel because it sees defending Israel as integral to defending Jewish interests and concerns in the UK. The final part of the quote reflects my anxiety that antisemitic opinions and behaviour will increase if the general public perceives Jews in Britain as culpable, or at the very least apologists, for actions by the State of Israel. In the blog, I am contrasting this danger with the “fake” headlines which expressed belief in a current “existential threat” to British Jews caused directly by Jeremy Corbyn.

At no point do I deny the existence of antisemitism in the Labour Party. However, I clearly question its extent (based on the evidence in the public domain in 2018). I believed (and still do) that the approach being taken by the Board of Deputies was heavy handed and counter-productive. This is a valid political opinion and not antisemitism.

  1. The article states: “I’m yet to see a credible piece of evidence that demonstrates that antisemitism is rife in the Labour Party.”

RESPONSE: The critical word in this quote is “rife”. The number of investigations being undertaken by the Party concerning antisemitism in 2018 (according to the Party’s own reporting) did not warrant the accusations that antisemitism was widespread or somehow endemic within the Party. It was a problem but it was far from “rife”.  The subsequent report by the EHRC (October 2020) did charge Labour with significant failings in how it had handled antisemitism investigations but the EHRC did not address or prove that antisemitism was widespread or rife or endemic within the approximately half a million party members.

  1. The article states: “But none of this is of the slightest concern to the Jewish community’s leadership or its media. They only have one issue on their mind – Israel, and how best to protect it from criticism.”

RESPONSE: The “concern” being referenced in the quote is to the wider issues that would be at stake at the next general election, notably the future of Britain’s role in the world and how the UK should address ten years of austerity. I argued that the Board of Deputies, and other Jewish establishment organisations, were pursuing their own narrow agenda in heavy-handed ways which were unjustified by the scale of the antisemitic problems within the Party.

While today’s Labour Party leadership would certainly not agree with this reading or assessment many would have done in July 2018 at the height of the controversy. Once again though, a valid opinion is being (retrospectively) treated as being antisemitic because it is out of line with the current leadership and the view of mainstream Jewish organisations which present themselves as the only authoritative voices on Jewish affairs.

Comments (43)

  • Wonnie says:

    I was accused following a treason of my old tweets and a vexatious complaint from a fellow member. They’ve never addressed my defence and ultimately I left in disgust!

  • Colin Watson says:

    Taken retrospectively or not, Robert Cohen’s views are as valid today as they were when originally published. They may be challenged, but none are antisemitic. The factional and highly politicised position of Jewish establishment organisations and Jewish establishment media outlets are oppressive, partial and dismissive of the reality of life in Israel, today as they were then.

  • Alan Maddison says:

    It is clear that allegations of antisemitism are being used selectively to silence criticism of Israel’s illegal and immoral activities and policies, in particular denying the right to self- determination of any person in Israel who is not Jewish.

    It would appear that the targeting of advocates for equal rights for Palestinians, including disproportionate attacks on Jewish members, now precedes any serious attempt to assess the credibility of accusations of antisemitism.

    Calling out gross exaggerations and factional weaponising of antisemitism, based on evidence, is not antisemitic.

    I can understand there are unprincipled groups acting in such bad faith, but it is truly shocking to see a Labour Party apparently willingly dragged into the same cess-pit in a desire to eliminate the freedom of speech of those with whom they simply disagree politically.

    A recent survey suggests that 350 000 Labour members (70%) consider Labour antisemitism to have been grossly exaggerated, or not as serious as regularly claimed. They must know the dishonest antisemitism smear campaign had contributed to Labour’s lost General Elections, and it is therefore vital for future harmony that other Jewish voices such as Robert’s are heard and treated with the respect they merit. Otherwise all Jewish people may be blamed for this interference in our democracy and the resulting hardships endured by millions under these cruel racist Tories.

  • john mcgarrie says:

    I was accused of anti semitism. told my accuser and also labour party branch secretary that was referring accusation to party HQ. The reply was to decline to find my comments. anti semitic. With change of leadership I was the sent charges from the GLU (almost wrote KGB) citing photoshots of my posts in party forum accusing me of antisemitism
    I refused to take part in secret informer led inquiry and asked for full withdrawal and apology. The reply was that I would be monitored for 18 months. The present leadership has no shame!

  • ikhlaq hussain says:

    Peace and dignity for all, regardless of religion or colour.
    None of us use to be born or choose to have the colour of our skin.
    Therefore let us all live in harmony.

  • Fran Stanfield. says:

    Well defended Robert. Sadly the truth is hard for others to bear. Blessed are you…peacemakers are always persecuted it seems.

  • Frank Friedmann says:

    Thank you.

  • John C says:

    Ironically, and perhaps this is only now becoming clear, at least in a quantifiable way, antisemitism has become rife in the Labour Party, as promoted and institutionalised by the leadership. We can measure it by the prevalence of Jews who have been targeted. But I saw it for myself, in local Branch and CLP meetings, in the rolling eyes of those driving this campaign to rid the party of antisemites, because I could see what was really motivating them, and it was to be rid of all this talk about Jews and by implication to be rid of all these Jews.

  • Mary Davies says:

    Brilliant response but Starmer won’t change course.

  • Linda says:

    I agree with Alan’s point.

    Corbyn and his political allies were the first politicians for 30 years plus to show themselves willing to tackle the political, economic and social problems I care about. To have that hope taken away from me has been heart-breaking.

  • John Bowley says:

    On just one aspect: the Labour Party is not at all campaigning against real racism. Sir Keir is concerned with campaigning for the racist State of Israel.

  • Sue Ahrens says:

    Such an excellent letter by Robert Cohen. How can Keir Starter fail to take it seriously?

  • Caroline Carney says:

    Nearly all witchhunts have ended badly for the hunters. History does not look favourably on the Spanish inquisition. But the catalyst to the end of them is always when they take on a power greater than themselves. The people on the sidelines who are being told to believe the lies fed them are given the truth. This is the truth and should the party find itself in court then I have no doubt they would lose and the witchhunt will come to an end with embarrassment for Evans and Starmer and the end of many political careers. The left will then have a chance to regroup and hopefully win the fight again.

  • Andrew Peter Nichols says:

    Time for you to call on your lawyers. It’s long overdue for a law suit…though having said that , the travesty that is the Assange Kafka trial means it carries risks.

  • Richard Chorley says:

    A brilliant letter one that rationally dissects the ludicrous essence of Starmer’s machinations within these issues. Thank you, Robert Cohen.

  • Dr Rodney Watts says:

    Yet another fine letter from Robert, with an interesting range of heartfelt comments so far. I too have pondered long on the scope for legal action against institutional anti-Semitism, except, unfortunately, as presently manifested it only applies to the ‘wrong kind’ of Jews. However, we do know that socialism is a protected characteristic and JVL are right to doggedly pursue the EHRC.
    My advice, for what its worth, is that we should all continue to vigorously support the various connected legal cases of either defence or, as in the case of Ken Livingstone and Pam Bromley (via Left Legal Fighting Fund) the pursuit of the EHRC. Of course there is nothing to stop individuals trying to pursue damages to reputation cases –EXCEPT Finance.

  • Linda P says:

    Excellent article, the Labour Party has become an undemocratic joke. Itself being antisemitic towards Jewish socialists who are being suspended and having their membership cancelled.

  • Stephen Richards says:

    A dangerous game being played. Many of my Jewish friends express a fear that they are seen by gentiles as being responsible for the actions of Israel as the Board of Deputies promote the ideology that Israel is an integral part of Jewish Identity. A dangerous game indeed if any political leader of any political party actively takes instruction from any religious organisation & a threat to democracy.
    There would seem to be little or no anti-Semitism in Britain & little evidence to support such claims, despite claims from MSM. l I have not encountered any in my 72 year existence but speaking as a gentile maybe that is not surprising, however my family are Catholic Gypsies & I recognise discrimination when I see it. For anti-Semitism read anti-Socialism.
    Chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, in a speech to AIPAC last year, congratulating them on preventing Socialists such as Bernie Sanders from progressing politically, in the same way that ‘we’ prevented the Socialist Jeremy Corbyn from doing so in Britain. The Board of Deputies are sailing dangerously close to being rightly accused of being a political organisation & meddling in Party politics. A dangerous game.

  • Wendy Morgan says:

    so glad to read this carefully argued, rational response to what has been happening and continues today. I fear that the heavy-handed approach of the Labour Party on this issue is in fact leading to an increase in anti-semitism including among people who have never been such yet now feel a partisan interpretation of the IHRA definition and unquestioning support for organisations claiming to represent all Jewish people is harming perceptions and distorting beliefs about Jewish influence in society overall, which is surely potentially dangerous, rather like a prophecy which becomes self-fulfilling.

  • David Mowat says:

    Excellent article. I wonder if Kier Starmer will engage with you…

  • Alan Stanton says:

    Alan Maddison’s comment above – especially the final paragraph – expresses a fear I share. And which I, and perhaps many other Jews, have been reluctant to name and describe.
    Unfortunately it’s not simply people like Robert Cohen whose voices must be “… heard and treated with the respect they deserve”.
    It applies to all Labour Party members – now more often in dialogue with other socialists, feminists and anti-racists – who wish to meet and discuss vital issues with one another. Engaging in conversations and debates in good faith; seeking common ground and action based on shared principles, passions and commitment.
    Last weekend there was a gathering to remember one of my brothers who died a year ago. There listening to family and his friends I realised how much he was always, always one of those people who, as a Spanish poet once advised:
    “If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.”

    Mr Starmer need not trouble to re-refer me to his apparatchiks. After some 46+ years I’m no longer in his Party. He clearly wishes to rule each and every page and have everyone write and speak only his permitted lines.

  • Paul Wimpeney says:

    How can Robert Cohen deny that he is “undermining the Party’s ability to campaign against racism”? He is undermining Labour’s ability to campaign on anything by showing that its current leadership is beyond any normally rational discussion on any topic whatsoever. The need for evidence when reaching a verdict? Not necessary, especially for a lawyer who was prepared to sign up to ten of someone else’s commandments before he had even set his own moral compass; who couldn’t accept that there is no single Jewish Community to appease, just as Muslims and Christians (and atheists) are not immune from the most virulent schisms and disagreements; whose need to defend and support the state of Israel confounds every other consideration of justice and fairness.
    I have heard Robert speak on several occasions over the last 15 years and its clear what a dangerous character he is to be associated with. His eloquent, measured delivery, his careful use of language, how he regards his audience, his treatment of questions and challenges – all these characteristics reveal him to be dangerous to the modern Labour Party. Off with his head and the same for anybody quoting him!

  • David Oates says:

    Wonderful, heartfelt and accurate.

    I fear the current Labour Leadership have backed themselves into a corner to wrest control of the Party from a ‘faction’ that saw members as vital. After all, the endless parade of foundless accusations just didn’t ‘stick’… A high – risk accusation strategy ensued, creating a stigma that can only be shaken off by public sacrifice and a claim of ‘cleansing’.

  • Veronica Zundel says:

    Thank you for this, Robert. I left the Labour Party many years ago after the Iraq war, and was hoping to rejoin one day, but as a Jew who spent 13 years sponsoring a little Palestinian girl and who supports the Palestinian call for self-determination, I cannot in conscience rejoin it in its present state. As for Jeremy Corbyn, there isn’t a racist bone of any kind in his body.

  • Adrian Turner says:

    My hero Jeremy Corbyn himself has no racism in him. I believe Ken Livingstone is the same. The level of racial hatred in the Labour party is definitely low as most ge4nuine left wing people are there for the love and respect of all people. We are told that there is a small streak of racial hatred in the party but it is not very strong or we would have heard about it before. Starmers spurious attacks on anyone who is against the Israeli attacks on the Palestinians are part of the bad feeling that is destroying the Labour party.

  • Brett Hawksbee says:

    The most comprehensive, articulate, yet sadly futile letter I have read in many years.

  • David Hammond says:

    Thank you.

  • Andy SJ Lie says:

    Thanks so much, dear Robert, for always taking the truthfully moral and considered stand in arguing your case. Having only recently preached on the biblical prophetic vocation, how dare I not have mentioned that you are clearly in that line of courageous voices! You have our prayers and support, dear brother and cousin in faith.

  • Richard Hobson says:

    Thank you for publishing this letter. It led me to read some of Robert’s other writing which is illuminative and informative. He does more to counter anti-Jewish sentiment than Keir Starmer and his thought police ever will.

  • Bonny Ambrose says:

    Excellent. Thank you. Can this be shared on social media? – Yes, of course – JVL web

  • Patricia Cockrell says:

    Brilliant letter from Robert Cohen, but then one expects no less from this profoundly interesting voice of good sense.

  • Anne Lyons says:

    I’m truly grateful to Robert Cohen for writing this. I’ve spent ages going over these matters in my mind, trying to find the right words to explain to others, especially Labour members with less knowledge of the subject, just what has been going on. Thank you, Robert.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Yes, truth-tellers are dangerous, and we really don’t want members sharing their articles. Those of us who work at dissembling and spreading darkness and fear really don’t like people shining a light on our darkness! And our falsehoods and lies and deceit and deception.

    Jeremy Corbyn was – and potentially still is – an existential threat to every single Jew on the planet, but we’d rather you didn’t press us on just what that threat amounts to because we can’t actually think of anything that wouldn’t sound totally ridiculous and laughable to the general public, so that’s why we always allude to something, but never spell out what it is we’re alluding to.

  • Jill Azz says:

    Its a, shame the labour party dont see their islamophobia in stopping all discussion of the Palestinian natives. Or the dreadful massacres they have been subjected to. Labour completely dismiss my complaints and my mp now does not even answer me. My husbands relative was murdered in dachau as a muslim so i am offended that the holocaust is only portrayed as a jewish holocaust. Indeed i have been shadow banned from twitter for posting his death details from dachau saying he was muslim and not mentioned in the holocaust museum. BoD have no interest in any other type of racism and are perfectly ok with islamophobia.
    I stand in solidarity with you my friend. You should indeed seek urgent legal advice. I strongly suggest the lines in which the labour party is heading is antisemitic in itself.

  • Ronald Mendel says:

    The Labour Party officialdom has sunk the depths that I find despicable. To challenge the integrity of a principled defender of Palestinian human rights and a practicing Jew, is contemptible. To compound this act of indefensible behaviour, Robert’s views are being used as a weapon against other Labour Party members who shared his 2018 blog about the role of the Jewish Board of Deputies and other Jewish establishment organisations as proof of their alleged antisemitism. I think Robert Cohen deserves at the very least a public apology and retraction of the specious charges if not financial compensation for defamation of his good name.

  • Emmy says:

    It’s shocking at a time when this country is being destroyed by the worst Tory government of the last 50 years, that the Labour Party has been undermined by these charlatans, and that they’ve had the gall to use false accusations of AS for their own political purposes.

  • Mark Gibson says:

    Email to my Labour (sic) MP to which I’ve had no reply :
    Now that the subject has , quite oddly, disappeared from public and media view I’d like your justification for the following .
    “Not content in briefing The Daily Mail!!, it now appears that the UK Labour hierarchy are also now briefing THE SuN! “Yes, that’s right. The Sun reported that Starmer: “will order Labour MPs to back a Brexit deal to try to win back the North, his allies claim.”.
    Why are Labour now in bed with the two most far right , racist purveyors of lies and sleaze ; two of the prime propagandists against Labour for the past decades ?
    Has it anything to do with this :
    https://dorseteye.com/meet-the-wrong-kind-of-jew/ ” ( by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi )which , briefly exposes the anti semitic abuse of Jewish Labour members over the last few years or so? An astonishing and disgraceful view of a party that since 2017 has lost its soul , its integrity and its founding principles because of the intervention of an alien state . A party (PLP) that was too craven , ( too well rewarded ?) , to reject the IHRA definition of anti semitism as clearly conflating criticism of Israel with racism . A PLP that did not have the backbone to support a leader that was storming the polls and with a little internal support would now have put Labour in power – rather than the current bunch of self-serving sleaze merchants , bullies and spivs whose version of Brexit & handling of Covid is killing hundreds of thousands of our citizens .
    Here’s a short piece about how this issue is now poisoning european politics :
    https://dorseteye.com/antisemitism-claims-used-to-mask/?fbclid=IwAR2MgFoRrL80VcKeGN8cXxLDdamDDkhar0B-KNs71vRkBNwH1SIW-NUEPnQ “.
    Sadly, you are quoted as quashing free speech in UK Universities as Shadow Education Minister and wholeheartedly in favour of the clearly flawed IHRA definition of racism . A definition which even its author now refutes and very many Jewish people find not only ridiculous but also dangerous to their welfare , jobs and lives – particularly those that are socialist members of the Labour Party and find themselves under attack or dismissed from the party as anti semites – something that even Kafka or Orwell couldn’t envisage .
    I hope you can explain why my party of choice remains under the thrall of a foreign state and whether there are any plans to return to a vaguely socialist or even centrist philosophy independent of foreign diktat.
    I look forward to a full and intelligent response to my query .

  • As ever, Robert Cohen’s depth of knowledge and his clearly articulated arguments make a nonsense of the path being taken by the Labour Party under Keir Starmer.

  • Mark Serlin says:

    Thank God for a voice of sanity.

  • Ted Bains says:

    The final two paragraphs of Mr. Cohen’s response sums up the whole Labour Party/Starmer/Corbyn/antisemitism situation. It is convenient for the current Party leader to heed self appointed spokespersons from only a section of the Jewish community.

  • Bernard Grant says:

    Some very good comments but Alan Maddison had it spot on. Someone also pointed out that Starmer will not change course. I totally agree, it is is main agenda.

  • rc says:

    Wishful thinking, I’m afraid, on the part of Caroline Carney above. Oppression of anyone – especially a Jew – who questions the essential rightness of the Zionist apartheid state is backed up by US imperialism and its pathetic suppliants/supplicants in the LP. Mike Pompeo helped bring down Jeremy Corbyn, did he not? What power in the ‘rules-based world order’ (what a joke!) is greater than the US? McCarthy was brought down by the US Army, not by elected representatives; destruction of the integrity of their formation is the main nightmare of Chiefs of Staff and (Field) Marshals… (worse than military defeat). The Catholic Inquisitions are held up to hatred ridicule and contempt nowadays; but what does that avail its victims (see David Kertzer’s Unholy War for its formal state power up to 1870? How many divisions do the historians have? Sorry Caroline, we have to rely on ourselves, not on ‘history’.

  • Averil says:

    I have taken the liberty of quoting you too, see https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/sometimes-you-have-to-say-no/ . Would you be able to keep us up-to-date regarding your correspondence with Sir K?

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