New organisation founded for Jewish Labour Party members

Aug 5, 2017 – A new organisation, Jewish Voice for Labour, today announced its foundation as a network for progressive Labour Jews united in opposing all forms of racism.

“Our mission is to contribute to making the Labour Party an open, democratic and inclusive party, encouraging all ethnic groups and cultures to join and participate freely,” the group said in its founding statement.

“We stand for rights and justice for Jewish people everywhere, and against wrongs and injustice to Palestinians and other oppressed people anywhere.” Unlike the (Labour-affiliated) Jewish Labour Movement, JVL does not make promoting the centrality of Israel to Jewish life a condition of membership. Also unlike the JLM, full members of the JVL must be Labour Party members who identify themselves as Jewish.

JVL chair Jenny Manson, a long-standing member of Finchley and Golders Green Labour Party, said the new organisation has a valuable role to play in strengthening the party in its opposition to all forms of racism including antisemitism. It rejects attempts to extend the scope of  the term ‘antisemitism’ beyond its meaning of bigotry towards Jews, particularly when directed at activities in solidarity with Palestinians such as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

Manson said JVL will provide a much-needed forum for Jews who want to celebrate and debate the long and proud history of Jewish involvement in socialist and trade-union activism and in antiracist, antifascist and anti-colonial struggles.

“We invite everyone of Jewish heritage in the Labour Party to join us in continuing these great traditions,” said Manson.

JVL will hold a public launch on September 25 in Brighton, during the 2017 Labour Party conference.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. The full founding statement from Jewish Voice for Labour, also available online here

 
Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) is a network for Jewish members of the Labour party.
Our political priorities are universal human rights and dignity; justice for all; freedom of expression; and democracy in the Labour Party.
 
Our mission is to contribute to making the Labour Party an open, democratic and inclusive party, encouraging all ethnic groups and cultures to join and participate freely. As such we aim to strengthen the party in its opposition to all forms of racism including antisemitism, broadening the party’s appeal to all sections of British society.
 
We take inspiration from the long history of Jewish involvement in the socialist and trade-union movements and in antiracist and antifascist struggles, including the anti-apartheid and civil rights movements.
 
We stand for rights and justice for Jewish people everywhere, and against wrongs and injustice to Palestinians and other oppressed people anywhere. We uphold the right of supporters of justice for Palestinians to engage in solidarity activities, such as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. We oppose attempts to widen the definition of antisemitism beyond its meaning of hostility towards or discrimination against Jews as Jews.
At a time of profound divisions in Jewish communities, JVL offers a space to explore and debate the many questions (personal, social, cultural, political) that are important to us as progressive Labour Jews. 
 
We will work where appropriate with existing groups involved with issues of common concern from an internationalist and anti-racist perspective.
 
2. Biography of Jenny Manson, elected chair of Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) at its inaugural meeting on July 19, 2017.
 
Jenny Manson is a retired tax inspector who has been active in the Labour Party since university.  In 1987 she stood for the then safe Tory Parliamentary seat, Hendon North, taking a year off work to do so because her job was ‘politically restricted’.  She served a term as a councillor in Barnet from 1986 to 1990 and is currently chair of Garden Suburb branch of  Finchley and Golders Green Constituency Labour Party.  She chairs a local charity offering support to carers and is an active supporter of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.Jenny Manson has edited two books of essays, one on consciousness (What it Feels Like to be Me, O Books, 2010) and one on public service (Public Service on the Brink, Imprint Academic, and 2012). 
 
3. The impetus for founding JVL came from discussions among Labour Party Jews who signed a submission to the Chakrabarti Inquiry last year.

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