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

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.

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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.

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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.