A cautious welcome to Jeremy Corbyn’s Statement on Antisemitism

Every Labour Party member received a message from Jeremy Corbyn last weekend about antisemitism.

We welcome it.

It recognises the need for open discussion in order to confront bigotry, and specifically antisemitism.

We welcome that.

It explicitly states that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism, and nor is advocacy of a single democratic state with equal rights for all.

We welcome that.

It sets the stage for an open discussion about Israel-Palestine in which the legitimacy of critical positions is not ruled out in advance.

We welcome that.

It states that over the coming months, the party will produce educational materials on a number of specific forms of racism and bigotry.

We welcome that.

The message contains elements with which we disagree.  JVL intends to contribute fully to necessary discussions about many key historical issues: Zionism, the Nakba, Britain’s historical role, settler colonialism and more. We do not see any justification for the privileging of one ethnic group within the state of Israel at the expense of others.

Only a few days ago Clive Lewis MP in an article in the Independent wrote that:

“Expulsions alone will not solve Labour’s antisemitism crisis. Political education about antisemitism can help to ensure a socialist politics based on real equality becomes the common sense across the party”.

We welcome that, and look forward to the implementation of fair, transparent and effective complaints procedures under Jennie Formby’s leadership, and the development of a broad programme of political education.

Contact [email protected] for further information.


Comments (36)

  • Richard Hayward says:

    Mmmm. I understand JVL’s position – gift horses and all that.

    But, frankly, the negatives outweigh anything else – particularly the implicit endorsement of MSM mythology.

    In terms of education, the most outstanding need in the Party is better information about the history and present situation in the Middle East – particularly in terms of the Palesinian diaspora, and a more determined untangling of political discussion from the concept of ethnic prejudice.

    I don’t see the statement as tackling any of those fundamentals.

  • Ms J Walker says:

    This response to the Corbyn message on AS is the first significant political mistake I’ve known JVL to make. Amongst other problematic issues, the LP statement inherently accepts the nonsense that AS is a problem for the LP. Yes,
    AS exists in the Party, but is it a major part of the culture of the Party and the movement? NO!
    I’m particularly outraged that, yet again, Corbyn has put his name to a statement that foregrounds AS in isolation to ‘racism’, especially when all evidence shows structural racism against Jews is non existent. What an insult to excluded and oppressed minorities!
    The Leadership (again), and now for the first time, the JVL have bowed to crude political pressure rather than clearly reiterating evidence and bringing cool heads and thought through logic to this situation. A more qualified, and nuanced response, is what is expected from JVL. This is what marks out JVL from other groups. This current response will gain neither the JVL, not Corbyn, a millimetre of progress towards a fair hearing, justice and equality for all. It will, in fact, be used, yet again, to undermine those fighting the most shameful, racist, abusive witch hunt in British history – and supporters know this; not surprisingly, many Corbyn supporters are refusing to share the LP statement while Corbyn’s opponents are sharing widely. Very disappointed.

  • S H says:

    An openly racist homophobic misogynistic elitist immigant baiting womaniser poor people hating shambolic mess of a human is our new, only picked by 90000 mainly old white bloke, Prime Minister!. A BLOODY NIGHTMARE, WHERE IS THE MEDIA OUTRAGE? They save the nasty vitreol for the nice peace campaigner Jeremy.

  • Sheena says:

    Jeremy Corbyn has bent over backwards to eradicate any hint of racisim in the Labour Party. The coordinated assualt of LIES and SMEARS needs to be stopped, the Watson Hodge Mann ranting rump pathetic peers removed and not allowed to represent the Labour Party in any way. They are an embarrassment to our party I am actually repulsed and revolted by them and now the bbc/guardian lying machines too. Let us all now help and support Jeremy Corbyn, the Shadow Cabinet and Trade Unions in fighting against BOJO the Evil Clown.

  • Philip Foxe says:

    When I read Jeremy saying ‘it is wrong for members to deny anti semitism in the Labour Party’ he is singing from the hasbara songsheet. There is NO anti semitism problem in the Labour Party and we know this whole charade is just to attack him and the left. But when he gives the Right ammunition like this… He disarms us and sets himself up for more of the same. I despair.

  • Andy Wistreich says:

    I felt that the LP statement accepted the emotional ties that Zionist British Jews feel towards Israel without endorsing Israel as a racist state politically. I know it bends over backwards and understand why this upsets those angered by the witch hunt but I appreciate the mention of one democratic state as an acceptable alternative to the obsolete two state solution which is still unfortunately LP policy. In general I appreciate the intention to make anti racism fundamental to LP membership. Although it’s true that AS is lower in LP than elsewhere, it’s also positive to state that one case of AS is one too many. For these reasons I agree with the JVL response to the LP AS materials.

  • James Hall says:

    I totally agree with the comments made above by Richard Hayward and Ms J Walker.

    JVL’s welcome should be more than simply ‘cautious’ – the whole statement amounts to another capitulation and, as with all the others, is already just encouraging further smears and wild allegations.

    Tony Greenstein has summed the whole thing up very ably (http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/07/corbyns-latest-anti-semitism-proposals.html).

    In particular, in pandering to those creating the myth of institutional racism the statement itself contains unfortunate elements of racism: firstly, to elevate antisemitism above other forms of racism is -in itself- racist and, secondly, the stressing of Jewish right to a homeland and self-determination with only a glancing reference to similar rights for the Palestinians is, again, racist.

    Many would also disagree that there should be a home for Zionists in the Labour Party – those who regard Zionism as an essentially and implicitly racist/colonialist political ideology.

  • Alasdair MacVarish says:

    It says all when Theresa may elevates John Mann to a supervisory role as a parting joke. JLM and BOD are never going to be satisfied until a pro-Zionist leader is in place. Could not but laugh when Ella Rose appeared distraught on Panorama programme along with 7 other undeclared office-holders in JLM.

  • Steve kind says:

    I welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s statement because for the first time, along with the new training materials, it offers a way forward that can unite the great majority of the more reasonable comrades. It exposes the hypocrisy of the M and the BoD who, having refused to cooperate with the Party over drawing up the trying materials, then dismissed them out of hand on the basis that they hadn’t been consulted. They are now seen as rejecting what any independent and reasonable reader will see as a major and sincere step forward. My misgivings are, though, based on the reaction of some to those of us who, in the context of our wholehearted support of the statement and materials have nonetheless warned that the media and the right or the Party will not be mollified, because their aim is to undermine Corbyn. We were immediately accused of “minimising” antisemitism and “whataboutery” . Apparently, some people don’t actually like being agreed with……

  • Dr Brian Robinson says:

    One of the problems about denying something is that it inevitably focuses attention on the thing being denied. Even when the accusation is false and the denial justified. If I’m accused falsely of antisemitism and I keep saying, “I am not an antisemite” it keeps reinforcing the link in everyone’s mind, “me+antisemitism”.

    When Richard Nixon went on television to say, “I am not a crook”, lots of people thought, “Yeah, Nixon, hmm, he’s a crook”. Another form of the idea is to tell someone, “Don’t think of an elephant.”

    That’s why a false accusation of antisemitism is so pernicious because every legitimate denial can be so easily made to look like an admission. I’m not sure there’s a ready way around this.

  • Janet Crosley says:

    Sorry to be disappointed with your reply. I agree with Ms Walker. Please think again. You are more needed now than ever, the anti JC programme will be searching for ammunition,this will give them some. I feel sure this was not an intention. You have always got it right before, in my opinion.

  • Mike Cohen says:

    When I received the material from Jeremy Corbyn I emailed back expressing regret that he had felt it necessary to take thus step and to say that nothing would appease his enemies (short of his becoming an uncritical supporter of Israel’s oppression and slaughter of Palestinians).

    So I am surprised and disappointed that JVL gives this stuff a welcome, however cautious, that accepts the premise that the Labour Party has a problem about antisemitism..

    The image of bending over backwards is apposite: try it, preferably in private, and see where you end up.

  • Mike Cohen says:

    I heard the egregious Ruth Smeeth interviewed (toothlessly) by John Humphrys the other day.. There was no countervailing voice.

    I sent in a complaint to the BBC (under their somewhat anodyne heading of ‘bias’) and await their response.


    I notice you are ignoring that it also said “zionism is not of itself racist”.. and that ” Labour was a political home for Zionists and anti-Zionists”.. Do you not agree ?

  • Stephen Williams says:

    I shall be happier when the Labour Party starts condemning the anti-Palestinian bigotry that pervades the media and some sections of the party.

  • Dominic Lefevre says:

    Why do Jewish leftists have a need for their own organisation?
    Isn’t your organisation exclusive which questions your supposed Internationalist view of the world.
    Your organisation is exclusive !!

  • BARRY SAY says:

    I too welcome this statement as far as it goes, but I am disappointed that there is no link to it on the Labour home page. I can find it by searching for antisemitism using the ‘magnifying glass’. I fear the party is ‘hiding its light under a bushel’ Barry Say – associate

  • David says:

    I joined the Labour Party because I am against racism, racism against Jews, Palestinians, Roma or anyone else.
    Yes, a tiny minority of Labour Party members are racists and deserve to be expelled but where is the EVIDENCE that racism against Jews is more of a problem than other racism in the Labour Party ?
    At the time of Charlie Hebdo we were constantly told that saying offensive things about Muslims and Islam was integral to a free democratic society. But in the case of Jews different rules seem to apply. The very same people who would be horrified if Muslims could censor what we are allowed to say about Islam seem to believe that the Board of Deputies and JLM should be able to dictate what Labour Party members can say about Jews and Israel.
    My socialist beliefs tell me that Ethnic Cleansing is always wrong and I refuse to make exceptions for any country including Israel. But a year ago Joan Ryan wrote to Jeremy Corbyn on behalf of Labour Friends of Israel opposing a Palestinian Right of Return to Israel on the grounds that it would produce a Palestinian majority in the Jewish State. So by implication she excused the Ethnic Cleansing of 750,000 human beings in 1948. Ryan wasn’t even criticised for THAT defence of violent racism.
    Does the Labour Party think that anti Semitism is the only sort of racism that matters ? It seems so.

  • Derek Taylor says:

    Yes, all true; all above board. We are however, unable to fight successfully against the onslaught of TV, radio and newspapers who continually bash on about anti-Semitism within the party, mistaking an honourable stance against the wickedness of the Israeli state, to prejudice against Jews. ‘Normal’ people don’t seem to know or believe the reports from Israel and Palestine so when ever Labour MPs or members are interviewed, we have to continually remind/shame everyone – with the aid of photos or videos about the plight of Palestinians. We need to separate the two – Likud’s Israel and Jews.

  • TM says:

    Thank you JH for pointing to Tony Greenstein’s blog. That really is food for thought. I’m very glad to have read it. I had felt uneasy about the LP Statement and supposed it was heavily influenced or driven by JLM. At the same time, I was also drawn towards an attempt to draw a line with these attacks and drive any antisemitism from the LP. Naive. Immediately, there was Ruth Smeeth fuming at the date given for the holocaust. And then Yvette Cooper’s slippery, insinuating question as to why anti-semites might be drawn to the LP.
    But mainly I am grateful to TG for underlining the inherent racism in the LP Statement. Maybe that accounts for my unease.

  • Mike Cohen says:

    There are those in the Labour party who pay lip service to Palestian rights, but are in fact supporters of a brutal, racist regime. And judging by their deeds, they would rather see a Tory government led by Johnson than Labour one led by Corbyn.

  • different frank says:

    Once again Corbyn has backed down.
    When is he going to come out fighting?

  • Liberty says:

    The fact is that the dreadful disloyal cabal of the horrific Isreali regime appeasers would rather destroy the Labour Party than have a government that would help the brutalised poor Palestinians and recognise their rights. The Cons have so many racists and immigant baiters but refuse to even acknowledge their own massive problem but hurl smears onto the left with the complicity of course of the horrible right wing broadcasters. We on the left feel we have to apologise on behalf of the made up cobblers at every turn. We should stop them ripping our open and democratic party apart because they can and we allow them to do it. They are using the terrible tactic of the anti semitic card because everything else has failed to remove Jeremy Corbyn and the Isreali lobby has so much money they can keep churning out the lies and smears to the British media who bloody love it.

  • S H says:

    Comrades I just heard that a Chris Williamson event in Brighton has been cancelled because the dipstick LABOUR! mp, he is called Peter something, rang the venue and COMPLAINED! saying the organisers should not have a ‘Jewish people BAITER’ tarnishing their town. WTF. Comrades this is what our good friends Chris, Ken and Jackie are being treated as. BLOODY DISGUSTING

  • Lily says:

    I complained to the bbc about their terrible bias unbalanced and unfair coverage of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. They sent one of the most pathetic progaganda spewing smear full emails I have ever received. I wrote back and told them they should be abolished. It felt really GOOD

  • Sara says:

    The Witch Hunters will not accept anything apart from Jeremy Corbyn’s head on a stick and his supporters all expelled. We need to stand strong and come together to defeat them and the terrible tories once and for all.

  • I haven’t felt enthusiastic enough about the materials to share it, but I am sympathetic to JVL’s cautious welcome. It makes some good points, especially about some of the cases that have cropped up within the party: “Holocaust denial, crude Jewish-banker stereotypes, conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11 or every war on the Rothschild family, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.” And its recognition of the occasions when anti-Zionism can become antisemitism are welcome. It does NOT concede the ridiculous suggestion that there is a Labour and Antisemitism “crisis” (invention of the pro-Tory press including the ultra-right wing Jewish Chronicle and the Board of Shmerels) but does recognise a “problem”. Now problems can be small or large. I think it is very small – but still needs addressing.
    It is weakest when discussing Zionism, non-Zionism and anti-Zionism, and, despite caveats, it tends to treat anti-Zionism as something to be suspected of antisemitism, rather than an absolutely legitimate non-racist position held by the vast majority of Palestinians, and many of their supporters, and held by many Jews in every generation since political Zionism was founded. (all serious recent surveys show a drop in support for Zionism among Jews in Britain)
    It is a significant omission that it doesn’t mention alternative Jewish traditions eg Bundism.
    Nevertheless the reaction to the materials has interested me. Labour has begun to take more control of its narrative on the issue. It has been positively welcomed by a significant layer of Jews to the right of JVL but not particularly sympathetic to JLM, who *do* think that Labour has underestimated the problem. That is a layer that we need to be engaging with more seriously.

  • jay henderson says:

    Mr Corbyn has again addressed his remarks to the wrong people! He should be denouncing the propagandists and liars who use the myth of A.S. to attack us. His response to May`s blatant lies in the commons was feeble! Instead Corbyn seems to plead with us to “be good”. We ARE good Mr Corbyn and it is painfully obviouse that it gets us nowhere! WHY does Corbyn not use the considerable evidence that is easily available! I can think of many questions and points that would seriously undermine these allegations of A.S. but it appears that either Corbyn is unaware of them or has never thought of them (too many to list here) Corbyn should start to think like a tory, did any one of them apologise for Windrush? Why is Corbyn apologising for being lied about?
    Corbyn would do well to recall the year 1938, a man called Chamberlain, a man called Hitler and a town called Munich! Chamberlain`s appeasement of Hitler undoudtedly helped make W.W.11 possible. What might be the outcome of Corbyn`s appeasement of similar right wing forces??

  • John C says:

    I did welcome the statement, and the JVL response, even though, head and heart, I know J Walker and others in the comments above me who recoil from it are spot on. It is a bend in the wind. A jiu jitsu move. I don’t think Corbyn has a better option, for the time being – and it does leave open the potential to move forward once the hysteria has abated and I think, I hope, it may succeed in taking the witch-hunters out of the driver’s seat. But I am clear in my mind about this. It is the witch-hunters not the witches in the Party (I have never met any) who are now driving me to the brink of leaving the Party.

  • David Ash says:

    The Bundists betrayed my observant grandfather to the Communists who incarcerated and beat him up.
    So your Bundist tradition is not so admirable. In fact The Bundists were and are totally intolerant of views with which they disagree

  • Robert Keegan says:

    We cannot win an election with Jeremy as our leader. Sorry but he is an inept and weak leader,
    has reached “ the level of his incompetence “ and surely should be pensioned off.

  • David Rosenberg says:

    The comment by David Ash above is very odd on two grounds. It is well known that the Bund had a difficult relationship with the Communists, so the idea of them betraying someone to the Communists doesn’t ring true. Secondly, throughout its existence the Bund fought for free expression and democracy in Jewish life and a plurality of voices, against those who wished to restrict such pluralism. Indeed within its own organisation in the inter-war years, it enabled a minority faction to publish its own newspaper (kegn shtrom – against the stream) alongside official Bund publications. If anything they were extreme democrats.

  • Gideon Banks ( Melbourne) says:

    “ APPALLING’ Jeremy Corbyn engulfed in fresh anti-Semitism row after attending protest which likened Israel to Nazi Germany “

    This was published in The Sun today.
    Can this be verified or is it another vicious attack on Jeremy?

    [JVL web editor: this paper-thin attack relates to an event in 2009! It’s just muckraking rubbish

  • Anthoy Aloy says:

    Dear JVL,
    May I commend your support for peace in the Middle East and justice for all people.
    With regards to Jeremy Corbyn, I feel that he has always supported minorities and been a voice for those who have endured injustice. The claims from a certain LBC presenter Maajid Nawaz that Jeremy’s Labour Party is in effect or by implication institutionally anti-Semitic is nonsense. It should be countered with vigour and with determination.
    However, I feel that the voice of the Palestinian people and their supporters has not been heard in this debate.
    What would be important to present is that it is Israel’s current Government who object to Palestine’s right to exist. That in itself appears to be anti-Semitic, as Palestinians are Semitic people.
    If it is wrong to deny Israel’s right to exist then it is clearly wrong to deny Palestine’s right to exist. Denying the Nakba and Palestinian suffering (documented in UN Resolutions) must also be condemned.
    It is essential therefore that Palestine’s voice is clearly heard. Palestine is a UN non-member STATE and recognised by almost 140 countries in the world, it is registered as a state by 50 UN Agencies. There are over 150 key UN Resolutions (though Nikki Haley – former US Ambassador – stated 700). In addition, there is the opinion present by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with regards to Israel’s monstrous 400 mile “wall”. The ICJ, EU and UN condemned the “wall” which is a land grab. The aspect of settler only roads accessible for settler only settlements is wrong, as is price tag killing, house demolitions and the horrific element of Palestinians not being able to use their own roads on their land on the West Bank. Israel’s current Government’s cruel occupation of the Palestinian Territories is a war crime. This I feel should be projected and the focus on International Law – with a clear statement conveying how Israel’s Government is determined to ignore and circumvent what is acceptable with regards to human rights of an occupied people and perpetuate an occupation of another nation.
    Thank you.

  • Hyman Gold says:

    [Here’s a comment we couldn’have made up – approved for your delectation – web ed]

    I am so glad the UK is a failed state, and falling apart.
    It is the penalty their citizens are paying for expelling The Jews in 1290

  • Larry Edelman says:

    Hyman’s comment surely must be tongue in cheek and worth a little chuckle and delectation!!😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

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