Consulting Jewish stakeholders

JVL Introduction

Labour’s Action Plan includes in its summary of key actions: “Consultation with the Jewish community will be built into all aspects of the Action Plan. With immediate effect, we will establish a high-level Advisory Board and a Reference Group to work closely with the Labour Party and act as a sounding board.”

It talks repeatedly of consultation with “Jewish stakeholders”.

But nothing in the Plan suggests how that Advisory Board and Reference Group will be constituted and there was no call – still has been no call – for suggestions as to who might be consulted.

Regarding ourselves as one of the Jewish stakeholders needing to be consulted we wrote to Keir Starmer and nominated a member of our Committee, Adam Hurst, as a suitable member of any such advisory or reference group.

To date, almost three weeks later, our email has not been acknowledged.


Here is our email to Keir Starmer

31 December 2020, sent by email

Dear Sir Keir

We welcome the recommendation of the EHRC Report that all Jewish stakeholders should be consulted and involved, a point clearly taken up in the Labour Party’s Action Plan.

We are writing to you, on behalf of Jewish Voice for Labour, to nominate Councillor Adam Hirst to the Reference and/or Stakeholder Group.  We attach Adam’s biography and ask you to note that, like many of our members, he is an observant Jew, with views representative of a broad swathe of our members and many younger people within the wider Jewish community.  He is also a respected Sheffield City Councillor.

We also wish to stress two broader points

1. The Board of Deputies of British Jews may well speak for those it represents, but it is not representative of all Jews in Britain, being largely composed of members from affiliated synagogues. In particular, it speaks neither for the substantial and growing proportion of religious Jews who are strictly observant, nor by and large for secular Jews who constitute anything up to half the Jewish population. It is substantially Conservative in its political outlook, like the majority of the Jewish voters since at least 2015 and moving in that direction long before.

2. Of course it should play an important role in any consultations but this cannot be at the exclusion of the diversity of Jewish voices which need to be heard – especially those on the left, particularly those committed to the Labour Party, where there are vibrant debates, engagements and dissent from the views of those expressed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The Jewish Labour Movement is based on and only open to those who accept the centrality of Israel to Jewish life. We in Jewish Voice for Labour do not claim to speak for all Jews on the left but, with over a thousand members a third of whom are Jewish Party members, we speak with confidence on behalf of a significant section of Jewish members of the Labour Party. We are one of those stakeholder groups referred to in the EHRC Report, demanding that our voice, too, should be heard.

We look forward to hearing from you and to meeting with you soon and, along with everyone else, here is hoping and working for a better 2021 than 2020.

Yours sincerely

Leah D. Levane and Jenny Manson
Co Chairs, JVL


Adam Hurst biography

Born in 1958 to an Orthodox Jewish family in Leeds, My parents joined the Leeds Reform Jewish congregation in 1961 and I attended Cheder and had my Bar Mitzvah in 1971. I now attend my local Reform Synagogue. I was a member of the DROR (Labour Zionist youth movement) and through them spent time on a Kibbutz in 1975. However, I did not feel particularly connected to Israel and considered myself a non- Zionist Jew when I left Leeds to study in Newcastle and then Edinburgh. In 1982, I attended a Yom Kippur service at an Orthodox synagogue with some relatives where the Rabbi spoke in support of the IDF which had taken no action to stop the recent massacres at the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps. I thought his support of the IDF to be inappropriate at a time when Jews are supposed to reflect on their behaviour and seeking forgiveness.

My feelings on this led me to recommit to my Jewish values and on my return to Leeds I joined the Sinai synagogue as an adult member and have been a member of either the Leeds or Sheffield Reform Congregations ever since. I attend synagogue where possible and believe as a Jewish person it is important to condemn actions carried out in the name of Jewish nationalism which are contrary to internationally recognised standards of justice. As a Sheffield City Councillor, I was therefore proud to speak in support of the motion recently passed by the council that committed Sheffield City Council to recognise the state of Palestine

Links to all JVL statements and other articles on the EHRC report

Comments (20)

  • Stephen Beadle says:

    Good response.

    I’m presuming you’re all already aware of the Guardian Exclusive today where David Isaacs, late of the EHRC, criticises his former organisation for being effectively an arm of the Tory Party.

  • Dave says:

    Nice try and it had to be done but Labour seems determined now to be guided by its political enemies. And in fact to adapt its politics to become one of them. What happens with this currently amorphous action plan will I think be the acid test for many of us.

  • Andrew Hornung says:

    Good letter. Don’t hold your breath.

  • Jim McNeill says:

    Despite everything, I will remain in the Labour Party for a while longer yet, and, as a non-Jewish Socialist,s continue to support the work of the JVL.

  • Philip Ward says:

    Solidarity to Adam Hurst, but I fear that with a biography like that, he stands no chance of being “consulted and involved”!

  • The Labour Party would do itself no harm by just learning some good manners when dealing with its members. It wouldn’t kill them to at least acknowledge the email.

  • Annie Weatherly-Barton says:

    Just wonderful to read about your journey Mr Hurst! Shalom

  • Martyn Meacham says:

    The zionist BoD won’t allow any voice but theirs to hold any weight. Starmer won’t support any other Jewish voice unless it is supported by the BoD.

  • Stuart Goodman says:

    I wish JVL luck in receiving a response from the Labour Party, and Adam even more luck in being accepted on to a Labour Party representative Group.

    I have read Adam’s bio. With no criticism or insult to Adam intended, it seems to me that, in order to seek admission to the elusive committee post, it is necessary to go to great lengths to emphasise one’s Jewishness. This should not be necessary.
    The fact that Adam is recommended by JVL should suffice.

  • Janet Crosley says:

    Good luck Adam Hurst. They need you.

  • It is true that I put my name forward for JfJP to nominate but that was done in jest! JVL should not welcome this nonsense of a Jewish Stakeholder Advisory Committee.

    It of course has nothing to do with opposing antisemitism, what there is that is and everything to do with putting a stamp of approval on a state that even Btselem now acknowledges is an apartheid state.

    You should not be complicit in this narrative

  • Emma Tait says:

    Excellent letter, and very pleased to read Adam’s biography.

  • steve mitchell says:

    The independence of the EHRC is now being questioned widely. Even the Guardian are publishing the words of its critics. Surely there must be an enquiry into the veracity of the EHRCs report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.

  • DJ says:

    As I have said before on this site the purpose of the plan is about defending Israel. The report which required such a plan is full of holes. The organisation which produced it has no credibility. The case for any investigation of antisemitism in the Labour Party at the behest of the CAA and the JLM should never have been accepted in the first place.

  • Jan Brooker says:

    Colin Challen. I wrote to the Labour Party several times, over my suspension and the information they sent me, and never had the courtesy of a reply. I applied for an SAR, and after 6 months received a partial one. Rudest organisation I have ever dealt with; worse than firms of Bailiffs, not known for their *customer service*.

  • George Wilmers says:

    In answer to Tony Greenstein I think his fears of JVL becoming complicit in this Jewish stakeholders’ charade are quite unfounded, if only for the reason that it quite obviously cannot, and will not, be accepted by the BoD, and consequently by the Labour leadership. For out of political necessity neither of these latter parties can possibly agree to allow JVL to be perceived as anything other than a band of illegitimate “fringe Jews” or worse. That is why they resolutely refuse to engage in any rational discussion with JVL. For the very moment that they admit JVL and its members as legitimate interlocutors, their defence of the apartheid regime, which depends solely on the repression of rational discourse, becomes hopeless.

    So, Tony, fear not, the difference between you, who proposed yourself in jest, and JVL who proposed Adam Hurst in sobriety or otherwise, is purely academic.

  • Linda says:

    @ Steve Mitchell

    I think the Forde Inquiry MIGHT sink the credibility of the EHRC, its report and the IHR definition of antisemitism in one fell swoop. Perhaps that’s why the publication of the Forde Inquiry report has been so delayed?

  • Alan Stanton says:

    Replying to Jan Brooker and Colin Chalen,

    A friend of mine had a similar experience with a Subject Access Request (SAR) to the Labour Party.

    My friend submitted the request in November 2019. After many months hearing nothing and despite several polite reminders to the Party, in May 2020 my friend wrote to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

    ICO contacted the Labour Party. In June 2020 the Party emailed my friend four encrypted files only three of which could be opened. Those contained hundreds of pages of irrelevant stuff. But not the specific and limited information requested.

    In September 2020 my friend wrote again to ICO and to the Labour Party explaining the problem. They had an apology from the Party for the delay in sending the information requested.

    In November 2020 another set of documents were emailed to my friend by the Labour Party. Again these did not contain the information requested.

    In December 2020 having seen a positive Labour Party online Zoom event, my friend wrote again. That email was neither answered nor acknowledged.

    It is clear that as well as breaking its own rules and damaging the trust of its members, the Labour Party is breaking the law.
    _________________________

    ‘Which’ website page about SAR – https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-do-i-make-a-subject-access-request

  • Emma G. says:

    It says something when a balanced letter like the one written above by co chairs of Jewish voice for labour doesn’t even merit a response.Its wrong and depressing that this is the attitude and that a balance of Jewish views are not being sought.At a time when we really need an excellent opposition, I’m afraid I find the current labour opposition lacking in so many ways.

  • DJ says:

    This plan is designed to attack critics of Israel. It has nothing to do tackling antisemitism through any meaningful educational programme for the party membership. The idea that it represents a means to address any other forms of racism is laughable. The membership and affiliated organisations should reject it if the NEC is unwilling to put it in the shredder, where it belongs.

Comments are now closed.