In defence of Ken Loach

Jewish Voice for Labour finds it deeply regrettable that the Board of Deputies of British Jews is seeking to disrupt the work of a leading anti-racism football charity by demanding the removal of an internationally respected cultural figure as a judge for its children’s design competition.

Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) is under attack by the Board for choosing campaigning film-maker Ken Loach to help judge the charity’s 2020 Schools Competition. Thousands of young people in hundreds of schools across the UK take part in the project, designed to stimulate discussion and understanding about issues around racism. Winners are invited to an awards ceremony with special guests, including current and former professional footballers.

SRtRC Chief Executive Ged Grebby announced on Tuesday Feb 4 that Loach and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen were to be this year’s judges. Grebby commended both men as valued supporters of the charity, saying they were “ideally qualified” to help choose the most inspiring and original creative designs produced by young people on anti-racist themes.

However the Board of Deputies has challenged this appointment saying that Loach “is a poor choice to judge a competition on anti-racism.” The grounds for this extraordinary allegation against an anti-racist with Loach’s record have not been made public. We note however that the flurry of online abuse targeting Loach and Show Racism the Red Card since the Board’s intervention, has consisted mainly of unfounded (and potentially libellous) allegations of antisemitism or Holocaust denial. A scurrilous report in the Jewish Chronicle suggested that Michael Rosen too is an unsuitable competition judge, because he has rejected charges of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn.

We, like Michael Rosen and large numbers of other UK Jews, do not regard the Board of Deputies as our representative in political matters. It cannot claim to speak for all 300,000 of the UK’s diverse Jewish population, half of whom are not attached to the synagogues which make up the bulk of the Board’s members. Nor does it speak for the 40,000 or so strictly-orthodox Haredi Jews, many of whom dissent from the uncritical pro-Israel stance the Board typically expresses.

At a time when society is facing a real and rising threat of right-wing racism, including among football supporters, the Board of Deputies does a huge disservice to us all by pursuing its divisive campaign against sincere and committed anti-racists with whom it has a political disagreement. Such irresponsible behaviour damages the Board’s reputation.

Show Racism the Red Card has responded politely to the Board, saying it will review its choice of competition judges at its next committee meeting. Jewish Voice for Labour urges SRtRC to stand firm, and to uphold its invitation to Ken Loach. They can do so secure in the knowledge that they have the support of those who genuinely support their excellent work in helping young people understand and resist racism of all kinds.


Comments (53)

  • Brian Precious says:

    If the BOD keeps launching this kind of attack against people like Ken Loach and anti-racist children’s charities, they will find they have done themselves a disservice.

  • Emma says:

    I stand with you in defence of Ken Loach.
    Bullying and attacking people is not the way to behave in what is meant to be a democracy and a civilised society.

  • John says:

    The BoD is not doing the Jewish Community any favours by these ridiculous attacks against good people with a track record of standing up against racism and supporting the poor and under-privileged in society.

  • Stephen Mitchell says:

    Oh Dear. Does the BOD not realise the harm they are doing to the Jewish community. Their real enemies must be jumping with joy. The right will say this is an example of the power of the Jewish lobby . What are they saying about one of their own He is a second class Jew.? The BOD is creating antisemitism

  • Martin Golding says:

    The BOD’s attack on Ken Loach is not only contemptible, and potentially libellous towards a man of resolute integrity. Its behaviour – together with its insolent requirement that every candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party must subscribe to the BOD’s ‘Ten Pledges’ – both encourages the existing far-right antisemites who declare that ‘the Jews’ are the real rulers of the universe, and also contributes to the formation of others. This, together with its uncritical support for the extreme nationalism and neo-fascist tendencies of the Jewish state, makes the BOD part of the greatest danger to the well-being of Jews throughout the world. (I write as a Jew who, for nearly 55 years, has been deeply hostile to the conduct of the State of Israel towards the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine.)

  • TM says:

    Ken Loach. What a superb film maker going back to Cathy Come Home, Kes and more recent powerful, political films supporting the very oppressed in our society. Of course, this is not just philistinism; the BoD and JLM are sharply showing their class allegiance to the Establishment; to the Tory Party. I pointed this out in our CLP Nomination Meeting. They don’t like that.

  • Jay Kramer says:

    Standing with you in support of Ken Loach and Michael Rosen, both of whom have a lifelong commitment to challenging racism in all its forms. Let’s hope that Show Racism the Red Card stands firm in its decision

  • Benny Ross says:

    Surely it is time for those Jewish groups and individuals who are regularly slandered and dismissed by the BoD to make some kind of public demonstration of the fact that they (the Board) DO NOT REPRESENT US and have no right to bully unrelated organisations in this way. I suggest a large and visible lobby outside the BoD’s next meeting, seeking as much media coverage as possible. The van der Zyl regime are desperately trying to suppress the fact that we exist and that their supposed legitimacy has worn down to a threadbare shmutter. High time we put the record straight, in the full light of truth, with as much publicity as we can muster. Please organise it and I’ll be there!

  • Sabby Sagall says:

    The real reason the BoD accuses Ken Loach & Michael Rosen of antisemitism is that they are critical of Israel & supportive of a Palestinian rights. The BoD members clearly do not care about the ever-worsening plight of the Palestinians. It is they who are the real racists.

  • Mary Davies says:

    We must stand up forcefully to the right-wing, undemocratic, scurrilous BoD.
    How dare they criticise compassionate, caring Michael Rosen and Ken Loach who always stand up for the vulnerable.

  • Robert says:

    The constant attack on labour and supporters is building a resentment that didn’t exist before ! Support for the community is being eroded! Hate begets hate please stop !

  • Bronwen Williams says:

    Because he supports Palestinians basically. And Rosen too. They BoD are literally in danger of creating anti-semitism, except that most of the people they are attacking wouldn’t respond to this by sinking so low.

  • Graham says:

    I fully agree and have stated for a long time that the Jewish community must denounce the BoD who are creating real anti-semitism. They are biting the hand that feeds them attacking Corbyn and others who have spent a lifetime fighting for equality and respect for all.

  • Wendy Patterson says:

    Labour party members have had more than enough of these attacks on sound anti-racists as the vast majority of us proudly are. What are we going to do? – actually DO rather than agree with JVL’s excellent output and post on FB and twitter and get more and more angry. None of it seems to reach the mainstream media or the Labour Party – we need some organised and sustained action or we’re sunk.

  • Ewart FitzGerald says:

    Criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and the destruction of Palestinians’ houses, schools and olive trees is not antisemitism.

  • Steve Ascott says:

    Classic Gaslighting behaviour by the BOD

  • Mike Scott says:

    As I keep saying, we (and the Labour Party) need to start holding the BoD and their friends to account publicly, not just complain to each other when the same thing happens over and over again.

    It’s crystal clear that any Labour leader and anyone high-profile on the left who opposes their Ten Commandments will be attacked in exactly the same way as Jeremy Corbyn. At some point, we really will have to fight back!

  • christina says:

    This is surreal..

  • George Wilmers says:

    The traditional paradigm example of chutzpah is that of a boy who kills his parents and pleads in court for special consideration because he is an orphan. It seems that the BoD provides a splendid new example of the concept as it may be applied to an organisation:

    “An organisation claiming falsely to represent an ethnicity, which embraces a draconian and illogical definition of racism against that ethnicity, which it seeks hysterically to impose on all and sundry, while it tolerates in silence egregious examples of racism against another ethnicity amongst those it claims to represent”.

  • Carmel Cadden says:

    I’m astonished that the Board of Deputies is continuing its slanderous bullying in this way. It’s time to call them out for their hypocritical support of the racist state of Israel.

  • Allan Howard says:

    In the JC article linked to above it says the following:

    In 2017, Mr Loach sparked outrage at the Labour conference when he discussed questioning the Holocaust.

    He said: “History is for all of us to discuss. All history is our common heritage to discuss and analyse.

    “The founding of the State of Israel, for example, based on ethnic cleansing, is there for us to discuss… So don’t try to subvert that by false stories of antisemitism.”


    Now how on earth can what they quote Ken as saying POSSIBLY be interpreted as him ‘questioning the Holocaust’?! But the joke of it is that just shortly afterwards it says the following:

    Mr Loach later clarified his view, saying: “The Holocaust is as real a historical event as the second world war itself and not to be challenged…..’

    Well, THAT’s odd…… I just this moment did a search on the JCs website re >ken loach holocaustken loach holocaust<, and there were 'No Results'! I mean one would have thought the JC would have covered it at thhe time, and ESPECIALLY if it 'sparked outrage'! And I wonder who Ken later clarified his view to? Funny how the JC omits to mention who was 'outraged' AND who ken later clarified his view to!

    Apologies (I thought I'd finished this post), but it just occurred to me to do another search re just 'ken loach', just so as to be absolutely certain that the JC DIDN'T have any coverage of the 'outrage', and dozens of results came up, but there was absolutely nothing related. BUT, there were two articles – and I'm using the term very loosely! – from September 2017 during the LP conference, one on the 26th by Marcus Dysch, with the headline: 'The fringe has the momentum as farce and hatred go hand in hand at the Labour conference', and the other one on the 27th by Dave Rich, and headlined: 'Loach, Livingstone and the Holocaust: a study in slander'.

    Needless to say, the two 'articles' are BOTH black propaganda 'studies' in hate, and totally vile and despicable:

  • Allan Howard says:

    Just spotted this article on the JC website when I clicked on the link in the above article:

    Ninety-two per cent of Momentum members think Labour antisemitism ‘wildly exaggerated’, poll shows

    The article begins by saying the following:

    Members of Momentum – the pro-Corbyn campaign group within Labour – are more likely than other Labour members to think alleged antisemitism in the party was “wildly exaggerated” by the party’s opponents.

    A total of 73 per cent of Labour members agreed with the statement that Jew-hate in the party was “wildly exaggerated by right-wing media and opponents of Jeremy Corbyn”, a poll by Lord Ashcroft found.

    But the figure rose 92 per cent among Momentum members, just six per cent of whom felt antisemitism “was a real issue” in the party.

    BUT (and THIS is the point!), futher on in the article it says the following (predictably!):

    The Community and Security Trust’s Dave Rich, an expert in left-wing Jew-hate, shared the poll, saying it was “not hard to spot where Labour’s biggest problem of antisemitism denial is coming from”.

    So it would appear that 6 to 8% of Momentum members DON’T subscibe to JVL!

    NB And I wonder what ‘prompted’ Ashcroft to conduct such a survey!

    PS I just did a quick search to see how widely the poll – and the results! – were being reported in the MSM, and came across the following in the Daily Express:

    ‘Delusional!’ – Sickening poll shows how Momentum members REALLY felt about anti-Semitism

    Note who described them as ‘delusional’!

  • Rosie Brocklehurst says:

    In a just world, Ken Loach would take the BOD to court for its slanders. I and many others would contribute to a fighting fund. But the lies are too deep and the foaming at the mouth hypocrisy too widespread. I watched Trumbo last night again, about the MCarthy period in the USA. Very similar tactics used. Hedda Hopper reminded me of Margaret Hodge as she profited from the vituperative, poisonous lies she spread, wrecking lives. BoD’s attacks on a most wonderful humane and brave artist who has fought for the oppressed and against anti-Semitism and racism all his life, reflects the domination of the right wing establishment within the Jewish community and among the Board of Deputies. I agree with others. The Board has created a lack of trust in the wider community , so that when they actually tell the truth, they will not be believed. I have no time for them or the JC. The BOD does not represent the Jewish community and they themselves have built a climate of fear and hysteria. I will always fight anti Semitism as I have all my life. It is in my DNA. But the establishments behaviour will, I am afraid, ultimately, backfire.

  • Billy McChord says:

    Disgusted at the BoD attack on decent individuals including Ken Loach, Jeremy Corbyn and Michael Rosen. This is clearly an attempt to silence any critic of Israel’s foreign policy in Palestine. This will do nothing to halt the scourge of anti-semitism.

  • Tansy Feltis says:

    Ken Loach – NOT AN ANTI-SEMITE
    Can you STOP targetting the wrong people.
    Board of Deputies – if you represented me, I might take some notice of you. Please stop. You do not represent me, and further, you do not represent the views of the majority of Jews in the UK

  • Carmen Malaree says:

    This is outrageous. Now we have the BoDs interfering with decisions taken by every other institution in this country. I would beg Jewish and non-Jewish people to be careful when criticising the government of Israel. Israel is a country where Jewish people have diverse opinion about Israeli government policies. We must make sure that criticism is directed to the Israeli government and not the country as a whole unit. Governments come and go and not all Israeli governments have directed such a discriminatory legal, territorial and human rights behaviour against Palestinians.

  • Lyn Brandon says:

    Ken Loach is a leader in many fields. He is good and kind, campaigns for the poor and excluded and fights for social justice. What an honour to agree to the red card for racism request. Who are the BoD to make this an issue.

  • Jan King says:

    The Board of Deputies reminds me of an angry blind man lashing out in all direction at an imaginary danger.

  • Maria Werson says:

    Stop this slander and defamation of two men of great integrity. Corbyn and Loach have worked all their lives to speak for the oppressed and are DEFINITELY NOT racist. Wisdom and common sense have been lost to ignorance and vested interests. Better to question the motives and ideology of those who make these claims.

  • Allan Howard says:

    The BoD may be blind Jan, but they know exactly what they’re doing….. Trying to force the hand of a charity AND demonise and marginalise Ken. Under normal circumstances they would be condemned for harassment, but we don’t live in normal times, and the NeoCons have declared all-out war on the left and free-thinkers.

  • Pauline Lambert says:

    Could this possibly because like many people Roach is against a zionist state

  • Paula Harmer says:

    I am sick of the BoD holding us all to ransom. They speak for a small minority but try to infer they speak for all Jews. A slight change from A chief rabbi to THE chief rabbi is clearly intended to mislead. We cannot continue to allow them to level the charge of antisemitism at all and sundry like this!

  • Paul Browne says:

    The Board of Deputies are creating the very situation they supposedly want to protest about. Accusing internationally recognised fighters against racism like Ken Loach and Michael Rosen just makes the BoD a laughing stock.

  • Rebekah Hirsch says:

    The BoD are one organisation, they are not representative of my views nor those of the wider Jewish community. They are not an elected body and they have no authority to speak in this way. Michael Rosen and Ken Loach are respected figures, ideal choices to play the role for which they have been chosen.

  • Beverley Oldfield says:

    Please ensure that you continue to get this message across ✔️
    I remember teaching about this in the 80s & the 90s re football & racism & here we are again … ‘everything starts with language’

  • Shannon Coles says:

    Ken Loach and Michael Rosen are beacons of Hope.

  • Geoffrey Kerr-Morgan says:

    This is shocking attacking such longstanding anti racists, it also divides the anti racist and anti nazi movement at a time when Racism is on the rise. We need unity

  • Eve Turner says:

    This is so outrageous but not surprising. I agree with everyone who has said the BOD only speak for a minority of Jews. They certainly dont speak for secular, left wing Jews like me. We really need to build a bit of a movement to stop this.

  • Stuart Leaver says:

    He’s probably only about the nicest man in the universe !

  • JeAn Urquhart says:

    It is so important that you keep both Ken Loach and Michael Rosen as judges. I hope the Ctte do not give in to this outrageous bullying behaviour.

  • Lisa Willinson says:

    Thank you for taking this stance and defending Ken Loach and other anti racist activists. It seems to me that anyone who speaks out against the atrocities perpetrated by the Israeli state on Palestinians is now at risk of being accused of being anti Semitic. This is not the same thing and is silencing any discourse about the situation. I find it deeply troubling.

  • John Turner Temple says:

    I’m in full agreement with the Jewish Voice for Labour and it’s recommendation to urge SRtRC to stand firm, and to uphold its invitation to Ken Loach,
    The Board of Deputies of British Jews are doing the Jewish faith no favours in attacking a man that has only ever fort against racism and poverty by politicising a charity event.

  • Shosh Morris says:

    “Responded politely” to the BOD! Unbelievable, why are all these People, MPs – the 3 Labour Leadership contenders, journalists, too many to mention, down on their knees begging the BOD for forgiveness. When will they learn that appeasement doesn’t work. Spineless, frightened cowards. We need fighters to represent us. People who will stand up to these bullies.

  • David Bealing says:

    This ‘Witchhunt’ by the BoD is reminiscent of the committee that the right gangster politicians in the USA formed for their investigation called ‘Un-American Activities’ Thousands of decent left of centre people from all walks of life harassed into exile and in some cases committed suicide. Many were Jews, most opposed the rise of Fascism in America. Chief among the persecutors was Sen. Joe McCarthy and his lieutenant
    Richard M Nixon.

  • Lindsay Mclaughlin says:

    thank you for speaking up. the influence of this group, and their fairly open support of Boris Johnson concerns many of us, as the pledge they insist on Labour candidates endorsing amounts to saying criticism of Israel makes someone anti-semitic .

  • Martin Mitchell says:

    The two judges are outstanding champions of human rights and tremendous anti-racist advocates.

  • Vera Lustig says:

    I’d describe Ken as a deeply committed and compassionate socialist, who’s anti-Israel, not anti-Semitic. To me, there’s a huge difference.

  • Mike Perry says:

    The Board of Deputies Need to be shown the red card!
    They are bullies and they need to be challenged

  • June Tipping says:

    Ken Loach has shown so many people the faults of Governments who do not care. The Board of Deputies of British Jews should be proud that he is being recognised by being chosen for this task.

  • Raymond Kelly says:

    This is how the counter-deligitimisation network operates. They don’t just argue the case for Israel, they lobby behind the scenes to remove anyone who is in the way of their organisation’s objectives. Angela Davis was treated the same way when she received the prize for her civil rights work in the 70s. The full extent of this back-stairs lobbying for reasons that are nothing to do with the things being awarded needs to be exposed and condemned. The attempt to bring down Jeremy Corbyn is the most recent and prominent example.

  • Bee Warren says:

    All the hoo-har about anti-Semitism supposedly endemic in the Labour party is merely political demonization propaganda spread by right wingers – some Jewish some not – both from saboteurs within the party and obviously from the media backed opposition.
    The evidence that any racism or religionism has ever been approved by Labour party leaders just doesn’t exist. In the rare cases where a member has made clear anti-Semitic comments they have been dealt with.
    To criticise Israel’s bullying apartheid regime is what every decent human should be doing. They call the race card just to suppress truth being spoken. It has nothing to do with Jewish people nor ordinary Israeli people who do not like their own government’s theft of Palestinian homes and military attacks on unarmed Palestinian civilians.
    If I criticise despicable actions of the UK government – which I frequently do with a vengeance – does that make me anti Brit, anti myself?

  • Jeremy Bond says:

    As a non-jew I am sorry that this kind of thing is going on – With a Quaker background I am familiar with how harmful conflict can be, both to the recipient of attack but how destructive it can be for the attackers. Can the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Chronicle not know how much harm they are making … to themselves.

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