Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour a crucial ally in the fight against antisemitism

Jeremy Corbyn. ‘Labour governments introduced both the anti-racist and human rights legislation of the 20th century and the 2010 Equalities Act.’ Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty

JVL Introduction

A letter published today by the Guardian rebuffs claims by MPs defecting from Labour that the party led by Jeremy Corbyn is “institutionally racist”.

Two hundred and one Jewish members and supporters of the party, including film director Mike Leigh, writer and broadcaster Michael Rosen, author Gillian Slovo and Walter Wolfgang, 93, who fled Nazi Germany as a child, note the rise of reactionary, racist ideologies across Europe. They decry the “disproportionate focus on antisemitism on the left, which is abhorrent but relatively rare.”

They point to Jeremy Corbyn’s lifetime record of campaigning for equality and human rights and argue that Labour government led by Corbyn “will be a powerful force to fight against racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.”

The signatories, among them many eminent academics, urge “all who wish to see an end to bigotry and racism, and who seek a more just society, to give their support to the Labour Party.”

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Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is a crucial ally in the fight against antisemitism

Over 200 Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party sign a letter urging that anyone seeking an end to bigotry and racism should back Labour and Corbyn

Guardian Letters
20 February 2019

You report (19 February) that a number of implacably anti-Corbyn MPs have left the Labour party alleging a failed “approach to dealing with antisemitism”, with Luciana Berger criticising Labour for becoming “sickeningly institutionally racist”.

We are Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party concerned about the current rise of reactionary ideologies, including antisemitism, in Britain and elsewhere across Europe.

We note the worrying growth of populist rightwing parties, encouraging racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism. In Britain the far right is whipping up these prejudices, a threat that requires a resolute and energetic response. But instead we have seen a disproportionate focus on antisemitism on the left, which is abhorrent but relatively rare.

We believe that the Labour party under the progressive leadership of Jeremy Corbyn is a crucial ally in the fight against bigotry and reaction. His lifetime record of campaigning for equality and human rights, including consistent support for initiatives against antisemitism, is formidable. His involvement strengthens this struggle.

Labour governments introduced both the anti-racist and human rights legislation of the 20th century and the 2010 Equalities Act. A Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn will be a powerful force to fight against racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.

It is in this context that we welcome the Labour party’s endorsement of freedom of expression on Israel and on the rights of Palestinians. Labour is correct to recognise that while prejudice against Jewish people is deplorable, criticism of Israel’s government and policies can and must be made.

We urge all who wish to see an end to bigotry and racism, and who seek a more just society, to give their support to the Labour party.

Prof Elizabeth Dore
Prof David Epstein
Prof Gene Feder
Mike Leigh
Prof Mica Nava
Prof Michael Rosen
Prof Donald Sassoon
Prof Avi Shlaim
Gillian Slovo
Prof Annabelle Sreberny
Walter Wolfgang
Prof John Yudkin
John Abraham
Kate Adams
Rebecca Amiel
Ruth Appleton
Tasha Barlow
Graham Bash
Dr Shereen Benjamin
Jeremy Bernhaut
Frances Bernstein
Dr Jon Berry
Cllr Jo Bird
Rica Bird
Frank Black
Jay Blackwood
Pamela Blakelock
Alice Bondi
Tony Booth
Jenny Malca Brown
Peter Buckman
Andy Burkitt
Erica Burman
Samuel Burrowes
Keith Burstein
Rose Challands
Brian Chinnery
Eve Cina
Andrew Clifford
Emma Clyne
Jonathan Clyne
Mike Cohen
Ron Cohen
Amnon Cohen
Ruth Cohen
Kathy Cohn
Rita Craft
Judith Cravitz
Prof. David Curtis
Mike Cushman
Miriam David
Steven Davidson
Hilary De Santos
Alan Deadman
Greg Douglas
Elizabeth Dresner
Linda Edmondson
Ros Edwards
David Einhorn
Mark Elf
Michael Ellman
Prof Debbie Epstein
Javier Farje
Pia Feig
Jack George Field
Arye Finkle
Nick Foster
Roisin Francis
Esther Freeman
Debbie Friedman
Danny Friedman
Kenny Fryde
Carolyn Gelenter
Mike Gerber
Vicki Gilbert
René Gimpel
Prof. Jane Ginsborg
Claire Glasman
Murray Glickman
David Goldberg
Paul Goldman
Simon Goodman
John Goodman
Peter Gorbach
Tony Graham
Rosalind Grainger
Alice Gray
Ilse Gray
Elleanne Green
Heinz Grünewald
Ash Hardenne
Alison Harris
Jeanne Heal
Prof Susan Himmelweit
Andrew Hornung
Katharine Hoskyns
Mike Howard
Jonathan Hyams
Selma James
Lin James
Riva Joffe
Ann Jungman
Michael Kalmanovitz
L Sasha Kaplin
Stephen Kapos
Jenny Kassman
Richard Keidan
Monash Kessler
Jenny King
Godfrey King
Katherina Kohler
Simon Korner
Dr Agnes Kory
Debbie Krantz
Richard Kuper
Jon Kurta
Prof Frank Land
Michelle Laufer
Pam Laurance
Daniel Laverick
Mike Layward
Dr Sydney Leaman
Joanna Leigh
Jessica Leschnikoff
Cllr Leah Levane
Rachel Lever
John Lipetz
Robert Lizar
Ruth Lukom
Simon Lynn
Deborah Maccoby
Dorothy Macedo
Nikki Mailer
Jenny Manson
Jessica Manson
Helen Marks
Stephen Marks
Gillian McCall
Jeff McCracken-Hewson
Terence McGinity
Ros Meadow
Rita Mendelson
Dr Heather Mendick
Angie Mindel
Prof David Mond
Diana Neslen
David Nissen
Gary Ostrolenk
Jonathan Parish
Susan Pashkoff
Helen Pearson
Jacob Prager
Caroline Raine
Reuben Ramsay
Roland Rance
Tom Reed
Jenny Richardson
Siôn Rickard
Prof Marion Roberts
Prof Jonathan Rosenhead
Benny Ross
Carolyn Roth
Richard Saffron
Esther Saraga
Ian Saville
Monika Schwartz
Josepha Scotney
Mike Scott
Amanda Sebestyen
Glyn Secker
Jenny Secretan
Irene Sedler
Marian Sedley
Ruth Selwyn
Brian Shade
Janet Silver
Liz Silver
Ludi Simpson
Pam Singer
Mark Smithson
Stephen Solley QC
David Sperlinger
Ruth Steigman
Dr Alexandra Stein
Adrian Stern
Martin Stevenson
Benny Talbot
Deborah Talmi
Inbar Tamari
Norman Traub
Tessa van Gelderen
Daniel Vulliamy
Brian Warshaw
Sam Weinstein
Charlotte Prager Williams
George Wilmers
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
Debbie Windley
Roy Wolfe
Miriam Yagud
Dr Gillian Yudkin

Comments (6)

  • Ellie Palmer says:

    Ellie Palmer Professor Emeritus of Law /Human Rights University of Essex.
    My decision to join the Labour Party coincided with Corbyn’s appointment as leader, my retirement and move to London from Essex. My academic legal work though not party political has always focused on comparative issues of socio economic rights -, public services etc. Shortly before retiring I published an edited collection Access to Justice: Beyond the Policies and Politics of Austerity with preface by Stephen Sedley and launched by Helena Kennedy. I grew up in Glasgow (the daughter of a Jewish refugee father and and my mother was the daughter of an Irish miner who came to Scotland before the First World. One could say a different socio economic grouping from the Jewish victims in this recent melodrama. I have been watching the manufactured crisis unfolding and I fully support your letter. I have always been angry and saddened by the unbalanced media coverage given to the melodrama but even more shocked by the support given by Tom Watson and Barry Gardiner in fuelling the flames. I would like to support your organisation in any way I can

  • Dr Brian Robinson says:

    Jonathan Pie: ‘I don’t believe that Labour has an antisemite at the helm, I believe they have something much, much worse — a socialist: a proper leftie! In their heads that’s far more dangerous.’

  • Dr Brian Robinson says:

    Professor Palmer, I loved reading that, many thanks. I too have been surprised at Tom Watson’s line, indeed I’ve written to him a few times to criticise it. I like Tom and in many ways admire him and voted for him as deputy, but on this issue he’s lost it completely. Perhaps it’s the old canny political bruiser coming out in him, redolent of the backroom stitch-ups in smoke-filled rooms, echoes of ditch Blair/crown Brown days (I doubt there’s ever been much love lost between Tom and Jerry). In 2015 I thought Watson could form a creative bridge between the radical Corbyn and the reactionary PLP, smoothing things along. I was wrong alas.

  • Professor pnina werner says:

    I support this letter. I am a member of the Labour Party. I to have been shocked by the way that criticism of Israel’s right- wing government led by Netanyahu is construed as anti-semitism.

  • Terence McGinity says:

    I was one of the Signatories to the JVL letter to the Guardian. I fully support its defense of the LP under the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. I re-joined the LP because of his Election and his record against racism of any kind. I consider him a principled politician and one who has consistently stood up for the Oppressed either at home or abroad. He has consistently stood against war and sought dialogue and peaceful reconciliation. There has been so much blood shed in recent decades including the blood of Palestinians and children of Yemen by UK sponsored Arms deals.
    I shall also be supporting Jackie Walker when she comes to face a LP Tribunal on March 26th. I consider it incredibly dangerous the current attacks on the LP with accusations of ‘institutional antisemitism’. It is entirely false and it plays into the hands of the Far Right who meantime are gathering force in the world. Lessons from Germany in the 30s must surely teach us this. ‘Corbynism’ is a threat to the Neo Liberal elite which engages huge resources into destroying it.
    My message to John MacDonald is that you cannot appease the Right. Every concession leads onto further attacks. They will not be satisfied till Corbyn and all that he represents falls. We must stand firm against these attacks and any witch hunts of members within our Party. I think of what Tony Benn would make of all this and am encouraged by his warmth, principle and humanity.
    Where real antisemitism or racism of any kind exists we will tackle it. But we must stand firm on our right to criticize Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians, its Nation State Law and brutality.
    ps. I think it is high time a TV media outlet for the Labour Movement
    including the many campaigning groups was created. How else to combat
    the appalling propaganda of MSM and the supposed ‘Neutrality’ of the BBC? There are many principled independent journalists, writers and film makers who would make such an endeavour very timely. At least, a discussion could be opened.
    T. McGinity

  • Ian Casrils says:

    And we must condemn Hamas as well

Comments are now closed.