“Understanding Antisemitism”

David Evans’ invitation for party members to attend online sessions later this month on “Understanding Antisemitism” is generating considerable interest.

JVL considers education about antisemitism, and all forms of racism and discrimination, to be vitally important.

We hope that participation in the sessions, advertised in individual emails to members, will stimulate a thoughtful and informed conversation across the party.

Comments (41)

  • Andrew Hornung says:

    The invitation comes with what I call a stealth clause – an apparently innocuous “apple-pie” statement used to trap the listener. Evans says “I want to ensure that our Party is a welcoming environment for all our members.” Sounds fine, but what are the implications.
    Our members – the Party leader for one – include solid supporters of Zionism. Despite a shift in support from Labour to the Tories – something that happened pre-Corbyn – there are still many Jewish members in the Party, who are supporters of Israel. In discussions bearing on the nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict some of these members may feel challenged – and rightly so. The challenge to the long-held acceptance of Israel’s moral right to settle and expand – even the claim that Israel is a socialist beacon – may make many such members feel uncomfortable.
    Labour’s apparatus makes this discomfort into a crime. At best Evans’ insistence on a welcoming atmosphere is naive. More realistically, given his actions, it is an invitation to sign away the right to controversy.
    How about no criticism of Modi if Hindus are in the room. No criticism of Arab despots of immigrants from the Middle East are members. No criticism of Pakistan if ….

  • Paul Steele says:

    I am sure the same Evans directives to CLPs will apply here – no discussion, no debate.

  • John Bernard says:

    Do I detect irony there JVL? Anyone who thinks Labour may at some point be recaptured for the left and does not factor in the need to remove JLM as an affiliate is indulging in a political delusion

  • Yes well the JLM will be in a unique position to give a lecture on anti-semitism. After all their ‘sister parties’ the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz have just joined with the far and further Right in Israel to form a governing coalition.

    It is though arguable whether racists are the best people to lecture to people about racism or antisemitism

  • Betty Hales says:

    I shall try to attend the training with an open mind but I would feel easier about it if it was general anti-prejudice training. Then perhaps considering the range of different types of prejudices that exist. Considering that antisemitism is unique seems to me to be an example of prejudice. Perhaps that just demonstrates that I need the training!

  • My question for David Evans might be how can a statement be antisemitic when it is true and why did Starmer sack Rebecca Long Bailey for re-tweeting what was factually correct about Israeli and American cooperation in security forces. I would not expect any meaningful reply.

  • Jack T says:

    I hope participants in the event will point out to the JLM that antiSemitism is intrinsic to Zionism. It would also be worth mentioning to the JLM that they as a Zionist – racist movement, the JLM should not even be in the Labour Party, let alone preaching about antiSemitism.

  • John Thatcher says:

    Some hope!

  • Mark Bebbington says:

    I do hope that people find this helpful , even though I personally think that other groups ( such as JVL ) should be invited to provide an alternative , valid , Jewish pov to that of the JLM.

  • Ahmed Ali says:

    I want to know more about
    anti Semitic
    Semite
    Jewish
    What is Zionism etc…

  • John Webster says:

    This session is scheduled for one hour only. It is NOT education. It is training. They will tell us what they think antisemitism is. There will be NO discussion.

  • Judith Kelman says:

    Perhaps David Evans could make a start by NOT suspending Left wing Jewish members!

  • Joseph Hannigan says:

    We need this conversation asap.

  • Ranil Hewavisenti says:

    The session(s) are online but what’s the format? Are they interactive? Is there provision for a meaningful Q&A? Numbers per session? I fear this is NOT educational but politicised TRAINING for the unwashed devised from a Zionist perspective.

  • Mike Scott says:

    I can’t imagine that anyone going to this won’t be disappointed! Given who is doing the training, it’s most likely to be a “do what we tell you, or else” session. Not to mention “you keep quiet, we decide what is antisemitic or not……”

  • Jenny Mahimbo says:

    I will attend but will not open my mouth. I remember the JLM “training” that ambushed Jacquie Walker because she dared to challenge. I’m concerned that the “training” could be used as a vehicle for evidence for suspensions if members are allowed to comment. Of course I’m assuming that any discussion at all will be allowed. I expect it to be a top-down lecture, but you can’t critique the training if you don’t attend.

  • Bob Marsden says:

    The education will necessarily contain a definition and explanation of semitism. It will be instructive to see it published.

  • John Coates says:

    I am sure that the “trainers” will be providing a critical review of the increasingly-discredited IHRA “working definition of anti-Semitism”.
    I’m equally sure that they will be welcoming the recent Jerusalem Declaration as a refreshing development in the debate about anti-Semitism.
    ……… Perhaps, I’m not so sure !!

  • Rosie Brocklehurst Franczak says:

    I am not going to a training organised by someone who has far less knowledge and experience than I have on identifying anti-Semitism. Evans has behaved in grossly unjust ways & silenced debate within the whole membership, just as Ian McNichol did. I know that not just anyone can join the party (unlike the Tories), and rules of behaviour are required, but I would not put the ‘frightened rabbits’ who are in charge of the party, in the position of deciding what constitutes anti-Semitism and what does not, nor what rules have been broken by whom. They are just too inexperienced to make just decisions and I am sorry to say, seem to lack backbone. Moreover they have been so divisive by their actions in condemning people without trial and often with no justification, they have lost huge swathes of incredibly strong, active members-people who made the party financially strong and politically dynamic. Much positive energy has seeped out under Evans General Secretaryship and the leadership of Keir Starmer. While Jeremy Corbyn was politically innocent, made several mistakes (i.e. Salisbury) and was not artful enough to handle the totally hostile media, I fought for him because of his values. Polls tell us nobody knows what Labour stands for under Evans and the passionless novice Starmer. I am more annoyed than sad because they have constantly spewed venom at the membership ( a membership that Mandelson and Blair loathed and never wanted) while soft-soaping , almost doffing their caps at a vicious Government that is overseeing the rise of fascism in this country ( ie. the Home Office and its evil policies ) – most recently, whipping up abuse against the judiciary, the last barrier to barbarism, and against asylum seekers at Napier barracks. is this not reminiscent of hatred whippped up by the Nazis agains Roma, Jews and disabled people? This is becoming a country to be ashamed of. (an asidde: Thank God for people like Howard Beckett of Unite who took on Emma Barnett last night on Newsnight, resisting well in pleasant but firm ways, the disingenuous slime of vituperative bile that issues permanently from the mouths of Siobhan McDonagh and some deluded rich woman from Islington, called Margaret Hodge, against really good labour people. Those two really have been in the wrong party for far too long and I wish they’d leave.

  • Jem Coady says:

    Only one way to find out. It will be interesting to compare the Evans approach to understanding anti semitism with the excellent JVL training sessions from a couple of years ago. I suspect there may be subtle differences. A little less interaction, I suspect.

  • Rosa says:

    Training for Labour Party members only? Well that cuts out quite a few of JLM for which, unlike JVL, one has to be neither Jewish nor a Party member to join. Why has JVL not been invited to be co-presenter of sessions? Think I can work out the answer to that one

  • This is a highly irresponsible statement.

    The purpose of this ‘training’ is not to educate people about anti-Semitism, as if you need educating anyway, but to ensure that people are warned off supporting the Palestinians.

    The JLM is the ‘sister’ party (its description) or the overseas branch of the Israeli Labor Party which has just gone into a coalition with 3 far-Right anti-Palestinian parties.

    Rather than legitimising the JLM you should be calling them out as a bunch of hypocritical red necks.

    It is also irresponsible of you as the session will be recorded and this will be used against people, as it was with Jackie Walker, for future disciplinary action. The chat will be turned off so there will be no discussion.

    Have those who issued this statement have taken leave of their senses?

  • Jackie Walker says:

    Going alonf to this session can only help people whose last thought is equality for all

  • Diana Kornbrot says:

    Dialogue is a wonderful thing
    Attendees who are memI would be very happy if jewish organisations or people with alternative views of antisemitism could put in statement ahead of session
    eg JVL, Jews for justice, Jewish Labour members who have been disciplned for supposed anti-semitism
    I would like to be clear if zoom session is open to chat, Q&A and discussion. Even if not, people who view JLM defintion with ‘unease’ should attend so that any criticism is well-informed

  • DJ says:

    This is just another opportunity for the JLM to promote its anti Palestinian views.We all know it subscribes to the bogus IHRA definition of antisemitism which is designed to shield Israel from criticism. We should not legitimise this organisation by participating in this so called”training”session. What it describes as antisemitism is often critical actions or statements about the Israeli settler colonial regime it supports.

  • Martin Langley says:

    Why does it take 50 Zionists to change a lightbulb?

    – One to change it and 49 to complain about Anti-semitism

  • Paul M Seligman says:

    So many great comments here. As Tony Greenstein points out, it is a trap. If you are allowed to make any comments or post in chat at all, which is not clear, any hostility to the Zionist views of JLM will be used to mark your card and quite likely result in disciplinary action. It’s quite Stalinist in its concept of Training. Luckily, the LP can’t take people off to re-education camps. But it can drive them out of the party and indoctrinate the rest.

  • Carole Vincent says:

    Thank you for this response. I will of course attend & send you comments on the session.

  • Anne Mitchell says:

    I’m surprised, and I have to say shocked, that JVL isn’t recommending boycotting this ‘training’. Training provided by an avowedly Zionist and hence racist organisation is clearly unfit to provide antiracist training of any kind. In not recommending boycotting this training JVL is in danger of being perceived to endorse it.

  • Stephen Flaherty says:

    OK, I can see three areas of dispute:

    1) The IHRA definition of antisemitism vs the Jerusalem definition;
    2) Language and antisemitism with regards to Israel. Is it OK to say that Israel is a racist State, as it clearly is? Can the words “Zionist” and “anti-Zionist” be used to describe Israeli Nationalists (and their supporters) and those who oppose them? If not, what term should be used (all alternatives – including “Israeli Nationalist” – would seem to present some problems)? Or is this sort of criticism forbidden?
    3) Given that this is something of a political and ideological minefield, to what extent will allowances be made for what we might call inadvertent use of, for example, antisemitic tropes? And who gets to decide whether or not a criticism is an antisemitic trope or a legitimate criticism? Many antisemitic tropes are quite broad and all-encompassing or, at least, can be interpreted so. So, who does the interpreting?

    I’ve signed up for this (and did so before reading JVL’s comment), but I admit it was more along the lines of a reconnaissance, rather than actually expecting to hear something useful. As others have commented, with only an hour given and potentially hundreds of members attending, it looks unlikely that there will be an actual discussion of these issues, just exposition by self-appointed experts, which we must accept as Gospel.

  • Jack T says:

    Training as in Uighur “training”?

  • If anyone insists on going to this ‘training’ ie indoctrination session, perhaps they could ask how the JLM reconciles their opposition to anti-Semitism with their ‘sister party’ the Israeli Labor Party going into coalition with 3 far-Right parties. The most egregious of them is Yisrael Beteinu, led by Avigdor Lieberman.

    Below are some of his most outrageous quotes as taken from Middle East eye https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/avigdor-lieberman-16-his-most-outrageous-statements

    “The vision I would like to see here is the entrenching of the Jewish and the Zionist state…. I very much favour democracy, but when there is a contradiction between democratic and Jewish values, the Jewish and Zionist values are more important.”

    “Those who are with us deserve everything, but those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an axe.”

    “World War II ended with the Nuremberg trials. The heads of the Nazi regime, along with their collaborators, were executed. I hope this will be the fate of the collaborators in [the Knesset].”

    “Civil marriage is a very serious problem. I think that even the religious understands that we must look for some kind of a solution because we have some contradictions. I’m sure there are many solutions.”

    “We must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II. Then, too, the occupation of the country was unnecessary.”

    “It would be better to drown these (Palestinian) prisoners in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world.”

    “I’ve always been controversial because I offer new ideas.”

    At least we can agree on the last statement

  • George Wilmers says:

    The justified criticisms raised by Tony Greenstein and others above need urgently to be addressed by JVL. The bland JVL statement looks exactly like a formulation produced by a committee which couldn’t agree on any coherent response. What legal guarantees are being given that those who actively participate in this obvious indoctrination session will not suffer the same fate as Jackie Walker?

    I have been trying to think of an comparably absurd hypothetical “training session” from some unrelated domain. The best I can imagine is a training session in “Understanding Science” by the Anti-Vaxx Movement with Andrew Wakefield in the chair.

  • Greg Douglas says:

    Tony Greenstein is quite right.This session is for the purpose of ensuring that any criticism of Israel or opposition to Zionism is defined as Antisemitism and to ensure that the IHRA document is fully accepted. I regard the JLM or Paole Zion(it’s correct name) as the voice of the Israeli Embassy inside the Labour Party as the previous ambassador Mark Regev intended it to be.Self determination for Palestinians will not be on the agenda. Attendees should propose that the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism should replace the flawed IHRA document.

  • Margaret West says:

    Well done those volunteering to attend – they need to be
    “as wise as serpents as innocent as doves” to survive.

    I wish I had the energy to attend – since the IHRA is now (according to official guidelines?) NOT the official
    definition of AS but pushed into appendix along with Chakrabarti report it should not take precedence over
    latter.

  • Sabine Ebert-Forbes says:

    Last year I was very fortunate to have been accepted onto a 4 week workshop on Antisemitism during TWT month last year. The course was facilitated by two brilliant tutors called Eran and Keziah. I have learned a lot.
    I had two invites from Mr Evans too, one as a ‘role holder’ and one as a member. And I share the concerns everyone else has raised. I will not attend Mr Evans’ attempt at pulling the wool over our eyes (sorry training, slapped wrist), but I wonder what he and his mates would make out of suggestion to bin IHRA definition that is not working anyway and replace it with the Jerusalem declaration.

  • John Bowley says:

    While I accept the informed concerns of colleagues who have posted here, I wholly trust Jewish Voice for Labour. JVL is always correct and careful. JVL’s position on anti-racism training is open to unfair criticism from Zionists, the establishment media and the plethora of bullying organised from the right in general and from the right-wing racist government of Israel in particular. Racism training by the Jewish Labour Movement is like a sick joke. It says plenty about the low morals of the Starmer-Evans dictatorship. This is my personal opinion. I do not have any position of responsibility.

  • Pamela Blakelock says:

    Boycotting will be useless. Disagreeing will promote suspension. I will go purely to observe unless I think raising questions will NOT result in suspension.

  • Ted Alleyne says:

    I would suggest attending the training before passing judgement on it.

  • Tom Loeffler says:

    I have booked to attend the JLM anti-semitism awareness event on 14 June. I have no illusions about the JLM’s attitude, but I feel that only by attending – and providing full and honest feedback afterwards – can I adequately support the cause of lasting peace, freedom and equality for all in Israel/Palestine. I invite comrades to do likewise: together we can perhaps achieve what individually may seem out of reach.

  • Tony Booth says:

    There is always context. JVL’s position on antisemitism education and the form it should take have been made abundantly clear on this website. The missing advice in this announcement is that it would be unwise to post a question or comment during the session because on past form JLM do not respect confidentiality and we know our Labour administration are on the look out for excuses to continue the purge of members on the left. The refusal to return the whip to Jeremy stands as a constant reminder and threat for the membership. But a collection of well informed responses to the sessions will be a valuable political document and I urge those posting here and others reading the posts to make their contribution.

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