Why we cannot support today’s CAA Rally

We note that the organisation that calls itself ‘Campaign Against Antisemitism’ (CAA) has arranged a rally, that it claims to be non-political, but which will take place just four days before the UK General Election. We seriously question its motives.

The main billed speakers at the CAA rally are known for their hostility to Labour.* Non-political? Where are the ‘non-political’ speakers known for their criticisms of the Conservative Party or even of the far right?  There are none.

Jewish Voice for Labour stands firmly against all forms of racism: antisemitism, Islamophobia, and racism towards Black and Asian people. We note with alarm the rise in antisemitic attacks and the broader rise of the far right, but also the normalisation of racist ideas and the othering of different communities. But over the last four years the CAA and others have instead concentrated their efforts on a concerted campaign to associate the Labour Party with antisemitism. They have chosen to minimise, if not ignore entirely, antisemitism, racism and Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and more widely. While specific attacks from far right groups have been mentioned by CAA, they have been treated as isolated incidents, rather than as part of a deeply worrying trend.

Thankfully Britain is currently one of the safest places to be Jewish. Long may this continue and improve. However, the London Bridge and other attacks make clear that comparatively safe is not safe enough. There are worrying and rising levels of racism of all kinds, including antisemitism. All research evidence shows that the threat is overwhelmingly from the far right.  The CAA can obfuscate this clear fact only by rolling Israel-critical statements into its version of antisemitism.

Many of the most high-profile allegations against the Labour Party, have been shown to be spurious, as JVL has repeatedly exposed. For example,  Louise Ellman’s allegations about her treatment by her Liverpool Riverside CLP have also been comprehensively debunked. The Jewish Chronicle has been forced to publish a damning IPSO indictment of its misrepresentation of what took place in Riverside.

Selective reporting is rife. After the dreadful attack on November 29th on a Rabbi visiting the UK from Israel, Jeremy Corbyn not only expressed his horror at the attack, he also directly contacted Rabbi Gluck who heads up the Shomrim (an organisation that mounts volunteer Jewish civilian patrols in North London).  Rabbi Gluck welcomed the approach from the Labour leader and noted that Jeremy Corbyn was the only political leader to do so.  Curiously we did not see this reported in the CAA bulletin.

The campaign by CAA and others across all media has successfully established in the public mind the untruth that the Labour Party is a hotbed of antisemitism. Their “non-political” rally is yet another scarcely veiled attack on the Labour Party at this most political of times in this most political of atmospheres, when the country is at its most divided.

Jewish people share the same needs and concerns as all British citizens. Our shared Jewish experience highlights the importance of standing with all oppressed groups, who, like us, have also suffered centuries of abuse, discrimination, and murderous attacks – some of them from the same Nazi regime that murdered so many European Jews.  Today this must mean solidarity with Black, Asian and Muslim people, with disabled people, LGBT+ communities, and others facing discrimination. Seeing antisemitism as somehow a worse form of discrimination than all others deprives us of the strength that comes from wider solidarity.

This so called non-political rally is, in fact, a political rally against Labour. Labour offers the best hope for those suffering poverty, and for the regeneration of our public services. Labour’s policies offer the best way of removing the breeding grounds for all forms of racism, and for combatting the division between communities, especially those targeted by the far right. If you genuinely oppose all forms of racism, including antisemitism, you will be voting Labour on 12th December.

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* Advertised speakers include: Colonel Richard Kemp (retired), highly critical of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn and accused of serious levels of Islamophobia; Satish Shama, hostile to Labour for its stand in solidarity with the people of Kashmir and criticism of the Modi government; Fayaz Mughai, who has claimed – in contrast with Baroness Warsi – that the problems of Tory Islamophobia do not compare with antisemitism in the Labour Party; and Tracy Ann Oberman, the level of whose contributions is captured in her allegation that labour activists are “pretending to have lost family in [the] Holocaust to counter anti Semitism claims”.

#StopBBCBiasNow      #Jews4Labour      #VoteLabourHateRacism

 

Comments (5)

  • Rod Jones says:

    Political attacks, pays no tax.

    Maybe it’s time for yet another report to the Charities Commission.

  • Samantha Bentley says:

    The CAA along with LAAS JLM and LFI along with county groups have all long been known to be anti-Corbyn and the Labour party. They are shamefully using the fight against anti_Semitism to hide their own agendas which are right wing, Islamophobic and anti-Labour. JVL and the Labour party need to distance themselves as much as possible from these groups. I applaud you all for taking a stand yesterday

  • Isaac Kuhnberg says:

    The knives are out for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party – but then they have been out since 2015, when he was first elected leader. After the election of 2017, when he took away the Conservative majority, they were hidden for a time under cloaks and kept for stabbing in darkness. Other knives were wielded out in the open by former members of the party, who defected to the Liberal Democrats or took up posts gifted by the Tories. It is no secret that a groups of MPs within the PLP has been plotting his departure for years. They were only too happy to seize on the narrative that he is a friend of terrorists and an antisemite, and amplify it. It became a commonplace to say that he was unfit to be Prime Minister, repeated by among many others Jo Swinson. Disgruntled Corbyn-haters like Ian Austin and Ivan Lewis recommended that the electorate vote Conservative to prevent the dire prospect of a Corbyn victory from ever happening. Journalists of every stripe repeated the allegations of institutional antisemitism, including some from the Guardian, which prides itself on its defence of liberal principles like fairness and the right of reply. Significantly one of the few political figures who refused to join in the near universal chorus of disapprobation was the Tory John Bercow, who told Alistair Campbell that in the 22 years he had known Corbyn he had never caught a whiff of antisemitism. Bercow is of course Jewish, as are many of Corbyn’s closest advisors and thousands of his supporters. There are numerous videos available on youtube of Corbyn’s speeches and initiatives in support of the Jewish community. None of this was of any use in defending him against those like Margaret Hodge who publicly accused him in Parliament of being a ‘fucking antisemite’, for the simple reason that the same journalists who excoriated him never raised or examined this point, stating categorically that the negative account was true and just. Posters like myself who attempted to make points in his defence were silenced before our comments could be read. The detailed defence offered by Jewish Voice for Labour was ignored, and references to it often moderated. The significance of the Palestinian issue in this debate, if it can be called such when one side is silenced, was deemed irrelevant. So was the contribution of those opponents of his economic programme whoSe interests lay in protecting their wealth. The case was closed before it was ever opened. And now these same journalists raise a chorus of blame and recrimination that denies their own part in what happened and its unhappy outcome.

    My grandparents were murdered by the Nazis: it disgusts me that their sufferings and those of millions of other persecuted Jews should be used to bring down and tarnish an honourable man who has fought against all forms of racism, including antisemitism, all his political life. That is the way the world is now, in this century. Those who endorse it by turning a blind eye to justice do so at their own peril.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Excellent post Isaac.

  • Leah Levane says:

    Thank you Isaac. A superb, heartfelt but still very worrying summary.

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