Why won’t Open Labour respond and withdraw its unfounded allegation?

 

On 27 February we reposted on our website an article published by Open Labour under the title “A Plan for Decency in the Labour Party”. It contained an unfounded and indeed thoroughly objectionable accusation against JVL which we drew attention to.

On 9th March we wrote formally to Open Labour asking them to remove the objectionable allegation. Despite sending a reminder on 17th March, we have had no response.

Our objection was to this paragraph

“The concern that Labour should not be prevented from engaging with smaller groups within a minority group has been addressed by making clear that this is meant to only prevent engagement with fringe groups that are not committed to non-discrimination, such as Jewish Voice for Labour.”

We said of it:

We appear to be accused as Jews of condoning discrimination aimed at Jews, a quite extraordinary accusation. JVL has well over 1000 members with several hundred full Jewish members: all our Committee members and officers are Jewish.Every one of these Jewish members has family experience of antisemitism, in many cases a direct experience of the Holocaust or other murderous horrors. Several of our members have met direct discrimination in the UK. You are in fact singling out a specific group of Jewish Labour Party members to be ignored, itself highly discriminatory.

The full text of our letter to them is posted below.

From: Jenny Manson <[email protected]>
Sent: 09 March 2020 12:19
To: [email protected] <[email protected]>
Cc: Leah Levane <[email protected]>; [email protected] <[email protected]>
Subject: A Plan for Decency

Dear officers of Open Labour,

We are writing as co chairs of Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) to ask you to remove the following sentences from your article on  A Plan for Decency in the Labour Party  and from Paragraph 13 of the Plan itself.   These read respectively:

“The concern that Labour should not be prevented from engaging with smaller groups within a minority group has been addressed by making clear that this is meant to only prevent engagement with fringe groups that are not committed to non-discrimination, such as Jewish Voice for Labour.”

“Labour should engage with other appropriate representative bodies (especially where discriminated against groups do not have a group that is affiliated to Labour). This should include smaller groups within discriminated against groups but it should not include engagement with fringe groups that are not committed to nondiscrimination, such as Jewish Voice for Labour.”

These are deeply offensive statements made more so by  the context, the assumption that we not part of “Decency in the Labour Party”.  The suggestion that we are not committed to non-discrimination is shocking and personally insulting and many of our members have written to us or contacted you,  hurt and angry.

We appear to be accused as Jews of condoning discrimination aimed at  Jews, a  quite extraordinary accusation.  JVL has well over 1000 members with several hundred full Jewish members:  all our Committee members and officers are Jewish.   Every one of these Jewish members has family experience of antisemitism, in many cases a direct experience of the Holocaust or other murderous horrors.   Several of our members have met direct discrimination in the UK.  You are in fact singling out a specific group of Jewish Labour Party members to be ignored, itself highly discriminatory.

You may have not seen our statement of principles.  I attach that now.

JVL Statement of Principles | Jewish Voice for Labour

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) is a network for Jewish members of the Labour Party. Our political priorities are universal…

You will notice this next paragraph for example

“Our mission is to contribute to making the Labour Party an open, democratic and inclusive party, encouraging all ethnic groups and cultures to join and participate freely. As such we aim to strengthen the party in its opposition to all forms of racism including antisemitism, broadening the party’s appeal to all sections of British society. We take inspiration from the long history of Jewish involvement in the socialist and trade-union movements and in antiracist and antifascist struggles, including the anti-apartheid and civil-rights movements.”

Drawing on  our experience and knowledge or antisemitism and after consultation with Jewish academics who have made this their life work,  we have published a statement on  antisemitic misconduct.

We await confirmation that you have removed those  sentences.

Best wishes,

Leah Levane  and Jenny Manson
co chairs of Jewish Voice for Labour

 

Comments (19)

  • RC says:

    One thing we should not consider doing is to launch a complaint against the mendacious insolence of this clique – though they are plainly moving towards labelling us, collectively and individually, as a hate group, as is happening to Womans Place UK. These ‘legalists’ would no doubt thrive in the inquisitorial ambit of the Labour Party’s disciplinary manoeuvres – but natural justice cannot.
    McCarthyism and identity politics are converging in a profoundly antidemocratic manner. ‘Decency’ is now forming a new factional – and indecently persecutory – identity!
    Alas, a traditional debate is difficult to organise under coronavirus circumstances. So an online ‘event’ might be a better bet. Do they have a website on which this might happen? In any case, why do they not offer their analysis on (for example) this thread? Let us continue to challenge them in this regard.

  • Dorothy says:

    The lack of a response, even a holding reply, speaks volumes. If they were able to substantiate the allegation I’m sure that they would have replied!

  • Simon Dewsbury says:

    I’ve just left a message on their Facebook page expressing my horror at what they have said and asking for a response. The site says they normally reply within a day. We shall see.

  • Sean O'Donoghue says:

    Well done JVL. In response to RC above, all of the individuals and groups who shout “anti-semitism” have never engaged in any kind of public debate on the issue. Their way is to make unsubstantiated allegations, knowing the MSM will carry them, without any right to reply. This is “declarative” politics…( a term used by Shoshana Zuboff – The Age of Surveillance Capitalism – to define the new capitalism…by the time we get round to knowing what is happening and attempt to legislate or control it, it has moved on). Much churning of these anti-semititic slurs later, they have in fact become the new truth and normal. Why would anyone want to defend them in public when they are the new reality. I do think the legal system is the best and only place to challenge them…our side has had some success there over the years…but the costs might be prohibitive…

  • Rafi says:

    By the by who is this group and who compromises its membership?
    I wonder how members they have, who are their constituents and what is their constitution ?

  • John Goodman says:

    I’ve made a personal complaint via the ‘contact us’ page on their website

  • Jim Cohen says:

    How cowardly and discriminating of the Labour Party to bend like this to the cowardliness and discrimination of the Jewish establishment Board of Deputies in this way. I am more and more reconsidering my own membership of the Labour Party but for now will send an email stating my strong support for the JVL for the above letter and for the JVL’s undiscriminating and brave work for the proper independence of the Labour Party .

  • Stephen Williams says:

    Congratulations JVL; a badge of honour. How frightened they must be of you.
    By the way, how many members has JLM got? how many are Jewish? how many are members of the Labour Party? What is the source of its funding?

  • Philip Ward says:

    I’ve never heard of them. Let’s keep it that way…..

  • Miriam Yagud says:

    I agree with RC, we need to draw them out into the open, not allow them to cower behind the secrecy of a disciplinary process.
    But they are seriously defaming JVL and it’s members.

  • Anne Tanner says:

    Totally agree, as someone who has been threatened with expulsion for opposing the cruelty that is so often meted out by the Israeli government.

    I have refused the summons!! (age and health reasons – 77 and congenital heart failure).

    My daughter has phoned the LP and given them a piece of her mind.

    She’s a nurse and is very good at doing that!!

  • Harriet says:

    Thanks for posting this statement. I hope you will soon receive a reply

  • Mervyn says:

    I always look to JVL for accurate and definitive responses to Jewish questions. Stand loud and proud as always, we have nothing to fear from the truth.

  • RC says:

    Google “Omar Salem discrimination” and you will quickly find a “comment ” facility. Jenny and Leah’s response is an excellent response on behalf of JVL; but the whole fifteen demands and the purported justifications against objections are pervaded by the McCarthyite totalitarianism which makes it impossible to distinguish good faith from bad faith. Every single one of them cries out for stern and thorough-going critique. Insofar as we have time (and completing the refutation of the second JLM submission to the ECHR must take a far higher priority. – “Open”Labour by comparison is less than a minnow) we can easily avail ourselves of their comment facility. It must not be said that any of their 15 proposals is left unscathed. The banner of ‘decency’ in its very vagueness gives scope for all. manner of ill-founded charges. Even the apparently innocuous suggestion that there be same sex prosecutors (presenters, investigators) opens the field for disputes: same sex as complainant or as respondent….? Support for the wretched IHRA definition – which even the Community Security Trust has replaced by a far more traditional version – is enough to damn the whole project. Look for yourselves and submit a comment – which we are assured will in principle be welcomed….Without wishing to overload our Palestinian comrades – our latest correspondents, Hamish I believe – we should highlight the outrageous and disingenuous venom with which the JLM and the LP bureaucracy pursues the Palestinian people, we should emphasise their plight.

  • Margaret West says:

    This whole defaming of JVL appears to me to be both disgraceful
    and absurd.

    The reasoning that “JVL are not Jewish ” reminds me, as a Roman Catholic of
    the statement that “Roman. Catholics are not Christian” .. and worse. Of course this statement is, sadly, said of other Christians by Roman Catholics and this division has resulted in violence. Then there is the schism between Muslims – also with accompanying violence. I do realise that there are often political reasons for such division – but haven’t we had enough of this
    when we see the damage which has been done?

    JVL and other Jewish groups have been deliberately ignored and worse, defamed, and this should be put right.

  • Anti-fascist says:

    The JVL “not Jewish”?

    Stone me! Does that mean the Pope is not a Catholic?

  • Ant Aloy says:

    Dear JVL, Please continue the amazing work. Please challenge the appalling discrimination by the current government in Israel and particularly challenge the ridiculous accusation against JVL. Can JVL please go further and seek legal redress please?

  • Margaret West says:

    ” .. Stone me! Does that mean the Pope is not a Catholic? ..”

    Well he might be a Catholic but he’s certainly not a Christian!
    :- )

    All power to your elbow in your struggle against intolerance.

  • Sandra says:

    I’ve never heard of them but this is who they are:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Labour

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