I have signed this statement that attempts to address the problems of antisemitism on the left as well as stop concerns about it being used to silence important debates we need to have about Israel and Palestine. If you agree please fill in the form beneath the statement to add your name. I will pass it on.
We are Labour Party members who want to see the party and wider labour movement take seriously our responsibility to confront anti-semitism and other forms of bigotry.
The problem with anti-semitism on the left is not a few ill-chosen words. It is linked to hostility to the Jewish-background people of Israel and Israel’s right to exist as an independent state. This political hostility – which is quite distinct from justified opposition to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians – has in some cases become bound up with attitudes towards Jewish identity and Jewish history, in part inherited from Stalinism, which have anti-semitic implications.
Substituting the word “Zionists” for “Jews” does not make the problem disappear. An “anti-Zionism” which erases the experience of oppression, persecution and genocide which led many Jews to adopt nationalist politics, and the affinity which most feel with Israel, however critical of its government they are, will always have a tendency towards hostility not merely to Zionist ideas, but to Jewish people.
The left needs to push out conspiracy theories and narratives presenting Palestine/Israel as “good people” vs “bad people”. It must support the Palestinians’ struggle against Israeli occupation, but also advocate self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis and reconciliation between them.
We must fight against right-wingers in the party cynically exploiting these real issues to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and derail our efforts to revitalise and transform Labour. We will take no lectures on fighting racism from the sewer of bigotry that is the Tory party and Tory press.
We oppose calls to further empower unaccountable elements of the Labour bureaucracy, particularly the “Compliance Unit” which has attempted to persecute the left, to suspend and expel members. We support democracy and due process. In any case this problem must be addressed *politically*, through discussion and education. That requires an atmosphere of free speech and debate, where those raising concerns of anti-semitism are taken seriously; where criticisms of Israel are not automatically shouted down as anti-semitic; and where the discussion is not manipulated for factional purposes. We call for Labour Party and other labour movement organisations to organise such discussions.
Only such work of political discussion and education can root out anti-semitism on the left.
Daniel Randall, Islington South and Finsbury CLP, RMT activist
Rhea Wolfson, Scottish Young Labour Women’s Officer, Scottish Labour Young Socialists co-chair
Omar Raii, UCL Labour Treasurer, NUS national executive-elect
Ben Towse, UCL Labour Campaigns Officer and Horsney and Wood Green CLP
Nik Barstow, Secretary Stretford BLP, Secretary Momentum Manchester &Trafford
Maisie Sanders, Gloucester CLP Youth Officer
Jamie Green, Goldsmiths Labour Students chair
Anita Downs, Lewisham East CLP, Lewisham Unite health secretary
Stephen Wood, Wakefield CLP, Wakefield District Union GMC delegate
Andy Warren, Greenwich and Woolwich CLP and King’s College Labour outreach officer
Esther Townsend, Lewisham West CLP, Bexley Local Government Unison Labour Link Officer
Mark Crawford, UCL Labour, UCLU Postgrad Officer-Elect etc
Ricky-Lee Cooke, Ashfield CLP
Evan Jones, Chair, Chilwell, Attenborough & Toton Branch, Broxtowe CLP
Simon Cross, Broxtowe CLP
Joe Baxter, Broxtowe CLP
Ruth Cashman, Lambeth Unison secretary, Tooting CLP
Jason Hill, Stoke North CLP
Luke Neal, Manchester Labour Students
Dr Pete Campbell, Newcastle East CLP
Alex Stuart, Basingstoke CLP, Surrey Labour Students Secretary
Vijay Jackson, Hastings and Rye CLP, BAME Officer of Edinburgh Labour Students
Kieran Miles, Unite
Jade Baker, Lewisham Deptford CLP and Assistant Secretary, Lewisham National Union of Teachers
Alan Fraser, Chair, Southampton Momentum, Southampton Test CLP, and GMB Regional Education Officer (Southern Region)
Pete Radcliff, Broxtowe CLP
Tom Harris, Lewisham West and Penge CLP
Dr. Christian Emery, Leyton and Wanstead CLP
Martin Ohr, Leeds North CLP
Ronne Randall, Rushcliffe CLP
Marie Harrington, Twickenham CLP
Liam Liburd, Sheffield Hallam CLP
Dave Kirk, Leeds West CLP
Barnaby Marder, Richmond Park CLP
Max Munday, Sheffield Central CLP, Momentum Sheffield steering committee
Daniel Nichols, TULO Romford CLP
Tom Roberts, Chair of Beeston Central and Rylands, EU Referendum Co-ordinator, Broxtowe CLP
Michael Teece, Gedling CLP
Cllr Mike Rowley, Oxford East CLP, Cabinet Member, Oxford City Council
Madeleine Buxton, Bury South CLP
Ed Whitby, Newcastle East CLP, Momentum National Committee and Unison Labour Link officer
Yoni Higgsmith, Barnet CLP, J-voiceUK