Fighting antisemitism

Leaked Labour report shows two scandals

Much comment on the leaked 850-page Labour Party report leaked on 12 April has focused on its extensive and vivid documentation of the already-known fact that from 2015 the hold-overs from the Blair-Brown era in the Labour Party machine were viciously and unscrupulously hostile to - indeed out to sabotage - the Labour Party's new elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and to more or less anyone "left" or Corbyn-supporting. But the report is entitled “The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014-2019”, and that, too, deserves analysis. At the moment, it...

Taking the lid off

Some issues emerge clearly from the leaked Labour Party report on its Governance and Legal Unit's handling of antisemitism and other issues. 1. The remnants of New Labour, entrenched in the party machine, hated any attempt, however modest, to move the party to the left. They were opposed to Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham as well as Corbyn. They were virulently hostile to even minimally left-wing policies. 2. They preferred a Tory government - even under Johnson and his hard Brexiteers - to a Labour victory under Corbyn. In a kind of "Third Period Blairism", this was a case of "After Boris our...

Combatting antisemitism within the revolution

“Bolshevism has made Russia safe for the Jew. If the Russian idea should take hold of the white masses of the western world, then the black toilers would automatically be free,” wrote the Jamaican-American author Claude McKay in September 1919. By contrast, journalist and playwright Isaac Babel’s description of antisemitism in the Red Army in the years immediately following the October Revolution led him to ask the question: “Which is the Revolution and which the counter-revolution?” Echoing Babel’s question, the writer Ilia Ehrenburg described his experience of waiting to vote in the...

The politics of Jewish victimisation

Orthodox Jews in the New York metropolitan area alone have been the victims of no less than a dozen attacks in the last few weeks. Women have been smacked across the face, spat upon, and had their wigs ripped off. Men have been assaulted with chairs and one whacked so hard with a brick that he lost all his teeth. A woman and her child were pelted with eggs, another mother beaten with her child in tow. Jews have been harangued and baited on public transportation. Jews have been targeted in the streets, in their houses of worship and online. And in the most dramatic attacks, three people were...

Other motions not passed - AWL conference 2019

Motions on left antisemitism, the Hijab in schools, and social security and Labour's policy, were all submitted to AWL conference 2019. The conference decided that the first of these motions - on left antisemitism - should not be voted on, after a debate; the second, on the Hijab in schools, fell; the third - on social security - were not voted on, as decided before any debate.

The politics of Jewish victimisation

Orthodox Jews in the New York metropolitan area alone have been the victims of no less than a dozen attacks in the last few weeks. Women have been smacked across the face, spat upon and their wigs ripped off. Men have been assaulted with chairs wand one whacked so hard with a brick that he lost all his teeth. A woman and her child were pelted with eggs, another mother beaten with her child in tow. Jews have been harangued and baited on public transportation. Jews have been targeted in the streets, in their houses of worship and on-line. And in the most dramatic attacks, three people were...

When workers beat the fascists: how the left fought the antisemites at Cable Street

IN OCTOBER 1936, the workers of East London stopped police-protected fascists marching through the Jewish areas of the East End. The Battle of Cable Street was an epic, and is now a myth-enshrouded event in British working-class history. The far right is on the rise in many countries. The fight against fascism may once more become a matter of life and death to the labour movement. What lessons for this work can we learn from the anti-fascist struggle in East London? Did ‘objective conditions’ and, after 1934, Establishment disapproval kill off Mosleyism, or was it direct action on the streets?...

The Morning Star's Mirvis mystery

Chief Rabbi Ephraim is certainly a small-c conservative on both political and theological matters. He congratulated Boris Johnson on becoming Prime Minister (though in fact religious leaders routinely offer congratulations and promises of prayer to all incoming prime ministers). Whether or not Mirvis is a Tory is not the issue. His attack on Labour over antisemitism addressed a real problem. Even the Morning Star , in a rambling and not entirely coherent editorial (27 November) noted that a 2018 poll conducted for the Jewish Chronicle “said more than 85 per cent of British Jews think Jeremy...

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