Left antisemitism

Corbyn in the 1980s: "The level of hatred in British politics then was high - in both directions"

Author

Sean Matgamna

The Times of 6 July 2019 ran an article by Dominic Kennedy, "Corbyn's hard-left blueprint revealed", attacking Jeremy Corbyn for his links in the 1980s with Socialist Organiser, a forerunner of Solidarity. Sean Matgamna, editor of Socialist Organiser in the period described, talked to Solidarity.



We have serious political differences with Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

Why and how the left has shifted on Israel

Author

Susie Linfield

Susie Linfield, author of The Lions’ Den: Zionism and the Left, talked with Martin Thomas from Solidarity.

Many of the eight writers you analyse had their thinking on Israel shaped by Stalinism. But you don’t mention Stalinism.

That was most true of Maxime Rodinson. He was a Stalinist, and even after he left the Communist Party, he remained a Stalinist. Then in some ways he substituted what he called the Arab Revolution for the Soviet Union.

Labour and antisemitism: yes, it’s a real problem

Author

Cathy Nugent

The BBC Panorama programme (10 July) about Labour’s antisemitism problem has intensified the Party’s internal row.

Unfortunately, because the programme was not well done, and because Labour’s response has been to “shoot the messenger” as Emily Thornberry rightly put it when criticising that reaction, the renewed row has brought very little light so far.

Thornberry said: “I think that we shouldn’t be going for the messengers, we should be looking at the message. I think that is what is important.

The record of Chris Williamson

Author

Keith Road

The issue with the suspended Labour MP Chris Williamson is not, as some in the Labour Party think, one off-beam remark in a Sheffield Momentum meeting, or a few incautious tweets.

Detailed web postings by RS21 member Dave Renton and socialist blogger “Bob from Brockley” have shown that Williamson has used his position as a prominent Corbyn-supporting MP to give the ideas of a segment of the far right a channel into the labour movement.

Robert Fine and the critique of antisemitism

Author

Dan Davison

Robert Fine, who died on 9 June 2018, was a socialist writer unafraid to stand up to much of the left’s received wisdom on the questions of Israel, Palestine, and antisemitism.

He opposed the “absolute anti-Zionist” standpoint that one should unreservedly object to (a) Israel’s very existence, rather than the oppressive practices of the Israeli state, and (b) any feelings of Jewish communal or national identification with Israel, even when such feelings are accompanied with harsh condemnation of the Israeli government or genuine horror at the Palestinians’ suffering.

Israelophobia is Stalinist regression

Author

Barry Finger

Barry Finger reviews Paul Kelemen’s book The British Left and Zionism: History of a Divorce (Manchester University Press, 2012)

This volume, which joins the herd of independent minds in churning the same old depleted groupthink, purports to challenge the claim that changes over the decades in the left’s appraisal of Zionism and the Palestinian cause stem from antisemitism.

Letters

I’d like to comment on Martin Thomas’s tale of contrasted autistic students in his maths class (interview with Judy Singer, Solidarity 510).

For sure, the autistic students he describes are very different from each other — there is a significant contrast between Student A who needs just a little adjustment in order to participate, and Student B who does not participate but knits and occasionally shouts. But it is a leap of logic to automatically conclude from this that Student B is impaired.

Letters

Missing the mark on Willsman
Sean Matgamna’s piece in Solidarity 509 “A victim of panic” appears to miss the mark. Sean says that Pete Willsman “Possibly he gives credence to some form of ‘Jewish Conspiracy’ theory”. This underplays what Willsman said and in doing so seems to excuse him as a fool rather than someone who knows what they think. I would give Willsman more respect than that.

The Willsman affair

Author

Sean Matgamna and Simon Nelson

On 31 May, Pete Willsman, a veteran of the Labour left and a current member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), was suspended by the Labour Party on charges of antisemitism. The suspension followed publication of comments made by Willsman at a chance meeting with a journalist. How should the left respond? Simon Nelson and Sean Matgamna present different views.

A victim of panic
Sean Matgamna

Open letter to Livingstone

Author

Sean Matgamna

Ken Livingstone, billed since January as debating with us at the Ideas for Freedom summer school on 22- 23 June, has now withdrawn, pleading family commitments. Sean Matgamna responds with an open letter.

Ken: it’s a shame you have bottled out of our scheduled debate. I’ m bitterly disappointed. I was looking forward to kicking your butt. It’s been quite a while since I had a chance to do that. We will keep an empty chair on the platform for you in that session, and give extended speaking time to anyone ready and willing to come and argue your case.

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