Momentum’s official Twitter account, followed by 120,000 people, has tweeted a link to the online text of That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Antisemitic, a 1984 book by Jewish socialist Steve Cohen analysing left antisemitism.
Momentum’s tweet is extremely welcome. A political-educational campaign to confront left antisemitism is urgently needed within the Labour Party, and Cohen’s book is one of the best and most accessible texts on the topic. A drive by Momentum groups to organise reading groups or workshops around the text would be an excellent initiative.
Steve Cohen, who died in 2009, was a socialist activist primarily based in Manchester. He was politically idiosyncratic, describing himself as an “anti-Zionist Zionist” to express his complex and contradictory feelings towards contested Jewish nationhood and the state of Israel. He was also a dedicated campaigner for free movement, helping write the 2006 pamphlet ‘Workers’ Control not Immigration Controls’, which remains one of the best political resources on the topic.
Although differing from us politically in many ways, he had a long-standing relationship with Workers’ Liberty and our predecessor organisations, writing for both Solidarity and Workers’ Liberty magazines, and working with us in several campaigns, including campaigning in the labour movement for a policy of direct links and solidarity with the workers’ movement and the left in Israel/Palestine, rather than a root-and-branch “boycott Israel” approach.