Anti-Semitism: Open letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left on the NEC
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Open letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left on the NEC
As socialist members and Labour Party supporters, we are firm opponents of all forms of racism, fascism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all other kinds of oppression. Many of us have been actively campaigning against them for many years, often alongside you, John McDonnell and other comrades.
We know anti-Semitism exists in society and needs to be combatted. But we are seriously worried about the current climate in the Labour Party, where any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel is now immediately conflated with anti-Semitism. But anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism.
What we are seeing is a cynical alliance between those who wish to deflect criticism of Israel and Zionism, and the right-wing in the Labour Party and the news media, who oppose your wider politics. They are thereby undermining genuine anti-racism and opposition to anti-Semitism. Their real target is you, because they oppose both your record of internationalism, in particular your lifelong support for the rights of the Palestinians, and your commitment to socialism. That is what the few bitterly oppose: the many gaining power.
In the last two years, more than 300,000 people have joined the Labour Party to support your progressive politics. Not all of them will have much experience of, for example, recognising anti-Semitic tropes. We believe the best way to combat any such naivety, lack of knowledge or problematic choices of words among Labour’s membership is through open debate and discussion. It is the sort of political education that has been lacking in Labour, a party that prides itself on fighting prejudice and discrimination and championing social justice.
Yet we are witnessing the development of the opposite to open and frank debate. There is now a chilling culture of fear, self-censorship, of members afraid to openly ask questions and learn, particularly on social media. We have seen many good Corbyn-supporting comrades being thrown to the wolves of the Tory Party and their supporters in the mainstream media. They are publicly smeared as Holocaust deniers, anti-Semites, racists – and have no way of fighting back against such vile accusations. These types of smears have ruined lives. Labour’s broken disciplinary procedure, that voices on all sides now accept is not fit for purpose, has actually resulted in suicides.
We therefore welcome your direction to the new Labour general secretary to at last implement the recommendations of the 2016 Shami Chakrabarti report about the party’s disciplinary procedures, based on natural justice and due process. As socialists we insist on our right to continue to publicly and sharply criticise the actions of a state that brutally oppresses Palestinians and black migrants. If we stop doing this, we stop being socialists.
We also believe that the Party should thoroughly investigate the attempts instigated by an Israeli agent to infiltrate and subvert the Party, as revealed in the January 2017 Al-Jazeera exposé (http://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/thelobby/ and we note that you called for an enquiry into the activities of the embassy officer who was caught discussing a plot to “take down” British politicians.
The right-wing in the party will demand more and more scalps. But the history of appeasement in politics teaches us they will never be satisfied. Capitulation to their unscrupulous demands is not the answer. They can never have enough suspensions, enough expulsions, enough compromised principles, including your lifelong support for the rights of the Palestinians.
We pledge to mobilise with comrades of all faiths and none to end the attacks against the Labour left, which daily damages the party’s effectiveness in helping those people most harmed by the austerity and cuts-obsessed Conservative government. We hope you will give your support.
Initial signatories include:
Moshé Machover, Israeli socialist and co-founder of Matzpen
Jackie Walker, chair of Labour Against the Witchhunt (and ex vice-chair of Momentum)
Noam Chomsky, author
Asa Winstanley, investigative journalist
Mick Brooks, political secretary, Labour Representation Committee
Deborah Hobson and Hassan Ahmed, co-chairs Grassroots Black Left
Mike Cushman, chair Free Speech on Israel
Lee Rock, Sheffield Labour Left List
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