Socialist Worker

As Labour member expelled, activists pledge to reject false claims of antisemitism

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2602

More than 160 people came to a meeting on Jeremy Corbyn, antisemitism and justice for Palestine

More than 160 people came to a meeting on Jeremy Corbyn, antisemitism and justice for Palestine (Pic: Socialist Worker)


The Labour Party has disgracefully expelled anti-racist activist Marc Wadsworth who was accused of making antisemitic comments in 2016.

Wadsworth was suspended two years ago after criticising Ruth Smeeth MP at the launch of a party report into antisemitism. He accused Smeeth of working “hand in hand” with a Telegraph newspaper journalist.

He should not have been expelled for such a non-crime.

It’s another sign of how the Labour right and the Tory-backing media are still trying to attack Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over allegations of antisemitism.

On Tuesday Corbyn met the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.

Utterly predictably they presented a set of impossible demands about disciplinary procedures.

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They also called on Labour to accept the IHRA definition of antisemitism and the examples associated with it—which include “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

When Corbyn didn’t agree, the Board issued a statement saying the meeting was a “disappointing, missed opportunity”. There was very little response from the Labour left.

Such a fightback inside Labour has been largely stifled by Corbyn’s own retreats and by an instruction from Labour general secretary Jennie Formby.

Her letter to constituency parties on 5 April said, “Criticism of any individual or organisation who has expressed concern about antisemitism would be deeply unhelpful”.

But on Wednesday this week Unite union leader Len McCluskey wrote that some “Corbyn-hater” Labour MPs have been “working overtime” to present Labour as a “morass” of antisemitism”.

The five he mentioned, in a New Statesman magazine article, are Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle, John Woodcock, Wes Streeting and Ian Austin.

“I look with disgust at the behaviour of the Corbyn-hater MPs who join forces with the most reactionary elements of the media establishment and I understand why there is a growing demand for mandatory reselection,” he wrote.

But shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer immediately attacked McCluskey and said that he might be part of the problem.

Asked

Corbyn will be asked who he supports. He has to say McCluskey is right and Starmer is wrong. Conceding ground just invites more attacks.

On Thursday over 160 people came to a meeting in London on Jeremy Corbyn, antisemitism and justice for Palestine.

All the speakers stressed that wherever there is antisemitism it is wholly unacceptable and has to be tackled.

Ghada Karmi, Palestinian writer and activist, said, “Antisemitism is now defined as support for Palestine.

“This is not the time for appeasement of such critics.

“The target of the manufactured outrage is Jeremy Corbyn because the prospect of a prime minister who supports the Palestinians is unthinkable to Israel’s supporters.”

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Lindsey German convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, said, “There are documented cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party. It exists throughout society—although more on the right than on the left.”

But, she added, “Why are these cases leading the news. It’s a political attack on the left of the Labour Party and an attempt to push back against the movement in solidarity with Palestine.

Johnathan Rosenhead from Jewish Voice for Labour insisted that antisemitism, while real was much lower than in the in the 1930s or the 1950s.

Rob Ferguson said the “cynical onslaught” against Corbyn had to be fought as part of the anti-racist battle. He denounced those, such as foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who congratulated the vicious antisemite Viktor Orban on his election in Hungary.

Ben Jamal from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said Israel sees the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as a major threat and is determined to hit back. He implored the audience to “get the conversation back to Palestine”.

The meeting was an important initiative. It’s important to say that both Jews and non-Jews have the right to criticise Israel and to fight for BDS.

It is right to identify Israel as an apartheid racist state. And it is right to say the only solution is a single state where Arabs and Jews live together with the full right of return for all Palestinian refugees.


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