Thursday, 2 June 2016

Brent debates anti-semitism

Three meetings are scheduled over the next 10 days addressing in various ways the issue of anti-semitism in the Labour Party and in the wider context.

At a Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party meeting last week last Thursday a motion from the Jewish Labour Movement proposing a rule change on anti-semitism was deferred pending the outcome of the Chakrabati inquiry into anti-semitism in the Labour Party.

That was followed up by an angry blog by Philip Rosenberg entitled  'The great betrayal: Labour members refused to discuss anti-semitism.'  LINK

Rosenberg's account of the meeting was disputed by local activist Ian Saville:
The writer here is being disingenuous to say the least. An inconvenient truth, not mentioned in his article, is that a number of Jewish members supported the proposal to postpone the motion, or any motion on this subject, until after the Chakrabarti Inquiry has reported. This is due by the end of June, so we are not talking of the sort of delay one could expect from a Chilcot type of inquiry. Since an expert inquiry has been set up, with well respected chairs, it would be silly to attempt to preempt its deliberations by bringing in a rule change that proposes disciplinary and other measures which will be covered by the inquiry. The writer needs to calm down and learn some patience. There will be many opportunities to discuss these matters in coming months.
I understand that Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party are now holding a special meeting of the General Committee on Tuesday 7th June at the Kingsgate Centre, 107 Kingsgate Road, NW6 2JH at which a motion 'unhesitatingly' condemning anti-semitism will be tabled. The Jewish Labour Movemement are expected to address the meeting and there will also be a discussion about a leaflet given out at last Thursday's meeting which was critical of the JLM.

On Monday June 6th the Brent Momentum AGM will be addressed by Jackie Walker, National Vice Chair of Momentum, who was recently reinstated after being suspended over claims of anti-semitism.

The agenda includes:

Where is Momentum Going?
Does Labour have a problem with antisemitism?
How do we get a Corbyn-led Labour government?

The meeting is at 7.30pm Brent Trades Hall/Apollo Club, Willesden High Road, NW10 2JR

Lastly Brent Stop the War (not affiliated to any political party) has invited Julia Bard  of the Jewish Socialist' Group and Jews for Jeremy to speak at their June 13th meeting on 'Is criticism of Israel anti-semitic?'

The meeting is at 7.30pm at the Brent Trades Hall/Apollo Club, Willesden High Road, NW10 2JR

I think these meetings are a sign of a healthy democratic climate in the borough (and neighbouring Camden) where controversial issues are not shied away from but the subject of open debate.


Anonymous said...

There has been a massive elephant in the room since this issue started to exercise the media a few weeks ago. The great majority of the Labour members accused, quoted, cited, suspended etc have been Muslims. Ken Livingstone was speaking in defence of one of these accused (though he has also said stupid things in the past which have got him accused of anti-Semitism). There are understandable historical reasons why many Muslims are anti the policies of recent Israeli governments and these views can, by understandable extension and association, become anti-Zionist, and by mistaken extension and association become anti-Semitic. There are also many Jewish people who mistakenly, but for understandable historical reasons, see any criticism of the policies of recent Israeli governments , or of Zionism, or of Israel itself, as being anti-Semitic. It has astonished me that nobody in the respectable media feels able to comment on these things in a realistic way. Muslims now play a much greater part in the Labour party than they did in the past (as they play a much greater part in UK society in general, as anyone receiving medical treatment in hospital or from a GP can attest). Some of these Labour party Muslims display the views I’ve mentioned above. I don’t think ‘The Labour Party’ has a problem with anti-Semitism; I think some Muslims (many of whom now support or are active in the party) have a problem with anti-Semitism. And many Jewish people have a problem with distinguishing between the understandable and rational criticism of the current Israeli government and the irrational and unacceptable phenomenon of anti-Semitism.
Isn’t all the above self-evident? Why isn’t anyone saying it?

Mike Phipps said...

Because it's racist? Even if it were the case that most of the suspensions were of Muslims - there have been over 20, are you sure of your breakdown? - you are pre-judging the cases before there has been a proper hearing. Jackie Walker for example was suspended and is of partly Jewish heritage. She has since been reinstated, after a grassroots campaign, as there was no evidence of anti-Semitism. It's not "many Jewish people", by the way, that have a problem with separating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. The two are deliberately conflated by the Israeli government to demonise critics of Israel. But it should also be said that there are those in the broader labour movement that are willing to use the anti-Semitismm stick with which to beat the current leadership, even if most of the alleged incidents/remarks that are under investigation occurred before it took over. Things have gone a bit quieter on these issues since the May elections - which suggests that it may have largely been whipped up for party political purposes, rather like the allegations of Sadiq Khan's associations with extremists, now conveniently laughed off as the "rough and tumble" of electioneering.

Anonymous said...

Why the question mark in the first sentence? Either you think it’s racist or you don’t. It’s anecdotal and observational but life tends to be that way. And as far as waiting for the outcome of the 'proper hearing' is concerned, I doubt if you’re waiting for Chilcott in order to decide what you think of Blair and Iraq.
There have been 16 or 18 suspensions (accounts vary). Of the 12 names I have, 9 are Muslim. That leaves 4 or 6 unknown. This could, of course, be a statistical aberration, a mere chance, which is why I attempted to give some possible reasons for it. For a significant proportion of young Muslims (in my necessarily anecdotal but fairly wide experience) the default position is not an inordinate love of Jewish people. As I said, the reasons for this are not difficult to find but to close down discussion by alleging racism is an easy way out which helps no one and leads to some of the reactions we are witnessing in the EU referendum ‘debate’.
As far as the rest of your points are concerned, I agree with everything after the word ‘anti-Zionism’ to the end.

Mike Phipps said...

The comparison with Chilcot and Iraq is irrelevant. I haven't looked at all the individual instances of the 20 plus suspensions that have taken place and given that some I do know about did not involved anti-Semitic remarks being made, I for one would not want to pre-judge the cases, which may have been brought for entirely other reasons. If someone were to pre-judge these cases on the basis of the ethnic or religious identity of the individuals involved, I think that would be pretty problematic. Likewise generalisations from your own experience about how people you have never met feel about people of another religion is subjective and potentially inflammatory.

Anonymous said...

Ok. A simple question. Do you believe, or given the absence of readily available empirical evidence, would you be prepared to speculate, that British Muslim Labour Party members would be (a) more inclined (b) less inclined or (c) equally inclined as/than non-Muslim British Labour Party members, to feel positively towards 1. Israeli foreign and domestic policy 2. Zionism 3. Jewish people? Honest answer?
As for generalising from experience and observation, that's what human beings do. It's the basis of scientific advance and on a simpler level it's why we don't spend our lives repeatedly putting our hands in the fire in an effort to discover whether these flames are any cooler than the ones that burnt us last time.