Antisemitism Meeting May 9th

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Jews for Jeremy attended the above meeting last night at London University Students’ Union with a great line-up of Tariq Ali, writer, journalist and filmmaker; John Rose, author of the Myths of Zionism; Leah Levane, Jews for Justice for Palestinians; Weyman Bennett, Unite Against Fascism; Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition and Walter Wolfgang, veteran Labour Party activist. We were joined by our colleague Rania H academic, teacher, campaigner and broadcaster. Here are some reflections of hers we asked she contribute to the blog:

Antisemitism is still very much a problem in Britain. But not where the media is telling you it is. Antisemitism is alive and well where it has always lurked: in the machinations of right-wing politicians and media pundits who are happy to stoke fears and sow discord for their own ends. And there is one thing firmly in their sight; Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

With this in mind the public meeting Antisemitsm, Zionism and the Left was convened to discuss the current witch hunt waged by the right, both in the Labour party and beyond, on anyone who criticises Israel and calls for active support of the Palestinians through the BDS campaign .

Speakers included the veteran Labour party activist and NEC member Walter Wolfgang, who spoke about the liberation origins of Zionism and passionately defended Jewish values, especially against modern day Zionists. Leah Levanes from Jews for Justice for Palestinians also spoke about supporting Palestinian political and human rights including the establishment of an independent viable state of their own.

Lindsey German, from the Stop the war Coalition warned us againt the Islamphobia inherent in this witch hunt especially as it seeks to punish Muslim public figures who have shown support for the Palestinian cause. Both Lindsey and Weyman Bennett of Unite Against Fascism reminded the audience of the anti-racist credentials of some of those falsely accused of antisemitism, with Waymen urging all anti-fascists across the spectrum of faiths and ethnicities to unite, and asserting that the fight against Antisemitism is also the fight against the Islamophobia, Homophobia and Racism curretly spreading through Europe from right-wing groups

John Rose, Jewish author of The Myths of Zionism, brought the discussion back to the attempts to redefine antisemitism, not as a racial prejudice against Jews and Jewish fatih and culture, but as any political and civic action against the Israeli regime, including the call for a one state solution for Palestinians and Israelis. Tariq Ali, writer and film-maker, rounded off the speeches with a heartfelt appeal to support all those fighting oppression and not silence dissent and political expression by branding young people angry at Israel’s actions as antisemites  .

The discussion that followed included contributions from the floor in support of the speakers but also a plea not to lose sight of the fact that we need to mount an effective defence of the Left and take the fight against racism, Islamophobia and Antisemitism to the right – where it belongs.

As is usual in these meetings a couple of Zionist decided to join the debate and that led to some heated exchanges including shouts by them that Sir Gerald Kaufman was an antisemite!

The most important message to take away is that we stand united against all forms of racism, prejudice and discrimination and for the rights of all minorities. The popular revolution that saw Jeremy Corbyn win the Labour leadership is the people’s mandate for real democratic change. Antisemitism is a disease of the right and we will name it and fight against it.

J4J adds: The whole room felt these attacks will not stop, so more co-ordination and meetings such as this will need to take place. We also believe we at J4J have a contribution to make at future meets, Socialists and anti-racists at the coal face. 

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Dear Mr Mann et al, Kindly Read. And Button It.

Jeremy Corbyn arrives for an election campaign poster launch in London
Jeremy Corbyn arrives for an election campaign poster launch in London. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters 

Jeremy Corbyn’s critics inside his party have set aside the possibility of a post-election leadership challenge in the face of warnings by pollsters that the party leader remains impossible to defeat in any vote of Labour members.

A day before polls are due to open in national and local elections, where Labour’s performance will come under intense scrutiny, MPs who are unhappy with Corbyn are indicating in private they do not believe it is the right time to mount a coup attempt.

Joe Twyman, head of political and social research at YouGov, said his data confirmed that Corbyn remained “a country mile” ahead of other potential candidates. “The bottom line is that those eligible to vote in the Labour party leadership election strongly supported Jeremy Corbyn last year and that has not significantly changed,” he said.

“So far no alternative candidate appears to have attracted anything like the kind of support and momentum needed to defeat him. Any challenger at this stage is only likely to be at best a stalking horse and at worse little more than a pursuant pony.”

The leader is also being shored up by the grassroots movement Momentum, which has compiled a database of more than 100,000 supporters that it believes could be used within days to help fight off any potential challenge. The group is preparing to set up phone banks to ensure that party members as well as registered or affiliated supporters can be recruited.

YouGov’s data has suggested that Corbyn would win 43% of first preference, rising to 62% when second and third preferences are taken into account.

The developments follow days of speculation about a potential challenge after Corbyn was plunged into an antisemitism row, with furious MPs accusing him of failing to act quickly enough to root out anti-Jewish sentiment within the party. On Friday, Corbyn set up an inquiry as it emerged that 16 members, including Ken Livingstone and the MP Naz Shah, had been suspended from the party.

Labour’s London mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan, said the allegations had affected his campaign and he was “so unhappy” about the way Corbyn and his team had handled the claims. “The Labour leadership has got to get a grip,” he told the Evening Standard.

Across Labour there is disagreement about what constitutes success in Thursday’s elections across Scotland and Wales, as well as for local councillors in England and for the London mayoralty. A number of Labour MPs have claimed that anything less than 450 gains in council seats would amount to failure for Corbyn.

That is in sharp contrast to the expectations being set by the man running the party’s campaign, Jon Trickett. He has claimed that any improvement in Labour’s position when compared with the 2015 general election result would be positive, even though that could still see a significant fall in the number of Labour councillors in seats last contested four years ago.

Corbyn predicted that the party would not lose seats and said that rumours of a leadership coup had been whipped up by the “golden circle” of the media. At a campaign launch, the Labour leader said that the party was looking to “gain seats where we can” in the elections for local councils, regional assemblies and mayoralties.

A close ally of the leader agreed that he was being attacked unfairly. “There is a vocal minority in the PLP [parliamentary Labour party] who have deliberately set targets of council seats they know cannot be achieved. They want to set a hurdle that cannot be overcome, so they can say he has failed,” he said.

“If there is any challenge he will stand again and all the evidence suggests that he would win an even bigger majority among members than last year.”

Ben Bradshaw, Labour’s former culture secretary, said holding councils in the southern seats like his own in Exeter was vital for gaining power in 2020: “The polls are very discouraging. We should be 20 points ahead in the polls, with the Conservatives in disarray over Europe, destroying the NHS and education system. There is no reason we shouldn’t be 20 points ahead in the polls and winning hundreds of seats.”

It is also unlikely that any of the potential leadership alternatives who have the most support among MPs, such as Angela Eagle or Dan Jarvis, would want to see anything happen ahead of the EU referendum on 23 June. However, the only result that might trigger a quicker challenge would be Khan losing in London, where he is favourite to beat Zac Goldsmith.

But some Labour MPs think that even then Corbyn would be impossible to defeat, arguing that any manoeuvres against the leader should wait until 2018. “Being honest, I think that most of the party’s membership, if not enthusiastic, still thinks that he deserves more time,” said one politician who has been an outspoken critic of the leader.

Rumours that the veteran Labour MP Margaret Hodge could be used as a stalking horse challenger to Corbyn have emerged because some MPs think she fits the requirements for any challenger. They think a female MP who does not have any personal axe to grind and who is well respected would be best placed to take on the fight. Hodge could not be reached for comment.

To the Matter in Hand – May Elections

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 11.02.49Mayoral Elections. Local Elections.

Four days to go.

In London Zac Goldsmith should be beaten in the polls by a country mile. Not only because he is bland, inexperienced and has run a lack-lustre campaign.

But because, as he has fallen further and further behind in the the polls, his tactics have become more and more distasteful and reprehensible.

Yesterday in the Mail, came words and images connecting Sadiq Khan with the terrorists bus bombings of 2007. Of course, if questioned, neither Goldsmith or the Mail would accept any such interpretation of what appears on the left here.

But what other interpretations can be given?

You decide.

 

In the meantime, we include Owen Jones on Youtube talking about Goldsmith’s bottom of the barrel campaign style and (in the video at 6:45) the radicalisation it would promote should Khan NOT be elected:

Ken McCluskey Talks about the Jews For Jeremy Letter in the Guardian

Ken McCluskey talks about the Jews for Jeremy letter published in the Guardian this weekend. The proof of the pudding, folks, is in the eating. If 82 ordinary and longstanding Jewish members of Labour – teachers, academics, artists, historians, trade unionists, doctors and social workers –  have never come across antisemitism in the Party, where is it?