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.