Pledges and priorities

23rd February 2020

palestine-psc-demo.-jpgPro-Palestine but against antisemitism – perfectly compatible

Voting for the Labour Party leadership will get underway this week, with the top job now narrowed down to three candidates; Kier Starmer, Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long Bailey.  To some extent all three are compromised, by supporting the Ten Pledges to End the Antisemitism Crisis diktat, by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which seeks to impose external controls on how the Labour Party addresses allegations of antisemitism, stating that,

“An independent provider should be used to process all complaints, to eradicate any risk of partisanship and factionalism.”

The pledges include handing responsibility for training on antisemitism to one group in the Jewish community, the Jewish Labour Movement, and for Labour to,

“…engage with the Jewish community via its main representative groups, and not through fringe organisations and individuals.”

This latter being code for the Board of Deputies or groups it approves as being ‘representative.’

This presumably excludes Jewish Voice for Labour, for example, which has supported a rejection of the Ten Pledges by the leadership candidates.

Even Rebecca Long Bailey, the most progressive of the leadership candidates, has fallen victim to the antisemitism smear campaign, suggesting in Jewish News that,

“Unfortunately, some people who regard themselves as anti-racist may nevertheless, when talking about the legacy of colonialism or the distribution of power within our capitalist society, use some of the negative stereotypical ideas or images that have become embedded within our culture over time.”

Long Bailey could have more usefully made the point that conflating criticism of the Israeli government’s failure to respect UN resolutions and international law with antisemitism, is the most dangerous of the “negative stereotypical ideas or images” being systematically embedded within our culture.

In the Deputy Leadership race only Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler have not agreed to the demands of the Ten Pledges, a position which has brought on predictable vitriol from the Board of Deputies and its mouthpiece the Jewish Chronicle, which quoted Board president Marie van der Zyl saying it “beggars belief” that Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon and Shadow Equalities Minister Dawn Butler had withheld their endorsement.

Butler, in a statement as to why she would not sign the Ten Pledges made clear,

“If I thought that signing these 10 pledges would help solve the problem, I would do it. It would no doubt be the easy thing for me to do and I know the attention not doing so will bring. I endure racism on a daily basis. I know what it feels like. I have dedicated my career and life to doing just that, including in my current role as Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities.

That’s how I know that the easy route is not always the best route and I must do what I think is best. I fear that signing the pledges without further discussion will result in no positive change and I fear it will just be a token gesture.”

Her full statement is here:-

https://www.dawnbutler.org.uk/news/statement-regarding-the-ten-pledges-for-labour-leadership-and-deputy-leadership-candidates-by-the-board-of-deputies-of-british-jews/

The Ten Pledges from the Board of Deputies has received far greater profile that the Ten Key Pledges to Support Muslim Communities, released by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) during the General Election campaign, and to which all leadership candidates have also signed up.

More information is here:-

https://mcb.org.uk/press-releases/all-labour-leadership-candidates-sign-up-to-mcbs-ten-key-pledges/

It is interesting to note pledge 10 on the subject of Ethical Foreign Policy which states,

“Support a binding recognition of Palestine as an independent and sovereign state, and address human rights abuses abroad, including in Kashmir, Xinjiang and Myanmar.”

The Board of Deputies will no doubt have a view on the Palestinian question.  It will be interesting to see how much time the successful candidate devotes to this MCB pledge, compared to those in the Board of Deputies set of pledges.  There can be little doubt which will receive the most scrutiny from the media and which organisation has the strongest lobby, both inside and outside of the Labour Party.

One thing is certain, real leadership will come from the candidate who is not only vociferous in their condemnation of antisemitism but who calls out racism in any form. That will mean being prepared to make the case for the rights of Palestinians, in accordance with international law, however strong the pressure may be not to do so.

 

 

Antisemitism smokescreen for the right wing

12th August 2018

israel_soldiers_gaza.png_1718483346

Israeli Defence Force tackle Palestinian militancy in Gaza

If the Israeli secret service, Mossad, are not behind the current antisemitism smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, they ought to be ashamed of themselves.  More than that, they ought to be paying whoever is behind it for doing their job for them, as the ongoing slurs against Corbyn and his allies continue to give the UK media an excuse not to report on the real chaos in the country and the economy.

If Mossad wanted to take attention away from the atrocities committed by the Israeli Defence Force for decades in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, they could not be doing a better job.  If they wanted to cover up the ongoing illegal land grab by Israeli occupiers, euphemistically referred to as settlers, who steal land from the Palestinian people, they could not wish for more.  If Mossad wanted to bury the fact that the actions of Israel in the occupied territories are illegal, and in contravention of international law and countless United Nations resolutions for over fifty years, they could not hope for a better smokescreen.

Racist action against Palestinians, it would appear, is not racism at all.  It would appear that it is especially not racism if perpetrated by those whose parents and grandparents have been victims of the racist atrocity of the Holocaust, carried out by the Nazis in Europe in the 1930s and 40s.

Inside the Labour Party it would appear that any family tie with victims of Nazism is enough to give your words a vicarious authenticity in the eyes of the UK media.  Dame Margaret Hodge is a case in point.  Her Jewish roots, in spite of a limited record in fighting racism at home, appear to give her more credibility than lifelong anti-racist campaigner Jeremy Corbyn, to the extent that Hodge gets away with calling Corbyn an antisemite and racist.

Deputy Labour Leader, Tom Watson, added fuel to the fire this week by suggesting that without tacking the issues of antisemitism Labour would be facing ‘eternal shame’ over the issue.  Watson had clearly failed to read the articles published by Jeremy Corbyn or the video he released last weekend, which were absolutely categorical in their opposition to antisemitism and all forms of racism, in the Labour Party and in society in general.

No such statement in defence of Palestinian rights, as endorsed by almost the entire international community in accordance with international law, has been forthcoming from any of those critical of Corbyn in recent weeks.

Instead the focus has been upon the Labour National Executive Committee not adopting the exact wording of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when debating the issue and how to address it recently.  Unlike the Israeli government’s ignoring of the resolution of the United Nations regarding its occupation of Palestine, the IHRA definition has no legal standing.

In fact the author of the definition, Kenneth Stern, regards it as a working proposal, not a legal or disciplinary definition.

This weekend twenty four Constituency Labour Party activists have put their names to a letter to The Observer (12/08/18) in an attempt to redress the balance of debate within the Labour Party.  They focus fire upon Watson in particular for laying the grounds for a further leadership coup against Corbyn stating,

“Is this another attempted coup against the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn gathering force and is the issue of antisemitism being weaponised to that end?  Watson seems oblivious to the many organisations such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Jewish Voice for Labour, which believe that the IHRA definition needs further work to ensure defence of free speech.”

The signatories go on to point out that there is a “wider and worrying under reporting of the growing threat from the racist far right”, while the media choose to focus upon manufactured divisions within the Labour Party.

With the Tories in disarray over Brexit, facing the possibility of a leadership challenge and the possibility of being forced into a General Election, there is the distinct prospect of a UK government led by Jeremy Corbyn.   The anti-Corbyn right wing in the Labour Party would not like that, the ruling class in the UK would be unnerved by an actual socialist, who may event try to translate policies into action, with the keys to 10, Downing Street.

You can be sure that the conservative Israeli lobby and Mossad would not like it either.

 

A one-sided massacre by Israeli troops on the Gaza border

15th May 2018

palestinian

Israeli troops’ wanton slaughter of unarmed protesters serves as a fitting reminder of the inhuman treatment meted out to Palestinians since being driven off their land to facilitate Israel’s establishment 70 years ago.

International disregard for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees scattered to the four winds by the zionists’ superior armed forces is again mirrored in bourgeois media coverage of today’s killing.

The New York Times recounted that “dozens of Palestinians have died in protests” near the border fence, giving the impression of a unforeseen accident or genetic weakness suddenly taking hold of them.

A similar headline on the BBC website, “Dozens die as US opens Jerusalem embassy” was changed after protests to “Dozens killed as US opens Jerusalem embassy.”

The BBC One O’Clock TV news informed viewers in a judgement-free observation that “violence erupted” on the Gaza border as though two sides had collided and resorted to fighting.

The Times of Israel reported “dozens killed in Gaza clashes,” once again suggesting head-to-head fierce combat.

In contrast, Israeli daily Haaretz headlined in the early afternoon: “Jerusalem Embassy and Gaza Protests. 41 Palestinians Reported Killed by Israeli Gunfire at Border. Over 1,600 wounded, 772 from live gunfire.”

This lays bare the reality of a one-sided massacre, in which one Israeli soldier was slightly hurt by a stone while soldiers of “the most moral army in the world” fired live rounds freely against civilians because political and military leaders would back them regardless.

What chance is there of Israeli civil society or the judiciary curbing the blood lust of politicians from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu down after the Shin Bet security service issued a wild weekend warning?

It forecast: “On May 14, the Hamas terrorist organisation plans to send armed terrorists among 250,000 violent rioters to swarm and breach Israel’s border with Gaza and enter Israeli communities.”

Israel’s government purports to believe that, if it warns Palestinians that they could be “jeopardising” their lives by protesting, they and their troops are legally vindicated.

They must know that this attempt to flout international law is wrong and unfounded.

As human rights group Amnesty International commented, “we are witnessing an abhorrent violation of international law and human rights in Gaza … This must end immediately.”

Unarmed Palestinians are fully entitled to demonstrate for the right of refugees to return to the homes they were driven from in 1948 and several times since. This right is enshrined in United Nations resolution 194.

Every single Palestinian casualty shot by live rounds, wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets or disabled by gas grenades incurred their injuries in Gaza. Not a single one had crossed into Israel, despite the hysteria of zionist politicians, security service and military top brass.

While Israeli soldiers conducted their unrestrained butchery across the border, displaying their moral superiority by killing unarmed children, women and men, government ministers boasted of their achievement in having the Trump administration further display its contempt for international law by shifting the US embassy to Jerusalem.

As with the massacre of at least 52 civilians yesterday and over 1,200 wounded by gunfire, US recognition of occupied East Jerusalem as part of Israel’s capital city doesn’t make it lawful.

Nor does Trump’s plan to impose, alongside Israel, a “peace” settlement on the Palestinians.

Political and media toleration of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people should spur even greater efforts by civil society in Britain to reject our government’s shameful stance and win yet more support for the peaceful boycott, disinvestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate apartheid Israel.

This article appeared in the Morning Star 15th May 2018