Posts Tagged ‘‘Free Speech on Israel’’

‘I’ Newspaper Reports Open Letter by Labour Against the Witch-hunt

April 3, 2018

Labour Against the Witch-Hunt is an organisation of Labour members, who have been suspended or expelled due to false accusations of anti-Semitism, and others also keen to bring this political witch-hunt to an end. They’ve written an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn protesting against the fake allegations of anti-Semitism how they are being used by the Israel lobby, the Conservatives and the Blairite right to stifle the Labour left. And the I newspaper has covered them in an article on page 6 of today’s edition, Tuesday 3rd April 2018.

The article’s by Jane Corbin, and entitled ‘Corbyn Comrades being thrown to the wolves’. It reads

A group called Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) has iss8ued an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that accusations of anti-Semitism are being used by the media, Israel backers and the right of the party to undermine him.

The group said more than 2,500 people have signed the online letter, which states: “What we are seeing is a cynical alliance between those who wish to deflect criticism of Israel and Zionism, and the right wing in the Labour Party and the news media, who oppose your wider politics.

“They are thereby undermining genuine anti-racism and opposition to anti-Semitism. Their real target is you, because they oppose both your record of internationalism, in particularly your lifelong support for the rights of the Palestinians.”

Insisting that the signatories are “firm opponents of all forms of racism, fascism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all other kinds of oppression”, the letter said that many “good Corbyn-supporting comrades” had been “thrown to the wolves of the Tory party and their supporters in the mainstream media” because of allegations of anti-Semitism.

The letter was signed by LAW chair and former vice-chair of the Corbyn-backing Momentum movement, Jackie Walker, as well as the chair of Free Speech on Israel, Mike Cushman.

Walker is, as I said many times before, Jewish. She is Jewish by religion, her father was a Russian Jew, her partner is Jewish, and her daughter attends a Jewish school. But the Blairites and the Israel lobby had her suspended for anti-Semitism. Why? She had the temerity to question the exclusive focus on the persecution of Jews at a workshop on the commemoration of the Holocaust for Holocaust Memorial Day, run by the Jewish Labour Movement, previously Paole Zion. They also dredged up a private conversation she had with two other scholars on Facebook about Jewish involvement in the slave trade. Walker was addressing a serious topic which has been discussed by respected academic historians, as opposed to genuine anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan believes that the Jews were responsible for the slave trade, which is pure nonsense. However, because Walker made a mistake in one sentence, the Blairites and the Israel lobby were able to misrepresent her as sharing the same view.

Another victim of the witch-hunt is Tony Greenstein, who is very definitely not any kind of racist, fascist or anti-Semite. But he is a supporter of the Palestinians, and a member of various Jewish groups, which also support them. This is too much for the Israel lobby, and so he has also been smeared as an anti-Semite.

And it goes on. Very many of those libelled by the Blairites and Israel lobby are self-respecting, secular and religious Jews, and genuinely anti-racist non-Jews. They are often people, who have either been subject to anti-Semitic abuse themselves, or been abused or assaulted by racists and anti-Semites because of their stance against it. Their real crime, however, is that they are genuine socialists, who support Jeremy Corbyn, and wish for a just settlement for the Palestinians and an end to their persecution and ethnic cleansing by Israel.

This is what the anti-Semitism smears are all about. It has absolutely nothing to do with combating genuine anti-Semitism, and everything to do with trying to undermine Corbyn and his supporters.

It is utterly disgraceful, and those responsible for this campaign – the Blairites, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement and now the Board of Deputies of British Jews – are showing themselves through this to be utterly mendacious, cynical political manipulators with neither grace nor morals. And just as more people are turning away from mainstream news because of its Conservative bias, I feel sure that more people will turn away from these organisations as their lies and smears become even louder, shriller and more obvious.

I don’t know whether the Beeb or the other newspapers also covered this letter. Given the glee with which the mainstream media has been reporting this set of latest smears and allegations, I very much doubt it. But it’s good that I has done so, at least.

Vox Political: Jackie Walker’s Response to Anti-Semitism Smears on ‘Free Speech on Israel’

October 4, 2016

Mike has put up another important piece about the anti-Semitism smears against Jackie Walker. Mrs Walker has written a long piece explaining her attitude and comments on the website Free Speech on Israel, to which Mike’s attention was directed by one of the people he was talking to on Twitter.

In the pieces Mike has reposed, Mrs Walker explains her comments linking the Jews to the transatlantic slave trade. She states that she was trying to make the point that there are no hierarchies of genocide, and that her people were involved in both sides of the slave trade. She is Black and Jewish, and noted that the Jews also played a role in financing the slave trade, hence the number of early synagogues in the Caribbean. She also makes the point that it was the Christian rulers of Spain and Portugal, who massacred and expelled the Jews from their kingdoms, and that it was overwhelmingly Christian kingdoms and empires that profited from the kidnap, enslavement and murder of Africans. She states that she is perfectly happy to correct the different impression her Facebook comments made. She also makes the important statement

“The shame is, at a time when antisemitism has been weaponised and used against certain sections of the Labour Party, nobody asked me before rushing to pin the racist and antisemitic label on me.”

She says that she is perfectly willing to change her views if they are shown to be wrong in future. But she did not state, as the Jewish Chronicle claims she did, that Jews played a disproportionate part in the slave trade. She makes the point instead, quoting the historian Arnold Wiznitzer, that at that time and place the Jews were also involved in financing the sugar and slave trade. She also quotes the historians Kagan and Morgan as describing the Jews as a stateless minority within the European empires, but who also played a key role in expanding them. She also cites Jonathan Israel on the peculiar position of the Jews as both the victims and agents of empire.

Mike’s quotes from her conclude with this paragraph:

“This was the point I was attempting to make on Facebook, in a comic-strip, abbreviated, inadequate, deficient sort of conversational way. This was my point, as the Israel Advocacy Movement could see even as they decided to weaponise my words. No peoples have a monopoly of suffering or virtue. No peoples are special or free of the complexity of history. That is as true in the Middle East now as it ever was anywhere, in all places, with all peoples, across the diversity of our globe and so it will remain until, and unless, we achieve the goal of all internationalists – the liberation of humanity.”

Mike states in his comments that ‘certain…elements’ have tried to claim that Mrs Walker’s comments on the Jews and slave trade came from those of the head of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan made speeches in the 1990s claiming that the slave trade was basically the fault of the Jews. Mike has challenged those claiming that Walker’s views are the same as Farrakhan’s to show him how they are linked. Mike notes that they have not done so.

The article’s at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/10/03/jackie-walker-responds-to-accusations-of-antisemitism-free-speech-on-israel/

Please go and read this article. Mrs Walker clearly is very well-informed about the slave trade and Jewish involvement in it, as well as the complex nature of European imperialism, and the historiography of both. It is a fact that the global European empires also frequently used subaltern peoples as part of the mechanism of imperial expansion and exploitation. The slave trade was immensely profitable, and so it not only involved White Europeans, but Muslim Arabs and Black Africans. Recognising this should not be considered anti-African, anti-Arab or islamophobic, any more than noting that some Jews were involved in the transatlantic slave trade, should make one an anti-Semite, provided that this is kept within the bounds of historical fact. And Jackie Walker has done just that. She has not done what Louis Farrakhan, and which some White Nazis and members of the At Right do, and made Jews, or Africans, or Muslims solely responsible for the slave trade, or accused them of playing the major role in it.

She is clearly not an anti-Semite. Rather, she has shown that she possesses a critical intelligence, which is not satisfied with facile simplifications of complex issues. And that makes her a danger. She has been targeted, in my view, because she is like the very many Jews and people of Jewish heritage, who do not accept the simplistic message promoted by the Israel lobby that the immense suffering of the Jewish people in the Holocaust and throughout history justifies their brutalisation and oppression, in turn, of the Palestinians. Authoritarian regimes of all shades, from Fascists and Nazis to the Stalinist Communists, cannot stand people, who dare to think for themselves. This is why free speech, and the ability to say things that others might consider offensive, is so vital for genuinely humane, democratic societies. The Right likes to attack politically correct speech codes, saying ‘No-one has the right not to be offended.’ They will also quote Orwell on the importance of telling truths people don’t want to hear. Both of these statements are correct, if you’re telling the truth. They trivialise both of these aphorisms, because they take them as giving them licence to sneer at women and ethnic minorities, and insist on traditional hierarchies of race and gender. But those two comments go much further than that. Orwell, for all his hatred of totalitarianism and Communism, was an anti-imperialist and Socialist. During the Spanish Civil War he fought for the non-Marxist Socialist faction, POUM, and was strongly impressed by the achievements of the anarchist movement, which he described in Homage to Catalonia. The Young Turks have pointed out time and again that for all their sneering at political correctness and ‘safe spaces’, it is the Right, who are the worst at invoking political correctness to silence speech that is offensive to them.

And this is what the Likudniks of the Jewish Labour Movement and the Israel lobby have tried to do to Mrs Walker. Like the American Right with its shouts of ‘Political correctness’ and denunciations of laws against ‘hate speech’, they are hypocritically using perceived offensiveness to try to silence and stifle genuine historical and political debate, in order to present a simplistic, carefully sanitised and politically useful view of history.

This is to be resisted, and resisted to the utmost. The distorters of history, who use carefully crafted falsifications to justify their own brutality, cannot be allowed to win, regardless of who they are and who they claim to represent. We need to be supporting Jackie Walker, and those like her, who are not satisfied with the easy answers of totalitarian propaganda, and who stand for genuine Socialist internationalism against militaristic nationalism posing as its opposite.