The Board of Deputies of British Jews wants to erase Jewish voices like mine from Labour politics

Rebecca Long-Bailey and Keir Starmer
Support us and go ad-free

The Board of Deputies for British Jews (BoD) has released a set of ten pledges it believes every leadership candidate for the Labour Party should adopt to “begin healing its relationship with the Jewish community”.

Unfortunately, the BoD believes this healing will happen through erasing Jewish voices like mine from discussions about the party’s policies. I’m not a Labour Party member. But I am a Labour voter who’ll never be welcomed into the party if this document is adopted. And tragically for the party, most contenders, including two of the frontrunners in the contest, Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey, have capitulated to its demands.

The ten pledges

These are the pledges the BoD is asking candidates to adopt:

Any action that tackles racism should be welcomed. However, there are elements of these pledges that can only be described as chilling. If adopted, they essentially position the BoD and the Jewish Labour Movement as the only legitimate voices on antisemitism. In particular, clause 8 dictates:

Labour must engage with the Jewish community via its main representative groups, and not through fringe organisations and individuals.

In other words, the party must only listen to certain voices. It must ignore socialist Jews. And it must ignore Jews who don’t support the actions of the Israeli state. Furthermore, as one Twitter user asked:

Meanwhile, clause 5 argues that those who:

support, campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents should themselves be suspended from membership.

As Novara Media‘s Aaron Bastani pointed out:

Who gets to decide Labour policy?

There are other problems with this document. Jewish writer David Rosenberg tweeted:

And journalist Matt Kennard stated some of the problems with supporting the BoD:

Other people highlighted the BoD’s support for Boris Johnson:

And then there’s the issue of how one-sided these pledges are. As Jewish author Michael Rosen tweeted:

Criticising the state of Israel is not antisemitic

The BoD is clear on its support for Israel. Its website states that one of its purposes is to:

express our community’s bond with the State of Israel

And in a recent post about the proposed Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) restrictions Boris Johnson announced in the Queen’s Speech, it proclaimed:

This divisive activity [BDS] intimidates Jewish communities in the Diaspora and does nothing to build peace in the Middle East. We welcome the Government’s pledge today to take action.

Let’s get one thing straight. Criticising the state of Israel is not antisemitic. Yes, there are critiques of Israel that are antisemitic, and these should be called out and condemned. But supporting the Palestinian people who face violence and repression on a daily basis is not. Likewise, supporting calls to boycott Israel over its treatment of Palestinian people is not antisemitic and is certainly not ‘intimidating’. And it ignores the fact that many Jewish people, myself included, feel a duty to speak out against the actions of the Israeli government.

But one thing appears clear from the BoD’s pledges – it will not tolerate, and will work against, any Labour leader with the audacity to call for an arms embargo on Israel.

Antisemitism is on the rise, and it’s terrifying

The rise of antisemitism is horrific. From antisemitic graffiti daubed on Jewish businesses to attacks in the street, antisemitism is real and terrifying.

But antisemitism isn’t going to be defeated by conflating it with criticism of the Israeli state and of the BDS movement. And it’s certainly not going to be defeated by potential Labour leaders rushing to sign up to a document that aims to ignore and silence left-wing Jews.

If any of the prospective leaders of the party are serious about tackling racism, they need to stand up to these wannabe gatekeepers, and critically analyse what they’re being asked to do. Then they can adopt the pledges that make sense and don’t undermine human rights.

There’s no place for antisemitism in the Labour Party or anywhere else in society. But this is achieved by listening to and working with all Jewish people – not dismissing those of us who disagree with the right-wing BoD as “fringe organisations and individuals”.

Featured image via Wikimedia – Chris McAndrew / Wikimedia – Chris McAndrew

Support us and go ad-free

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. I shall end my brief membership (inspired by Mr Corbyn) of the Labour Party if the ‘Ten pledges to end the antisemitism crisis’ are adopted by the party. I suppose that will be fitting given that anybody opposing the pledges is antisemitic – at least according to logic in the Alice in Wonderland world inhabited by the ‘Board of Deputies of British Jews’ (BDBJ).

      The obvious first question is ‘What crisis?’. There has been a lot of wittering, untruth, and character assassination directed at Mr Corbyn and at some other figures in the party, but crisis? My perception is of wholly confabulated accusations the origin of which rests with militant Zionists and others sharing common (financial) imperative to promoting Israeli interests; whether the BDBJ was a co-conspirator rather than just a cheering onlooker I can’t tell.

      Just what standing does the BDJB have? It is nothing more than a private club on a par with the Mothers’ Union, the Baptist Union, Freemasonry, and sundry other religiously affiliated bodies to which, if mischievous, one might add the Scientology Cult. The BDBJ speaks for nobody but itself and for people who willingly place themselves under its influence.

      The BDBJ’s gall by instructing the Labour Party to adopt its ‘pledges’ is breathtaking. This is compounded into nastiness by a lightly veiled threat that Labour leadership candidates not unequivocally endorsing its wording may suffer consequences. Indeed, militant-Zionists would have no compunction about orchestrating dirty tricks on behalf of the BDBJ.

      Pledge 4 is vicious. It names two people who having been expelled from the party must never be readmitted. The BDBJ as judge, jury, court of appeal, and would be executioner?

      Pledge 5 demands suspension from the party for anyone daring to speak up in favour of a member whom they claim was unjustly suspended or expelled from the party following accusation of antisemitism. This looks to fit well with the French ‘Reign of Terror’, Stalin suffering dyspepsia, or a Schutzstaffel disciplinary court.

      Pledge 6 demands that the Labour Party place itself under instruction as to the meaning of antisemitism promulgated by an ‘international’ body of self-appointees.

      Pledge 7 instructs the party to propagandise anti-racism in a manner approved by the Jewish community (presumably the BDBJ has arrogated authority to speak for it) and that within the party itself the Jewish faction shall oversee ‘training about antisemitism’. Choice of the word ‘training’ may be sinister.

      Pledge 8 orders the party to engage with the Jewish community only through approved channels. Like it or not, people who are Jewish by religion or by descent have been dumped into a ghetto and nobody but an elite, presumably nominated by the BDBJ, may talk to them.

      Pledge 9 appears to commit Labour to conducting witch hunts.

      Pledge 10 commits the new leader to ending the party’s non-existent antisemitism crisis.

      Members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews have made utter fools of themselves. Their move, despite perhaps not being motivated thus, comes across as taking over doctrinal control of Labour and steering it towards an obligatory pro-Zionist and pro-Israel stance. Instead of quelling residual antisemitism the initiative will beg suspicion of Jewish conspiracy among members of the party and observers outside. An unholy mess orchestrated by people fearful of just criticism.

      Else, is the ‘Ten Pledges’ document a hoax promulgated not by the Board of Deputies but rather by enemies seeking to discredit Jews, Zionists, and Israel – a contemporary ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’?

      1. Smyth-Mogg…….totally agree with your comments and couldn’t have put it better! Like you…I rejoined the Labour Party when I saw the chance of its Jeremy-led rejuvenation as a truly socialist movement following years of Blairite -Tory entryism. Of course the rising popularity of Jeremy Corbyn and a new vision for the was too much for the stomachs of the interest-threatened Tory media barons….enter then another Maggie, this time from within the ranks of the PLP itself to serve as their more than willing agent and give effect to the disgraceful character assasination of Jeremy Corbyn and to guarantee the final and permanent destruction of the Labour Party as a credible socialist alternative.
        With a British working class finally and permanently dumbed down by the daily doses of celebrity gossip, charming blonde Tory tv news editors and the endless soap-opera of the Windsor Wonderland, I’m afraid there is little hope left for any hope of a fair and just society……pandering to BDBJ and their agents within by any new leader of the Labour Party is the final and monumental mistake which will consigning the Party to future oblivion……….my membership has lapsed……and will not be renewed….there is no point anymore!

    2. Pretty ugly in pink , how long before this group demand all Labor pledges to honor and defend the apartheid. state of israehel as US bought and paid for politicians do? This board are simply power hungry scam artists , Tories in disguise

    3. Just who do these people think they are to threaten a political party in a Democratic country?.
      Let the real members of the Jewish community make their own minds up, we live in a democracy, not a Theocracy.

    4. I was absolutely disgusted with the five candidates who signed the ten demands with no arguments. This shows just how little backbone they all have and I will not be voting for any of them. Demands 4 and 8 are anti-Semitic in their own right which needs to be pointed out the candidates and to the BOD. The BOD are Tory supporters and pro-Israel, one member went so far as to say Corbyn should be executed. The fact that they wan to put the right wing, racist JLM in charge of AS training would be laughable if not so disturbing. Attlee, Bevan and Tony Benn must all be whirling in their graves and gnashing what is left of their teeth in anger at what the Labour party has become. Enough is enough, either the LLA takes the lead and says enough is enough or thousands of members will resign over this.

    5. I shall end my brief membership (inspired by Mr Corbyn) of the Labour Party if the ‘Ten pledges to end the antisemitism crisis’ are adopted by the party. I suppose that will be fitting given that anybody opposing the pledges is anti-Semitic

    6. OOps, (see above.) Absolutely concur with the Mogg and to be honest the rest of the heartfelt comments. Thank you Jeremy for the journey in which I thought we could truly change this corrupt unjust country, alas we were damaged by our own, by the MSM and the antisemitism slurs. The establishment has won.

    7. Mogg has it right. The fake antisemitic campaign has won, and the powerful political tool which defeated Corbyn.
      No wonder he lost with these candidates in the party and their capitulation to a falsehood.
      The establishment of what I ask? Afraid to stand up , and speak the truth. Politics comes before truth as always.
      The lost tribe of Isreal is lost surrounded in violence, and boxed in with no place to turn to through their own invention. The different meaning of being lost in the universe would of been spiritual, and a path to wisdom.
      Lost without a country according to the Balfour Aggreement after WW11 so they could be like everyone else, a mess of wars.
      To eke it out by befriending the most powerful nut cases the world has ever seen; one America ‘s Military Complex.
      Time to start a New Faith, to rescue the Jewish meanings from being absorbed into political oblivion and used as a weapon to quelch debate.
      Dynamic times needs a New Faith.
      Don’t be shy Emily Apple to speak out for a new Jewish Faith. Time to break away with a New Creation keeping the meanings of a faith the BOD have forgotten about or never knew was there.
      Its ancient knowledge has been traded in for the worst used car in the marketplace where Violence, intimidation of democracy’s values rule the day.

    8. It’s sad the British (or should I say LONDON?) Jewish Community has turned against Progressive Politics so completely. Partly it’s normal enough because it’s said 80% of the Community voted Tory in 2015 before the AS game began. But it’s also at the dictate of Israel that feared a Labour government recognising Palestine. It’s as simple as that. The sadness is all that closeness to Progressive and even radical politics has been tossed aside. Miliband’s father and other major figures like Eric Hobsbawm are now vilified as Haters of Britain. Communists many of them were but they provided an international intellectualism to Labour throughout the post War decades that still just about exists. The Israeli’s have created a rift between their once highly assimilated Community into foreigners. Until a few years ago (3?) the assimilation was so good people didn’t know Jews as Jews in the way we know, say Indians. Now Brits are picking up on the sheer number of Jewish names in the media; presumably that is exactly what the propagandists want? The deeper the rift the less chance of reconciliation? After all they have a War to fight and Arab supporters need to be constantly jumped on.

    9. 10 pledges the Labour Party and the rest of us should demand of the B of D:
      1) Accept that 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and that was an act of racism.
      2) Agree to the right of return of Palestinians as under UN resolution 194.
      3) Accept that the terrorism of the Hagana, Lehi and the Irgun was crucial in bringing Israel into existence.
      4) Accept that Israel is a classic example of settler colonialism.
      5) Accept that Zionism in neither a biological or religious but a political category.
      6) Accept that Jewish Voice for Labour is a legitimate vehicle for the expression of the views of part of the British Jewish Community.
      7) Stop pretending that the CST is a mere charity and acknowledge it has a political angle which ought to disqualify it from charitable status.
      8) Apologise for the Zionist murder of Lord Moyne and the letter bombs sent to Churchill, Bevin and Anthony Eden.
      9) Accept that there is long and well-documented history of Zionist anti-Semitism, ie all Jews who are not Zionists are ” the wrong kind of Jews”.
      10)Accept that the Sate of Israel is and always has been intent on the slow genocide of the Palestinian people and that the denial that such a thing as a Palestinian person exists constitutes the mental preparation for genocide.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.