Jewish Voice for Labour condemns the ‘hostile, personal campaign against Chris Williamson’

Chris Williamson
Fréa Lockley

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) has responded to the news on 28 June that Labour has removed its whip from MP Chris Williamson again. This followed a backlash after the party readmitted him following a formal warning on 26 June. JVL welcomed the lifting of Williamson’s suspension by a Labour Party disciplinary panel. But it raised concerns about a fresh investigation, pending a decision by the National Executive Committee (NEC).

JVL also spoke to The Canary in more depth about the saga and its surrounding context.

“Undermined by hostile, personal campaigns”

JVL noted that all investigations into allegations against party members follow procedures that operate independently. Jeremy Corbyn and the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) have no say in this. But it also claimed the process is being “undermined by hostile, personal campaigns” like the one against Williamson.

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In a statement, JVL called Williamson a “hard-working and diligent MP with great standing in his constituency and a strong record of anti-racist campaigning”. It also said that, although there’s “huge support for Chris within and outside the party”, this has not been “reflected by the media coverage of the story”.

And JVL said this is all coming at a “time of Tory crisis”. It stressed that:

In desperate need of a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, aiming to unite people around protection and promotion of hard won rights and services, the party needs the dedication and principled commitment of Chris Williamson and others like him.

“The accelerating purge of Corbyn loyalists”

A JVL spokesperson also told The Canary that “people supposedly on the left of the party” who “joined the mob baying for Chris Williamson’s blood” have serious questions to answer:

from a membership desperate for an end to the accelerating purge of Corbyn loyalists. If they retain the illusion that throwing yet another left winger to the wolves will appease Jeremy’s enemies, they are following a disastrously misguided course. 

They also talked of the “alarming” impact of this situation for many Jewish people; in particular, they said, for those who witness “the serious accusation of antisemitism routinely hurled at people on the anti-racist left”. They told The Canary:

On the one hand, Jewish people regaled with these accusations day in day out are being made to fear a party which is, in fact, the best – or indeed only – hope for combating rising right-wing populism and white supremacism, both of which are characterised by genuine hostility and prejudice against Jews. On the other hand, Jews are now in danger of being seen as disdainful of the concerns of members of other minority communities, especially Muslims, whose daily diet of discrimination is downplayed by a media and political class which itself trades in racist stereotypes. 

“Routinely ignored, ridiculed or worse”

The JVL spokesperson also told The Canary that many Jewish party members who support Williamson don’t agree with the accusations of antisemitism made against Corbyn. These members “know full well”, they said, that Corbyn doesn’t “promote antisemitism or Holocaust denial in the Labour Party”.

The spokesperson claimed that their “harmonious interaction with our non-Jewish comrades” is “routinely ignored, ridiculed or worse”. And they said that:

We are denounced as the wrong kind of Jews, not actually members of the Jewish Community (this from Jon Lansman, head of Momentum!), ‘antisemitism enablers’ and other insulting terms. Many are pressured into staying silent and treated as traitors by supporters of the dominant, pro-Israel, anti-Corbyn community groups, including the Jewish Labour Movement . 

“Jews are as diverse as any other section of the population”

The JVL spokesperson also said that “one of the most pernicious elements” of the current attacks comes from an “assumption of homogeneity in the Jewish community”. Too often, they said, any criticism of Israel is labelled antisemitic. And they claimed there’s an assumption that Jewish people must “be uniformly supportive of Israel and of Zionism” (the political ideology which drove the creation of the state of Israel). This, they asserted, creates a situation where:

Those that take a different view are ‘not real Jews’, or they are ‘bad Jews’, or ‘self-hating’. In fact, Jews are as diverse as any other section of the population, with differing views about politics, social issues and everything else. This includes opinions about the history of the Middle East and the ideologies at play there, including Zionism. To suggest otherwise is to deploy a racist stereotype. However, conflating ‘Jew’, ‘Israeli’ and ‘Zionist’ underpins the so-called new definition of antisemitism popularised by Zionists since its adoption in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

“Witch hunt”

The JVL spokesperson said too many Jewish Labour members feel there’s a “witch hunt” in place. They explained:

It’s the defining feature of a witch hunt that anyone who suggests that a witch hunt is taking place is instantly denounced as themselves a witch.

They feel that, as a consequence, this is “shredding party unity and destroying the freedom to debate important issues”. They said this has serious implications, given the current political climate. They believe that, in the future, this will be seen “as a shameful indictment of those who initiated or played along with it”.

JVL pointed to the film WitchHunt, which it says explores the ongoing attacks “against the pro-Palestinian left, including its many Jewish members”.

“No sense of fairness and justice” 

The current situation has led to accusations against many Jewish Labour members and other non-Jewish Corbyn supporters. Yet JVL co-chair Jenny Manson said there’s been “no considered analysis” of what Williamson actually said and “no sense of fairness and justice”.

Featured image via Mohamed Elmaazi

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  • Show Comments
    1. Israeli politics has certainly confused many of what it means to be Jewish to the point of asking one why not separate church, and state?
      To respect the beautiful sanity of a faith created over thousands of years is a mystery in itself.
      A antisemitic under every bush fear doesn’t speak to this phenomenom.
      Perhaps eons ago when religion began it was to rise above this craziness to bring a peace of mind.

      1. I rejoined after a long time away & (kinnochio & Blair) found what the back story was in the domains fiasco, and other stuff anti Corbyn blairites again! All supporting the right, many supported by outside players with cash!
        I am active in the CLP & in the EC, but this is my make or break time, we either stand together as in my union days or we are lost again.
        I will not work, support nor pay for the right funded actors in destroying our work & party.
        For me make or break!

    2. JVL’s statement on this disgraceful affair is exemplary….and will,inevitably be ignored by the media and the Labour Party. The question is, what can we Labour Party members do about it? my letters and emails are ignored, my CLP rarely meets and when it does, steers clear of issues such as this. With a PSC lacking in moral courage (as exemplified by the Jennie Tonge decision) and Momentum controlled by a Zionist, only the JVL , it seems, is left to speak-up for truth and justice.

    3. Keith Vaz about-faced rapidly yesterday and has show himself to be a two-faced weasel. Ruth Smeeth, Margaret Hodge and Tom Watson should all be expelled from the Labour party for doing everything they can to smear the name and reputation of Jeremy Corbyn, Chris Williamson and other Labour party members such as the journalist Asa Winstanley. We have already lost Jackie Walker due to the poisonous, spiteful scheming of the Blairite centrists and I for one do not want to lose Chris Williamson too. Joan Ryan who is also a member of this poisonous collusion still has her seat despite having left the Labour party. What is going on? Why are we Labour party members not being asked for our opinions on this back stabbing, spiteful malarkey? Smeeth, Hodge, Watson and Ryan are an absolute disgrace. Israel has no place in UK politics and if we do not stop their interference the UK is going to end up their lapdog just like the USA.

    4. Mike Pompeo of the USA was to have said in an article , Corbyn would be dealt with so he’d never be Prime Minister. Present tense.
      So Is this the plan by using these crazy anti semitic pawns of politics to do so.
      I remember watching Chris Williamson on Canary going down to knock on a sordid door where the Campaign fixers hung out as in Cambridge Analytica wanting some answers. Behind the door an authority was telling his minion inside to shut up, and don’t open door in a very angry voice.
      This is why I think they are out to get Chris Williamson as he’s the only one with the courage to take on these virulent bed bugs called the Labour Friends of Israel.
      Suspend this group pending an investigation of who they are really working for.
      Simple minded people who are being fooled don’t have this persistence.
      I’d take Pompeo’s assurances of having this done seriously.

    5. Its so ridiculous what is going on as the anti -semitic claim is sheer nonsense, Instead of looking at as witchunt, I ask the question “what is the political agenda of the labour Friends of Israel?
      Never treat lightly the seriously insane.

    6. By calling all critics of Israel anti Semites they are silencing critics of Israel, this is emboldening Israel and directly causing many more deaths and life changing injuries on the Gaza Border. They are also crying wolf, and creating a resentment towards the Jewish community. Of course this will suite the Zionists as Zionism depends on genuine antisemitism.

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