Submission to Chakrabarti Inquiry by Ian Donovan

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17/06/2016 by socialistfight

Head of anti-Semitism inquiry Shami Chakrabarti

What is or has been your connection with or interest in the Labour Party?

I am a long time socialist, anti-racist and anti-imperialist, since the late 1970s, and therefore one of Labour’s natural supporters insofar as it provides space to fight for socialism and the interests of the working class and against racism and imperialism. I did not regard myself as a supporter of Labour during the Blair/Brown period. I actively supported Jeremy Corbyn’s election because of his record as an opponent of New Labour’s anti-working class politics, its imperialist wars and racism. I am a supporter of Socialist Fight which is a genuinely Marxist trend.

Please describe any form of antisemitism, islamophobia or other racism that you have experienced or observed within the Party?

Anti-semitism, defined as racist hatred and discrimination against people of Jewish ethnicity is extremely rare in Labour. Only one of the recent incidents – where one female councillor of Turkish origin appeared to express admiration for Hitler as a bitter response to Israeli atrocities – bore any resemblance to that. Obviously these remarks should have been condemned and the person who made them argued with, and if no repudiation was made, disciplined. But no one else has expressed any admiration or support for any racist treatment of Jewish people. In all other cases, the innuendo that they have is a smear and a libel.
However anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry is common from the Blairite right-wing and Zionist elements.  Indeed I consider the wave of suspensions of Muslim MP’s such as Naz Shah, several councillors and prominent figures such as Ken Livingstone to be examples of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry and racism. After all, none of these people were advocating discrimination or ill-treatment of Jewish people. They were suspended or expelled for criticising crimes against Palestinian Arabs by Israel and its supporters, or for analysing the historical basis of that. All these people have been libelled in my view by people with racist views against Arabs who have zero integrity.
I consider this entire witchhunt to be racist in its inspiration insofar as it is aimed to make it obligatory for members to accept the so-called ‘self-determination’ of Jews as manifested in the state of Israel. It is a matter of historical fact that Palestine was taken by force from the Arab people that are its indigenous people the majority of whom were expelled by force in 1947-8. Jews worldwide are not a nation as the Zionists claim.
It is arguable that the hegemony and consolidation of Zionists in many Jewish communities of the West gives them a coherence that shows some of the features of national consciousness, but the fact that Jews do not have a common territory makes that semi-national entity unviable. It is an utterly reactionary and inhuman piece of social engineering to try to gather people up from around the world and create a ‘nation’ in another people’s territory by expelling the indigenous population. It is a crime against humanity. If Labour were to adopt that policy it would cease to be an anti-racist party and become an openly racist organisation that I – and many others – certainly could not support.
So support for so called Jewish ‘self-determination’ as manifested in the state of Israel means in practice support for massacres and mass expulsions of Arabs from Palestine. That is in my view just as vile as expressing support for similar crimes elsewhere in the world, e.g. if someone had supported the ethnic cleaning perpetrated by several different forces in the Yugoslav conflicts in the 1990s, or if people had supported the actions of the South African apartheid state against the indigenous black people.

What is your understanding of the Party’s ethics, rules and procedures for dealing with any form of inappropriate language or conduct?

Obviously racist abuse and any form of victimisation should not be tolerated. This should also apply to false allegations of racism for political motives, which is obviously what is driving this witchhhunt. Anyone accused of racist behaviour should be treated according to due process and should have the right to respond to complaints and reply to allegations before sanctions are instituted. There should be no trial by media of members by people with privileged access to the media; it should be an offence in its own right to smear other members of the Party in this way in the capitalist media.
Insofar as the Labour Party does not adhere to these norms, has indulged Zionist racists and has allowed them to carry out what is in fact a racist purge of outspoken supporters of the Palestinians which has necessarily and disproportionately impacted on non-white party members, in my view the Labour Party falls far short of elementary norms on this and has behaved in an institutionally racist manner.

Have you any positive suggestions for the future, including training, codes of conduct, rules and discipline for members, candidates and representatives of the party?

We should rely on the norms of working class democracy for dealing with disputes around these questions and not allow trial by media, or denunciations by mendacious and likely corrupt Tories, to drive our disciplinary process. No one should be able to be suspended or expelled without a democratic vote by an elected body whose actions are transparent and whose members are accountable to an aware party membership.
As to ‘special training’, the idea that people should be trained in ‘anti-racism’ by the Jewish Labour Movement, the Labour Friends of Israel, or any similar body, is disgusting and Orwellian. The JLM is part of the Havoda Party, i.e. the Zionist ‘Labour’ Party that has been involved in crimes against humanity, and against the Palestinian people in particular. Such pro-Israel groupings that support Israeli expulsions of Arabs should be regarded as just as invidious and racist as neo-Nazi organisations that supported crimes against humanity involving Jews and others in the past.

The Wikipedia entry for New Antisemitism:

New antisemitism,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism

Main article: New antisemitism

Starting in the 1990s, some scholars have advanced the concept of new antisemitism, coming simultaneously from the left, the right, and radical Islam, which tends to focus on opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland in the State of Israel,[98] and they argue that the language of anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel are used to attack Jews more broadly. In this view, the proponents of the new concept believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and they attribute this to antisemitism. Jewish scholar Gustavo Perednik has posited that anti-Zionism in itself represents a form of discrimination against Jews, in that it singles out Jewish national aspirations as an illegitimate and racist endeavor, and “proposes actions that would result in the death of millions of Jews”.[99] It is asserted that the new antisemitism deploys traditional antisemitic motifs, including older motifs such as the blood libel.[98]

Critics of the concept view it as trivializing the meaning of antisemitism, and as exploiting antisemitism in order to silence debate and to deflect attention from legitimate criticism of the State of Israel, and, by associating anti-Zionism with antisemitism, misused to taint anyone opposed to Israeli actions and policies.[100]

Notes

[98] Chesler, Phyllis. The New Antisemitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It, Jossey-Bass, 2003, pp. 158–159, 181

Kinsella, Warren. The New antisemitism, accessed 5 March 2006

“Jews predict record level of hate attacks: Militant Islamic media accused of stirring up new wave of antisemitism”, The Guardian, 8 August 2004.

Endelman, Todd M. “Antisemitism in Western Europe Today” in Contemporary Antisemitism: Canada and the World. University of Toronto Press, 2005, pp. 65–79.

Matas, David. Aftershock: Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism, Dundurn Press, 2005, pp. 30–31.

Wistrich, Robert S. “From Ambivalence to Betrayal: The Left, the Jews, and Israel (Studies in Antisemitism)”, University of Nebraska Press, 2012

[99] “Antiglobalism’s Jewish Problem” in Rosenbaum, Ron (ed). Those who forget the past: The Question of Anti-Semitism, Random House 2004, p. 272.

[100] Klug, Brian. The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism. The Nation, posted 15 January 2004 (2 February 2004)

 

 

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