Witchhunt in Labour against the Witchhunt

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17/08/2018 by socialistfight

LAW-SF1Picket in defence of Stan Keable – but solidarity should work both ways.

The arbitrary auto-exclusions and suspensions of many thousands of Corbyn supporters requires a serious fightback. A good start on this seemed to have been made when a broad campaign, Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), was launched on 21 October 2017 because professor Moshé Machover was auto-excluded, and, as the Labour Party Marxists reported, he was only “one of a long line of socialists, Corbyn supporters and defenders of Palestinian rights expelled or suspended on bogus charges of anti-Semitism”. Socialist Fight participated in that launch in the persons of Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan and contributed to the discussion and to the collection, expecting to assist in its work.

Lee Rock, currently suspended from the Labour party for defending masturbation. Full solidarity with comrade Lee but he really was a wanker when he led the witchhunt against Socialist Fight In LAW.

Lee Rock has been told by Labour’s Disputes Committee that he’s under investigation for discussing masturbation on Facebook! Tony Greenstein and goes on the defend Lee thus:

I have to confess a personal interest in this. When I was young I was solemnly informed by my father, a Jewish rabbi, that masturbation was not only a sin (naturally) but would also make me blind. As far as I know I still have my sight!

However soon after that launch one Lee Rock began a vitriolic witch hunt against us, claiming Socialist Fight were anti-Semitic and should be expelled from LAW. The three remaining LAW Steering Committee members, Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable and Jackie Walker (Peter Firmin had resigned), duly obliged by auto-excluding us without a hearing or right to appeal, the very practice the group was set up to overturn in the Labour party. We were instructed not to attend to next LAW meeting as we were no longer members and we were blocked from the LAW Facebook page.

However, we did turn up early for the meeting on 2nd December with 3 supporters and, as Tony Greenstein reported the meeting was “effectively ambushed by a small Trotskyist grouping, Socialist Fight” i.e. our band of 5 managed to persuade the meeting, some 24 at its height, to refuse to accept the undemocratic, not to say autocratic, decisions of the triumvirate. We were accepted back in and reinstated in the Facebook page by Tony Greenstein.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the matter. On 14 December Tony Greenstein resumed the witch hunt in an article in the Weekly Worker, Anti-Semites not welcome, Tony Greenstein explains why Socialist Fight must be excluded from Labour Against the Witchhunt. In it he pledged to try again to expel Socialist Fight from the next LAW meeting. This is his stance:

“There is no future for Labour Against the Witchhunt if Socialist Fight and its members remain an integral part of the organisation. For that reason, I believe that it is essential that the next meeting, on January 6 should overturn the previous decision. If my views do not prevail, then I will resign from the organisation – as I believe will Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth of Grassroots Black Left.”

This is an appalling political stance, a refusal to accept labour movement democracy unless his views prevail, and demanding others walk out with him. Neither Gerry Downing nor Ian Donovan not any member or supporter of Socialist Fight, past or present, are in any way anti-Semitic. We are members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and are well-known defenders of Palestinian rights and opponents of the state of Israel. No one can point to a single act or political stance that is in any way racist or anti-Semitic except in the minds of those who want to appease the Labour party bureaucracy of Ian McNichol by proving they are neither revolutionary socialists and agree with him that Trotskyists should not be afforded any democratic rights whatsoever, a throwback to the Great Purges in the USSR in the 1930s and 1940s.

Daniel WatermanDaniel Waterman is a staunch critic of Israel. Following the Israeli army’s incursion into Gaza in 2009 he burned his passport and posted a video on YouTube.[12] This earned him scathing condemnation from pro-Israeli activists. Together with his mother, Ruth Kupferschmidt, he co-signed an ad in the New York Times, (August 23, 2014) in which over 300 Holocaust survivors and their descendants unequivocally condemn the Israeli policies re Palestinians as “Genocidal.”“More than 350 Survivors and Descendants of Survivors and Victims of the Nazi Genocide Condemn Israel’s Assault on Gaza”YouTube.

Daniel Waterman (Dolong B Blavats) made the following statement in our defence. Coming from a prominent  Jewish radical  it is very telling and surely established the principle which was highlighted so starkly in its breach in the LAW meeting of 6 January 2018:

“I am sorry, extremely sorry for you guys, but any statement that includes any form of the verb “to be” requires very careful scrutiny as saying something “is” a particular way suggests the speaker has privileged knowledge of the ultimate nature or truth of something.

The following statement therefore makes for uncomfortable reading:

“Making a connection between the number of Jewish billionaires in the United States or who is Jewish amongst the richest sections of society and imperialist support for Israel is anti-Semitic.”

NO NO NO! We all know that there are many Jewish millionaires and billionaires in the US. We also know that many of them are involved with determining policy with respect to Israel. We even know that many of them are outspoken supporters of Israel. Why on earth is it then taboo to speak about this openly?

Yes, mentioning the power of the Jewish lobby was and remains a tactic of antisemites. But that does not make the statement, or the reality, inherently antisemitic. The reason why ought to be clear to anyone with half a brain but let’s just spell it out: because not all Jews are billionaires and not all Jews are Zionists or supporters of Israel.

So, why has this issue become such a point in this group? First of all, we can consider quite legitimate concerns about the possibility of any discussion of “Jewish billionaires supporting Israel” being interpreted as antisemitic, but then that is also exactly why this group was created, to defend others who are legitimately criticising Israel “and making comparisons to Nazi Germany” from being accused of antisemitism.

It seems therefore that there is another issue at stake that has not adequately been addressed in this group and which now threatens to undermine and divide us, which is freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to mention, examine and criticise taboo, uncomfortable and highly sensitive subjects such as the extent to which members of the Jewish community outside Israel have and are ‘colluding’ to support Israel and the extents to which the wider Jewish community have failed to adequately address this internally. It is not as if the matter of Jewish millionaires who support Israel is entirely unconnected to what has and is happening there. I don’t feel comfortable with treating this matter as if it were entirely subsidiary to class struggle or capitalism. Many members of the wider Jewish community condone and pride themselves on the extent of “Jewish influence” in the world. I know I did once when I was young and stupid.

How is this matter any different from the frequently mentioned relationship between Zionism and Nazism? If we can talk about that, how come we cannot talk about Jewish elites support for Israel? I don’t get it.

My impression of the discussion with Ian Donovan, is that it went on all too long and met with entirely wrong responses from leading members of this group. Donovan made his point but as I pointed out to him, the concerns of Labour Against the Witchhunt take priority over the discussion he was pursuing. But the responses from this group were very similar to those that have led to accusations of antisemitism against other members of Labour and the expulsion demonstrates to me that we still can’t have a really sensible discussion about what really is antisemitic and what is merely legitimate criticism.

To round up, what I would suggest, is that we STOP ACCUSING ANYONE OF ANTISEMITISM, particularly as Jews are not currently threatened in any significant way, compared to Muslims, people of colour, immigrants, refugees, gay men and so on. It is time that we, especially members of the Jewish community, focus instead on defending others less fortunate than ourselves and learn to accept that at least some of the things we now define as antisemitic, may actually be true.

That is an uncomfortable reality we will have to live with until such time as the entire concept of race or ethnicity disappears or until such time as JUSTICE reigns within our community. Until such time, I stand with Donovan with respect to his allusions to a ‘Jewish subculture’ within the upper echelons of power that have deliberately conspired against the better interests of the rest of us. Yes, it is part of the phenomenology of CRAPITALISM, but it is important that the rest of the Jewish community acknowledge the fact that there are also Jews out there doing this. Deliberately! FFS! We need to have this discussion! And not ANOTHER WITCHHUNT!

—Daniel Waterman, Dec. 2017.

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