“Prevent” is trying to censor the left: Is the SWP joining in?

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12/01/2019 by socialistfight

Stop Bans and Proscriptions against Socialist Fight and others – the thin end of the wedge!

brexit6This is the Strangeways ban on SF. There was a similar Belmarsh ban against SF dated 16-10-16. Tracy Fitton, the head of Prevent North West, visited  Ben in Wymott prison to assess him. She is the thought policewoman who decides what he gets to read and who he is allowed to talk to on the phone.

Last September the Labour Party NEC adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) pseudo-definition of ‘anti-Semitism”, whose purpose is to suppress criticism of Israel and meaningful solidarity with the Palestinians. Since then there has been an escalation of attacks on the democratic rights of the left by Zionists, by Labour Party politicians and others. What is worse is that some on the left are co-operating and joining in the Zionist witchhunt against so-called “left-wing anti-Semites”

◘ On 21 September, the Revolutionary Communist Group held a public meeting in Camden to denounce the IHRA definition and the Labour Party’s adoption of it. They reported:

“The attempt to ban the meeting was led by ex-Labour councillor and Director of Public Affairs of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Phillip Rosenberg. Sections of Camden’s Labour Council participated in the attempt to associate Palestine solidarity with anti-Semitism, with the Camden Counter-Extremism team (Prevent ‘Thought Police’ – SF) even sending along two council officers to monitor the meeting. It is clear that sections of the Labour Party are now on the offensive to use the IHRA definition to shut down free speech on Palestine.”

◘ Zionists Ambrosine Shitrit, Sharon Klaff and Jonathan Hoffman attended the meeting. Hoffman constantly disrupted it and others filmed the audience. These three have long associations with Paul Besser, former Intelligence Officer for Britain First, a neo-Nazi group, and other well-known fascists.  Clearly there was a concerted attack on defence of Palestine by Camden Council and far right Zionists.

◘ In early October when attempting to re-stock our magazine in Housmans Bookshop in Kings Cross, we were informed that our publications would no longer be sold. We asked why, and were eventually told by the manager “you know why”. “People we trust” said the manager, had told them that our magazine was ‘anti-Semitic’. We hear this is people from Prevent.

◘ On 14th December we once again went to restock our magazines, this time in Bookmarks, the outlet of the Socialist Workers Party. Just as at Housmans, the staff told us that they could no longer stock our magazine.  They said that they could not say why, but that we could email the SWP for a reason. We have since contacted the SWP leadership, including their leader Alex Callinicos, but they have failed to reply.

Socialist Fight does support work for political prisoners in Ireland and internationally. In this country we try to help Ben Stimson, a young Irishman of Jewish background in jail in Manchester. He was jailed on a phoney ‘terrorism’ charge for going to Ukraine and giving support to the resistance of the mainly Russian-speaking population and provincial governments of Eastern Ukraine against the Western-backed Nazi-infested nationalist regime in Kiev.  He has been told by the authorities that he is no longer allowed to receive our publications because it would harm his ‘rehabilitation’ under Prevent.

hoffman1Zionists/Fascists: Paul Besser of Britain First, Ambrosine Shitrit, Gemma Sheridan JDL, Sharon Klaff and Jonathan Hoffman

Labour Councils and the pro-capitalist trade union bureaucracy have meanwhile been frontally attacking the democratic rights of others on the left inside and outside the Labour Party, and anti-racist critics of Zionism generally. Some examples:

◘ The IHRA definition was rammed through the Labour Party NEC on 4th September with all its ‘examples’ which try to ban meaningful anti-racist criticism of Israel, by the votes both of right-wing unions such as GMB and UNISON, and lefts such as UNITE’s Len McCluskey, who also voted down the proposals for Open Selection of Labour candidates. The leadership of Momentum, around Jon Lansman, also stabbed the Labour membership and backed the full IHRA.

◘ The Labour Council in Hammersmith and Fulham sacked Stan Keable,  of Labour Party Marxists, from his job, for expressing anti-Zionist views in a private conversation, filmed without his consent, at a demonstration last year against the vilification of Jeremy Corbyn. Comrade Keable has also been backstabbed by his union, UNISON.

◘ Another attempt was made this autumn, by a Labour Council in Dudley, West Midlands, to sack a Labour member who they employed. Paul Jonson, who outspokenly called for support for the Palestinians and  denounced Israel as a ‘racist endeavour’ had to be cleared as the IHRA definition has no legal standing, and comrade Jonson had the backing of his union and the local Trades Council.

◘ In December, the ex-Israeli Jazz Saxophonist Gilad Atzmon, who has played for the Blockheads, the band of the late Ian Dury, for around 25 years, was due to play a Christmas concert with the Blockheads. Outside of his musical activity, Atzmon is a fierce critic of Israel as well as Jewish identity politics. As a result of a complaint from an individual called Martin Rankoff, who it transpires is the director of Likud UK, Islington council banned him from playing. However, the Blockheads managed to get a replacement Saxophonist, Sanity Claus, whose musical prowess emulated that of Atzmon (and who resembled him). Also to their credit, the band denounced ‘discrimination’ against Atzmon to considerable applause from fans.

So what do we have here? We have an appalling, cowardly excuse for a left in this country! We have the right-wing of the Labour Party which promotes the Zionist agenda. We have ‘left-wing’ bureaucrats like McCluskey who help the right-wing and the Zionists to impose it on the Labour Party, with only weak opposition from Jeremy Corbyn, and a Labour ‘left’ led by Lansman who is overtly pro-Zionist. We have other parts of the Labour left, such as the AWL, who have joined in witchhunts against more left-wing figures such as Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein for ‘anti-Semitism’, and even those figures have themselves joined in witchhunting Socialist Fight for our criticism of Jewish-Zionist bourgeois politics in the imperialist countries, which parallel views raised more recently by Norman Finkelstein, probably the world’s most prominent and outspoken anti-Zionist of Jewish origin.

And we have the SWP, which has a very chequered record, to say the least. Alex Callinicos was one of those who joined in the outcry against Norman Finkelstein’s work The Holocaust Industry around 2000. But then the SWP after Cliff’s death underwent a more left-wing period during the Iraq war, and was known for its strong anti-Zionism (within its own limitations), its bloc with George Galloway in RESPECT, and in that period its hosting of Gilad Atzmon as part of its ‘cultures of resistance’ events.

The SWP was witch-hunted for some of those things, and eventually capitulated. A key event was its refusal to defend Julian Assange from the CIA frameup after 2011. And now we have its apparent joining in a witchhunt against anti-Zionists to its left, with both the witchhunt in the Labour Party and the attacks of Prevent and the Zionists outside it. Refusing to sell the publications of a Socialist trend active in Labour that is witchhunted by the right really means joining in the witchhunt.

◘ We appeal to the SWP membership and cadre to fight against this latest scandalous capitulation.

◘ We appeal to all socialists and working class militants to demand of Housmans and Bookmarks that they cease their censorship of Socialist Fight and allow its sale in their bookshops. ▲


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