As Vice-Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), Mike Katz has again asked the Labour Party to expel members for antisemitic views and for a rule change making this easier. Otherwise the Party will be seen as ‘not welcoming to Jews’ (Katz plea, CNJ, 29.09.2016). Which Jews does he mean? And how does the JLM define ‘antisemitic views’?The latter question was raised at the JLM’s training session on antisemitism during the Party’s September conference. Running the session, Mike Katz eventually claimed that the standard definition of antisemitism is ‘the EUMC definition’, i.e. from the European Union Monitoring Committee. Many Jewish participants there objected, for good reasons: The EUMC never adopted the ‘working definition’ which was temporarily on its website; its successor body has disavowed it. Although the definition rightly begins with ‘hatred toward Jews’, it also encompasses any views ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.’The latter criterion aims to protect some Jews’ emotional or political attachment to Israel, despite its basis in colonial-settler racism which continues today. This is perversely equated with 'Jewish self-determination'. The JLM is affiliated to the Israeli Labour Party, which early on urged employers to select ‘Jewish-only Labour’, has supported new Jewish settlements and today colludes with anti-Arab racism.In the Labour Party here, why do pro-Israel activists want to make expulsions easier? Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has mobilised and attracted new Labour Party members sympathetic to the campaign of Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) against Israel. Many Jewish members are dissociating themselves from the Zionist project. To counter these anti-racist forces, the JLM smears them as antisemites. Many have been suspended from the Labour Party, with little recourse to the due process that was advocated by the Chakrabarti Commission. In these ways, the JLM aims to protect the colonial-settler character of Israel. Both should be opposed as racist. For more information, see our website.
Les Levidow, Free Speech on Israel, www.freespeechonisrael.org.uk
UPDATE: The letter is now on line at the Camden New Journal online