Tag Archives: Zionism

Bravo to young members of the Jewish Labour Movement

A version of this letter was first posted on the Jewish Labour Movement opinion section, and can be read here

images-3We write as young members of the Labour Party and of the Jewish Labour Movement who are appalled by the recent trends of antisemitism in the Labour Party.

To see a Member of Parliament and a member of the Party’s ruling National Executive Committee suspended for making antisemitic comments and denying the offensive nature of comparing Hitler and the Nazis to the Zionist movement, has been extremely upsetting for us and many other Jewish members. The idea that accusations of antisemitism is merely a tool to smear the current leadership is quite simply wrong, and in our view, alienating to Jewish members and voters. Antisemitism exists within the Labour Party and must be taken seriously, instead of being dismissed and brushed aside.

But unfortunately, for many of us, this week has been nothing new. We know the difference between antisemitism and anti-Zionism, and right now both exist in abundance. The past few months have seen many of us having to contend with cases of antisemitism in university Labour Clubs, national youth elections and in the National Union of Students. Sadly, we are not surprised by these cases. For years, despite being party members from across the spectrum and with a range of views on domestic matters and on Israel/Palestine, we have all had experiences of being defined solely by our Jewish identity with our views ignored, and faced the use of loose antisemitic language such as ‘zio’ and ‘Zionist lobby’. At the same time, synagogues, Jewish schools and communal buildings all have high security due to the very real threat of violent antisemitic attacks. Antisemitism is not a theoretical problem, it is something we face in our daily lives. We do not want the Labour Party to become one more safe-haven for it.

Much has been written about the need for Jewish people to be able to define what is and isn’t antisemitism. This is hugely important if the Labour Party is to deal with this current crisis of antisemitism but when this current situation is over, we urge all Labour members to treat us like any other member with no prior assumptions and listen to our views as you would from anyone else, whether on domestic policy, on antisemitism or on Israel and Zionism.

Signed by Youth and Student members of the Jewish Labour Movement:

Charlie Agran
Rebecca Filer
Tommy Francies
BZ Gilinsky
Joe Grabiner
Daniel Katz
Jonathan Leader
Conor McGurran
Miriam Mirwitch
Eliana Neidich-Schwartz
Gabriel Phillips
Gabriel Pogrund
Ethan Schwartz
Aaron Simons
Miriam Steiner
Jay Stoll
Liron Velleman

Labour anti-Semitism storm now encompasses party in Scotland

A Scottish Labour councillor has been suspended from the party after a series of “anti-Semitic” rants on his blog – including one in which he describes Israel as “a war criminal state”.

Councillor Terry Kelly – who represents Paisley North West on Renfrewshire Council – has been removed from the party pending an investigation.

The move comes following a series of blog posts where he rails against Zionism and backs Ken Livingstone, who was suspended from the party last week.

The 67-year-old, who served as former Scottish Labour leader and retired MSP Wendy Alexander’s election agent on three occasions, also said the criticism of Livingstone is part of a bid to have Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ousted from his role.

Councillor Kelly has also lost his place as convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Planning and Property Policy Board following his suspension from the Labour Party.

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “The situation regarding Councillor Kelly is that he is not suspended as a councillor but, as he has been suspended by his party, he cannot serve on council boards or committees where he attended as a party representative.”

In a blog post on Saturday, April 30, Councillor Kelly wrote a blog post – titled, ‘Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone are anti Semites according to the Blairite rump of the Labour Party! Beam me up Scotty’.

terrykellyHe wrote: “The accusations of anti-Semitism are based on something he said about Hitler and German Zionists who conspired to relocate German Jews to Palestine this was before he started the wholesale murder of the German Jewish population.

“To accept their charge of anti-Semitism you have to also accept that opposition to Zionism and Israel means you are anti-Semitic.

“No one who is attacking Livingstone can tell us what Livingstone said that was anti-Semitic, he was referring to a ‘bona fide’ historical fact which was that Hitler and the German Zionists were in accord.”

And the councillor – who represents Paisley’s Ferguslie Park area, one of the most deprived areas in Britain – said he believed it was part of a campaign to see Corbyn removed from power.

He explained: “This is the lengths that the underhand Blairites in the Labour Party will go to in their attempts to get rid of Corbyn and they do not care how much damage to the party they do to achieve that.

“With Corbyn’s landslide support as leader I foresee a lot of deselections coming, they will be democratic deselections and I will be giving them my total support, these people are treacherous self servers who think they own the Labour Party, it’s high time they learned different.”

And in a blog post from Thursday, March 31, called ‘Is it possible still, for anyone to defend Israel?’ he called for a boycott of the country and compared events there to the Vietnam War.




He also called on readers to boycott Israel as part of the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement.

He explained: “Not many have investments so they can’t disinvest and sanctions are done by governments but everyone can boycott!

“The Israeli Government are twisting the arms of many countries to get them to ban BDS but the truth is that no one can stop you from boycotting Israeli goods and refusing to have any contact with them, it worked with apartheid South Africa and the State of Israel is feeling the heat so ‘pile it on’.”

Rivals on Renfrewshire Council said Councillor Kelly’s conduct was proof that Labour are not fit to govern.

A spokesperson from the Renfrewshire Council SNP group said: “SNP Leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has made clear that we have a zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism or racism of any kind.

“Councillor Kelly has made clear many times on social media his support for the view of the Iranian leadership that Israel has no right to exist, this denies the voice of the Israeli peace movement and progressive voices that want a change of policy on the Palestinian question.

“Councillor Kelly was a Militant supporter in the 1980’s, and comes from the same hard left stable as Jeremy Corbyn. “Labour is simply unelectable these days, and this is proof.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Labour said: “Terry Kelly has been suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation.”

Read more here.

Our offer to Labour and Corbyn – A five point plan to tackle their anti-Semitism crisis


AntiSemitismWatch is perhaps uniquely placed to offer the UK Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn a considered solution to the anti-Semitic crisis currently engulfing them.

We were the first to identify the clear source of the problem in our article entitled, ‘The inconvenient truth for the left and why Labour is in such a mess‘.

In the simplest terms, the political left-wing forms the ‘natural home’ of the ideology that views with hatred everything associated with and related to Israel. In essence, it is anti-Zionist sentiment that is driving the current wave, insurgency if you will, of anti-Semitism.

corbynThese views that have come so much to the fore within Labour were sparked by left-winger Corbyn’s party leadership victory, which brought with it an influx of new members with these ‘out-dated and prejudiced’ views.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is the living embodiment of this problem. There is now overwhelming evidence that BDS is home to vile anti-Semitic rhetoric, debate and policy. BDS, and its acolytes such as Israeli Apartheid Week, drives this, in part, through its lack of respect for the dignity of the individual and for the rights of others to hold and express different intellectual positions.

The article prophetically concluded that BDS movement is systemically anti-Semitic and that the political left was in danger of becoming similarly so, and so was the Labour Party!

AntiSemitismWatch just the evening before the Ken Livingstone furor erupted also predicted troubled times ahead for the relationship between the former London Mayor and Corbyn.

Corbyn’s response to the overall issue has been three-fold:

The first point has, indeed, seen some action follow with various party members, officials and MPs, including Livingstone and Naz Shah, suspended. However, it is this very same evidence that leads AntiSemitismWatch to conclude that this response is doomed to failure.

With each new accusation there have been issues of indecision, prevarication or lack of leadership shown.

  • Gerry Downing, accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ and being ‘obsessed with Jews’, kicked out, readmitted on appeal and then kicked out again.
  • Vicki Kirby, probed by the party in 2014 after a series of posts on Twitter in which she apparently suggested Adolf Hitler might be a “Zionist God” and Jews had “big noses”, subsequently reinstated with a warning, appointed vice-chairman of Labour’s Woking branch, and then suspended again.
  • Naz Shah, who following the Facebook revelations was not suspended for 32 hours until Corbyn succumbed to the pressure exerted by the media, the Prime Minister, Jewish commentators and some within his own party.
  • The Oxford University Labour Club mess which triggered the recent crisis has still not been resolved despite the launch of an inquiry into the matter.
  • Even the suspension of Ken Livingstone was weakly handled by Corbyn. Virtually all party communication on the subject was dealt with by Labour ‘spokespeople’. We also had the spectacle of John Mann being seen be many as the hero of the hour in his facing down and castigation of Livingstone. While not perhaps expecting precisely the same from the leader of the official government opposition something of the spirit displayed by Mann has been entirely lacking in Corbyn.
John Mann
John Mann MP

There are other Labour members in addition to John Mann worthy of mention for their mettle shown in fighting anti-Semitism in the party, including Wes Streeting and Luciana Berger who has herself been subjected to vicious anti-Semitic abuse.

Yet, these example are not set to be the sum total of what Labour will have to contend with. It is inevitable that the injurious damage will continue through further revelations. As such, they will persist in making mockery of the claim of a party with zero tolerance against anti-Semitism.

That brings us to the announcement of an independent inquiry to be led by Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of the rights group Liberty, who will be tasked with opening a dialogue with the Jewish community and will report back to Labour headquarters within two months on how the party can best tackle antisemitism and other forms of discrimination.

It is entirely inconceivable that this inquiry will deliver the necessary radical and truthful thinking and proposed action to deliver the step-change necessary for the Labour Party to emerge from this crisis with a realistic prospect of regaining its credibility.

Instead, it will likely focus on tightening party processes for dealing with potential  transgressors of Labour rules on racism and anti-Semitism etc. It will also undoubtedly conclude that there exists a real desire within the party leadership to tackle the issues but, AntiSemitismWatch predicts, it will entirely fail to offer up the necessary action plan to tackle the causes.

So AntiSemitismWatch offers up to Corbyn, Labour and Chakrabarti our own radical five point plan:

  1. As with any plan for recovery, first admit there is a problem. Labour’s Chuka Umunna has alluded to it, but still shied away from admitting the full extent, when he said: “I think there is a problem with anti-Semitism on the fringes of the left, there is no doubt about that; it would be completely disingenuous to deny that.”
  2. The message must come from Corbyn himself. No longer is it viable or acceptable for him to stand behind others speaking on his behalf.
  3. The admission must acknowledge that, like all parts of the political spectrum, Labour will contain individuals who hold plain, old-fashioned anti-Semitic attitudes. Labour is not immune to this just because of their long association with human rights but neither is it unique to them.
  4. The more radical aspect to the admission is to accept that while criticism of any foreign state, including Israel, is legitimate, the rhetoric on this one lone country has, all too often, been used as a disguise for attacking the Jewish people more widely.
  5. The issue of anti-Zionism would also need to be addressed as part of the admission, acknowledging that the right of self-determination is an unalienable right. That anything that calls for the destruction, removal, transportation or dismantlement of a democratic state and its people is in itself anti-Semitic. This provides for Corbyn and Labour to reassert a commitment to achieving a peaceful two-state solution.

Only such explicit clarity offered by our five point plan will take Labour towards a path out of the mire. It provides the only clarity necessary for Labour to then be able to hold true on its zero tolerance pledge.

Danny Cohen, the former head of the BBC, recently suggested of Labour, ‘If you are Jewish how can you vote for them?“. The relationship between Corbyn’s party and the Jewish community hangs by a thread. There remains limited time and opportunity for repair, our five point plan is an offer that should not be rejected.

Labour - opportunity hanging by a thread
Labour – opportunity hanging by a thread




One German bank – Two Jewish controversies

Bank Sparkasse, one of the largest banks in Germany, has managed to generate two separate controversies in a matter of months but with one common theme.

In the first, Israel’s embassy in Berlin together with local and international Jewish groups sharply criticized the banking group for allowing an opponent of the existence of Israel, who likened the Jewish state to the Third Reich, to deliver a talk in its office space titled “Jew against Zionism.”

In the second, a Sparkasse bank teller refused to open an account for an Israeli living in Berlin, telling him that Israeli passport holders are under embargo.sparkasse

Lilian Rosengarten, an activist from New York, spoke last year in a Sparkasse office of the town of Düren, near Aachen. She is a member of the International Anti-Zionist network.

Dr. Robert Neugröschel, the head of the 1,000-member Jewish community in greater Aachen, which includes Düren, told The Jerusalem Post at the time that the Rosengarten talk was a “disgrace and of course anti-Semitic.”

Hildegard Förster-Heldmann, a Green Party politician who heads the Darmstadt municipal cultural affairs committee, said, “A comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany is absurd, disrespects the descendants of the Nazi victims and belittles the criminality of Nazi Germany.”

Efraim Zuroff
Efraim Zuroff

The action of the bank came in for further criticism from Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter who suggested the people at Sparkasse “should know better.”

“The Ostfriesen paper wrote earlier this year about an exhibit addressing the banking network’s role under the Third Reich, saying that “Sparkasse loyally served the Nazi regime.”

A Sparkasse spokesman, Dirk Hürtgen, suggested the bank “Could not establish that anti-Semitic thoughts were expressed in connection with the Düren municipal museum.”

Asked by the Post reporter if he agreed with Rosengarten’s statement that Israel is an apartheid state, Hürtgen said, “I can’t judge that.” He asked “why is it relevant whether anti-Semitism took place” in the room and noted that there are “different opinions.”

Meanwhile, just today, Ynet News reported that Israeli, Yakir Avraham, went to the Sparkasse’s branch in the Alexanderplatz area of Berlin, and when he gave the teller his Israeli passport in order to open a bank account, the teller took the passport and went into another room to check it. She returned a few minutes later and said “I’m very sorry, but we cannot open up a bank account for you here. We aren’t allowed to open accounts for citizens of countries under embargo.”

Avraham was reported as saying, “I was in shock at first. How did it get to the point that they treat us like lepers? I took my passport and left the bank.”

The bank management were challenged as to whether there was a specific bank policy concerning Israel, and what they meant by “a country under embargo.”

The bank responded by claiming, “It’s clear that this isn’t our business policy. This is an unfortunate mistake made by a young colleague who is still in training, and who didn’t know how to deal with the situation properly. She deeply apologizes for the mistake. We hope that Mr. Avraham accepts our explanation and apology.”




Oxford University – Labour Party – Accusation and Resignation over anti-Semitism




Alex Chalmers, co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) has resigned from office after the OULC decided last night to endorse Israel Apartheid Week.

In his resignation statement he highlighted his concerns, alleging there were growing anti-Semitic tendencies within the OULC. Chalmers said, “The decision of the club to endorse a movement with a history of targetting (sic.) and harassing Jewish students and inviting antisemitic speakers to campuses, despite the concerns of Jewish students, illustrates how uneven and insincere much of the active membership is when it comes to liberation.”

During his two terms as co-chair of the club he further alleges he witnessed a range of declarations regarding Zionism and the Hamas including “members of the Executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon” and “senior members of the club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians.” This led him to believe that “the attitudes of certain members of the club towards certain disadvantaged groups was becoming poisonous (sic.).”

The remaining co-chair, Noni Csogor, released a statement saying, “We take allegations of anti-Semitism in the club very seriously and I will be discussing, with my executive committee, how to deal with the kinds of statements Alex mentions, and what concrete steps we can take in future.”

However, despite these fine sentiments OULC tweeted in response to the passing of the IAW motion, “OULC just voted to support Oxford Israeli Apartheid Week in a continuation of its solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

The Israeli Apartheid Week, closely associated with the BDS movement, has equally stirred up controversy with accusations of systemic anti-Semitism.


ASW.com Special Report: The absurdity that is the United Nations

As we approach International Holocaust Memorial Day it is worthy to reflect on the work of the one bastion of hope that all Jewish communities should expect to rely on. The United Nations, born out of peaceful intent at the end of World War II, should rightly be considered a shining and protective light at this time of concern and anxiety for Jews brought about by the rising tide of anti-Semitism. It is then so dreadfully tragic that this lumbering monolith simply isn’t there for us.

Un-flag-squareAfter the horrors that were manifested by man during the Second World War you would imagine that a mantra of vigilance against anti-Semitism would run through the UN like a golden thred.  Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Relying on half a trillion dollars from “Daddy” – the US – the UN over the past 70 years has morphed into a bloated, greedy, arrogant mega-bureaucracy that has spawned a plethora of ugly offspring, such as the vile UNHRC or the repulsive UN Durban Conferences on Racism which, instead of promoting peace, deliberately foment hatred.

From 2006, when the UN Human Rights Council was formed, to 2015, it passed zero condemnations of al-Qa’ida, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan or Egypt – but passed 61 condemnations of Israel.

Israel is the only nation in the world that has a standing agenda item against it at every session of the UNHRC. Not North Korea, not China, not Pakistan, not Syria, not Sudan, not Iran. The council has never once even mentioned the word “Hamas”.

Professor Anne Bayefsky, of Canada’s York University, writing of the UN human rights system, explains: “It is the tool of those who would make Israel the archetypal human rights violator in the world today. It is a breeding ground for anti-Semitism. It is a sanctuary for moral relativists. In short, it is a scandal.”

It is also the case that non-democratic states overwhelmingly control the UN. They often mouth the words of moderation, but defend nations that give sanctuary to terrorists.

Ludicrously, the three UN Durban Conferences on Racism have found racism exists in only one of the 192 nations of the UN: Israel.

Выступление Михаила Горбачева на сессии Генеральной ассамблеи ООНThen there us the notorious UN Resolution 3379, adopted on November 10, 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), that “determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. The resolution was passed with the support of the Soviet bloc and other then Soviet-aligned nations, in addition to the Arab and Islamic majority countries.

The determination that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”, contained in the resolution, was only revoked in 1991 after strenuous effort by the US and other democratic nations.

As Abe Foxman of the ADL said, “anti-Zionism constitutes anti-Semitism if Zionism is the only nationalism being opposed.”

Also, in 2012 there were 22 UN General Assembly resolutions against Israel, but only four for the rest of the world combined.

So, just to be clear, in the eyes of the UN, a tiny democracy on a tiny strip of land is responsible for five times the horrors of war, starvation, torture, imprisonment, and terrorism of Russia, Syria, Iran, China, North Korea, and all the Islamic and African states combined!

The United Nations is now only a bastion for all the is bad in the world; greed, corruption and inherent anti-Semitism. Real hope can only come from within the community working with those that see through the facade of organisations and structures like the UN.


Highly rated article – Antisemitism and the Left

ASW highly commends the following article from Dean Sherr in The Guardian. It examines the intriguing question of why the Left chooses to downplay the significance of Antisemitism?

There is a famous saying in Jewish culture that neatly summarises the history of the Jewish people and the rituals associated with our tradition: “They tried to kill us, we survived, now let’s eat.”

Easily misunderstood and misinterpreted, one of the defining characteristics of Jewish culture and identity is the awareness of historical (and modern) antisemitism. The festival of Purim, held a fortnight ago, tells the story of Haman’s attempted genocide of the Persian Jewish community. Somewhat more well-known in popular culture are the festivals of Passover and Hanukkah, which celebrate the liberation of Jews from the Egyptian and Greek empires.

Since the 1950s, we have commemorated Yom Hashoa, the Jewish day of remembrance for the Holocaust. Unlike the more historical festivals of liberation and survival, there is no great overriding sense of joy; nor is there a celebratory meal attached to it.

In light of this history, it is little surprise that many Jews had a significant relationship with the left for many years. An oppressed and marginalised people for so long, Jews have a natural political affinity with values like freedom of expression, equality, multiculturalism and, certainly, anti-racism. The concept of Jewish self-determination, Zionism, saw itself as a fundamentally left-wing movement in its inception.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, antisemitism was impossible to ignore and became a central concern of the global left, but Julian Burnside encapsulated the contemporary shift in thinking when he wrote in the Guardian that “Islamophobia is the new antisemitism”, implying, as many often do, that the old antisemitism has been superseded.

It hasn’t. Last Wednesday, a lecture at the University of Sydney by retired British Colonel Richard Kemp became the scene of a heated protest. Kemp was accused of supporting genocide, and, during the fracas, noted Australian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions advocate Professor Jake Lynch was filmed waving money in the faces of an elderly Jewish women and the Jewish student trying to prevent the two from coming to blows.

Lynch explained his actions as a response to having been kicked, saying it was a warning that he would sue, and described his restraint as “almost heroic”, though his account has been disputed by witnesses, with Kemp claiming that the woman was attempting to push Lynch away, who initiated the contact.

Irrespective of who struck first, the image of a leftwing academic brandishing money in the faces of Jewish people clearly evokes the crude antisemitic falsehood that Jews are obsessed with money and perhaps neatly encapsulates the shift of the left away from Jews.

Whatever Lynch’s excuses or reasoning, and the elderly woman’s behaviour, it was clearly an offensive and provocative gesture, reasonably likely to offend the Jewish community. In the past, a leftwing professor would surely have anticipated this, but the reality is that antisemitism today is not as pressing an issue to progressives as it once was.

Instead we have a new set of attitudes towards antisemitism: that it is of lesser importance in the west than other forms of racism, like Islamophobia; that it is no longer a serious threat to diaspora Jews; and that the gravity of its existence is diminished because of the existence and behaviour of Israel.

The attacks in Paris and Copenhagen are ample proof that antisemitism still poses a threat to Jews in the west, especially in light of new recordings from Paris confirming definitively that the gunman targeted Jews. In France, Jews make up 1% of the population yet suffer half of all racist attacks. In Australia, 2014 saw a massive increase in reported antisemitism, including physical attacks in Sydney,Melbourne and Perth.

The continue reading this article click here.