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Submission to the Sami Chakrabarti Enquiry in to Anti-semitism in the Labour Party By Monica

Submission to the Sami Chakrabarti Enquiry in to Anti-semitism in the Labour Party

By Monica Wusteman, Terry Gallogly, David E Pegg York Central Constituency

Our submission is based on our combined experience as members of the Labour Party and as long standing activists on Palestine in a number of organizations (including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign) which have brought us in to regular and close contact with members of the anti-Zionist Jewish community in the UK. If anti-semitism is rife in the Labour Party as is claimed, it would be apparent among the many Labour Party members who support the Palestine solidarity movement

What is anti-semitism?

To address this issue, it is first of all paramount that we define our terms- what antisemitism is and how it is to be to distinguished from anti-Zionism and legitimate criticism of the state of Israel. The following definition is based on the Oxford English Dictionary

Antisemitism is racial prejudice resulting in action or practice directed against Jews for no other reason than the fact that they are Jews.

Zionism and anti-Zionism

Zionism is essentially a commitment to the creation of a state for all Jews rather than one for ‘all its citizens’ in historic Palestine. It is therefore an ideology based on discrimination on religious and/or ethnic grounds, the implementation of which has been achieved through ethnic cleansing, land theft and dispossession of an indigenous people. It is an ideology which has only ever attracted a minority of Jews worldwide. Not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews so anti-Zionism cannot therefore be equated with antisemitism.

Anti-Zionism is opposition to discriminatory actions of the State of Israel.

Moreover, opposition to the Zionist project does not deny the right of Israel to exist, but it does challenge its right to exist in its current form as a racist apartheid state which flouts International Law and the basic norms of human rights that the rest of the world are expected to abide by.

The intention of the pro-Israel lobby in this country is to gain universal acceptance for the conflation of anti-semitism and opposition to the political ideology of Zionism in order to silence criticism of Israel in this country. The great wave of accusations of antisemitism against members of the Labour Party has been largely instigated with this very objective in view by members of the UK Zionist community supported by the UK media and the pro-Israel lobby within the party.

Detection of antisemitism.

The essential origin of antisemitic prejudice is in the mind of the antisemite but probing the mind is not easy and the recognition of antisemitism may therefore be difficult in practice. For this reason, a group of Zionists compiled the so-called EUMC definition (European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia) -now the FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights). The document lists numerous actions that were supposed to indicate antisemitism. However the EUMC definition itself hopelessly conflates antisemitism and anti-Zionism, resulting in false positive detection of antisemitism. The EUMC definition was never an official EU document : it was posted for discussion and has now been removed from the FRA website: it was never adopted by any European nation. It is vital that this discredited definition should not be allowed to distort any measurements of the extent of antisemitism.

Freedom of Speech

As an ideology, Zionism holds the same status as other ideologies such as neoliberalism, conservatism, Marxism, apartheid etc. As such, it cannot be beyond criticism, regardless of how passionately members of the Zionist community here and in Israel are attached to the concept of a Jewish state, the establishment of which has contributed substantially to the growing instability in the region while failing miserably to provide the objective of ‘safe haven’ for Jews.

Zionists have no more right NOT to be offended by public discourse than followers of any other political ideology, even if that discourse includes references to unsavoury events in the history of the Zionist movement or even comparison between emerging elements in Israel polity and Fascism – a comparison which is becoming more frequent in some sections of Israeli society. The concept of a ‘safe space’ for Zionists is completely at odds with that of freedom of speech and respect for the value of dissent and debate within a civilized society.

Anti-semitism and anti-Zionism and the Labour Party.

Since our party is dedicated to opposing all forms of racism, and Zionism is essentially based on racist principles, it is clear that opposition to it is likely to be more prevalent in the Labour Party than in the population as a whole. In our experience we have encountered very little genuine anti- semitism within the Palestine movement (any identified is dealt with very speedily) and none amongst Labour Party members we have worked along side. Occasionally, we have encountered the use of ill- chosen language and misconceptions, but these are commonly based on ignorance rather than authentic racist attitudes towards Jews as a whole. Here a solution can be found through education rather than exclusion and expulsion from the Party.

We have no doubt that anti-semitism does exist, and may be increasing. However, this conflation of anti-semitism with anti-Zionism is currently serving only to hamper attempts to identify and eradicate genuine anti-semitism from our society.

Recommendations.

We are greatly saddened to see how certain members of the Parliamentary Labour Party appear to be prepared to sacrifice the reputation of the Party, loyalty to an elected leader and to abandon any appearance of party unity in order to pursue their own political agendas, including colluding with Zionist organizations and Israeli institutions to silence criticism of Israel. We hope that the Commission report will take steps to end this deplorable state of affairs. We recommend the following:

· The Commission report should include a clear and unequivocal statement that

acknowledges the right of Party members to criticize the nature of the ‘Jewish State of Israel’ without fear of reprisal.

· Steps to oppose anti-semitism should be integrated with those against other forms of racism

such as islamophobia which, in our experience, is hugely more prevalent in society as whole as well as within the Party.

· The principles of natural justice require that accusations against members are made clear to

the individual. Procedures must be transparent and all information must remain confidential within the party. Information should not be leaked to the Press. Those who do so without good reason should be sacked and/or suspended from the Party.

· Where malicious unfounded attacks on members have been identified, effective action must be taken against those responsible.

· Given the essentially racist nature of the movement, Zionist organizations, including the Jewish Labour Movement, must be excluded from all party procedures.