‘Anti-Semitism’ accusation against Momentum vice-chair was ‘outrage’, say witnesses

Jackie Walker (center right) at a meeting of Momentum in Brighton and Hove, in June [Image: The Electronic Intifada].

Jackie Walker (center right) at a meeting of Momentum in Brighton and Hove, in June [Image: The Electronic Intifada].

Suddenly the attack on Jackie Walker makes a lot more sense. The “training session” at the Labour Party conference used a discredited definition of anti-Semitism that deliberately confused it with anti-Zionism.

Is this why the definition used there was not mentioned in Jessica Elgot’s Guardian article on Wednesday (September 28)?

So now we know Ms Walker certainly was justified in objecting to the definition of anti-Semitism put forward on the day. It has never been formally endorsed by the EU, but has been vigorously promoted by groups with an interest in confusing the state of Israel with Zionism and criticism of either with anti-Semitism.

She was also attacked for suggesting that Holocaust Memorial Day referred disproportionately to the Shoah inflicted on the Jewish people by Adolf Hitler’s Nazis. While the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust does in fact commemorate other holocausts, they all happened after World War II. Ms Walker, it seems, was objecting to the fact that transatlantic slavery, which happened before the Shoah, is not mentioned. In a statement attacking Ms Walker, it is noteworthy that the Trust only mentions events subsequent to World War II – meaning she was correct.

So the attack on Ms Walker was utterly unjustified, it seems.

Unfortunately, this story has shown once again that a lie can go around the world while the facts are still getting their shoes on.

Ms Walker has deactivated her Twitter account, claiming that she has been inundated with a torrent of anti-black racism and denial and questioning of her Jewishness.

The whole episode leads This Writer to question the role of the Jewish Labour Movement, which organised the training session and would have known the definition of anti-Semitism it was putting forward was prejudicial.

It seems the JLM also leaked a video of the incident involving Ms Walker to the right-wing media in a deliberate attempt to discredit her – and a deliberate flouting of Labour Party rules. Training sessions are intended to be ‘safe spaces’ where ideas and questions can be explored without prejudice against the individuals exploring them.

There are plenty of other Jewish representative organisations but it seems the JLM gets the lion’s share of media attention.

Perhaps, that should change, if this is what the JLM does with it.

The vice chair of the Jeremy Corbyn support campaign Momentum has slammed as an “outrage” a training session at the Labour Party conference which conflated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

Anti-racism activist Jackie Walker, who is Jewish and Black, attended the Jewish Labour Movement training session along with other individuals active in the Palestine solidarity movement, including boycott activist Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and London School of Economics professor Jonathan Rosenhead.

Rosenhead told The Electronic Intifada on Wednesday that the group, all of whom were Jewish, were “concerned to understand how the Jewish Labour Movement thought training on anti-Semitism should be carried out, but became aware of serious defects.”

Jewish Labour Movement vice chair Mike Katz ran the session. At one point, he claimed that the “standard” definition of anti-Semitism was the “EUMC definition.”

Many in the room immediately objected.

In fact, the 2005 European Union Monitoring Center’s discussion paper on anti-Semitism, which Katz was clearly referring to, has always been controversial.

Critics of the EUMC paper have always said it was not suitable because it conflated anti-Semitism with criticism of Zionism.

Source: Jewish activists criticize Labour anti-Semitism training | The Electronic Intifada


Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in eBook format here:

HWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:


14 thoughts on “‘Anti-Semitism’ accusation against Momentum vice-chair was ‘outrage’, say witnesses

  1. Charlie Mansell

    There is a separate memorial day for slavery. I’m really surprised such a campaigner did not know this and if she did it makes the issue much worse: http://www.un.org/en/events/slaveryremembranceday/

    All the UN memorial days are listed here. If people want their Council to commemorate some of them too, they can email their Councillors http://www.un.org/en/events/slaveryremembranceday/

    The above illustrates why people who had got into trouble before should be very careful in mentioning issues like this especially when they claim to campaign on anti-slavery issues too.

    Hope Not Hate have issued this statement which is worth reading

    TSSA which provide support/offices for both Hope Not Hate and Momentum have issued this statement

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      She wasn’t talking about slavery – she meant the deaths associated with transatlantic slavery, which I think you’ll appreciate is – while connected – different.
      The Hope Not Hate comment appears to have been made without full knowledge of the circumstances, as does that of Mr Cortes at TSSA.
      I suggest that you – and they – acquaint yourselves with the facts before commenting further.

      1. Charlie Mansell

        The first link is clear: “Every year on 25 March, the International Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system”. That is equally treated by the entire UN as a day similar to Holocaust Memorial Day. Why do you think she was not aware of this and suggested Holocaust Memorial day share this event which already exists? Surely she would do much better running a campaign to celebrate that event more. I know some Council’s do, such as Bristol and Liverpool, but more could. However she talks about an issue she really should have avoided and that then leads to questions over he judgment as supposedly a leading political activist irrespective of whether it is judged to be anti-semitic or not

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I don’t know that she was unaware of this and neither do you.
        I don’t see any suggestion that Holocaust Memorial Day share this event.
        I question why you make such claims.
        As I said before, you need to acquaint yourself with the facts of this situation before commenting further.
        Please do not try to post further comments until you have at least tried to do so.

      3. Charlie Mansell

        You claim she said in her article the event should share with slavery. You said in your article the following: “She was also attacked for suggesting that Holocaust Memorial Day referred disproportionately to the Shoah inflicted on the Jewish people by Adolf Hitler’s Nazis. While the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust does in fact commemorate other holocausts, they all happened after World War II. Ms Walker, it seems, was objecting to the fact that transatlantic slavery, which happened before the Shoah, is not mentioned.” I have pointed out there is a separate day already agreed by the UN as an official day and provided official links to it. I have also quoted Hope Not Hate, the UK’s Premier anti-racist organisation and TSSA and Manuel Cortes who strongly back the Leader and Hope not Hate and Momentum. These are surely very mainstream views of the party reaction to this issue. I think I have done quite a bit of research on this issue, with 4 key links and some commentary. As you are a good democrat liking differing views, I am very sure you welcome that comrade

      4. Mike Sivier Post author

        Not when the views are inaccurate and based on false or prejudicial sources.
        Now, for the last time: GO AND DO SOME REAL RESEARCH!

  2. Robert Jones

    An interesting take on the story – but there’s more than one other way of looking at it. I do believe that some have talked up the incidence of anti-Semitism in the party, and what they usually mean is concern over a) the number of Muslims and others in some constituencies who are outraged by what the Israeli government has done – and may extend their outrage to Jews who support Israel (but not necessarily its Likud government, b) an implied attack on the right of Israel to exist as a state.

    It isn’t anti-Semitism that needs defining so much as Zionism: many attack the latter, but is it surprising that Jewish people interpret that as an attack on the former? Not when the Chief Rabbi in England says, as he did, that the two are indistinguishable – that Jews are likely to be Zionists, even perhaps should be (although not all are): the most dispassionate observer, should there be one, is likely to be confused.

    Into this debate – though it can hardly be called that when people aren’t listening – walks Jackie Walker… I don’t believe she’s anti-Semitic; I do believe her remarks have been exploited by those who have been looking to destabilize the current Labour leadership. But – she should still have known better; and it’s significant that the movement to remove her is coming from Momentum itself, so far as I can see. Even so – it would be unfair and wrong to make a scapegoat of someone who didn’t stop long enough to think before she spoke, even if, on this, we’re all treading on eggshells.

    I believe that some progress might be made – ultimately: it will create division in the immediate term – if Labour makes a renewed commitment to Israel as a state, because while I’m not Jewish myself, my Jewish friends are concerned that this is now in doubt. While that doubt remains, many Jewish people, and many others, are going to be deeply unhappy with the present situation, and there will be other Jackie Walkers, more outrage, more distress and more cynical exploitation of both.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It is indeed surprising that people of any kind confuse anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Not all Jewish people make that mistake, so you are wrong to suggest it, even if that was unintentional.
      I find it odd that you are confusing the current issue with one about Muslims angry at the Israeli government or attacks on the right of Israel to exist, which have nothing to do with this matter.
      Why should Jackie Walker have known better than to say what she did? She was right to criticise the definition of anti-Semitism being touted by the JLM; it’s inaccurate and prejudicial. And she’s entirely entitled to have an opinion about Holocaust Memorial Day.
      The movement to remove her has nothing to do with Momentum. Momentum is supporting her.
      I think you need to do a little more research before commenting.

      1. Robert Jones

        You’re a touch inclined to be patronizing, but this is your blog so good luck to you. I think you’re missing a number of points yourself, notably that Momentum plainly hasn’t supported her if its steering committee’s response is anything to go by. We’ll see, on Monday.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        How charming you are. Of course Momentum had offered nothing but support for Ms Walker when this particular article was written and published. The story has evolved since then.

  3. Chris Bergin.

    As somebody formerly married to a jewish man. I would like to comment.His take on the subject is thst the state of Israel can do no wrong. This ignores the fact the since the imposition of this state the Pallestinians have been pushed more and more off land that had been in their families for generations (long before paperwork was required.) The current state of mayhem and entitlement reflects the attitude of USA far more than that of people whose main requirement was a safe haven not an armed camp.

    1. Nibs

      well yes Chris. This is exactly what is going on. Not only must all of us accept that the state of Israel “can do no wrong”, but that also the Jewish people also have a totally unblemished historical record and have never done anything nasty or dubious.
      This despite the fact that they are as human as any other people or creed, and have their share of good’uns and bad’uns.
      Hence the outcry over Livingstone’s Havaara agreement talk, as it’s IMPOSSIBLE that Zionism can have a slightly murky past, or forced into realpolitik (but we know its past is well murky).
      Hence also the outcry at Jackie Walker’s comments that…SHOCK….Jews may have been involved in the slave trade, even heavily. She should know quite frankly. The scholarship supports her too.
      But woebetide that anyone should now actually talk about history, or if they do, just don’t mention the Jews….off limits.

  4. Brian

    Deliberately looking for fault with another’s views is the real prejudice. It’s very much the work of a coward to discredit others in this way. Such action is more a reflection of the critics insecurity. Jackie Walker’s view may, or may not be correct, it really does not matter, it is the motive behind the attack where the true hate resides.

Comments are closed.