Ignorance victorious (for now) as Labour suspends Jackie Walker for alleged anti-Semitism

Jackie Walker said she had not found a definition of antisemitism she could work with [Image: Andy Hall for the Observer].

Jackie Walker said she had not found a definition of antisemitism she could work with [Image: Andy Hall for the Observer].

This is a pointless exercise. Labour will look at the evidence, see that there is no case against Ms Walker, and reinstate her – as happened before.

The real villains in this little melodrama are the elements of the Jewish Labour Movement who conspired to entrap the Momentum vice-president – and failed rather miserably.

Principle among these must be Mike Katz, vice-chair of JLM, who led the ‘training’ session where a discredited definition of anti-Semitism was put forward (intended to provoke a controversial comment, perhaps?) and the event was recorded on camera – a breach of Labour’s ‘safe space’ policy for training sessions – in order to provide the right-wing press with damning material.

But here’s the thing: The EUMC definition of anti-Semitism is discounted by the vast majority of interested parties – including the organisation that commissioned it. It has no official status and successor body the Fundamental Rights Agency ditched it.

(For a better definition, try my eBook The Livingstone Presumption, price £1.99, available here.)

Holocaust Memorial Day really doesn’t include genocides that took place before World War II – which was the point Ms Walker was making, and one which the Guardian article (quoted below) overglosses. Notice that comments on this article are switched off.

The article is notable for re-sparking the feud between Labour’s John Mann and Ken Livingstone, currently suspended after Mr Mann accused him of anti-Semitism over remarks made in April.

If Mr Mann’s claim about Ms Walker’s comments is any yardstick, Mr Livingstone’s suspension will be lifted soon.

But Mr Livingstone is wrong in his claim that Ms Walker was ignorant; she knew that the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism is not acceptable and that Holocaust Memorial Day does not cover historical genocides prior to World War II.

Perhaps the ignorance is all on the opposing side?

Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker has been suspended from Labour over controversial comments she made at a party training event.

Leaked footage showed the campaigner saying she had not found a definition of antisemitism she could work with.

The footage also showed her questioning why Holocaust Memorial Day was not more wide-ranging to include other genocides.

Labour said it did not comment on individual party memberships but it is understood Walker has now been suspended.

Labour MP John Mann called Walker’s comments “unacceptable in a modern political party” by any standard.

But former London mayor Ken Livingstone defended some of Walker’s comments, saying “there’s a difference between ignorance and antisemitism”.

When she was asked whether she had considered resigning given the outrage among some Jewish groups, Walker said: “Some other prominent Jewish groups, of which I’m a member, think a very different thing. What we have to look at when we’re talking about this subject, particularly at the moment, is the political differences that are underlying this as well.”

Source: Labour suspends Jackie Walker over Holocaust comments | Politics | The Guardian

I was going to end the article here, but let’s have some words in support of Ms Walker by fellow Jews who were at the training session, shall we? Just to add a little substance to this story:

We are Jewish Labour activists who were with Jackie Walker at the training session on antisemitism led by Mike Katz, vice chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) during the Labour Party conference in Liverpool on Monday September 26. Like her, some of us were heckled when we raised questions unpalatable to others in the audience who share the JLM’s bias towards Israel, its coupling of Jewish identity with Zionism and its insistence on the uniqueness of Jewish suffering.

Jackie had every right to question the JLM’s definition of antisemitism and the tendency of mainstream Jewish organisations to focus entirely on the slaughter of Jews when they commemorate the Nazi Holocaust. We share her determination to build greater awareness of other genocides, which are too often forgotten or minimised. Jackie responded appreciatively when one audience member described Holocaust memorial events involving Armenians and others.

We were shocked at the way the level of barracking rose as soon as Jackie began to speak. JLM supporters demonstrated contempt for her as a Jewish woman of African heritage who is a lifelong anti-racist advocate for the rights of minorities and a leading Labour Party activist in her Thanet constituency.

We unreservedly condemn allegations of antisemitism made against Jackie Walker. Calls for her to be disowned by the Momentum movement of which she is vice-chair, and for her to be suspended for a second time from the Labour Party, are reprehensible instances of the witch hunt to which she and other Corbyn supporters have been subjected over recent months.

The way Jackie has been treated demonstrates the unfitness of the JLM to deliver training on antisemitism. It is an organisation committed to one, contested strand of Jewish labour tradition to the exclusion of any other; it relies on a definition of antisemitism that conflates Jewish identity with Zionism; and it exploits its interactions with party members to set the limits of political discourse about the Middle East in accordance with its own partisan ideology.

By promoting the witch hunt, the JLM has helped to relegate the vile prejudice of antisemitism to a tool in the armoury of pro-Israel advocates, backed by Corbyn’s enemies in the political and media establishment.

Signed:

Graham Bash, Hackney North CLP
Rica Bird, Wirral South CLP
Leah Levane, Hastings and Rye CLP
Jonathan Rosenhead, Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP
Glyn Secker, Dulwich and West Norwood CLP
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Chingford and Woodford Green CLP

Source: Jewish Labour activists in defence of Jackie Walker – Free Speech on Israel

So the JLM has a pro-Israel bias (rather than pro-Jew?), links Judaism with Zionism (when Jews can be opposed to Zionism and Gentiles can support it), and has trivialised anti-Semitism by accusing a person who is innocent.

Many of us may not have seen the leaked footage.

But I’m sure we all get the picture.

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8 thoughts on “Ignorance victorious (for now) as Labour suspends Jackie Walker for alleged anti-Semitism

  1. Melanie Wilson

    I have seen/heard the footage mentioned in your article, and I have seen/heard Jackie Walker being interviewed by Ch4 News I think it was, though not certain. At no point would I have described her words/questions as anti-semitic, she was not expressing hate filled sentiments to anyone or any group of people, she was merely questioning the given definition of anti-semitism. She spoke very eloquently in the interview, explaining why she had asked what she did, needless to say, the interviewer was trying continually to ‘trip her up’, and to press the label of anti-semite upon her. This whole issue has been blown up out of all proportion with one aim, and one aim only; to undermine and attempt to damage Jeremy Corbyn. This in itself is ludicrous, as Mr Corbyn has been opposed to racism and anti-semitism all his adult life. Ms Walker is a Jewish woman, she was wanting to add to the training session by questioning the definition of a/s, which she should have been free to do so, given it was a training session on that very subject!

    I feel strongly that this issue has been deliberately conflated with criticism of the Israeli govt, to close down any debate whatsoever, regarding the Israeli’s treatment of the Palestinians, especially those in Gaza. I condemn the treatment of the Palestinians, but I would say most strenuously, this does not make me anti-semitic. I condemn wholeheartedly any form of abuse/intimidation, howsoever and to whosoever, it is directed/delivered, and that condemnation stretches across every race and creed.

    It’s all now being used as ammunition to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters, eg Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, in order to further discredit Mr Corbyn himself. Unfortunately, it’s the Progress PLP who are given unfettered access to the TV cameras and press, and they merrily plug this untruth to their hearts content. All the while they are doing this, it is diverting attention from their own misdeeds. Shameful doesn’t come close.

  2. Pauly

    Less anti-Semitism than stupidity. I heard a recording of what she said which seemed more ignorant and foolish than anything else considering the current climate. Labour does seem to have more than its fair share of thickies who shoot their mouths off before sufficient thought it has to be admitted. But then so do the Tories, e.g., David Davies and Liam Fox, and they have political power and could do real and lasting harm!

  3. Barry Davies

    Presumably the labour party will suspend every single Muslim member as they would be likely to be anti semitic by definition, or does it only count if you are a Christian?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Ms Walker is Jewish.
      Apparently the difference is that she is of African descent.
      Or that she is one of that legendary breed, the ‘self-hating’ Jew.
      Do you believe either claim?

  4. Sven Wraight

    Who did the suspending? I’m guessing the PLP or NEC Blairites. There is no prima facie case, neither was there with Ken Livingstone, yet he’s still suspended (indefinitely?). Surely grounds to sue the bigot responsible (Mike Katz et al?).
    What happens as more decent folks are suspended? I’m guessing a loss of voting rights.
    When rules are being broken by enough people, suffering is immediate; anarchy and violence result eventually.

  5. Pjay Mac

    I honestly believe the PLP, the NEC, the Deputy Leader all 172 MPs John McTernan and Alistair Campbell have without any thought for the membership the Movements chosen Leader and the Country as a whole brought Shame and Ridicule onto the doorstep of our Party they have also with Malice and Undemocratic moves the Breaking of their own stupid rules Brought The Labour Party our Movement into Disrepute Therefore I suggest all parties involved should without further fuss or favour be REMOVED FROM OFFICE ASAP before they cause irreparable damage and heap more Dishonour onto people who care deeply about our Movement.
    Distance Ourselves From Them Now—– Deselect Every Single One Of Them They are Not Fit to Use The Legend Labour MP.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      How do you propose to do that? Even deselection just means an MP cannot stand as a candidate, in that constituency, next time.

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