“Solidarity cuts both ways,” the Jewish Labour Movement has stated in an ultimatum to the Labour Party that it won’t campaign in elections unless the party agrees to force its MPs to undergo a rating system on how they deal with allegations of anti-Semitism.
The claim is absolutely right. However, as Labour has bent over backwards to accommodate this organisation of around 150 far-right, pro-Israeli, pro-Zionist extremists (I note that The Guardian reckons it has 2,000 members and wonder where the other 1,850 were during the AGM on Sunday), it seems that this is not the time for further concessions. It is time the JLM made a gesture of support to the Labour Party.
In any case, if the JLM refuses to support Labour, its public image is such that the choice cannot be interpreted as anything other than opposition to the party and its policies – and that is not permitted under Labour rules; you can’t be a party member who campaigns against it.
Labour believes in the right to self-determination for all peoples and this provides an opportunity for the JLM to show its loyalty. Over in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu is threatening to annexe Palestinian land in the West Bank, and is demanding that Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights (which is part of Syria) be legitimised. Where is the JLM’s condemnation of these statements that deny Palestinians the right to self-determination?*
Labour MP Ruth Smeeth – a JLM member who has been caught lying about anti-Semitism allegations in the past, several times – reportedly said, “We have made clear that we want to stay affiliated to the Labour party – but on our own terms.” That is not how the party works, and as an MP, she knows it.
Membership of Labour – and affiliation to it – is on the Labour Party’s terms. If the JLM and its members don’t like those terms, they can ship out.
There is a perfectly workable – and far more decent – prospective Jewish affiliate in Jewish Voice for Labour, an organisation of equal size that doesn’t allow non-Jews to join, and doesn’t allow non-Labour-supporters in either, as the JLM does. Who knows which parties are supported by these non-Labour JLM members? And what is their motive?
The proposal of a scorecard is an insult and Labour MPs should reject it out-of-hand.
As they should reject the Jewish Labour Movement and all of its shrill demands.
*UPDATE: It turns out that the JLM did, in fact, pass a motion condemning Mr Netanyahu’s plans. How nice. But we should judge others by their actions, not just their words. Jeremy Corbyn has been at the centre of yet another huge row about anti-Semitism, partly as a result of the JLM’s behaviour. I had heard nothing about the motion against Netanyahu until I was informed about it on Twitter. What has the JLM done to support this (rather weakly-worded) protest?
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