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Anti-semitism: a statement by Hornsey & Wood Green Labour Party

Steve Hart, Chair of Hornsey & Wood Green Constituency Labour Party writes:

I made the following statement on anti-semitism and the Labour Party at the beginning of the General Committee meeting on the 25th May, 2016 - this is the main delegate meeting of the local constituency party, attended by 60-70 delegates from branches and affiliates. Several people asked me to put it the statement on the website, so here it is.

Statement on anti-semitism
"There's been much discussion about anti-semitism and the Labour Party recently. While there are strongly held and different views, as Chair of this CLP I want to make a few points. Because we can't ignore these problems. It's my responsibility to make these remarks.

One thing is very clear, some of our members, Jewish members, have been deeply upset by events recently. I know that we have lost members in this local party. I met one member with Catherine [West MP] to discuss things. He was very much on the left, strongly opposed to Israeli actions against Palestinians and felt deeply uncomfortable with what he perceived as anti-semitism to the extent that he was going to leave. Our conversation provided considerable reassurance, but I'm not sure it was enough.

It deeply pains me that this party, and indeed the left, which have been and should be the safest redoubt against discrimination, racism and anti-semitism, can even start to be challenged, that our reputation and pride are questioned. But that is indeed the case. So for me, it is vital that we take all necessary action to remedy the situation. 

As with all equal opportunities issues and complaints, in the first place we must listen and give strong weight to 'the eye of the beholder' of discrimination. And we should also state clearly that so long as anti-semitism, racism, islamophobia, homophobia, sexism exist in society, of course they will exist in the Labour Party, with its 400,000 members, to some degree even if, we earnestly hope, at a very low degree. Our task is to constantly be aware and combat discriminatory words, practices and policies including developing structures and processes that can deal with complaints and provide remedies. It's vital we address anti-semitism as it is to address islamophobia and the rest.

Nationally the party has acted, and Shami Chakrabarti is examining this situation and will report speedily. 

But locally it is vital that we show fullest respect to all comrades. 

Let common sense apply whether in formal or informal discussions.

Invoking Hitler in debate, in any way, is simply not acceptable - especially if your relatives perished in the Holocaust at his hands - and people here tonight will have lost family in that Holocaust, to do so can be deeply upsetting and understandably so. And the Holocaust was a particular and utterly appalling genocidal horror for Jewish people and all humanity - it brooks no comparisons or hierarchies of genocide full stop. 

Support for the Palestinian people against the 'extremist' policies of the Israeli government - to quote the recently resigned Defence Minister - is not anti-Semitic and is indeed the position of many many Jews here and indeed in Israel. However some generalised statements of anti-Zionism drift into, or are, explicit anti-semitism and give fear that the intention is to eliminate the state of Israel and 'sweep the Jews' into the sea - and in the eyes of many a new Holocaust. I know my friends in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign are very careful to avoid this, but others aren't. Indeed some overt anti-Semites attach to the just pro-Palestinian cause. Such people need to be challenged, called out and, quite frankly, dealt with quickly especially if they are in the Labour Party.

And generalisations about Jews linked to global elites, finance and the rest are straight forward racism. And suggesting that Jewish people in general have a responsibility in some way for Israeli policy is as racist.

Some may say, it is the right who are stirring this up, indeed that it is Israeli extremists also who want to isolate support for Palestinians. But such stirring can only happen when there is a pot to stir. The answer for us is to redouble our efforts to get it right - to leave no room at all, nothing in the 
pot, for those who would stir it. 

This party must be a comfortable place for all, supportive of all minorities. We must address these problems around anti-semitism and quickly. 

But also we must be aware and constantly address other forms of racism including islamophobia which has seen assaults on public transport locally, and indeed recently has seen, for example, the overt deliberately Islamophobic murder of an 82 year old man in Birmingham by the Ukrainian nail bomber, and the arson destruction of an Islamic centre in Muswell Hill. 

We all need to pay careful attention over the next period with more proactive actions across our multi-cultural constituency - in common with others, we've been far too complacent. Please consciously strive to ensure that we are at all times a party that is, so far as humanly possible, beyond reproach."

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commented 2017-10-07 23:41:38 +0100
this quotation seems explicit
but is tempered by concern for what the beholder eye rather than what is the case.

I was hoping to see a clear repudiation of the
equation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism.
I still hope to see my constituency party take a clear stance on this.

“Support for the Palestinian people against
the ‘extremist’ policies of the Israeli government
– to quote the recently resigned Defence Minister –
is not anti-Semitic and is indeed
the position of many many Jews here and indeed in Israel.”

Steve speaks in this missive of how criticism of Israel
may go with antisemitic sentiments.
Indeed, it may. But to mention that in this context seems to be
evading the need to oppose the mysterious
pro-Israeli agenda in the National Party.
Is he trying to have it both ways?

What a clever piece of antisemitism it is
to brand the moral stance of so many Jews as antisemitic.
It’s like a virus that attacks the immune system.

Steven Mendoza
membership number L1400890
commented 2016-06-04 09:41:10 +0100
As a member of Sheffield Central CLP can I congratulate Steve. This is exactly the right response we should have as a party. Well done and fraternal greetings!

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