New Jewish voice for Labour

August 22, 2017
Sarah Benton

1), FSoI welcomes Jewish Voice for Labour, 2) Asa Winstanley gives some background.


Welcome for launch of Jewish Voice for Labour


By Free Speech on Israel
August 21, 2017

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) is a new group that aims to reinvigorate the Jewish socialist tradition inside the Labour Party.

FSOI has, from its establishment in 2016, been active in combatting the Labour Party’s acquiescence in the Zionist campaign to demonise criticism of Israel. The Party bureaucracy and many leading figures on the right of the Party have uncritically adopted the views of the so-called Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) that Israel, even under its extreme right-wing leadership, is a natural bedfellow of Labour. Opposition to Netanyahu’s regime is assumed to be antisemitic unless shown otherwise – and that judgement is to be made by sceptical, if not actively hostile, adjudicator.

The JLM has many members who are neither Jewish nor party members. JVL, on the contrary, limits full membership to Labour Party members who identify as Jewish; non-Jewish party members can enrol as associate members; and people who support its aims from outside the party are welcome to register as Friends of JVL.

JVL bases its Statement of Principles on a recognition that Human Rights are universal and thus it opposes the denial of such rights to Palestinians. It follows that it recognises that campaigning to support such rights should be the natural stance of the Party and tactics such as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions should not be anathematised as antisemitic.

As a group committed to universal rights JVL places the important fight against anti-Jewish prejudice in the context of the battle against all forms of racism and discrimination and does not privilege concern with one form of hate crime over another.

While the precise nature of JVL activities will develop through debate among its new and growing membership FSOI anticipates that JVL will oppose attempts by the JLM and Labour Friends of Israel to place questioning the nature of the Israeli state off-limits. Similarly, we hope believe it will seek to strengthen the resolve of the Party to resist pressure from groups outside the Party like the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Community Security Trust to muffle opposition to occupation and apartheid.

JVL will be a partner in FSOI’s efforts to oppose and impede the IHRA (mis)definition of antisemitism. Slowing and reversing its adoption by Labour controlled Councils will be one of its major tasks.

JVL will hold its public launch at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton in September.

FSOI encourages all its supporters to join Jewish Voice for Labour as members or friends.

New Jewish group in Labour Party backs right to BDS

By Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada
August 17, 2017

Jewish members of the Labour Party have founded a new group. Jewish Voice for Labour will launch at the UK main opposition party’s conference in Brighton next month.

The new initiative presents a challenge to an existing Israel lobby group that positions itself as the representative of Jewish members of Labour.

“Our mission is to contribute to making the Labour Party an open, democratic and inclusive party, encouraging all ethnic groups and cultures to join and participate freely,” the new group said.

Jewish Voice for Labour’s founding document upholds “the right of supporters of justice for Palestinians to engage in solidarity activities, such as boycott, divestment and sanctions,” or BDS.

It adds that it opposes “attempts to widen the definition of antisemitism beyond its meaning of hostility towards or discrimination against Jews as Jews.”

This has been a key goal of the Jewish Labour Movement, an existing Israel lobby group within the Labour Party, that has sought to advance Israel’s agenda of delegitimizing BDS activism by equating criticism of Israel and its Zionist state ideology with anti-Semitism.

Jewish Voice for Labour criticizes the Jewish Labour Movement for its promotion of Israel. Unlike the JLM, Jewish Voice for Labour says it “does not make promoting the centrality of Israel to Jewish life a condition of membership.”

Celebrate and debate

Jewish Voice for Labour’s chair is Jenny Manson, a former Labour councillor and parliamentary candidate. A retired tax inspector, she is a long-standing member of the Labour Party in Finchley and Golders Green, an area of North London with a large Jewish population.

It is also the constituency where Jewish Labour Movement chair Jeremy Newmark stood as a candidate for parliament in June’s general election. He failed to win the seat back from the ruling Conservative Party.

Manson said the new group Jewish Voice for Labour would “provide a much-needed forum for Jews who want to celebrate and debate the long and proud history of Jewish involvement in socialist and trade-union activism.”

She said they “invite everyone of Jewish heritage in the Labour Party to join us in continuing these great traditions.”

Israel lobby’s voice

The existing Jewish Labour Movement is a group run by an Israel lobbyist, which works closely with the Israeli embassy in London. It was at the forefront of the campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last year, claiming the party under him was a cesspit of antisemitism.

The Jewish Labour Movement is affiliated to the UK Labour Party and says it “supports” the Israeli Labour Party. It is also a part of the World Zionist Organization – one of four key “national institutions” in Israel which aim to foster Jewish settlement on Palestinian land.

Although an older organization, the Jewish Labour Movement was moribund until the beginning of 2016. It was then taken over by longstanding Israel lobbyist Jeremy Newmark, who became its chair in February 2016.

Former Israeli embassy officer Ella Rose was then hired as its first director in August of that year.

A former president of the Israeli-government-funded Union of Jewish Students, Rose was later investigated by the Labour Party after being caught on camera wishing her enemies would “die in a hole.”

The footage was part of an undercover investigation by Al Jazeera into the Israel lobby’s influence on UK political parties.

It also showed Newmark working closely with Israeli ambassador Mark Regev during a closed door meeting at the Labour Party conference.

Newmark has a history of making false accusations of anti-Jewish bigotry as part of his efforts to silence and discredit the UK Palestine solidarity movement.

Implicit support for settlements

Newmark’s Jewish Labour Movement says that it supports the World Zionist Organization’s Jerusalem Program, which states as one of its goals: “Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.” The program defines “the country” as “Eretz Yisrael” – a term Zionists use to designate the whole of historic Palestine, including the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The use of this phrase, as well as a small map icon showing an outline of the whole of historic Palestine plus Syria’s Golan Heights on the Jerusalem Program web page, makes it clear that Newmark’s group implicitly endorses Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights are illegal under international law.

These institutional commitments undermine public claims by Newmark to oppose “the occupation” in line with Labour Party policy.

Earlier this year, Newmark was also reportedly responsible for the watering down of Labour’s general election manifesto on the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Last September, Newmark claimed to The Electronic Intifada that his group participates in the World Zionist Organization to “oppose settlements and to speak out against the occupation.”

The World Zionist Organization receives tens of millions of dollars from the Israeli government to found and develop Israeli settlements, including in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights.

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