Fight within

The decision of Anne Kennedy to resign from Labour Party membership, and from her seat on Dunstable council, is understandable, but regrettable. This followed malicious and false allegations of anti-Semitism because of her forthright opposition to the persecution of Palestinians and trenchant criticism of Israeli apartheid and Zionist racism.

But, of course, it removes her from the crucial fight within the Labour Party to transform it into a socialist, anti-war, anti-imperialist party. I hope others in her situation - and there will certainly be others - do not follow suit. Like Ken Livingstone’s resignation from the party, it will not help Jeremy Corbyn, or the mass of Corbynite members, to defeat the right wing in the party. Resignations will not satisfy the right. They will ignore Ken’s declaration of innocence. Every time he speaks up for Jeremy, they will say, ‘Look: the anti-Semite is supporting the anti-Semite’.

Anne Kennedy’s suspension from Labour confirmed that the anti-Corbyn witch-hunters are alive and well in Labour’s HQ. Those notorious twitter champions of Israeli ethnic cleansing and settler-colonialism - @GnasherJew and Euan Philips of the misnamed Labour Against Antisemitism - dredged up Facebook comments over the past eight years and labelled them anti-Semitic.

Only Zionist zealots still embedded in Labour’s bureaucracy, despite the replacement of witch-finder general Iain McNicol, could accept at face value allegations which so obviously conflate criticism of Israel or Zionism with anti-Semitism. That is what the ‘new anti-Semitism’, invented by the Israeli state, does - in its desperate attempt to damn critics of Israel as Jew-haters. That is what the examples associated with the International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition of ant-Semitism do. Which is why the Labour Party, when it adopted the IHRA definition, did not adopt the examples. So how come the apparatchiks, the practitioners of automatic suspensions and expulsions, ignore Labour policy and treat such allegations as legitimate?

Furthermore, why should membership rights be instantly removed before any investigation into mere allegations of anti-Semitism, especially when they are so obviously malicious? Kennedy’s suspension not only removes her membership rights, but also overrides the democracy of the local Constituency Labour Party and the rights of local party members, who went through a rule-governed selection process to choose her as their candidate for Northfields ward.

Buzzfeed News, which broke the story of her alleged anti-Semitism, rubbished its own pretended status as an alternative to mainstream media. True, it prefaced “anti-Semitism” with the word “allegedly”, but then it treated very respectfully the bullshit of a “spokesperson for the @GnasherJew twitter account” and “Euan Philipps of Labour Against Antisemitism”, faithfully reproducing all of the allegations with not a hint of a challenge to these charlatans. No sign of investigative journalism there, then. No doubt Buzzfeed itself is afraid of falling foul of this McCarthyite witch-hunt, which is so effectively frightening people into silence and stifling much-needed open discussion - the only real way of separating fact from fiction.

But what can we expect when a “Labour Party spokesperson” offers Buzzfeed the following mealy-mouthed comment? “Anti-Semitism has absolutely no place in the party and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms. Labour takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously, which are fully investigated and appropriate disciplinary action taken in line with our rules and procedures.”

I much prefer Anne Kennedy’s fighting rebuttal (quoted in Dunstable Today online, June 8):

“I believe the accusations to be part of a wider smear campaign against pro-Palestinian supporters in the Labour Party ... If the posts in question were indeed anti-Semitic, it would have been clear enough for the ‘journalist’ to post them in context and without desperately and ludicrously trying to link me and my husband to Hamas.

“I have never mocked Jews, posted comments blaming Jews for Israel’s war crimes or made any reference to a ‘New World Order’ conspiracy theory. In fact I have called people out on their conflation of Judaism with Zionism and stereotypical characterisations of Jews. I am also calling out the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism that conflates criticism of Israel with criticism of Jews as a group.

“I am criticising the illegal expansion policies of a state that claims the right to defend its borders, yet won’t define those borders. I am not criticising Israel because it is a Jewish state. I am criticising Israel for its illegal siege of two million people. I am criticising Israel for its war crimes (eg, use of white phosphorous on a civilian population), for shooting journalists and medics, for blowing up children playing on a beach, for demolishing Palestinian homes, for collective, cruel and unusual punishment and for its perpetual occupation of Palestinian land. I will not pretend I ‘didn’t know’.”

Well said.

Stan Keable


Another week, another victim in the crusade against supposedly rampant anti-Semitism in Labour.

Without going into the particulars of the Anne Kennedy case, I would like to make some general remarks. Palestine solidarity attracts a lot of cranks and odd bods who aren’t necessarily consistently leftwing. Some might be religiously motivated; others are outraged liberals with a moralistic ‘good vs evil’ world view. They’re rightly appalled by Israeli crimes, which in their minds are all the more scandalous, since ‘the Jews’ were victims of genocide ‘themselves’ - hence frequent Nazi comparisons. They understand that the Zionists are the baddies and the Palestinians the good guys, but they haven’t spent much time thinking about nationalism in the abstract. Consequently, some of their outbursts border on the chauvinistic or anti-Semitic, or they may even cross that line. What do you expect in a world where most people think in terms of nations rather than classes?

While we should defend those in need of education against expulsions, I think it is OK to admit that many things said or posted by ‘anti-Zionists’ are gibberish, instead of nitpicking through their nonsense to defend it. However, if certain people act in an alarmist way about anti-Semitism ‘on the left’ and the likes of Jeremy and Momentum make concessions to that, then it is also OK to ask: what threat do isolated outbursts, however backward or unpleasant, pose to British Jews?

What are the material effects of anti-Semitism today beyond causing offence? Who do they actually hurt in a tangible sense? In my view, they mainly hurt the left and the Palestinian cause. To change that, I suspect communists will need to equip the left and working class movement with a coherent, scientific world view again - which is a long and difficult process. Until then, we are dealing with an array of single issues, campaigns and causes, most of which breed their own resident idiocies.

Maciej Zurowski


I must disagree with Andrew Northall when he states that Livingstone said “Hitler was a Zionist” (Letters, June 7). From what I’ve seen - and I didn’t hear the programme - he actually said: “… his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism …”; which is a bit different.

Any decent socialist who disagreed with what Livingstone said would have engaged in a discussion: after all, there was nothing anti-Semitic in it, and I imagine that he might have agreed some clarification. After all, this was a radio interview - over the phone, I believe - and he was responding to an early move by the right to attack Labour members with false charges of anti-Semitism.

In his resignation statement Livingstone said: “These accusations are utterly false. Had I said Hitler was a Zionist I would have apologised, as it is an evidently ridiculous idea.” Any of us may have our political differences with Livingstone, but I’m not aware of any reason at all for accusing him of anti-Semitism or any other kind of racism.

The real people who should be out of the Labour Party are those who have allied themselves with the rightwing scum press and the Conservative Party to claim that they are fighting some sort of anti-Semitic cesspool in Labour. Stupid comments (as, for instance, regarding Northall’s MP) or on-the-hoof history can be dealt with in a civilised manner within the Labour Party - an all-out attack on its leader and the bulk of the membership requires a more robust response.

Jim Cook


Ian Donovan claims that the decision of Grassroots Black Left to abandon Labour Against the Witchhunt is connected to LAW’s decision to exclude Socialist Fight, which was agreed at its January 6 meeting (Letters, June 7).

There is one slight problem with this, however: I believe that GBL comrades present at that meeting voted in favour of SF’s exclusion. Certainly Marc Wadsworth made a point of congratulating me afterwards for my speech in support of the successful motion. But not to worry - don’t let little matters like that get in the way of your pathetic arguments, Ian.

Like the implied claim that the passing of the motion resulted from an alliance of convenience between the CPGB and some “semi-Bundist types” (!). In fact the motion was carried by a large majority from a variety of political currents, and supported by highly respected comrades, such as Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group and Moshé Machover - himself suspended from Labour and quickly reinstated following false charges of anti-Semitism directed against him. But I suppose a Jew like comrade Machover must be a “semi-Bundist” if he voted for the motion - another instance of Donovan’s contention that Jews in general tend to uphold reactionary politics of one kind or another.

The most notable example of this is, of course, his continually repeated allegation that a central reason behind imperialist support for Israel is the “overrepresentation” of Jews amongst the bourgeoisie in states like the USA and Britain. Donovan does not see any problem with such statements and contends that pointing out its obvious anti-Semitism “boils down to the view that Marxists are not allowed to analyse the Jewish question”.

Not at all, Ian. It is very useful to discuss, for example, to what extent Jews in countries like the US are supportive of Zionism, as comrade Machover himself has done recently (see ‘End of a love affair?’ Weekly Worker May 24). But to state that there are just too many Jews at the top and that’s the cause of imperialism’s support for Israel is so patently anti-Semitic that it’s surprising even Ian Donovan can’t understand why. He seriously seems to believe that the tail wags the dog ... but how that explains US foreign policy in the Middle East pre-1967 therefore becomes a mystery. Did the number of Jews at the top pass a tipping point in 1967? Or was the US-Israel alliance born of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War and the US strategic need for an unsinkable aircraft carrier?

Equally dismal is his insistence that the ruling class in Britain still adheres to the biological racism used to justify the colonial empire - and presumably is continually attempting to rely on racism - despite all the evidence to the contrary. It is pretty obvious that today’s official ideology is anti-racist, in that it constantly advances the notion that ‘we British’ - worker and capitalist, black and white - have a common, united interest, which is sometimes opposed to that of other nations. To underline this, the establishment actively encourages the promotion of non-whites to prominent positions - whether that is presenting the news on TV or taking leading roles in mainstream political parties. And now there is Meghan Markle (aka the duchess of Sussex)

The Sunday Telegraph has just carried a story whose headline reads: “Sajid Javid seems to be the ‘anointed one’ if judgment day finally arrives for Theresa May” (June 10). Surely the rightwing racists at the Telegraph should at the very least be arguing against the likes of Javid getting the premiership, if not actively promoting the notion that only whites should occupy the top job? But the article contains no hint of such thinking. In reality instances of actual racism are frowned upon to such an extent that they are likely to be met by immediate disciplinary action even by the likes of Ukip.

Of course, in the hands of the ruling class anti-racism is used as part of a reactionary ideology, aimed at denying the common class interests of the proletariat in the name of queen and country. While previously the promotion of racism was seen as a useful way of achieving the same end, today official anti-racism is regarded as a much more pertinent and practical means.

It is true that blacks are disproportionally the victims of death in police custody, stop and search, etc. But trying to find evidence for the official encouragement by senior police officers of discriminatory behaviour - let alone the specific targeting of blacks - would be a pretty fruitless task, I suspect. On the contrary, (usually insufficient) attempts to combat surviving racist attitudes would be a more likely outcome of such research.

But so much of the left is still living in the past. We learnt long ago that the ruling class always uses racism to divide us, so why should we now bother to look at the possibility of other bourgeois strategies? At least the Socialist Workers Party has reluctantly recognised some kind of change - it has been forced to redefine racism, so that it now means opposition to immigration.

So people like Dave Vincent, whose interesting thoughts occasionally appear on the letters pages of this paper, are racist, according to the new definition, because they want to keep out workers from eastern Europe who may be prepared to undercut current wages and working conditions. In reality, such ideas betray a different kind of reactionary sentiment - that of national sectionalism as an illusory means of defending and advancing the interests of workers in Britain alone.

But for some people it’s a case of ‘I’ve always believed this and I always will’. That’s the sort of attitude that gives dogmatism a bad name.

Peter Manson

Code word

When Hillary Clinton posed as the race-gender-class candidate, many Democrat voters, especially black ones, declined to vote for her, as she was seen as ‘too establishment’. Those leaked emails reveal how comfortable she is with tax-averse bankers and anti-labour free traders. That’s why she lost states to Trump.

The working class are indeed divided by ideologies, such as localism, regionalism and nationalism, amongst others, but they are united in being anti-status quo - the elite code word for which is ‘populism’. The question is, can we connect with the latter, while opposing the former?

Mike Belbin


With over 25% of the public now avoiding shops and businesses which do not accept debit cards, it is a good idea for Weekly Worker sellers to invest £30 in purchasing a card-reader. The increase in sales via debit card payments would more than cover the costs of a card-reader.

On a similar note, Sweden is the first country in the world to become a cashless society. This has been the direct result of a campaign by the Swedish banking trade unions, which followed a spate of assaults on bank staff during bank robberies, and the cashless society in Sweden has gone a long way towards eliminating the black economy in that country.

In Britain, the black economy is dominated by tax evasion, prostitution, brothels, illegal drug dealing and dodgy landlords. A big step forward towards eliminating it would be the withdrawal from circulation of all £10, £20 and £50 notes - such notes being the favoured means of exchange of organised crime. Currently organised crime uses businesses such as burger vans, beauty salons and tanning studios to launder their ill-gotten gains. However, newly introduced money-laundering regulations mean that all accountants, bank staff and solicitors must report any suspicions of money-laundering to the police.

In the long term, mobile phone apps will eventually replace debit cards, but, in the short term debit cards and bank transfers will be replacing cash and cheques, the latter mainly being used by pensioners. The development of a cashless society is the embryo within the capitalist economy of a communist society without money. Marxists should therefore support all moves towards it.

John Smithee