Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn has commissioned an internal Inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism within the Labour Party.
We publish below details of the remit/terms of reference for the Inquiry as released by the Leader's Office earlier today.
This is an independent Inquiry commissioned by the Leader. JLM is publishing these details in order to assist and encourage those of our members who want to make submissions and engage with the process.
(Please note that this Inquiry is separate from the Labour Party Inquiry commissioned by the NEC and led by Baroness Royall. That Inquiry is investigating a set of specific allegations of racism & antisemitism as well as some related wider issues. Baroness Royall is expected to report back to the NEC next week.)
I wanted to write to you as the Jewish community prepares to hold ceremonies to mark Yom HaShoah, the Jewish day of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust which took place this week.
In a world full of the evils of humanity, the Holocaust stands as the most evil act of all.
Hitler’s twisted ideology of hate, and the Nazi death machine he created, was designed to exterminate the entire Jewish people.
We must remember the Holocaust and honour those who survived it. The UK’s commitment to Holocaust memory and Holocaust education is a model to the world.
Part of that commitment to memory and education is standing steadfast against those who seek to deny or revise the history of the Holocaust itself – or the events leading up to it. Whatever their purpose. Whatever their agenda. Whoever they are.
But that memory can never be an excuse to ignore antisemitism today. It needs to urge us to be vigilant and to take action.
The date chosen for Yom HaShoah is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, to remind us of those who took desperate action during the Holocaust, fighting against the Nazis while half-starved and in fear of their lives. If they had the courage to stand up, then non-Jews in Britain must follow their example.
Britain and the allies defeated the Nazis, but antisemitism survived. We still haven’t defeated it and we still need to fight it.
It survived in Poland, where Jews rescued from concentration camps after the War were attacked and hundreds were killed.
It survived in Iran, which held another disgusting cartoon contest a few weeks ago, denying and belittling the Holocaust and spreading hate further.
And it survives, most troublingly, here in the UK - In social media and dinner-table chatter; in our schools and in our universities, in our politics and in our parties.
I'm ashamed of the recent cases of antisemitism in my party. I'm working with the Jewish Labour Movement and the Jewish community to ensure that racists and antisemites have no place in British politics. Together with many colleagues I am backing the JLM proposals for tougher rules.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler’s hateful screed of an autobiography, he claims that Zionism is a scam. Jews don’t really want a state, he claimed. It’s just another Jewish plot to set up a “criminal base” from which to control the world. Much of the language of today’s anti-Zionism makes exactly the same claims.
The modern miracle of the State of Israel is testimony to Hitler’s ultimate failure, providing a refuge for Jews who fled the Holocaust and anitsemitism.
But Britain’s Jewish community is a testament too. The British Jewish community is vibrant, integrated, positive and gives so much to this country.
British Jews have worked to make the message of the Holocaust into something universal -- to fight all racism, to remember and prevent all genocide, and to have compassion on all refugees.
As Labour’s Deputy Leader, I will fight to ensure that Britain's Jews always feel safe as a key part of this country and my party. I will fight to ensure that Zionism is not used as a term of abuse. Or as a code word for Jews. I will fight to ensure that the right to Jewish national self-determination is preserved and respected. Jews are the target of antisemitism – but I will fight to ensure that they are not left to oppose it alone. I am committed to that fight. Whatever it takes.
Tom Watson MP
27 April 2016
Earlier today, JLM National Chair Jeremy Newmark made the following statement about events following the revelation that Naz Shah MP had posted antisemitic statements on Facebook some time before her election as an MP:
“Naz Shah is a politician who is clearly on a political journey, from a Respect firebrand in the choppy waters of local Bradford politics to the Labour Party. She courageously stood up to George Galloway’s bigotry at the General Election. However, her historic remarks and posting were repugnant and completely unacceptable.
Her contrition expressed over the past day seems to be genuine and sincere. This is part of that journey. We are optimistic that she will now take steps to deepen her understanding of Jewish identity. We do not ask or expect her to mute her criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government. We do ask and expect her to build upon her apology and contrition with a programme of education and action that includes standing up to anti-Semitism on the left and within the Palestine Solidarity Movement."
Shortly after this statement was released it was announced that Shah had been suspended. Jeremy Newmark commented:
"The suspension of Naz Shah by the Labour Party is fair and consistent. I hope it will provide the context for a programme of education as we, at JLM, have set out."
The Jewish Labour Movement, with help from supporters in the Labour Party will be proposing a change to the Labour Party rulebook calling for stricter rules and sanctions to be placed upon members who have made racist, antisemitic or islamophobic statements.Read more
JLM National Chair, Jeremy Newmark was interviewed by Sarah Montagu on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme on 16 March 2016. The interview covered the question of antisemitism within the Labour Party.
A transcript of the full interview follows here:Read more
Yesterday evening, the Jewish Labour Movement wrote to the Woking Constituency Labour Party informing them of our intention to affiliate to the CLP under the provisions within the Labour Party Rule Book, with the specific intention of bringing forward a vote of no confidence in the CLP Vice-Chair at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Jewish Labour Movement is a Socialist Society, and has been affiliated to the Labour Party since 1920. One of our core values is to fight antisemitism, racism and all forms of discrimination and racial hatred. We would much prefer not to have to have that fight within our own Party.
We welcome the decision by the Party to suspend Vicki Kirby pending a full investigation, and will continue to pursue our affiliation to the Woking CLP. We hope that through this process, and through an honest and open debate within the Woking CLP, party members can decide whether or not our Party should be a space for these kinds of views.
To Party members who have expressed their support for Jewish Labour activists over the past 48 hours, we say thank you. To those Jewish Labour activists considering leaving the Party, we say stay.
We are not giving up on the Party of Barnett, Silkin, Mikado, Freeson, Shinwell, Lever Edelman and other towering figures of the Jewish left. We ask that you join with us in ensuring that the Labour Party does not give up on us.
Earlier today member of the JLM NEC met with Member of Knesset Hilik Bar.
MK Bar was in London in his capacity as Deputy Speaker, as part of an official Knesset delegation led by the Speaker, Yuli Edelstein.
The meeting with JLM, held in his capacity as Secretary General of Israel's Labor Party focussed on strengthening links between the two sister parties in the UK and Israel. A series of initiatives were discussed, including a visit to the UK of a delegation of senior activists from Israel's Labor Party later in the year. This delegation will spend time with younger members of JLM and develop links to enable deeper collaboration and joint campaign activity in the future.
MK Bar also updated JLM on Labor's current initiatives to progress the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians and expressed his view that Israel has many strong friends at all levels in the Labour Party.
JLM NEC Members with Labour Party Deputy Leader Tom Watson MP
29 February 2016
House of Commons, London
"JLM is a strong advocate of robust debate about the Middle East on Campus and beyond. That support extends to discourse that is critical of Israel's Government and its policies. However, this development, in this context, crosses the red line between legitimate discourse and incitement against Jewish students. JLM has raised this with our colleagues at Labour Students and we are glad to see the swift condemnation of the events at OULC. They have assured us that they share our concerns and will be working very closely with UJS to tackle this problem."Liron Velleman, JLM NEC (Youth and Student Officer)
At last night’s AGM of the Jewish Labour Movement unanimously to adopt a new structure which will enable the Movement to increase its engagement inside Labour Party structures on a local, regional and national basis.
A hundred JLM members attended the AGM, reflecting the substantial growth in our membership that has occurred since the 2015 General Election.
The AGM also saw the retirement of Louise Ellman MP who has served as our National Chair for over a decade.
Louise has been a dedicated and committed voice for our community in Parliament for many years. Her leadership of JLM leaves us a tremendous legacy to build upon.
It was announced that Ellman is to be appointed as Honorary President of JLM.
The meeting was addressed by the Socialist Societies representative to the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) James Asser who conveyed a message from the NEC about the extent to which it values JLM’s contribution to the party.
Incoming JLM National Chair Jeremy Newmark said:
“JLM fills an incredibly important political space right now. Our strong links with the Labour Party here and in Israel are a valuable resource for our community. Our new team is committed to strengthening them further. My priority is to train and develop a cadre of younger political activists who will take the movement forward in the best traditions of Jewish Labour values.”
Vice-Chair Sarah Sackman added:
"If 2015 taught us anything, it is that there is still much work to be done to reconnect Jewish voters to the Labour Party.
With the London Mayoral, Scottish Parliamentary, as well as other local elections happening around the country, I look forward to playing my part in JLM's dual goals of encouraging support for the Labour Party within the community, and ensuring the community's interests are understood and acted upon within the Party. Others can play their part by joining our Movement too."
Over the coming weeks and months, JLM will be working to rapidly increase our activity and build on the fantastic increase in membership that we have already seen.
From campaigning in the upcoming elections, to publishing the views of our members on the political issues of the day, to organising within the Labour movement at every level, now is a great time to get involved:
The full list of officers elected are:
National Movement Chair
National Vice Chairs
Local Government Officer
Political Education Officer
Trade Union Officer
Youth & Students Officer