First published on Buzzfeed
On Tuesday I published an action plan on tackling Labour’s antisemitism problem. The support in just 72 hours has been encouraging.
Below are the eight points and some of the progress that is being made.
1. Training for the NEC in modern antisemitism and unconscious bias
Labour’s mayoral candidate has backed the first step in the action plan to get training for Labour’s National Executive Committee on antisemitism and unconscious bias.
I understand the Jewish Labour Movement are keen to provide the training. This is now in the hands of the NEC …
2. A vice-chair of the NEC equalities committee for the Jewish community
NEC member Ellie Reeves is proposing at the next Equalities sub committee that the JLM are represented. This the first stage to getting a Jewish community vice-chair of the same committee.
3. New capacity for the compliance unit
Former Labour MP Tom Harris in a piece on the issue of antisemitism to support the calls for ‘extra resources, including new staff’ for the party’s compliance unit.
At the end of February, shadow chancellor John McDonnell came under fire for saying, ‘My view is I’d like to scrap the compliance unit altogether’.
4. Time to clarify the rules
There is not a rule change to be put forward yet, but Ilford North’s MP Wes Streeting offered his local constituency Labour party as a potential proposer of a rule change if needed.
5. Third party reporting or an independent ombudsperson
This is an important action but will need a lot of work to ensure there is a proposal that lots of people can coalesce around. On this issue in particular there is common cause with groups like the Labour Women’s Network and other equality strands within Labour.
6. Self organised groups for Jewish youth and student members
Ensuring the youth and student movement is a safe space for Jewish delegates is of vital importance. Action on this may have to wait until Jan Royall’s review concludes.
7. A modern understanding of antisemitism
This is the hardest issue and one that will require serious dialogue and discussion. I stick by my comments in the Progress piece on this issue.
The leadership and the party corporately need to understand antisemitism not as a political judgement, but how Jews experience antisemitism. We after all have a duty of care to our Jewish members. They have the same right to be involved in events and campaigns, to stand as our candidates and decide policy as every other member. On most issues my Jewish friends joke about ‘two Jews, three opinions’. This is the same on Middle East policy too and this should not be forgotten. However, there are ways that the debate can be become poisonous and offensive. The way the word ‘Zionist’ is spat by some on the left is a case in point. There are intellectual critiques of Zionism, and many of them should be considered and openly debated, but the fact that ‘Zio’ is a form of abuse the way ‘gay’ was shouted at me in the school playground by homophobes should worry the most ardent supporter of Palestine, of which I include myself by the way. On closing the comments section of an article on antisemitism over at Left Futures, its editor Jon Lansman remarked ‘it is not acceptable to use the term “Zionism” as a term of abuse’. I agree.
8. Join the Jewish Labour Movement
Reports are that a considerable number are joining JLM in solidarity. This is more important than ever. Non-Jews in the party have got be as offended by antisemitism as the Jewish victims.
If you have not joined yet, please do so now: www.jlm.org.uk/join