Thursday, 12 October 2017
JVL Don't Represent Jewish Labour Members: Unite and Other Unions Must Not Legitimise Them
Statement from Labour Against Anti-Semitism
Jewish Voice for Labour launched at the 2017 Labour Conference claiming to be an alternative voice in the Labour movement for Jewish socialists. They received media coverage and Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of Unite, attended their launch event. They are now presenting themselves as a rival to other more established and more representative bodies of Jewish Labour membership.
However, the unfortunate reality is that they are led by suspended and expelled Labour members who have defined themselves as antisemitic over many years. Figures like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and Mike Cushman have attempted to cloak their antisemitism as anti-Zionism, but they are betrayed by their actions, their activities and their words.
Over the years they have endorsed racist policies such as BDS and now refuse to accept the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which Jeremy Corbyn himself adopted in full on behalf of the Labour Party in December 2016. While they do contain Jewish members, these represent a fringe minority of Jewish opinion and it is inaccurate to portray them as representative or reflective of the majority of Labour’s Jewish membership. Their views are certainly not representative.
Antisemitism is a clear and present threat to the Labour Party's moral, ethical and political integrity. An organisation that prides itself on its antiracist history must hold itself to a higher standard than it is currently doing. The mistakes of the past - the Chakrabarti Report, the failure to expel Ken Livingstone, etc - must be learned from and their lessons built upon.
The acceptance of the Jewish Labour Movement rule change by 96% of delegates at Labour Conference 2017 was a vital step in challenging Labour antisemitism and emphasises the desire of the Labour Party membership to act on racism in our movement. To take this necessary action further, more work at both a local and national level is required for progress is to be made. Groups like Jewish Voice for Labour, that seek to overturn the national decision-making body and ignore the majority view of Jewish and non-Jewish members, are obstacles to that progress.
It is therefore unacceptable that Jewish Voice for Labour be given any kind of endorsement from a significant part of our movement such as Unite, for to do so would be to legitimise racial hatred and bigotry within the Labour movement. We urge Unite and any other any union considering funding or supporting this organisation in any way to seriously reconsider doing so.