Antisemitism in the Lewisham West and Penge Constituency Labour Party


#1

I have been a local resident in SE23 for the last 6 years and often followed SE23LIFE but this is the first time I have posted. I hope my post meets the guidelines and I will be happy to ammend it should it not.

It is seeing the below story in Jewish Times which has finally made me feel I should go public with my experience of witnessing what I believe to be an institutional problem with antisemitism in Lewisham West and Penge Constituency Labour Party (CLP). I should add I am not a member of the Labour Party or any other political party for that matter.

A couple of years ago in the run up to the general election I was approached by a Labour activist canvassing on London Road. I expressed my concern to her at the time about what I felt was a problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party. To put this in context Ken Livingstone had made grossly offensive comments and a Jewish MP had been shouted down at the launch of a report into anti-semitism by a person who would later be shown shaking Jeremy Corbyn’s hand at same meeting. The Labour activist who I spoke to stated she had seen no antisemitism in the Labour Party, defended the person who had shouted down the Labour MP previously mentioned and took a condescending approach to me. I left it at that

In the run up to the local elections last year I then noticed a person declaring himself a committee member of Lewisham West and Penge CLP posting grossly offensive and what I believe to be antisemitic remarks on Twitter. I understand that the following may be upsetting for people to see but I believe that it is important for people to see them to understand the extent of the problem. It should be noted that protect the identity of those involved I have removed the twitter handle of the said individual an those replying to him. Nevertheless the antisemitism in his comments speaks for itself.

There are several other examples but I can only add 3 images per post.

In light of this I made a complaint to the Labour Party in May. I understand through a 3rd party that this member has been suspended but still nobody from the Labour Party complaints department has contacted me as of yet. I have no idea how long such a suspension is due to last or if further action is being considered against this member.

In October 2018 I attended an open meeting of Lewisham West and Penge CLP where the local MP was taking questions from local residents. One of the members of the audience who raised concerns regarding antisemitism in the Labour party was essentially shouted down. I raised concerns with a local member about antisemitism only to be told that it was that there wasn’t an antisemitism problem and it was ‘all really about Israel/ Palestine anyway.’

I have always felt that with better training and understanding the local Labour Party could address its issues. In proposing a motion to ban the very training which could assist with this I am left dispondant and actually fearful and that the anitsemitism, itself, has become institutionalised.

I appreciate SE23 Life is politically neautral. I respect that and understand that my post may be subject to moderation. I nevertheless feel that it is of such importance that I should no longer remain silent on the issue and the residents of SE23 should be aware of it.


#2

@Honor, welcome to the forum, and thanks for considering our guidelines.

For now I have moved this topic from #general to the #local-politics category.

Note that in the #local-politics category, only established members (trust-level-2 and above) are able to respond. This is a basic safeguard against sockpuppet accounts and abuse, since this is a category where topics can get emotive and/or partisan. In order that you’re still able to respond, I have raised your trust level to 2.

The moderator team may choose to move this topic into the General Politics category, which only verified members are able to opt into.


#3

Joined 2 hours ago and only one post…


#4

Many thanks

As many of the issues raised refer specifically to Lewisham West and Penge CLP rather than the party nationally I am grateful for you moving it to local politics


#5

A reminder to all members:

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#6

Not everybody in the local Labour Party is an anti-semite. From Forest Hill councillor @LeoGibbons

I certainly hope the motion will be defeated by members of Lewisham West Labour Party. Does anybody know when the vote takes place?


#7

Absolutely, I would never suggest that everyone in the local Labour Party was antisemitic. I am grateful to Leo, a hardworking local councillor who has repeatedly challenged antisemitism. His actions in themselves does not negate that there remains a real issue of antisemitism within the local party. The fact that he has had to publicly post that the actions of his fellow members are outrageous is testament to this.


#8

Honor, thank you for posting. This is of considerable worry to me and my family, to the degree that we may find it necessary to leave the country. As a non-citizen I cannot vote for and do not support any party, but I look on the situation with grave concern.


#9

I can completely appreciate your concern but this is a motion in a local constituency group that is highly likely to be defeated. But even if it were not defeated i have every confidence in the lady mayoress (a refugee from Nazi Austria on the kindertransport) to help local party members understand a bit more about anti-semitism. It is meaningless motion other than being anti-semitic in failing to recognise the good intentions of the JLM and their overwhelming support among Jewish Labour party members.

However i would urge anybody with concerns to write to their local councillors asking them to reject the motion - not that they are our representatives when voting within the party rather than in council.


#10

Our concerns are not only with affairs in the CLP but throughout the Labour Party. We have followed this very carefully for several years and are not convinced that the UK will be safe for us if Labour is in power under the current leadership. I have been in the UK for more than half my life but we will leave if we have to.


#11

Thank you @Honor, @Appletree and @Michael for the respectful and informative posts so far.

This is a very sensitive issue and mods prefer not to intervene if we can avoid it - however, if the discussion moves on from local issues to national issues, or more general discussion of anti-semitism, please accept this advance warning that posts may be moved to General Politics.


#12

It is a sad state of affairs when people should feel that way about a major political party and i know many people who share you views. I don’t quite agree myself, but it should not be for me to offer you reassurance on the matter as I’m not a Labour Party member (I’m happy to discuss further privately if you wish).


#13

Bad news from Deptford where an anti-IHRA motion has been passed.

http://hurryupharry.org/2019/01/12/lewisham-labour-party-goes-full-on-conspiracy-theory/


#14

This post was flagged and is temporarily hidden.


#15

One of the tweets reads: “IRA murderers who took their cue from Jews”. I would like to understand what this person is referring to as it is a striking comment - I am not looking to be involved in a debate about the accuracy of the statement so please just keep the responses to being what the writer intended!

Is he/she comparing the IRA executions to the supposed post WW2 revenge killing by one or more Jewish groups, sometimes known as the “Nokmim”? That is the only parallel that I could think of, but such a comparison is beyond my logic.


#16

Vicky Foxcroft Tweets:


#17

Michael, I respectfully disagree in certain respects.

Like you, I welcome the fact that the Mayor of Lewisham appointed former Kindertransport refugee, Liane Segal, as his Mayoress. I owe my very existence to the fact that members of my family were able to escape on the Kindertransport.

This in itself, however, does not resolve the issue of antisemitism within both Lewisham West and Penge and Lewisham Deptford CLPs. Should it have done so I would not have felt the need to post my initial message nor would we see the recent motions emerge in the past week. It is for this very reason that I am particularly concerned that Lewisham West and Penge has proposed banning training by the Jewish Labour Movement, perhaps the one thing which would force party members to acknowledge and reflect upon the very problem.

I live in the Forest Hill ward and have faith that my local councillors would oppose such a motion. You highlight Councillor Leo Gibbons’s welcome comments in this respect. My concern relates more to the grass roots local Labour members from where these motions are, as I understand, originating from and who would outnumber the council and parliamentary representatives at local CLP meetings. It is these very people who will select future Labour council and parliamentary candidates and influence policy.

In as such, it is my belief that the aforementioned actions of Lewisham West and Penge CLP and the motion passed last night by Lewisham Deptford CLP which not only calls on councils reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism but makes specific reference to ‘the Israeli Government [resourcing] a campaign to conflate criticism of itself with antisemitism’ means there is a real problem with institutional antisemitism at a local level. Comments made by individual councillors such as Leo Gibbons or the MP Vicky Foxcroft, whilst welcome, do not negate this.


#18

Ok, so, the member has been swiftly suspended and you haven’t heard back from them about what happens next?

I’m not totally surprised. You aren’t a direct victim - if I report someone for dangerous driving I don’t expect to get detailed updates about how said driver is being dealt with.

What else needs to be done or said here? The anti semites are getting weeded out and dealt with and the world keeps on turning. I am genuinely trying (and struggling) to understand the fear of institutional antisemitism or violence towards Jews in our local area, and perhaps the country in general. Is there anything else you have experienced or seen to corroborate this sentiment?

Despite current affairs, I do believe the vast majority of the population in this country are with you. The silly minority are getting stamped out. I just hope the whole concept of “London is open” resonates…


#19

Antisemites are not being weeded out. 1200 cases have been reported to the Labour leadership and virtually nothing has been done. Suspended members are quickly readmitted.

There is a wealth of evidence, from the Chakrabarti report to the creation of Jewish Voice for Labour specifically to pretend to be Jews representing the community to counter the Jewish Labour Movement, plus daily horrific antisemitism on Facebook and Twitter, to justify fears. The language used echoes the worst conspiracy theorists and the Nazi party. Constituency action in places like Haringey has been frightening. See the Twitter accounts of, e.g., @LAAS, @gillianlazarus, @gnasherjew, etc., for many examples. Gillian Lazarus in particular transmits what is said daily in private Labour Facebook groups.

I am an educated person who has been following this with extreme attention since the rise of Corbyn. I think Jews have much to fear from an antisemitic party in power in this country. Thus we will not hesitate to leave if we must, despite my having lived here for nearly 30 years.

I’m glad local councillors support us, but the fact this came up at all is a worry, as is the claim in a motion at the Deptford CLP that claims of concern about antisemitism are an Israeli plot to divert attention away from criticism if its policy. It’s this kind of conspiracy theory language and constant linking of Jews in Britain to Israeli policy that makes me worried. The use of the language of late 19th-century and Stalinist antisemitism (Rothschilds, blood, tentacles, puppet strings, etc.) is very concerning. I’m not going to stick around to see where it leads.


#21

Fair enough. What is said on Twitter and Facebook tends to be saturated with an extreme and vocal minority. I definitely don’t deny that antisemitism exists, but I’m still at a loss as to where that manifests in our day to day life in Forest Hill.

I’ve been watching this terrible debacle unravel and do think that Corbyn could do better at dealing with this, beyond the persistent guilt by association attacks he’s under. I seem to remember a month or so or back to back coverage before he really began to acknowledge a problem. Stubborn man.

But I will ask again: what needs to be done? Diversity training? Jail time? What can the community do?