June 6, 2016
In Letters To Finkelstein
I’m writing to express my appreciation for you and your work and to give a small update from the comedy/farce of ‘anti-semitism’ in the Labour Party in the UK.
A few days ago I attended a meeting in Exeter in support of Jackie Walker, the black Jewish anti-racism campaigner who was suspended without due process by the Labour party, as Jamie noted on your site 3 weeks ago. She has since been unsuspended. At the meeting, an interesting discussion involved the long-standing pro-Palestine activists and ordinary members of the Labour party and others who may be sympathetic but do not follow the story in detail.
It was a small classic example of a Gandhian quickening. Because of Jackie’s heartfelt, calm but uncowed testimony in the face of such an extremely obvious attack, several ordinary members of the party (who often have good intentions but not always the full picture) shifted quickly to the side of justice. The right-wing of the party also recently went out of their way to block the only Jewish, “liberal Zionist” candidate for upcoming National Executive Committee elections to the Party, because…yup, she’s a racist anti-semite! So absurd is the situation that there is even commentary from the mainstream of the Party saying that the pro-Israeli lobby and right-wing have overextended themselves and have doomed themselves in the medium term.
So hysterical are the Henry Jackson Society, Friends of Israel groups, they are quite consciously destroying their own base of support within mainstream left-wing opinion in the UK. It’s like their fanatical subservience to the Israeli state is such that they are obliged to follow its politics, i.e. labelling the left as Nazis. Perhaps this ‘works’ in Israel… but it’s like their decades-long ability to hold liberal/Jewish opinion as supportive or uncritical is starting to crumble.
One particularly nice part of this story should be mentioned. A few days ago Leanne Mohamad was blocked from a speaking competition, as your site notes. Jackie mentioned this exact story and said she has plans to contact her school and her. The victimisation and suffering is creating bonds in a way that must terrify the far right in this country. It would be a delightful coda to all this nastiness to see a united response from Jewish and Muslim communities to see each other’s suffering as their own and to fight discrimination as if it was against their own. Doesn’t it seem entirely possible? Isn’t it so obvious and necessary that this should happen? Don’t the bullies know that they are expediting the ability of people to care about each other?