JVL’s open letter asks BoD to condemn ‘threats of actual physical harm’ around Williamson event

Co-chairs of organisation for left-wing Jewish members of the Labour Party asks Board to condemn threats that forced Brighton venues to cancel Williamson bookings

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) has written an open letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) asking the BoD to condemn “direct threats of actual physical harm” – by phone, email and in person – that forced two Brighton venues to cancel bookings for an event by MP Chris Williamson earlier this month.

The President
Marie Van De Zyl
The Board of Deputies of British Jews
15th August 2019

Dear Marie Van De Zyl,

We are writing to you on a matter of great concern and one which we believe should transcend political differences.

Successive venues in Brighton last week cancelled bookings for a meeting to be addressed by Chris Williamson MP.  The denial of facilities for speakers who query allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party is nothing new. However the methods used in this case represent a critical threat to democracy.

Up until now venues have been closed down by disruptive civil action – telephoned bomb threats, threats of hostile reviews for potential hotel hosts on TripAdvisor, mass heckling at meetings, and more. However to the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that there have been direct threats of actual physical harm made in person to venue workers.

This is a watershed, all too reminiscent of the tactics used during the historical rise of far-right movements, who organised violence or the threat of violence on the streets. All Jewish organisations, whatever their political orientation, should make clear that they completely disassociate themselves from such action.

We therefore call on you as President of the Board of Deputies, which as an organization, argued and demonstrated against Chris Williamson’s meeting, to condemn in direct terms these threats of violence.

Yours sincerely,
Leah Levane, JVL Co-Chair, Hastings Councillor
Jenny Manson, JVL Co-Chair

A search of the BoD’s news, Twitter feed and Facebook pages revealed no response to the JVL’s letter.

The Williamson event eventually took place outdoors. The BoD staged a nearby counter-demonstration.

The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.

If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.