Analysis comment

Lansman goes on defensive – attacks question re Israel ‘apartheid’ article as ‘tabloid’, demands nuance

Long-Bailey campaign manager agreed with candidate that defensiveness over racism allegations was never right – but reacts angrily when questioned over 2012 ‘Jewish Apartheid’ article

On Sunday Jon Lansman – Momentum founder and manager of Rebecca Long-Bailey’s campaign for the Labour leadership – praised Long-Bailey’s article that said that the ‘only’ response to ‘any’ accusation of racism must not be defensiveness, but ‘self-scrutiny, self-criticism and self-improvement’:

However, when the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD) – the same body whose new list of demands Long-Bailey says she will back – complained that a 2012 newspaper cartoon was antisemitic, Lansman said that the BOD had brought shame on itself.

In the same year, Lansman wrote an article that would certainly result in a flurry of complaints if such comments were made today. In the current discourse, many supporters of Israeli policies routinely state that to describe Israel as practising ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians is antisemitic:

In his October 2012 article, the title of Lansman’s article used the term ‘Jewish apartheid’ – a term many would consider even more problematic:

The body of Lansman’s article is far more nuanced, discussing comments by Israeli commentators and a survey of the attitudes at the time of Jewish Israeli citizens to their government’s policies – but while Lansman says that he personally avoids the comparison of Israel’s policies with Apartheid, he does so:

not because they do not have any validity but because in all such comparisons there are significant differences as well as similarities, and they antagonise at least as often as they illuminate. However, 58% of Israelis already accept [sic], according to this poll, in some or most ways.

Even more problematically, Lansman says that comparisons of the situation in Israel with nazi Germany are ‘best avoided’, but also that

This too has some validity

The IHRA ‘working definition’ of antisemitism – whose adoption by the Labour Party Lansman promoted – includes comparison of Israeli policies with nazi Germany as one of its examples of discourse that may be antisemitic. Labour general secretary Jennie Formby wrote to all MPs in 2018 to warn that:

Inflammatory and incendiary remarks based on Nazi comparisons fall well below the bar we have set in this Code of Conduct and will not be tolerated.

The IHRA definition does not say that such comments are automatically antisemitic, but that they may be, “taking into account the overall context”. However, such detail and nuance rarely feature either in complaints or in media analysis of them.

Lansman’s article also criticises:

the UK’s Hasbara (literally ‘explanation’, but really Israeli government propoganda [sic] presented as grassroots opinion) mouthpiece, BICOM


The SKWAWKBOX contacted Jon Lansman. It asked, in view of his 2012 comments, the way in which such accusations are frequently made on the basis of such comments and his current endorsement of Rebecca Long-Bailey’s support for the BOD’s ten demands on the treatment of members accused of antisemitism:

Isn’t 2020 Jon Lansman advocating the suspension of 2012 Jon Lansman?

However, Mr Lansman’s response did not match his recent endorsement of Ms Long-Bailey’s comments on the acceptable response to ‘any’ claims of antisemitism.

Instead, Mr Lansman attacked the question as ‘sensationalist tabloid’ journalism that ignored ‘nuanced arguments’ – even though the point of the question was that complaints often ignore nuance, as does the BOD’s list of demands for Labour’s treatment of such complaints and of those complained about.

Adding that he supports Palestinian rights and the boycott of goods from illegal Israeli settlements, he went on:

I was arguing then for being careful about language and making easy but flawed comparisons in what was otherwise legitimate support for Palestinian rights

This was, of course, the point. Lansman’s article was doing that – but still used language and reached conclusions that would almost certainly result in a flurry of complaints if another Labour member made them today. And once those complaints have been made, adherence to the BOD’s list of demands would mean pariah status for anyone so accused, even if the complaints were ultimately found to be groundless.

Yet ‘2020 Jon Lansman’ applauded Rebecca Long-Bailey’s article committing to accepting them.

Mr Lansman’s anger at being asked the question could be perceived in his closing remarks, which involved derogatory remarks about the SKWAWKBOX and others.


Jon Lansman supports Rebecca Long-Bailey’s claim that the ‘only’ acceptable response to ‘any’ accusation of ‘racist prejudice’ is ‘self-scrutiny, self-criticism and self-improvement’ – and that ‘it is never ok to respond… by being defensive.

But he responded to even a question about how previous comments would be treated today with defensiveness – and offensiveness.

And he demanded nuance in the assessment of his 2012 article – a nuance that is as absent from most of the discussion about antisemitism as it is from many accusations and from the BOD’s list of demands.

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  1. he will of course had RLB swear an oath of allegiance to a foreign “apartheid” already , past time to put a D in his BS

    1. Labour’s biggest problem is the fact that we always wash our dirty linen in public – 65 times – giving our enemies 65 opportunities to divide and rule.

      You see the occasional tory explosion, but by gum, they unite quickly afterwards: EG

      1. Tories voted no confidence in large numbers against in Mrs May as their leader , but a few days later, with no visible embarrassment, voted almost unanimously confidence in her as PM
      2. Widely reported that 60% of tory MPs loathe Johnson; the minute he’s elected (against a pretty weak field) Not one person speaks against him, and all the defeated guys (bar 1) are silent.
      3. Johnson sacks the Brexit dissidents, cue wailing. A week later it’s forgotten, the party enter the GE 100% united.

      Whoever wins the LP leadership, the party won’t be united, and our very public infighting will continue … and next election?


  2. “In the current discourse, many supporters of Israeli policies routinely state that to describe Israel as practising ‘apartheid’ against Palestinians is antisemitic” – How can it be antisemitic, when it’s the simple truth?

    “In his October 2012 article, the title of Lansman’s article used the term ‘Jewish apartheid’” – Now that IS antisemitic. the apartheid policy isn’t ‘Jewish’, it’s by the State of Israel. A small, but very significant difference.

    1. Among those citing Israel’s Apartheid include Noble Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu;, Nobel Peace Prize winner President Jimmy Carter; UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard; Kgalema Motlanthe the then Deputy President of South Africa and of the African National Congress cites ‘as worse than Apartheid’, Baleka Mbete Chairman of the ANC; Moshé Machover formerly of Matzpen, the Israeli Socialist Organization.
      Nelson Mandela said ““If one has to refer to any of the parties as a terrorist state, one might refer to the Israeli government, because they are the people who are slaughtering defenseless and innocent Arabs in the occupied territories, and we don’t regard that as acceptable”
      Currently all reference to these critiques is censored in the corporate media. Do we really want the Labour Party to aid and abet this racial oppression?

      1. Good point. Let’s not wrap it up – apologists for Israel are condoning behaviour that Labour explicitly rejects – racism and contravention of human rights. I prefer to side with the angels rather than greasy pole climbers.

        The current situation is the stuff of Alice Through the Looking Glass. If it was applied to apartheid South Africa, the accusation would be that criticising the white supremacist regime was an ‘anti-Christian’ or ‘anti-White’ act.

  3. Long term the idea behind momentum is to replace the Labour party and socialism in a mock socialist party run on the wim of lansman and his financer.Fiefdoms owners belong in the Tory party not the Labour party.Momentum members need to understand that we who have donated and supported momentum have got to stop this power broker lansman.Its basically down to the membership of momentum to stop lansman from his ambition of controlling the left wing for the benifit of the Zionist revival.Conspiracy..most definitely.

  4. I understand the personal conflicts suffered by some who have unthinkingly accepted the nostrums of Zionism as just a religious belief without heeding its political reality when put into practise. Up to that point, I can understand the representative contradictions that emerge in Lansman’s inconsistent pontificating.

    But to understand is not to excuse, and those who support the State of Israel as presently constituted *and* (purportedly) the Labour Party have to come to terms with the reality and not duck the issues by accusing those who refute Zionism’s premises as ‘antisemitic’. T

    The conflict is their’s – not ours, and I resent being made a scapegoat for politico-religious beliefs that have irrefutable consequences.

    Clearly, the Nation State Law is apartheid legislation. It is exclusionary and deprives other citizens of rights. This is undeniable by even the most screwed-up sophistry. Beyond that, and state privileging one incoming cultural group over another is an apartheid and colonial-settler state in a key sense. To deny this is just – well – being in denial.

    And the historical map of Israel/Palestine demonstrates beyond dispute a process of ethnic cleansing that is a consequence of the apartheid essence of the country; the elimination of Palestinian villages and the sequestration of land is clear for all to see.

    All these conflicts with belief are a problem for Zionists themselves to deal with incoming to terms with their discriminatory belief system – not an issue to be thrust on the Labour Party if it maintains a clear view on prejudice and racism, whether towards Jews or other groups.

    … and don’t start on the diversion of ‘whataboutery’ : we can discuss the problems in other countries in their own context – not as an excuse for Israel’s constitution.

    1. I sort of agree with most of your post but not the statement
      “Zionism as just a religious belief” ?
      No it’s not – it’s a political ideology and not exclusively Jewish. It’s the failure to clearly acknowledge that allows anti-Zionism to be conflated with Anti-semitism when it is used.

      Here’s Why
      Zionism is defined ( ) as a Jewish nationalist movement that has had as its goal the creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews.
      i.e. Though it comes from Judaism It is not a religious belief.
      The majority of Zionists are not Jews – the majority ( > 80% ) are Christians
      Also not all Jewish people are Zionists – In the UK about 40% of Jews are not. ( )

      That said it’s probably best to avoid any reference to it as reccomended By Shami Chakrabarti in her report.

      1. Interesting that Britannica refers to Zionism in the past tense, as if once the major goal was achieved (creation of modern Israel) it simply ceased to exist. Fiction, of course.
        The face of modern Zionism includes the annexation of ‘old’ Palestine, which means most of the West Bank. No conceivable place for a ‘two-state solution’ in Zionism.

      2. iamcrawford, “it’s probably best to avoid any reference to it as reccomended By Shami Chakrabarti in her report.”

        Absolutely wrong! we must, to avoid any conflation with all ‘Jews’, ALWAYS use the terms Zionist or Zionism when referring to those who support the occupation of Palestine. It is a specific description with a specific meaning. For fear of being called anti-Semitic, we should never feel we are walking on eggshells when discussing the illegal occupation of Palestinian land and property.

        Did anyone see the recent disgusting comment/tweet from Ed Balls to Chris Williamson accusing him of being anti-Semitic?

      3. Also – the description “the ancient homeland of the Jews” is misleading. The Near East contained Jews amongst other peoples. It was not simply a ‘Jewish’ homeland, any more than it is today. I share a fair proportion of my DNA with people from that part of the world. I’m not Jewish. I’m not a Druze.

        Many Jewish communities originated away from Palestine – if we all claimed territory occupied by dubious ancestors from the Bronze and Iron ages, humanity would be in a greater state of conflict than already exists.

        Mythology can be ignored if it has no real world consequences and is regarded for what it is – symbolism and literature. Otherwise it treads into the world of politics and deserves no special honour. Such is Zionism and its self-justifying fictions.

      4. If you enter the term ‘zionism’ and ‘Ugandan scheme’ into your search engines you’ll find that it is a 19th C white colonial ideology that’s part of the same racist gravy train as the other western projects of land seizure. Actually the land they’d originally targeted turned out to by a large parts of Kenya.
        As a 19th C white colonial ideology zionism was defined by UN resolution 3379 as a form of racism. This lasted 16 years until the US with its own post-Civil War Black human rights crisis decided to use its weight at the UN to overturn this mandate.
        All of which is censored by the corporate media – including the BBC – and we’re encouraged to treat Israel as different to white minority ruled Rhodesia or Apartheid South Africa.
        Courtesy of Jewish religious fundamentalism we’ve now arrived at white privilege 2.0.

    2. You have no idea how difficult it is for me to say this but I agree with every word you just wrote, bar one………………….there is no apostrophe in their’s (becomes their is, not possession). I trust you will not find this pedantic?

  5. wrt to this from article
    “The IHRA definition does not say that such comments are automatically antisemitic, but that they may be”

    Absolutely correct
    The problem is not with the definition ( which according to the author was not designed for what it is being used for ) and examples it is the way that the guidance in the preface to the examples is usually ignored.

    In particular the caveats put in by the author
    1) “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

    2) “Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:”

    If all the definition and guidance are used then only true antisemites would fall foul of it.

    1. Actually, the ‘main problem’ with the ‘definition’ is that it is garbled and unclear. It was a working attempt – not authoritative. And it wasn’t very good.

      A proper definition of ‘anti-semitism’ isn’t difficult to devise – and it has nothing to do with criticism of Israel or of Zionism.

  6. Comparisons with Nazi Germany get made all the time. People should make such allegations, and, if people do not like it, they can challenge it.

    Margaret Hodge had every right to compare her treatment by the Labour Party as like Nazi Germany. And, in doing so, she looked completely and utterly ridiculous.

    1. On another page Skwawkbox has pointed out “Comparisons of Israel with the nazis form one of the examples of expressions that may be antisemitic listed in the IHRA ‘working definition‘ of antisemitism, whose adoption by the Labour Party Jon Lansman supported”.
      The Nazis favored sterilisation for so-called inferior ethnic groups. It’s worth noting that Forbes magazine was one of a number of news outlets revealing that Ethiopian Black-Jewish women
      “immigrating to Israel were subjected to mandatory contraceptive injections, effectively amounting to forced (if temporary) sterilization…the birth rate among Ethiopian-Israelis has declined by at least 20 percent.”
      A number of other news outlets including Israel’s own Haaretz and Times of Israel put the figure of suppressed Black Jewish reproduction at 50%.
      The simple truth is that those demanding an exemption from scrutiny on the basis of Nazi and/or racist practices do so exactly because their practices can’t stand that scrutiny.
      See link –

      1. Two weeks before Hodge made her absurd A-S claims it was revealed that the torture of people-of-colour had gone on under the Blair regime. One of the victims for whom Hodge and her colleagues shared collective cabinet responsibility – Fatimah Bouchar – was pregnant at the time of her rendition to Libya. Prior to Hodge’s round of interviews, Ms Bouchar was compensated with £0.5million.
        Not one corporate media journalist asked Hodge about her victims but willingly entertained her nonsense about anti-semitism.

  7. I will necessarily vote for RLB out of loyalty to Jeremy Corbyn and because she is claiming to be true to the values which Jeremy embodies, but that Jon Lansman is her campaign manager causes me great difficulties.

    I distrust Jon Lansman.

  8. The solution is clear Don’t vote for any of the BoD Quislings Since it makes no difference which of them wins. This will ensure whoever wins will be shown to not have the confidence of the membership.
    That way the deputy will get more votes than the eventual & could result in a vote of no confidence

  9. Anti-semitism appears to be a “crime” of which you are guilty merely because an accusation has been made. Lack of corroborating evidence seems irrelevant…

  10. According to JVL every contender in leadership election contest has endorsed B.O.D .10 demands. Who did you say you were voting for?

  11. Is asking the apologists why the IDF use live ammunition anti semitism
    Are vexatious claims of anti semitism hate crimes
    Why not incorporate JVL in place of JLM and LFI

    1. Doug – Why not just do away with all the religious affiliates, there’s only one other besides JLM.

      1. Methinks Welby is working on that
        ‘We are the Roman’s we hate the Christians’

  12. Just read the Jewish Dissident on JVL and he argues “Labour Leaders usually wait until they are elected before betrayals but these have got their betrayals in first.”
    Lansman is probably kegging it cos the Left are going to kick him off the NEC which is why he is probably hanging onto RLBs coat tails?
    I tried to get ideas up the Momentum chain to democratise it but the bourgeois top down socialists want the power for themselves so I give up with them.
    I remember a few years ago when the racist Right Wing Israeli Govt was going to deport thousands of Black migrants.
    It’s Culture Minister said: “We must remove this cancer from our body.”
    They caved in.
    Meanwhile our Black Windrush brothers and sisters are treated like dirt by the Tory Govt.
    Our Muslim brothers and sisters face racism almost on a daily basis.
    US billionaires are funding far right groups and individuals around the World including here.
    We should invite all diverse working people to join us and stand alongside us as an independent left wing democratic socialist party whose members make the rules.

  13. Oh and a good writer, Ian Pope, argues every day we are distracted by AS we forget about the Palestinians.
    And Palestinians are being crushed daily by the Right Wing Israeli Govt.
    Don’t let them and their allies make the Palestinians invisible!

    1. Yes – it would be good to see some of these plastic imitation would-be ‘leaders’ sayig ‘Let’s talk about the real victims of prejudice – the Palestinians’.

    2. Think I will write to our brother and sister Palestinians.
      I may be going to a Labour Leader/Deputy hustings.
      Could you please give me 10 things you would like Labour to do to help you?
      I could try to get them to sign up to this and Labour members I am sure would back them!
      I apologise I only have a minor role and we white working class are only a minority in Labour (but we oppose all the bombings of our Black and brown brothers and sisters by Right Wing Labour MPs) and we love you!

  14. Just out of curiosity, has anyone sent Ken Stern, the co-author of the IHRA draft, a copy of the 10 demands by the BOD ? His opinion/critique on them would be interesting

    1. It is not a time for Peace while there is Social Injustice in Palestine.

  15. Come on Palestine Solidarity Comittee, use your contacts, get on this case.
    Time to go on the attack!

  16. One way the desperate situation in Israel/Palestine has echoes of the Nazis is in the industrial scale bureaucracy involved with the planning and application of the demolitions and ethnic cleansing policies. There is also an echo in the carefully worked out diet allowed into Gaza which is just enough to keep people alive. This is without considering any brutality and cruelty meted out by armed soldiers to innocent civilians who are treated as an inferior race.

  17. Each & every ‘Leadership Contender’ believes that the majority of Labour Party Membership cares nothing about the occupation of Palestine. It would appear that they are right. ……….say nothing, do nothing but wave a few flags @ conference.

    1. I will not be voting in the leadership election unless one of the candidates comes out firmly against Zionism.
      RLB has already bolloxed with her invention of ‘Progressive Patriotism’ which she rapidly dropped, and now she crawls to the BoD by taking on the power freak Lansman as her puppet master.
      Not one of the candidates is showing any integrity over the antisemitism business, and for me no integrity means no vote.

  18. Reference your latest article (just published) in this series on Lansman, is anyone in the least bit surprised that he has turned out to be nothing more than a political opportunist.

  19. “Jon Lansman supports Rebecca Long-Bailey’s claim that the ‘only’ acceptable response to ‘any’ accusation of ‘racist prejudice’ is ‘self-scrutiny, self-criticism and self-improvement’ – and that ‘it is never ok to respond… by being defensive.”

    The claim is not only ludicrous, but a testament to the total capitulation of the left to their opponents. How does this formula operate when an accusation of racist prejudice is cynically deployed in order to smear someone with no racist agenda, as it has been time and time again? Should Corbyn have resorted to self-scrutiny, self-criticism and self-improvement when he was accused of antisemitism over the remarks of Hajo Meyer? Really? How the hell can anyone retain a scrap of faith in the left if one of its most promising exponents advocates capitulation to lying? If that’s the strength of their convictions, they should all pack it in. If that’s the kind of fight they’re going to put up, give up now. These people are hopeless.

    1. It’s more a case of RLB parroting Lansman’s unquestioning support of very BoD command.

      That’s the reality. She’s his proxy.

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