‘Independent’ process gives non-Labour group, whose constitution says one of its reasons for existing is to ‘advance Israel’s security, welfare and standing’, veto over appointments – and even former Chief Rabbi of Liberal Judaism has been excluded, according to Labour sources
Keir Starmer’s call for nominations to his new ‘advisory board’ on Labour’s ‘independent’ antisemitism complaints process is a sham, according to Labour insiders. The members of the board have already been decided – and the right-wing Board of Deputies has been given a veto over appointments to the advisory group, alongside right-wing affiliate the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) which, despite a common narrative that it has a history as a Labour affiliate of more than a century, was reportedly re-founded when Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader out of concern at his victory and the prominence of Bernie Sanders in the US.
According to well-placed sources, those rejected for positions include Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) nominee Adam Hurst and all three prominent Jewish figures nominated by former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell:
Oxford University senior research fellow and tutor in philosophy Brian Klug is a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University. He is also an honorary fellow of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton and fellow of the College, Saint Xavier University, Chicago.
Klug is associate editor of Patterns of Prejudice, a peer-reviewed journal examining social exclusion and stigmatization and a founder member of the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights, a UK-based group that addresses racism and antisemitism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, immigration, and the treatment of asylum seekers
Lerman is a British writer who specialises in the study of antisemitism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, multiculturalism and the place of religion in society. He is a former Director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, a founding member of the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights and a former editor of Patterns of Prejudice. He served on the Runnymede Trust’s Commission on Antisemitism sits on the advisory committee of the Imperial War Museum’s Holocaust exhibition
Rabbi Danny Rich
Until last year, Labour councillor Danny Rich was the Chief Rabbi of Liberal Judaism in the UK. Although a patron of the Zionist Federation, he was attacked by the right in 2018 for hosting a shabbat dinner with Jeremy Corbyn and a JVL representative. Rich was also attacked by the right in 2012 for speaking at an event alongside two Jewish pro-Palestinian activists.
JVL’s nominee Adam Hurst is a Sheffield Labour councillor and Reform synagogue member. He spoke in favour of a Sheffield City Council motion to recognise Palestinian statehood.
Despite the breadth of views and obvious depth of relevant experience and expertise represented by these nominees, none of them have made it onto the advisory board, according to Labour sources.
The Board of Deputies is estimated to represent – though rarely presented as such – only around a third of UK Jews. Its constitution states that one of the reasons for its existence is to ‘advance Israel’s security, welfare and standing’.
The group has no affiliation with the Labour party and, the day after the 2019 general election, published an article prominently headed by the Conservative party logo, attacking Jeremy Corbyn and praising the ‘historic achievement of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party’:
We have yet to hear who the party has appointed to this body. The individuals I proposed are people of immense experience and knowledge held in high standing for the work they have undertaken on issues effecting the Jewish community. I would hope and expect that nobody within or outside of the party would view them as anything other than ideally suitable for the role envisaged by the EHRC.
The ‘BoD’ has taken an extreme position on the level of antisemitism within the Labour party that went far beyond what the recent EHRC report found to be the case, as the above article shows. The EHRC did not find Labour to be institutionally antisemitic and found only a couple of cases – which are disputed by legal experts – in which Labour could be held accountable for behaviour the EHRC considered antisemitic.
In spite of this clear conflict, admission to Labour’s ‘independent’ advisory board – which is being set up in response to the EHRC’s recommendations – is subject to a veto by a right-leaning, non-Labour group with an explicit, constitutional commitment to Israel and an entrenched position on ‘Labour antisemitism’ that far exceeds the EHRC’s findings. And expert nominees who have equivocated at all on the subject of Israel and Palestine have been denied a place.
Meanwhile, Labour members have been banned from arranging or attending training sessions run by JVL.
Supporters of justice for Palestinians will be unlikely to consider that the ‘independence’ of the advisory board and the new disciplinary process it is meant to oversee will offer them any meaningful balance, or protection against politically-driven accusations.
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