Analysis Breaking comment

JLM and Akehurst ‘enraged’ after Forde report dismisses their ‘antisemitism training’ as inadequate

Party’s authorised training sessions lack nuance and participation and consist of right-wingers lecturing on their viewpoint as the only valid one. Forde Report causes anger by acknowledging that Jewish people have a range of views

A page in the Forde Report on the misconduct of right-wing Labour staff during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has ‘enraged’ right-wing Labour figures, especially pro-Israel lobbyists Luke Akehurst and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) – by dismissing what passes for their antisemitism ‘training’ as inadequate, arrogant lecturing that only their view on Israel is valid.

Instead, the report calls for properly nuanced training that recognises that there is a multitude of views on Israel among Jewish people – a notion that JLM and groups such as the Board of Deputies have persistently rejected in favour of a claim that only they represent legitimate ‘mainstream’ Jewish opinion:

However, whilst we were glad the Party has now established a programme of training on antisemitism, we were not convinced the format and content of those early sessions really addressed the problem they were designed to address, which is multifaceted, and in relation to which there is a number of legitimate approaches that exist within the Party and the Jewish communities respectively.

The sessions were largely didactic, top down and one dimensional – with little participation beyond the people presenting. This does not provide a space in which difficult issues, such as attitudes towards Israel, can be safely explored, in a nuanced way, and does not encourage deep reflection, the importance of which was emphasised by the participants at our roundtable meeting. As explained above, we do not consider that such training is in accordance with best practice, or with the recommendations received from our roundtable meeting. Improvements are needed.

Page 111 of the Forde Report

The Labour regime has shut down attempts by left-wing groups such as Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) to provide training at the request of local Labour members and has been busy stacking its so-called ‘independent’ panels on antisemitism complaints with people who share the right-wing view, under the control of right-wing general secretary David Evans and with a veto by the right-wing, pro-Israel Board of Deputies and JLM.

Now the Forde Inquiry has shredded the already-thin credibility of that approach.

And Forde’s concern about ‘approved’ training not providing a safe space are well founded. Left-wing Jewish activist Jackie Walker, for example, was expelled from the party – a move criticised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission – after secretly-recorded video of her challenging the ‘didactic’ view of JLM trainers was misrepresented by the Labour right and their media allies.

According to journalist Aaron Bastani on Tuesday – who also reported Islamophobic content in the JLM ‘training’ – and others, the report’s comments have ‘enraged’ both JLM and Israel advocate Luke Akehurst, whose hopes of continuing to present their view as the only legitimate one have been put in danger in a document that the party commissioned.

Skwawkbox view:

Groups including JVL submitted their evidence to the Forde Inquiry during its call for evidence. To the outrage of those who have always tried to dismiss what is a mainstream and traditional Jewish viewpoint, Forde has just validated their comments and recommendations.

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