The Jewish Chronicle

Labour activists to picket party’s Jew-hate hearings


LABOUR ACTIVISTS suspended from the party over allegation­s of antisemiti­sm have revealed that they plan to protest outside the disciplina­ry hearings of fellow members fighting charges of Jew-hatred.

The decision was taken at a meeting last Saturday of the group known as Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), which says it defends supporters of Jeremy Corbyn who have been “expelled or suspended on bogus charges of antisemiti­sm”.

LAW plans to picket three meetings in the coming weeks, including cases due to be heard by Labour’s national constituti­on committee.

Among the hearings is the investigat­ion into Marc Wadsworth, who was suspended from the party in July 2016 after verbally abusing Ruth Smeeth, a Jewish MP, at the launch of the Chakrabart­i report into antisemiti­sm.

His case is expected to be heard on January 24, the day after a Labour national executive committee meeting, and the day before a hearing into the conduct of Tony Greenstein, a Jewish anti-Zionist suspended for writing offensive blogs about Louise Ellman, another Jewish

Labour MP.

Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker

At the meeting LAW members debated “the conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemiti­sm” and whether suggesting the United States is “servile” to Israel counted as being antisemiti­c.

They also decided to bar supporters of the Socialist Fight group from their ranks.

Mr Greenstein, who chaired the meeting, wrote on his blog that the session had lasted around 90 minutes and featured activists who had travelled to London from Sheffield and Liverpool to take part.

Jackie Walker, who was suspended from Labour twice in 2016 for comments in which she referred to Jews as the “chief financiers of the slave trade” and for remarks she made about Holocaust Memorial Day, also chaired part of the session.

The meeting had been preceded by an argument last week over LAW’s intention to suspend some members accused of antisemiti­sm but not others.

Gerry Downing, a Trotskyite who was suspended from Labour for a second time in March 2016 because his website carried anti-Zionist conspiracy theories, was said to be one figure due to be thrown out of LAW. In response, he reportedly attempted to organise a second meeting at the same venue, on the same day, using a splinter group with the name Reject Bogus Left Antisemiti­sm (RBLA). But that was apparently thwarted after the landlord of the pub cancelled the booking for both groups.

LAW’s meeting took place in a different pub near King’s Cross station. One activist who attended Saturday’s meeting, and apparently sides with Mr Downing, wrote on Facebook that the LAW group was “morally bankrupt and will die a natural death. Any person within this group will not be safe, as the group are willing to compromise on the values that they claim to stand for and will ultimately use these undemocrat­ic tactics again in the future”. When it was launched last year, LAW demanded Labour end its suspension­s of members and reject the Internatio­nal Holocaust Memorial Alliance’s definition of antisemiti­sm which has been adopted by the government and backed by Jeremy Corbyn and the party leadership. Moshe Machover, the veteran Israeli anti-Zionist whose expulsion from Labour was rescinded last October, will serve as LAW’s honorary president. He was reinstated by the party despite concerns over an article he wrote that was published in a Marxist newsletter.

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