It’s time to expel the Zionist ‘Jewish’ Labour Movement from the Labour Party
An anti-racist party should not tolerate a racist affiliate which supports Apartheid
In 2004 Poale Zion (the Workers of Zion) changed its name to the Jewish Labour Movement. Like most things the JLM does, it was an act of deception. It sought to put a distance between its Zionist origins and the newly renamed group.
To most people the Jewish Labour Movement was exactly that. The representative of Jewish people in the Labour Party. In fact the JLM contains a majority of non-Jewish people. What it doesn’t contain are non-Zionist still less anti-Zionist Jews. No Jewish person who isn’t a paid up supporter of Israel can join the JLM. If it was honest it would call itself the Zionist Labour Movement but that would give the game away.
If you look at the small print on its site then you find that the JLM is an affiliate of the World Zionist Organisation and the local Zionist Federation. It is effectively the British branch of the Israeli Labour Party which it calls its ‘sister party.’
The JLM is unique. No other overseas party has a British branch which has all the privileges that come with being an affiliated socialist society. If for no other reason than this, the JLM should be disaffiliated.
Although the JLM spends most of its time calling for its opponents, most of them Jewish, to be expelled, Jewish anti-Zionists are not proposing that the members of the JLM are expelled. Simply that they no longer have the privileges that they presently enjoy. The JLM have secured the expulsion of veteran Israeli anti-Zionist Moshe Machover, a long standing Israeli Jewish anti-Zionist for the crime of writing about relations between the Zionist movement and the Nazis between 1933 and 1939. It has lobbied for both my own and Jackie Walker’s expulsion as well, of course that of Ken Livingstone, someone who has done more for anti-racism in the Labour Party than any single individual.
It is a disgrace that an organisation affiliated to the WZO, a body which actively funds and supports settlements in the West Bank, which supports the ‘Judaification’ i.e. destruction of Bedouin Arab villages inside Israel should be part of the Labour Party. However what is most iniquitous is that it considers the Israeli Labour Party its sister party. The ILP is an out and out racist party of ethnic cleansing. The Labour Zionist movement founded the Zionist settlement in Palestine by evicting Arabs from the land. They campaigned for Jewish labour i.e. an expulsion of Arab labour.
The ILP formed the government of Israel between 1948 and 1977. It was responsible for the expulsion of over ¾ million Palestinians. It established military rule over Israel’s Arab population until 1966. It barred Arabs from its trade unions until 1959 and then corralled them in an Arab section. There is nothing socialist about the ILP nor has it ever claimed to be socialist. As its former leader Shelly Yacimovich said ‘to call Labor left-wing is a historic wrong.” I can vouch for that! It is about as socialist as the National Socialists were.
As Israeli society moves further and further to the Right so the ILP follows them. Its last leader Isaac Herzog declared that his nightmare was waking up to find that Israel had a Palestinian Prime Minister and 61 Palestinian Members of Israel’s Knesset . Who needs the Right when we have Isaac Herzog? Herzog also declared that he wanted to dispel the false impression that the ILP were ‘Arab Lovers’ Herzog slammed for remark about ‘Arab lovers’. Imagine that someone were to say that their nightmare was to wake up and find Britain had a Jewish Prime Minister or that the Labour Party was not a ‘Jew lovers’ party. The term ‘Jew lover’ and ‘N***** Lover’ used to be part of the language of the National Front and BNP. The fact that it trips off the tongue of the head of the Israeli Labour should be an indication of what Zionism and the JLM are really about.
Herzog has recently been replaced as leader by Avi Gabbay, who served in the Cabinet of Benjamin Netanyahu. If anything he is to the racist Right of Herzog. He has just declared that“We will not sit in the same government as the Joint List I don’t see any [connection] between us.” The Joint List is the 3rd largest group in the Knesset. It comprises 3 different parties including nationalist Balad and the Communist Party. It is group representing the most marginalised and oppressed section of Israeli society, its Palestinian citizens. To say you will not have Arabs in a government and since Israel was formed there has never been an Arab party in Israel’s government is racist in itself. But the full measure of this racism is that Gabbay did not rule out sitting in the Knesset with Avigdor Lieberman, someone who wants to strip Israeli Arabs of their citizenship and deport them. A man who has said he would like to drown the thousands of Palestinian prisoners Israel holds in the Dead Sea.
Ha’aretz quoted Balad MKs Jamal Zahalka and Talab A-Sana and Abdelmalek Dahamsha (United Arab List) ‘“How can you suggest transferring thousands of Palestinian prisoners to the Dead Sea and drowning them there?” Gabbay hasn’t ruled out governing with Habayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) an explicitly racist settler party of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. Indeed there is no Jewish or Zionist bigot he will not form a government with. But to form a government with Arabs is out of the question. Indeed it was because the Yitzhak Rabin government in 1993 relied on the support of Arab parties to form a governing coalition, though they were never part of it, that Rabin was assassinated by the right.
The JLM say they favour 2 states. In Britain of course this is easy. What they don’t do however is oppose either the occupation itself, the 50 years of military rule or indeed the settlements. You won’t find one word of opposition to Israel’s nakedly racist and repressive rule on its website. You won’t find a word of condemnation for its policy of detention and torture of child prisoners as young as 12. Indeed in the House of Commons when a debate was had on Israel’s child prisoners, Louise Ellman, its Vice President defended Israeli practices.
Two states for JLM and Labour Friends of Israel is a smokescreen for supporting the occupation. Its ‘sister party’ in Israel however is quite clear. It is opposed to any withdrawal from the settlements. Indeed its last Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, has been complaining that the ILP has not been given enough credit for their establishment in the first place! What the ILP do support however is a separation of Jews from Arabs. It is a firm supporter of segregation and apartheid. It is as opposed to equality between Arab and Jew even within Israel. That is why it is an outrage that the JLM is still an affiliate of the Labour Party.
It is true that Poale Zion/JLM have been affiliated since 1920. In those days the Labour Party was a supporter of the British Empire though it would cloak its support in the warm and comforting words of ‘trusteeship’ ie. it was looking after the colonies until such time that the Africans and Indians were capable of governing themselves, being backward people.
Today there is no Empire and there is no reason why the affiliation of the JLM, which is a relic of colonialism should be tolerated anymore.
One should point out that naturally the JLM is on the far-Right of the Labour Party. Its vile accusations of anti-Semitism against the Left have been taken up with relish by the dinosaurs of the Right such as Tom Watson and John Mann to say nothing of papers like the Daily Mail, which in previous times support the Hitler regime and British Union of Fascist leader Oswald Moseley. Anti-Semitism has been weaponised against the Left and supporters of Palestine. It has never had anything to do with genuine hatred of Jews. That is why they have campaigned in favour of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which conflates anti-Semitism and opposition to Zionism.
In the leadership elections between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith last year, the JLM voted by 92–4% for Smith with 4% abstentions. What is most remarkable about this vote is that even 4% of the JLM supported Corbyn. One can only assume that they didn’t read the ballot paper clearly enough.
It parliamentary supporters include Ruth Smeeth MP who falsely accused Marc Wadsworth at the Chakrabarti press conference of ‘anti-Semitism’ for pointing out that she was trading information with a Telegraph supporter. Smeeth is listed in Wiki Leaks as a US intelligence asset. It was the JLM who set up Jackie Walker at their infamous ‘training session’ in 2016 Labour Party conference.
The JLM often tries to portray itself as a critic of Netanyahu’s right-wing regime in Israel. However you would look in vain for any criticism of Israel on it web site or in its publications. It is an apologist for Israel’s military occupation and its apartheid laws. The JLM even stays silent about the attack on civil liberties and human rights organisations, which affects Jews as well as Arabs, inside Israel. It was only announced today that Netanyahu is seeking to outlaw the Breaking the Silence Group, a liberal Zionist group which collates testimony from former soldiers about the abuse of Palestinian civilians. Criticism of the army which could result in appearing before an international court of law is not to be outlawed. However the JLM is like the 3 wise monkeys — it neither hears, sees or speaks about Israel’s move to becoming a Jewish Police State.
The idea that a racist organisation like the JLM should be leading a training event on racism is akin to asking the late Dr Harold Shipman to take a course on medical ethics. Perhaps the Labour Party would care to ask Weinstein if he could help in drawing up policy on Equalities with special reference to rape and sexual harassment. That is the absurdity of having the JLM ‘training’ people in anti-Semitism.
Below are two articles from Israel’s Ha’aretz paper and one from Ben White in The Independent. Note that the Guardian no longer covers Israel critically anymore under the Freedland regime.
Labor party members, like their colleagues in the left-wing camp, deserve a leader who will show loyalty to their basic values, not Likud’s
Oct 18, 2017 2:38 AM
Avi Gabbay, who took the Labor party election by storm and was elected chairman in hopes of breathing new life into the peace camp, is proving that he is no different than his predecessors, who fell into the trap of sucking up to the right. Gabbay’s blitz began with him saying, “We will not sit in the same government as the Joint List I don’t see any [connection] between us.” Then followed a statement that there is no need to remove settlements as part of a peace agreement. This shows us that the new Labor chairman is in the midst of a hollow campaign for his image.
Gabbay’s PR trick — during his campaign he declared he was a man of the left, and his victory speech emphasized that Israel needs “leadership that takes care of Dimona and not just Amona” — is all too familiar.
In an attempt to signal to right-wing voters, Gabbay has come out with right-wing statements that aim to distance him from the Arabs and show support for the settlements. During her term as Labor chairwoman, Zionist Union lawmaker Shelly Yacimovich said things like, “I certainly don’t see the settlements project as a sin and crime” and “to call Labor left-wing is a historic wrong.” Isaac Herzog, who succeeded her, said that “We must stop giving the impression that we are Arab-lovers.”
The result of these moves is also well-known: Right-wing voters aren’t tempted by a poor imitation of a right-wing party and remain in their political home, while Labor party heads are replaced one after another. It is surprising that Gabbay, who is a management expert, has not internalized these repeated failures. But the damage caused by his statements reaches far beyond the electoral domain. Gabbay, together with Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid — who’s busy with his own pointless sycophancy of the imaginary right-religious-nationalist electorate while politically excluding Arabs and leftists (including the persecution of human rights organizations for political gain) — is laying the groundwork for delegitimizing the opposition to right-wing rule.
Opposition leaders’ flight from “left-wing positions” as if they were on fire contributes to such views. It also aids in erasing the ideological opposition to the right’s path. If even the chairman of the Labor party is embarrassed to express leftist political policies out loud, then how is it possible to complain about the contempt the right and center have for the left?
Labor party members, like their colleagues in the left-wing camp, deserve a leader who will show loyalty to their basic values. Not just the left but the entire country needs a true opposition. Labor took a risk and bet on a relatively anonymous candidate in hopes of renewing its ranks. But woe be it if they discover that they unintentionally replaced their worldview instead. If the party does not sober up quickly, the Zionist Union and the rest of the opposition are sentencing themselves to extinction and absorption into the Likud.
The leader of Israel’s main opposition party, Labour chair Avi Gabbay, is currently making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Yesterday, Gabbay told Israeli television that he opposed discussing the removal of even the most isolated illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The remarks came a day after Gabbay told a meeting of party activists that “the Arabs have to be afraid of us”. He added: “They fire one missile — you fire 20. That’s all they understand in the Middle East”.
On Saturday, meanwhile, Gabbay vowed to never enter into a coalition with the Joint List, a Knesset group dominated by parties representing Palestinian citizens.
The Israeli Labor Party is often presented as a “moderate” alternative to Benjamin Netanyahu — so what’s going on here?
In one sense, it is not a big surprise; Gabbay, after all, has already previously served in a Netanyahu cabinet, as I noted when the Labour leader won the leadership election in July. Some predicted Gabbay would seek to attract Likud supporters.
But beyond Gabbay’s immediate goals, his series of blunt interventions is a valuable opportunity to subject the Israeli Labour Party to the kind of critical scrutiny it often avoids, particularly in the West, where some — like the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel — support the party as “progressive” allies in the search for peace.
The uncomfortable reality is that Gabbay’s racism, as well as his support for settlements and disproportionate military force, is entirely consistent with the Labour Party’s past and present.
Previous leader Isaac Herzog ran for prime minister with an advert boasting how he “understands the Arab mentality”. On another occasion, Herzog declared: “I want to keep a Jewish state with a Jewish majority…I don’t want a Palestinian prime minister in Israel”.
It was the Labour Party, as Israeli news site +972 Magazine put it, whose “glory days included the Nakba [the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948]”, as well as “conquering and settling the West Bank and East Jerusalem”.
Just last month, former Israeli premier Ehud Barak bemoaned the fact that a state ceremony celebrating 50 years of the occupation of the West Bank did not give enough credit to the Labour leaders who “consolidated and led the settlement enterprise for a decade”.
Barak was the Labour prime minister, of course, when the Israeli army fired 1.3 million bullets at Palestinian protesters during the first few days of what became the Second Intifada.
Gabbay’s remarks provide three, vital takeaways. First, mere lip service to a “two-state solution” is meaningless because it can mean so many different things.
The Israeli Labour Party has endorsed a vision of “separation” — to an international audience, a “two-state solution” — where Palestinians are condemned to walled-in cantons. The parameters of this future Palestinian “state” are those of a Bantustan.
“I believe that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews,” Gabbay said today. “God promised Abraham the entire Land of Israel, but I also believe that since there are 4.5 million Arabs here, we have to compromise in order to create a situation in which we live in our country with a Jewish majority.”
Second, more broadly, the Israeli maximum on offer does not meet the Palestinians’ minimum — or the standards of international law.
Netanyahu likes the status quo. His coalition includes those, like Minister Naftali Bennett, who want formal annexation of the majority of the West Bank. But all the Labor Party is offering by way of an alternative is an Israeli-defined “separation” plan that smacks of a “smarter” version of apartheid.
In other words, none of the Israeli political parties who are either part of the current ruling coalition, or who could feasibly lead an alternative one, support a solution based on international law and the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, sovereignty, and return.
Finally, understanding the nature of the Israeli opposition underlines the importance of tactics like Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). While some claim boycotts only empower the Right, the Israeli Labour Party offers a sobering reality check about what is on offer from the “moderates”.
A Labor Party leader’s declaration he wouldn’t include Arab parties in a potential government was an attempt to find favor in eyes of right-wing groups and Arab-haters
Oct 16, 2017 1:22 AM
Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay said Saturday that his party will not agree to include the Arab parties’ Joint List in any governing coalition he heads. Speaking at a public event in Be’er Sheva, Gabbay was unequivocal: “We won’t sit in the same government with the Joint List. Period. Let that be clear. You see their behavior. I don’t see anything that connects or unites us that would enable us to sit together in the same government.”
These are very serious statements. They’re especially grave since they were uttered by the most senior representative of Israel’s center-left camp, which pretends to be the alternative to the Likud-led government. Yet in his remarks, Gabbay effectively ruled out any possibility of his party forming a future government.
His remarks also emit a strong whiff of nationalism. Gabbay didn’t promise not to sit in the same government with representatives of the far right. So why was it important to him to rule out, in advance and under any circumstances, only the Joint List — the authentic representative of most of the country’s Arab citizens?
The Joint List is a coalition of several parties that together represent the mainstream of the Israeli-Arab community, a community that comprises about one fifth of Israel’s citizens. This coalition includes a variety of opinions, some more extreme and some less so.
But Gabbay didn’t limit himself to merely disqualifying them in advance; he also stressed that his party had absolutely nothing in common with them. He has nothing in common with the Hadash and Ta’al parties’ desire for a two-state solution. He has nothing in common with the entire Joint List’s battle against the outrageous discrimination suffered by Israeli Arabs and for equal rights for all.
We can only conclude that Gabbay’s comments were an attempt to find favor in the eyes of right-wing groups and to try to glean votes from society’s Arab-haters. This is both an unacceptable endeavor and a pointless one.
To espouse vile views like this, we already have Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid — the man who, in a reference to Arab MK Haneen Zoabi, once ruled out any possibility of sitting with “the Zoabis.” Now Gabbay looks like a poor man’s Lapid. And he’ll never gain power this way.
The message he’s conveying to the public is that Zionist Union — the joint Knesset slate of Labor and Hatnuah — is just another right-wing party in disguise, one that excludes Arabs from the political game just like almost all the other parties do. Labor has tried veering rightward countless times over the years, and it’s one of the main reasons for its continuous failure.
The only way to replace the right-wing government is by uniting all the forces on the left and center and presenting a real alternative. In his remarks, Gabbay chose a different path: Imitating the right, disqualifying the Arabs and presenting a false facade of leftism.