Labour MP John Mann has issued a rallying call to the Jewish community to continue the battle to wipe out anti-Semitism from his party.
Mr Mann, the MP for Bassetlaw, alongside fellow MPs Louise Ellman and Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan, said: “My message is don’t be despondent, be organised and be active. We are not giving up. We are going nowhere. Where-ever anti-Semites stand up, they will be challenged. What we say is give us your support when they do.”
Mr Mann was speaking at JW3 in north London at the launch of a JTV documentary produced by Judith Ornstein, in addition to book and website, called “Whitewashed”.
They tell the story of how the submissions of 17 individuals to the Chakrabarti report into anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in the Labour Party, published almost a year ago, were largely ignored by its author, Lady Shami Chakrabarti. She received her peerage only a couple of weeks after the report was published, an award that raised eyebrows about its timing.
The 35-minute documentary, which featured a number of those people, was fronted by academic, author and card-carrying Labour party member Dr David Hirsh.
After it was shown, Dr Hirsh and acclaimed author Howard Jacobson discussed some of the issues raised.
Mr Jacobson revealed that he had submitted a contribution: “I was commissioned by the Catholic Herald to write a cover story on anti-Semitism and I let them have it with both barrels.
“They took it and they liked it. Then Mark Gardner (of the CST) saw it and said to me that I should submit it to Chakrabarti.”
He brought laughter from the sell-out crowd when he admitted that at elections “my job is to dither, to show the confusion I’m in. I try to go on holiday when there are elections.” He voted Lib-Dem at the election as an anti-Brexit vote.
Dr Hirsh said that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “always says he is against anti-Semitism. What he refuses to do is reassure the community that he understands what it is.”
He said that contemporary anti-Semitism is “when the Jews are always suspected of being up to something. When we raise the issue of anti-Semitism, we’re up to something. Even non-Jews who raise it are treated as though they are acting dishonestly.”
To groans, Mr Jacobson said there was reason to believe that there would be a Labour government before the end of the year.
“We were told that (Jeremy Corbyn) is a most sincere person. We now know that he is much more versatile than that.”
However, the debate soon widened into a more general examination of Labour’s ongoing problems with anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, particularly when the audience were asked for questions.
The first questioner said: “Why would a man who has insulted Israel for more than 35 years change?”
Questioner two from Kilburn, north west London, told how she felt intimidated going to her local Labour party meetings.
Next came an American woman who lives in Corbyn’s constituency in Islington. She wanted to know what she should say to pressure him if she was to meet him.
It was John Mann who answered her to applause: “Ask (Corbyn) why haven’t you expelled (Ken) Livingstone from the Labour party? Why is (Corbyn) not prepared to make a speech to outline why anti-Semitism is the worst racism? That’s what you should ask him.”
Joan Ryan described the documentary as “powerful”. She said: “I’m not prepared to walk away from the party I love because it has not done all it should have about anti-Semitism.
“I am willing to fight and I don’t care how much Twitter abuse I get. I joined the Labour party to stand up for what I believe in.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.