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Jackie Walker, The Left and Antisemitism

posted by: Joe Mulhall | on: Thursday, 29 September 2016, 21:46


As a researcher at HOPE not hate, a historian of fascism and a proud member of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Board of Trustees, I read yesterday’s comments by vice-chair of Momentum Jackie Walker with a mixture of shock and sadness.

Speaking at a much-needed training session on antisemitism at the Labour Party conference, Walker asked: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust Day was open to all peoples who’ve experienced Holocaust?”

It is. Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) commemorates the Holocaust, victims of Nazi persecution and the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Even the most cursory of glance at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website would reveal this information on the home page.

Walker, who was previously suspended from the party over alleged antisemitic comments on Facebook, also appeared to denigrate the need for security at Jewish schools – at a time of heightened terror risks and international attacks against Jewish targets in Europe over the past few years – stating: “I still haven’t heard a definition of antisemitism that I can work with.”

Walker has since offered half an apology for any offence caused, though she does not seem to have fully retracted her statements regarding HMD. However, the question remains why she made such ill-informed statements in the first place.

To say things aren’t made clear, as Walker suggests, is clearly a result of her failure to engage with Holocaust Memorial Day itself. Anyone who has attended any of the thousands of HMD events (there are about 5,500 every year up and down the UK) would know how inclusive they are, especially the wonderful national event. Those who watched last year’s national commemoration on TV or in the audience will not have forgotten the heartbreaking and shocking film, The Bosnian War, featuring Omarska concentration camp survivor Kemal Pervanić.

The charge that HMD is not inclusive enough was also recently levelled by students during the National Union of Students (NUS) conference. Why has such a fallacy seemingly gained traction on parts of the Left? Sadly, the short answer seems wilful ignorance.

The Holocaust was a unique historical event and the scholarly literature surrounding it is vast. The Final Solution was designed to exterminate every single Jewish man, woman and child, thus marking this genocide out as unique in the modern age. Either purposefully or by mistake, some appear to misunderstand declarations of uniqueness as an attempt to detract from the suffering of other groups in other conflicts and facing other persecutions. It is nothing of the sort.

For some, undermining the uniqueness of the Holocaust can be a means to undermine the legitimacy of the state of Israel, which they argue draws this legitimacy from the ‘use’ or even ‘abuse’ of the Holocaust. While criticism of Israel and its policies is perfectly acceptable, any attempt to minimise or relativize the Holocaust for political aims in this manner is shameful. Paradoxically it also undermines the legitimate Palestinian struggle.

While the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is absolutely right to commemorate subsequent genocides, and does so proudly, one can’t help but ask why Walker has an issue with commemorating the mass extermination of six million Jews in its own right?

Clearly her latest statements are bad enough but it is worth remembering that she has been caught out before, writing on Facebook: “What debt do we owe the Jews?” and stating that Jews “were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade”.

The myth that Jews were behind the slave trade is an import from the American antisemite Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, who pushed the idea in a book titled The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews: Volume One.

The conspiratorial antisemitism of the book was exposed by all serious scholars with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at Harvard University calling it: “The Bible of new anti-Semitism” and stating that it, “massively misinterprets the historical record, largely through a process of cunningly selective quotations of often reputable sources".

In 1995 the American Historical Association issued a statement condemning "any statement alleging that Jews played a disproportionate role in the Atlantic slave trade."

The fact that Walker repeated this antisemitic trope shows that she is, at the very least, susceptible to believing negative antisemitic stereotypes. When viewing her latest comments in the context of her history of similar prejudicial statements, it seems clear that her position at Momentum should also be untenable.

It is true that some people on the Right are using antisemitism as a charge to attack the Left, yet it is also true that there is a problem with leftwing antisemitism. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Jeremy Corbyn’s comments yesterday condemning antisemitism as evil are a welcome departure from general denouncements of ‘all prejudice’. Now it is time to move beyond words and condemnations and to act against those engaging in or being sympathetic towards antisemitism within the Labour Party.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of HMDT, has released the following statement:

The Holocaust was a threat to the fabric of society and it is right that everybody should commemorate the events of this appalling period of history.

We are extremely shocked and saddened that Jackie Walker has questioned the aims and basis of Holocaust Memorial Day, a day when people of all backgrounds come together to remember the Holocaust, and indeed all victims of Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides which have taken place in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Commemoration of the Holocaust should be a universal responsibility and does not prevent or undermine commemoration of other genocides.

With more than 5,500 activities in local communities across the UK, Holocaust Memorial Day effectively brings together vast numbers of people to commemorate the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.

Visit the HMDT website here:
http://hmd.org.uk

Joe Mulhall is senior researcher for HOPE not hate @JoeMulhall_

 Posted: 29 Sep 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Shimon Peres: Farewell to a giant of peace

posted by: Jemma Levene | on: Wednesday, 28 September 2016, 11:12


Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East 2009. Photo: World Economic Forum by Nader Daoud

Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East 2009. Photo: World Economic Forum by Nader Daoud

I remember returning from a night out with fellow Jewish students to hear the terrible news that Yitzchak Rabin had been brutally assassinated by a fanatic. We sat and cried, both for a great man, and for our realisation that Israeli society would be forever altered and because prospects for a genuine, lasting peace in the region looked shattered.

However, one man never gave up. Shimon Peres spent the rest of his life working to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict, tirelessly promoting a two state solution both at home and on the world stage.

However, he was not just a man of diplomacy, he created genuine facts on the ground, through his foundation, the Peres Centre for Peace, which has engaged over a million Israeli and Palestinian young people in combined sports, arts and technology programmes, as well as established shared medical and agricultural training and resources.

He once said

"Optimists and pessimists die the exact same death, but they live very different lives!"

Today, we mourn a pioneer for peace, and hope his legacy lives on through those who have been and continue to be inspired by his example.

 Posted: 28 Sep 2016 | There are 1 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Brad’s back

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Wednesday, 21 September 2016, 16:33


Squadron

Squadron

After a 20-year break white power singer Brad Hollanby is back with his band Squadron at this weekend's Ian Stuart Donaldson gig.

Brad's presence at the ISD gig, held annually in memory of the the Blood & Honour founder and Skrewdriver lead signer Ian Stuart Donaldson who died in a car crash in September 1993, is likely to make it the largest nazi gig in the UK for several years. Up to 800 nazis are expected, though several hundred are likely to make the trip from the continent, with many attending just to see Squadron perform.

The event will kick off on Friday with a ballads night, with John from the Scottish band Nemisis performing, before the main event on the Saturday.

Brad, a tattooist from South East London, last played in 1995/6 but after being involved in a bitter feud with Will Browning's Combat 18, which included more than one attempt on his life, he dropped out of the scene. However, he has remained in contact with his old nazi pals and earlier this year indicated that he was prepared to reform the group for a one-off gig.

Whether he returns for good remains to be seen.

It's a busy few months for Blood and Honour supporters. Next month there is the Bound for Glory gig in Edinburgh, followed in mid-December by the annual White Xmas gig.

 Posted: 21 Sep 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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THE SIGNAL WAS SPAIN

posted by: Mark Perryman | on: Monday, 19 September 2016, 17:07


Saturday 1st Ocober Philosophy Football in asociation with HOPE not hate presents The Signal Was Spain :

A Night for the International Brigade and Cable Street 80th Anniversaries. The evening will be introduced by Mark Thomas with historian Richard Baxell providing an illustrated talk to bring the historical period of Cable Street and the Spanish Civil War of '36 to life.

Will Kaufman takes us back in time with his extraordinary performance of Woody Guthrie originals. Post-punk singer-songwriter Louise Distras. Mixing red-hot rhythms with ska and singalong anthems The Hurriers.

And from Scotland, The Wakes bring their unique mix of Celtic traditional music with all the angry harmonies of punk. Three to get everybody marching, and dancing, with their feet.

Plus, performing poetry and music specially commissioned to celebrate Cable Street and the International Brigades- Potent Whisper and Lánre.

It's an astonishing bill, the very best in modern protest music paying their tuneful dues to the inspiration of Cable Street and the International Brigades of eight decades ago , brought together for a night out to remember.

In association with the RMT trade union and Thompsons Solicitors the event is in partnership with the International Brigade Memorial Trust, R2 magazine and Brigadista Ale. Doors open 6pm, show starts 7pm at the superb Rich Mix Arts Venue in East London. Tickets just £9.99, with discounts on group tickets, from www.philosophyfootball.com

 Posted: 19 Sep 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments

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Say it with pride: #MoreInCommon

posted by: Nick Lowles | on: Saturday, 3 September 2016, 11:21


This weekend there are over 80 #MoreInCommon events taking place across the UK. There are community festivals, street parties and conversations over cups of tea.

Find an event near you

Our weekend of events kicked off yesterday with 47 babies and toddlers enjoying a community picnic and children's entertainment in North West London, a Cup of Tea event in Bristol and a nature walk and community meal in Stoke.

You can follow events throughout the weekend on our website and Facebook page.

Say it with pride: #MoreInCommon


If you can't make an event then why not take a photo of yourself holding a #MoreInCommon sign and send it to us.

lick on the link and follow the instructions.

http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/moreincommon


Show your support for #MoreInCommon

The aim of the weekend is to have fun, but the intent is serious: to show that, like Jo Cox said, we have more in common than that which divides us.

While nothing we can do will bring Jo back, we want to provide a fitting tribute to her memory.

Please share your picture and we will add it to a #MoreInCommon wall in our website and in our video http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/moreincommon

 Posted: 3 Sep 2016 | There are 0 comments | make a comment/view comments