antisemitism,  Labour Party

Jackie Walker readmitted to the Labour Party

For those who didn’t follow the early reports of Jackie Walker’s suspension from the Labour Party following allegations of antisemitism, this article provides some background.  Briefly, apparently in response to someone arguing that people should shun BDS because of the Holocaust, she invoked slavery as the African Holocaust and observed that ‘many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade’.

She went on to ask ‘what do you think the Jews should do about their contribution to the African Holocaust? What debt do they owe?’

The precise role played by Jews in the slave trade is contested – but, whatever the precise  historical statistics, Jackie Walker’s nasty rhetoric implies a very specific relationship with slavery, one which justifies singling Jews out today for special responsibility. The issue is one which has certainly attracted its fair share of antisemites.

Jamie Stern-Weiner accused her detractors of acting in bad faith:

Jackie Walker was a tempting target for the antisemitism-mongers because of her public sympathy for the Palestinians and her prominent role in Momentum.  But even setting these positions aside, her critique of ‘Jewish particularism’ was bound to ruffle some well-plumed feathers.  The doctrine of unique Jewish victimhood—the Holocaust was uniquely evil, and so the State of Israel cannot be held to normal standards—is a central dogma of the antisemitism industry.  In the hands of Israel’s apologists and many Jewish communal organisations, the Nazi holocaust has become an instrument, not to inspire compassion for the oppressed, but to trivialise the oppression of non-Jews, and—in the case of the Palestinians—to justify it.

These statements distort  the concerns many hold about antisemitism in the Labour Party and elsewhere – ‘antisemitism-mongers’ indicates dishonesty and ‘well-plumed’ echoes digs at wealth or influence.

She has now been allowed back into the party.  This has caused some Labour members to resign in disgust.  Some, while condemning her remarks, think on balance this was the right decision.  Whatever your views on this, the unpleasant responses the controversy has triggered are very concerning.

Rather than at least acknowledge that she said something wrong – that ‘it is not unreasonable … to believe that the content of her posts was antisemitic’ – to adapt the formula the NUS used after its investigation of Malia Bouattia, these supporters are gloating over the distress of other members.

Deborah Fink has an interesting take on the issue.

Here’s a good comment on the double standards in play.

Finally, here’s an interview with Jackie Walker – on that beacon for progressive values, Russia Today.