SOAS meeting to downplay anti-semitism sees Israel bracketed with North Korea

This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) is a tiny group of Corbyn-supporting Israel-demonising anti-semitism-downplaying Jewish (they claim) Labour members, plus their supporters. See JVL Watch on Twitter. They launched in a fringe meeting at the Party Conference, notable for the anti-Zionist Miko Peled telling Labour members that they should be free to discuss the Holocaust “yes or no”.  Many of their members have moved on from other similar ‘astroturf’ far left Israel-traducing organisations such as ‘Free Speech on Israel’ and ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’.

On Tuesday evening JVL held a meeting in SOAS (appropriately…..).

It was entitled On Antisemitism: Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice. Copies of a book with that title – compiled by Jewish Voice for Peace, a US anti-Israel organisation with zero connection to JVL – were on sale (published by Haymarket).  The meeting wasn’t sponsored by a SOAS organisation so JVL must either have hired the room or found a supportive SOAS academic (not hard!) to book it for them.

On the chairs was a flyer from ‘Free Speech on Israel’ quoting the finding from the flawed Yachad survey that ‘more than 40 percent of British Jews do not identify as Zionist’. Of course it failed to quote the finding from the same survey that 93% see Israel as part of their identity as Jews. And it cites the Tomlinson critical opinion on the IHRA Definition without disclosing that his opinion was commissioned by four anti-Israel organisations: Free Speech on Israel, Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Antony Lerman spoke first (he is an outspoken anti-Zionist who left his job as Director of the Institute of Jewish Affairs (now IJPR) due to the objection of some Trustees to his support for ‘one state’). He said that anti-semitism in Labour was grossly exaggerated (he said “the anti-semitic label pinned so viciously on the Labour Party – which reached absurd levels of hysteria at the time of the party conference – has been comprehensively debunked by James Stern-Wiener”).  “The success of the Zionist project was supposed to eliminate anti-semitism” he said. He talked about “the aggressive messianic Far Right tightening its grip on the Israeli government”.  You get the picture…..  Lerman isn’t a member of the Labour Party. Since he does not accept the IHRA Definition of Anti-semitism, he sees complaints about it as grossly exaggerated.  No matter that all minorities – Jews included – have the right to define what offends them and that the IHRA Definition has become very widely accepted. This tiny group of far Left Jews arrogantly believes that they have the right to dispute it.

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi’s (W-I) shtick was intersectionality. Precisely what we heard from Omar Barghouti and Malia Bouattia in Cambridge last week. She warned about Jews becoming increasingly ‘right wing’ in their support for Israel and failure to support ‘Black Lives Matter’ movements.  “The American power structure is white supremacist …. Israel is a State dominated by white European Ashkenazi Jews”.

Towards the end of September W-I was called out by Nick Ferrari of LBC for giggling about anti-semitism.

Last year she claimed that Ruth Smeeth MP’s obvious distress at the launch of Labour’s anti-semitism report (June 2016) was faked, suggesting she “participated in an attempt to completely undermine the launch of a really important report about racism”.

These callous remarks – when repeated to Alison McGovern MP on a subsequent Nick Ferrari LBC show (September 2016) – reduced her to near tears of frustration and incredulity.

Yet this oppressor had the nerve to finish her talk last night with a quote from Warsaw Ghetto uprising leader Marek Edelman (“To be a Jew means always being with the oppressed and never the oppressors”).

Later in the Q+A, W-I suggested the CST is “ramping up” fear about antisemitism and that the role of the Campaign Against Antisemitism is to “see antisemitism everywhere”!

Before the meeting descended into chaos, ending prematurely (thanks to the sizeable pro-Israel contingent who vocally protested (with flags) against the rubbish they had sat through) a South Korean audience member   launched  – incredibly – into a long, ill-focused diatribe attempting to compare Israel to North Korea!

Such are the fruitcakes that these meetings attract ……….