Left antisemitism

Thinking again on David Miller

I found the article by Chris Reynolds in Solidarity 608 on David Miller and Bristol University very strange. I think choosing the case of Helmut Hasse as analogy is pretty strange, considering as this guy was a wannabe Nazi and certainly fellow-traveller of fascists. Our line is typically that we do support the removal and blockading of fascists for their politics. The implicit defence of Miller that his antisemitism is unrelated to his academic project, or is of the calibre of unthinking near-antisemitism seen on the left, is off the mark, too. PowerPoints from his lectures have been leaked...

Do not "defend David Miller"

Alex Callinicos’s defence in Socialist Worker of David Miller, the academic recently sacked from his job at the University of Bristol, poses the matter as one of “academic freedom”, in which not only academic freedom, but Miller himself, must be “defended”. Callinicos is right that there are questions of academic freedom involved. There have long been demands that Miller should be sacked for his views on Israel and Zionism — and, from some, that he should be sacked for his views on Syria, as he is a prominent apologist for Assad regime and has promoted denialist conspiracy theories about that...

David Miller and Bristol University

David Miller was sacked on 1 October from his academic job at Bristol University. The tight-lipped university statement explicitly refused to give details, but said that in light of the University’s “duty of care to all students”, “Professor Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff”. Miller is appealing, but has given no details either, claiming only that “Israel’s assets in the UK have been emboldened by the university collaborating with them to shut down teaching about Islamophobia. The University of Bristol is no longer safe for Muslim, Arab or Palestinian...

Confronting antisemitism on the left

The double meaning apparent in the title of Daniel Randall’s new book Confronting Antisemitism on the Left expresses its two important aims: to confront antisemitism which appears on the left while at the same time confronting antisemitism firmly from a left perspective. Grabbing the baton from Steve Cohen’s important 1984 analysis of left-wing antisemitism, That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Antisemitic, and running much further, Randall’s book is not only sharp in its arguments about the nature of antisemitic forms of leftist discourse, but it’s also very well grounded in the history of the...

Labour and antisemitism: now open up for education and debate

The Labour Party held its first training session on “Understanding Antisemitism” online on 14 June. Anyone expecting a training session which denounced all criticism of Israel as antisemitic, or which cited the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) examples of antisemitism (much and wrongly denounced as banning criticism of Israel) as sole and absolute criteria, would have had their expectations confounded. The session covered too much in too short a space of time. It leaned towards handed-down “training” rather than to opening up education and discussion. But if it encouraged at...

Antisemitism on the left

I find it interesting that Colin Foster in his piece about the rise of antisemitism (Solidarity 594) looks just at the aspect of far right antisemitism, concluding: “Antisemitic attacks have been increasing in Europe and the USA for some years. This increase is correlated with upsurges of the far right and in the USA especially of Trumpism.” Whilst I agree it is important to recognise this aspect and talk about it, as the rise and threat of the far right is very real, it’s not looking at the full picture. Historically it is the far right who are antisemitic and they’ve expressed this...

Support Palestinian rights, oppose antisemitism

On 15 and 22 May London saw large demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinians. The anger at the bombing of Gaza and the Israeli government’s disregard for Palestinian rights is fully justified. But as I talked with young people on the demonstrations, it became clear that some have picked up reactionary ideas: that Jews should be driven out of the Middle East, that they are Europe’s “problem”, and that the Holocaust is exaggerated by Israeli Jews in their own interests. Many of these ideas are promoted by various shades of political Islamism, expressed on the demo by the very common...

Uphold free speech, fight antisemitism

David Miller The government’s new attempt to police freedom of speech and academic freedom on University campuses — e.g. to withhold registration if a University is deemed not be complying — should be opposed. Universities already have a statutory duty to uphold free speech (in the 1986 Education Act). The new push is a demagogic attempt to push back against “wokeness”, linked to reactionary attempts to promote historical pride in such things as colonialism and slavery. However, there are real pressures against free speech and the right to organise on campuses. There have been many free-speech...

Raise voices against the Evans-Starmer purge!

Dozens of constituency or branch Labour Party officials, chairs, secretaries, and so on, have been suspended without due process simply for allowing debate on "banned" motions about other disciplinary crackdowns. “If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that", declared Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner on 29 November, following a new message from Labour Party general secretary David Evans that local Labour Party officials could be suspended for allowing debate on restoring the Labour whip to Jeremy Corbyn. It's a Catch-22 logic: suspensions can never be stopped...

Democracy and the labour movement

On 7 December, the Labour Party National Executive (NEC) adopted a “draft plan” in response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report of 29 October finding that Labour had dealt with antisemitism inadequately. The vote, according to LabourList, was unanimous. The draft plan will not be published: only, after some time, the plan finally agreed with the EHRC. The plan is likely to set out new disciplinary processes for Labour. They can hardly be worse than the present mess. The plan won’t include a political offensive, through debate and education, against the antisemitism in...

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