Statement on the witch-hunt against Ken Livingstone

 

  1. Left Unity National Council condemns completely the witch-hunt against Ken Livingstone. This is being conducted by much of the mainstream media, the right wing of the Labour Party and supporters of the Israeli state in all parties.
  2. Left Unity makes a distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism, or the opposition to Zionist settler colonialism which supports the building of a Jewish state and the expulsion and oppression of the Palestinians. We unreservedly condemn and oppose antisemitism and oppose all forms of racism. We note that many Jewish people, including Jewish socialists, oppose Zionism.
  3. Whilst the focal point of this witch-hunt is the expulsion of Livingstone from the Labour Party, the real target is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has a strong track-record of supporting Palestinian rights and working for a just peace in the Middle East. Those hostile to these goals have been working to weaken, undermine and overthrow Corbyn.
  4. Last year Livingstone spoke about the Nazis making an agreement with the Zionist Federation of Germany to facilitate the emigration of German Jews to Palestine in the 1930s. This refers to the Haavara agreement signed by the Nazi government. Stating this fact is not antisemitic. It is part of the historical record.
  5. Livingstone’s remarks were misrepresented by a hostile press. His opponents and those supporting the Israeli state’s Zionist policies claimed that they were antisemitic. They demanded his expulsion, suggesting that anybody who did not support expulsion had compromised with antisemitism and did not uphold a zero-tolerance policy towards it. They sought to suggest that the Labour Party is imbued with antisemitism and Holocaust revisionism.
  6. Ken Livingstone is not antisemitic. He has a long record as an MP and Mayor of London of opposing all forms of racism including the promotion of hatred of, and discrimination against, Jewish people. Consistent with anti-racism, Livingstone has opposed the brutal treatment and discrimination against Palestinians and the denial of their right to self determination.
  7. Ken Livingstone has a right to defend himself against the charge of antisemitism and a right to correct or clarify the meaning of anything he said. The disciplinary case against him has fed on high emotion and bullying not facts to prevent him getting a fair hearing of his case. It has been powered by those who see an opportunity to use claims of antisemitism to prepare for the overthrow of Corbyn’s leadership.
  8. Left Unity believes that free speech is vital in the interests of democracy and socialism. We note that Livingstone has apologised for any unintended hurt he caused.
  9. The fundamental issue in the Livingstone case is the right to free speech on Israel-Palestine and the right to criticise the repressive actions of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.
  10. Left Unity opposes the proposal to introduce into English law the ‘working definition of antisemitism’ promoted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which attempts to criminalise anti-Zionist speech and activity. We note the expert legal opinion which states that the government’s adoption of this definition ‘has no legal status or effect’, and that attempts to use this definition to prohibit or sanction opposition to Israel and Zionism or promotion of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign would themselves be unlawful.

2 comments

2 responses to “Statement on the witch-hunt against Ken Livingstone”

  1. John Head says:

    I was a GLC employee when Ken and his supporters became the leading group running the council. Early on, they introduced a zero-tolerance anti-racist policy which transformed the GLC and which became the model for other authorities. To suggest that Ken is racist or anti-semitic is a gross falsification.

  2. Richard Atkinson says:

    Terrible statement. Obviously anti-zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitic – but it can be. Livingstone’s remarks, in context, were at best bordering on an anti-semitic discourse about how the Jews ‘brought it on themselves’ – at worst they crossed that line. Uncritical, tribal solidarity like this abandons principled anti racism for tactical gain. At the least some distancing from Livingstone was required. Corbyn’s own statement, ironically, does this – his fan club, which I’m ashamed to see LU joining, ignored it.


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