OUR INAUGURAL JULY 2017 meeting faced a packed agenda with a sense of urgency and prescience. Miraculously a range of complex propositions was distilled into an impressive statement of principles and a sound constitution.
Our public launch at the Labour Party conference was spectacular, and established JVL as a significant player in the party. CLP delegates Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and Leah Levane brought conference to its feet twice, demonstrating our connection with the rank and file on the use of allegations of antisemitism to stifle criticism of Israel, to attack supporters of Corbyn’s policies and on the deliberate deployment of undemocratic disciplinary procedures by the right wing. We have established a very different, authentic, radical, and socialist Jewish narrative to that promulgated by the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel.
We have been a major part of the lobby which got the clause on recognition of Palestine by a Labour government reinstated into the manifesto after its unilateral and outrageous removal. We have been instrumental in reinstating links to the Chakrabarti report after its mysterious disappearance from the party website.
In the process we have established an international presence, are being asked to contribute to national TV and radio and have had letters and articles published in mainstream media.
We have affiliated to the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and to the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance, the main agents within the party for democratic reform. We have joined the consortium which commissioned the legal opinion on the IHRA document on antisemitism and played a significant part in its distribution.
Public bodies are now starting to decline adoption of the IHRA definition or to adopt only the 40 word definition and not the eleven examples (most of which define criticism of Israel as antisemitic). We are pleased that the Labour Party has only adopted the 40 word definition - inadequate as it is.
We have had meetings with senior Labour Party figures, spoken at many meetings and initiated motions at Labour Party branches. We have had requests from trade unions and Labour Party branches to provide training on antisemitism and this will be available soon.
We have an important relationship with the new Grassroots Black Left and in the current climate of victimisation and undemocratic processes we stand solidly with those falsely accused.
With Free Speech On Israel, we are producing a definition of antisemitism which will fill a gap both in the UK and internationally - there being no authoritative alternative to the IHRA definition which conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism.
Affiliations to JVL by trade unions and CLPs are progressing well - inevitably a slow process. We are very pleased to say our finances are in good health.
At our first overflowing members’ meeting last month we focused on engaging as many as possible in the day to day work and on widening responsibility beyond the steering group.
Another wave of false accusations of antisemitism will likely coincide with the local elections and we are ready to play our part in exposing and resisting these attacks on the grassroots supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies.
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi “brought conference to its feet”
is General Secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour.