Open Letter: No, Jennie Formby, we will not be informers! These are the methods of the Gestapo and the Stasi!

Open Letter: No, Jennie Formby, we will not be informers! These are the methods of the Gestapo and the Stasi!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Labour’s General Secretary writes to
Labour and Corbyn Facebook Groups asking them to Report Members  to the Compliance Unit

Jenny
Formby, the new General Secretary of the Labour Party, whom Tom Watson is trying
to remove, has written to the Admins and Moderators of pro-Corbyn and Labour
Party Facebook groups asking them to inform on members of those groups and
report them to Labour’s Compliance Unit where ‘anti-semitism’ is
suspected.  Naturally no other form of racism is mentioned because unlike ‘anti-semitism’, Islamaphobia, anti-Roma and anti-Black racism in Britain is just not a problem.

You might be forgiven for thinking that Stephen Lawrence had been Jewish.  That the Windrush victims were Jewish and had been sent ‘back’ to Israel, that Darren Osborne had driven his minibus at members of the St John’s Wood synagogue and of course that the Jewish youth of Golders Green had held a demonstration outside the local cop shop complaining of the stop and search of people wearing kippas, to say nothing of the number of Jewish dead in police custody and of course John Mann MP had written a quasi-legal handbook explaining how to get the Police to move on Jewish pests who insisted on camping out in parks and greens.

Of course none of this happened which is why anti-semitism has been prioritised by the Labour Party. Does this privileging of a non-existent antisemitism make sense?  Yes but only if you think Israeli Apartheid needs defending.

Labour
Against the Witchhunt has issued an open
letter
to Ms Formby deploring the culture of informing and reporting that
is growing up in the Labour Party.  We do not need a Labour Thought Police.

Luke Akehurst of Labour First defends the massacre of now 160 unarmed demonstrators in Gaza by Israel. Would Akehurst defend the massacre of unarmed demonstrators in London?  If not then he is a racist who should be immediately suspended
We
have to overcome the atmosphere of suspicion and mutual distrust that has grown
up as a result of the false accusations of ‘anti-semitism’ from pro-Israeli and
Zionist lobby groups such as Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour
Movement.  If Jennie Formby wishes to root out racism in the Labour Party perhaps she would start with the suspension and then expulsion of Luke Akehurst, who openly defending Israel’s gunning down of  unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza.  Akehurst would not do this if the Palestinians in question had been white demonstrators in London.  If Jenny really wants to root out racism she should suspended Luke Akehurst immediately.
The Labour Against the Witchhunt/JVL Lobby of Labour’s NEC on 4th September
It
is noticeable that Ms Formby hasn’t asked people to report those who write
supporting the Israeli state and its apartheid system, including the recent
murder of 160 unarmed demonstrators in Gaza. 
Palestinian lives don’t appear to count.
In the Jewish religion, nothing was more reprehensible than being an informer. Tale
bearing and informing, Lashan Hara, were
considered by
the rabbis
of classical Judaism as worse than the cardinal sins of
murder, immorality and idolatory. This attitude was fully borne out during the
Nazi occupation of Europe when thousands of Jews who were living in hiding underground
were betrayed to the Gestapo by informers, many of them unfortunately Jewish.
No
one supports anti-semitism however the way to overcome it is NOT by reporting those few individuals
who have made anti-semitic comments but by engaging with them.  It should only be very rarely that people are
expelled for racist comments for the simple reason that racism is part and
parcel of this society and the way to defeat racism is not by expelling racists
but by winning them over to class and socialist politics.
Strange as it seems, John Mann’s anti-Gypsy racism hasn’t got him into trouble – only antisemitism counts
This
is especially the case with the fake ‘anti-semitism’ controversy that has found
people running for cover for fear of being accused of ‘anti-semitism’.  It is noticeable that when it comes to racism
against Gypsies and Roma then the Labour Party has been virtually silent. Where
was the condemnation of John Mann who in his Bassetlaw anti-social behaviour
handbook’
, described
Gypsies as just one more social nuisance?
Before her appointment, Jennie Formby was being accused of ‘antisemitism’ by the far-Right Labour Against Antisemitism
Ironically, it is the false antisemitism witchhunt, which is now targeting Jeremy Corbyn himself, which is responsible for increasing antisemitism.  Many people will see organisations, which say they represent British Jews, attacking Corbyn and make the assumption that all British Jews which are responsible for this shameful campaign.

Tony Greenstein

Sign this open letter here:
No, Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!

We, the undersigned, are
greatly concerned about recent communication from Labour’s General
Secretary Jennie Formby aimed at Facebook groups which have ‘Labour
Party’ or ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ in their title (the full letter is here). We
are particularly outraged by the following passage which states “posts and conversations with
antisemitic or otherwise discriminatory content
” should be emailed to “complaints@labour.org.uk with
screenshots and links […] if you believe the individual who has posted
them may be a Labour member so that this can be investigated by the Party
.”

As Facebook users, we reject any attempt to make us informers to Labour’s
dysfunctional disciplinary processes. Social media and Facebook are
effective because they allow the exchange of ideas, even if at times
clumsily expressed. Most Facebook groups police themselves adequately,
without the assistance of a compliance unit, whose targets to date have
almost exclusively been

  • on the left of the
    Party
  • supporters of
    Palestinian rights
  • critics of Israel and
    Zionism
  • and disproportionately
    black and Jewish
Given the Labour Party’s recent
adoption of the ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the
International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which in the words of the Jewish former Court of Appeal judge, Sir
Stephen Sedley
, is “calculatedly misleading” and the
IHRA’s purposeful conflation of criticism of Israel and Zionism with
anti-Semitism, we have no confidence that free speech to criticise Israel
will be guaranteed, if this approach is accepted across social media.

What constitutes anti-Semitism remains disputed. The traditional
definition, as per the Oxford English Dictionaryis, “hostility
to or prejudice against Jews”. The IHRA definition on the other hand
takes up over 500 words, many of which refer to Israel.

For example, John McDonnell stated in a recent interview
with Jewish News
: “What we’re saying is it’s anti-Semitic
to oppose a Jewish state”. We disagree. Opposing a state that
systematically, and constitutionally, marginalises and demonises
Palestinians while subjecting them to discrimination is by definition a
form of apartheid. It is not ant-Semitism to state this fact.

Your letter, as an attempt to make Facebook users responsible for
the conduct of other group members, displays the same method used by
the media to smear Jeremy Corbyn when he did not speak up against (the
very few) people posting nonsense in a group he happened to be a member
of.

We believe the ongoing witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his
supporters is bringing the party into disrepute. Your email will yet
again fan the flames of this toxic climate, leading to ever more
malicious and vexatious allegations and complaints.

We believe that open and democratic debate, without fear of being
reported, is the best way to educate people and fight prejudice and
racism. This new intrusion on free speech can only undermine the
extraordinary effectiveness of social media as a tool to support the
leader and the left in the party.

We will oppose any attempt to outsource education on anti-Semitism to the
Jewish Labour Movement, which is the British wing of the Israeli Labour
Party and covertly filmed and leaked a video of Jackie Walker at a closed
training event in order to damage the party.

  • We remain determined
    to eradicate all forms of discrimination from our Party.
  • When we see prejudice
    or hate, we always speak up.
  • When we see
    discrimination, we always oppose it.
  • When we are asked to
    behave unjustly, we always refuse.
Full
communication from Jennie Formby
I’m writing
to you as I understand that you are an admin or moderator of a Facebook
group which refers to the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn in its title.
The use of
the Party’s name or Jeremy Corbyn’s name can give the false impression
that the Party is responsible for these groups and that they have some
kind of official status. We are therefore writing to request that – if
your group has not already done so – you:
Make clear,
in the “about” section or title of the group, that the group is
unofficial and not affiliated with the Labour Party and/or Jeremy Corbyn.
Take active
measures against antisemitic or otherwise discriminatory content, which
can make Jewish people and others feel unwelcome in these spaces.
Antisemitism
is an evil that permeates our society, and our Party is not immune from
that. We have seen members make disgusting antisemitic comments and
promote antisemitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories in relation to
left wing discourses, particularly around Israel and Palestine, and
capitalism and globalisation. They may be a small proportion of our
membership, but one is too many.
Recently
Labour staff have seen examples of Holocaust denial, crude stereotypes of
Jewish bankers, conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel, and even one
individual who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.
Some comments
and images propagating such antisemitic tropes have been posted in a
number of Facebook groups. The majority of posts in Facebook groups that
have been reported to us are made by people who are not Labour members.
However, where the Party is notified of such posts made by Party members,
we investigate and take action as appropriate.
As Jeremy has
said, we all have a responsibility to help drive this evil out of our
movement. And, of course, the vast majority of members want to use
Facebook groups and other forums to share ideas and experiences about
campaigning, debate Party policies and discuss current affairs.
Effective
moderation is essential to providing welcoming and respectful
environments in which such discussions can take place. We understand that
you are engaging in these online communities voluntarily, and the sheer
number of posts and comments may be hard to moderate. However, we would
like to emphasise the utmost importance of ensuring that fellow party
members and supporters feel welcome and respected, and of rooting out any
antisemitism or otherwise discriminatory comments and behaviour.
Here are
suggestions about ways you can effectively moderate your groups to ensure
that these online spaces do not tolerate or enable the promotion of
antisemitic or otherwise hateful or discriminatory views.
  • Add more
    administrators/moderators so that there is greater capacity to
    monitor posts and comments. Try to check posts and comments in the
    group every day, or more as required.
  • Use Facebook’s group
    moderation options to create up to ten rules for your group. These
    should clearly set out that antisemitic or otherwise discriminatory
    content will not be tolerated and those making such comments will be
    removed from the group and reported to the Labour Party. Set the
    tone of the debate you’d like people to engage in: friendly,
    open-minded, fair and respectful.
  • Take seriously all
    reports and complaints about comments which are seen as misogynist,
    racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, discriminatory
    towards people with disabilities, or otherwise prejudicial.
  • Be proactive:
    screenshot then remove posts and conversations with antisemitic or
    otherwise discriminatory content, and block individuals from the
    group who post such content.
  • Encourage group
    members to use the “Report to admin” feature, and take these reports
    seriously. Frequently review the reported content using Facebook’s
    moderation sidebar. Screenshot then delete posts with antisemitic or
    otherwise discriminatory content, and block the user responsible.
  • Email complaints@labour.org.uk with
    screenshots and links to antisemitic or prejudicial comments or
    posts if you believe the individual who has posted them may be a
    Labour member so that this can be investigated by the Party.
  • Change settings if
    necessary to allow administrators to approve or deny requests to
    join the group, so that you have greater control over who is in the
    group.
  • Comment or post in the
    group regularly reminding people that posts or comments which
    include antisemitic or otherwise hateful or prejudicial content will
    be removed and the users will be blocked, and encourage members to
    report any posts they see which are offensive or inappropriate.
  • Maintain a pinned post
    in the group explaining the above policies and emphasising the
    importance of maintaining a welcoming and respectful environment.
To reiterate,
please email complaints@labour.org.uk with
screenshots and links to antisemitic or prejudicial comments or posts if
you believe the individual who has posted them may be a Labour member.
This will then be investigated by the Party.
The Party
will soon be launching a political education programme to foster deeper
understanding and awareness of antisemitism within our movement. This
will include videos and other online resources. We would greatly
appreciate if you could share such content, once published, in Facebook
groups and other forums, to help us raise greater awareness about this
important issue.
Please reply
confirming receipt of this letter and confirming that the requests the
Party has made will be adhered to. If they will not be adhered to, I
request that you remove any reference to the Labour Party and Jeremy
Corbyn from the title of your Facebook group.
Please get in
touch if you have any questions.
Yours
sincerely,
Jennie Formby
General Secretary
The Labour Party

 

 

 

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