Tony Greenstein | 03 October 2019 | Post Views:

Open letter to WTF Why was Chris Williamson not invited to speak this year and why was the Witchhunt and Israel/Zionism kept off the agenda?

Since Liverpool in 2016 The World Transformed has held what it describes as a politics, arts and music festival running alongside the Labour Party Conference. This is of course to be welcomed since the Labour Party isn’t exactly well known for its theoretical sophistication or its embrace of grassroots campaigns against the many manifestations of capitalism

The Rialto – Brighton’s Free Speech Centre during the Labour Party Conference

I was myself a volunteer at TWT in Brighton in 2017. Granted it runs many interesting debates and speakers, there is one flaw at the centre of its operations which, in the light of developments in the Labour Party has been a gaping hole. The fight against the Right in the Labour Party, the state driven attempts to destabilise the Labour Party and in particular Zionism and Palestine

WTF in the Old Steine Brighton

Socialism for WTF stops at the borders of the UK and Europe. Any understanding of colonialism and imperialism is not part of transforming the world because if it was then the question of Israel’s attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Labour Party, via the Jewish Labour Movement, would be on the agenda.

For 4 years the Right in the Party have been waging a bogus campaign whose basis is that the Labour Party is smitten by anti-Semitism. As the campaign to adopt the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism last September demonstrated, the campaign was really about support for Israel. The IHRA’s has 11 illustrations of anti-Semitism, 7 of which are about Israel.

You might therefore think that the WTF might want to hold a few sessions on Zionism and Palestine.  Israel is, after all a self-declared Apartheid state. Its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly declared that Israel as a Jewish state is only a state of its Jewish citizens.  That is the classic definition of Apartheid.

Yet despite this the WTF has completely ignored Zionism, Palestine and the accompanying witchhunt of Palestine solidarity activists and assorted socialists. The reason being that WTF came out of Momentum and is still subject to Jon Lansman’s deleterious influence.

Although I had tickets for this year’s WTF in Brighton I was occupied with organising a Free Speech Centre in the centre of Brighton at The Rialto Theatre.

Because of Zionist threats to prevent Chris Williamson MP and indeed any anti-Zionist or pro-Palestine meetings taking place during Labour Party Conference, we decided to make alternative arrangements including a Free Speech Tent in Regency Square. The ‘we’ being members of the newly formed Brighton and Hove Labour Left Alliance which came out of the moribund Brighton and Hove Momentum.

For example the original venue for Jewish Voice for Labour’s fringe meeting at The Jury’s Inn was cancelled after Zionist pressure and the usual threats and abuse. Labour Against the Witchhunt were forced to keep the venue for their fringe meeting, at the Mercur Hotel, until just an hour before.

On August 8th we were forced to hold an outdoor meeting in Brighton’s Regency Square with Chris Williamson after the Zionists had conducted a campaign of abuse against the Holiday Inn Hotel and the Friends Meeting House in Brighton, both of which cancelled the venue. This was triggered off by Hove’s right-wing MP Peter Kyle who ‘persuaded’ the Brighthelm Centre to cancel the original meeting with Chris Williamson.

So when TWT sent me a PR puff congratulating themselves on how well they did I decided to send them the response below!

To [email protected]

Dear TWT,

Thank you for your report. Despite having tickets I was unable to attend any sessions because I was involved in organising Brighton’s Free Speech Centre at The Rialto Theatre, Dyke Road.

Because of the attempt of Israel’s supporters, otherwise known as Zionists (a word banned at WTF) to close down the free speech of Chris Williamson MP and Jackie Walker amongst others, we set up a Free Speech Centre through whose doors over a thousand local people and conference attendees, including Ken Loach, came.

Not only did we put on people like Chris Williamson and Jackie Walker and other suspended and banned persons (shades of South Africa?) in the Labour Party but we also hosted, at very short notice last Monday a book launch for Bad News for Labour by Pluto Press. 

The same Zionist groups which have been behind the fake anti-Semitism campaign in the Labour Party – the Jewish Labour Movement, Labour Friends of Israel, the Israeli Embassy, turned their attention to preventing the launch of Bad News for Labour by 5 distinguished academics – Professors Greg Philo and David Miller, Antony Lerman, Mike Berry and Justin Schlosberg. To their shame Waterstones CEO in New York, James Daunt, taking orders from the hedge fund which owns them, Elliot Advisers, cancelled the book launch.

As Greg Philo said, preventing a book launch is just a step away from burning books. If in fact WTF stood for changing the world or even basic democratic rights such as Free Speech and Freedom of Association, we would have asked you to host the event. Unfortunately you have run a million miles from challenging the ‘antisemitism’ smear campaign against Jewish anti-Zionists, anti-racists and Palestine solidarity supporters. You have consistently failed to allow groups like Free Speech on Israel, Jewish Voice for Labour etc. to have meetings at WTF. Your cowardice goes before you.

The fact is that TWT is nothing of the sort. Nice discussions and interesting theoretical debates divorced from any real change. When the Israeli Embassy and the advocates for the world’s only Apartheid State seek to close down debate in this country and secure the expulsion and suspension of socialists in the Labour Party, including Jewish anti-Zionists such as myself and Jackie Walker, the so-called TWT demonstrates that it is little more than Lansman’s poodle.

You said you hosted activists from all over the world yet you refused to host anti-Zionists in this country.  You cannot be unaware that Israel has been the bulwark of repressive and anti-Semitic regimes the world over? For example:

It was no accident that the first trip of Brazil’s fascist leader Bolsonaro was to Israel. The first trip by a Philippines President to Israel was that of Duterte, its genocidal leader and self-declared admirer of Hitler. Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary who described Admiral Horthy, the war-time ruler of Hungary who presided over the deportation of half a million Jews to Auschwitz, as an ‘exceptional statesman’ is also a recent visitor to Israel and Netanyahu’s good friend.

Stephen Bannon and of course Donald Trump are also self declared Christian Zionists. Indeed even Richard Spencer, the neo-Nazi founder of America’s alt-Right describes himself as a White Zionist. But to your backer Jon Lansman the word ‘Zionist’ is equivalent to ‘Jew’ and therefore verboten.

Israel is also in the forefront of arming the Burmese regime, the neo-Nazi Ukrainian Azov battalion and other repressive regimes. See Ha’aretz 9.9.18. Rights Groups Demand Israel Stop Arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine yet the question of Israel and Zionism is out of bounds when it comes to setting WTF’ agenda.

I can only hope that next year you gain enough courage to defy Lansman and stand up for Free Speech on Zionism and Palestine. Although I fear that next year may be too late as the purpose behind the anti-Semitism smears is the removal of Jeremy Corbyn.  By next year their ambition may have been achieved thanks to cowards such as yourselves.

In Solidarity

Tony Greenstein

The World Transformed via 

11:44 (5 hours ago)

Dear comrades,

What an amazing time we’ve had this year. 100s of hours of debates, workshops, parties and gigs were attended by over 6,000 people. We heard from activists all over the world, not only on how we win the general election, but how we continue to radically transform the world afterwards.

TWT19 was the biggest festival of political education in a generation. Senior MPs shared the stage with grassroots activists and the country’s most cutting-edge DJs and musicians shared a lineup with the world’s most skilled campaigners. Across four days we learned, discussed, debated and danced together in nightclubs, churches, parks and community centres throughout Brighton.

What’s more, at this year’s Labour Party conference, ideas that TWT played an instrumental role in popularising, such as a 4-day working week and a green new deal, have now become official Labour Party policy. In 2016, that was simply unthinkable. By being part of TWT, you are helping to make the unimaginable a reality.  

We’ve now cleaned up after the parties, disassembled the socialism sign and taken down the magic money tree. But the work doesn’t stop here. Our movement has a huge task ahead of us. We must win the next general election and ensure that any Corbyn government commits to a radical policy agenda.

You can help The World Transformed continue to build our movement by becoming a part of the TWT supporters network. TWT is run largely by a team of volunteers, who commit vast amounts of energy and time in order to help grow our movement. By joining the supporters network, you can help TWT become a sustainable project that’s capable of paying more people and supporting political education all year round. Plus, you’ll get a free ticket for next year’s festival.

Very soon, we’ll be launching a new year-round political education project, so keep an eye on our social media channels for further information on this. In the meantime, thank you so much for helping to make TWT19 so special. We couldn’t have done it without you.

In solidarity,
The World Transformed

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Tony Greenstein

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