The launch of Jewish Voice for Labour

This article was written at the time of Labour Party conference, but due to incompetence we failed to publish it! We apologise to the author.

By Shlomo Anker

A new organisation was launched at a meeting near the Labour conference called Jewish Voice of Labour. It was set up mainly as the official Jewish group in the Labour Party (the JLM) is thoroughly undemocratic with people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn not being particularly welcome.

I was not sure what to expect from JVL meeting but in general I liked what I heard and hence I have joined the JVL.

My original worry about JVL was that it would be a hawkishly Anti-Zionist organization where people who are either opposed to BDS or support a Two-State Solution would not be welcome.

However from the meeting it seemed JVL is not like that; rather, from the comments at the meeting, the group appears to be developing into an alliance of various opinions from the Jewish community. These opinions range from Left-Zionists like myself who support Meretz in Israel to Anti-Zionists who want a one-state solution.

When it comes to general politics some identified as Marxist or Anarchist with others being Centre-Left Social Democrats that are not in Momentum, with a few who even voted for Andy Burnham in 2015.

This makes JVL a potentially very powerful organization that could have a series political impact over the next few years.

During the meeting, two trade union leaders were present and spoke, Len McCluskey (Unite) and Tosh McDonald (ASLEF). Both were so excited by the potential of JVL that they said that their unions will affiliate.

However despite the excitement and potential I do have some doubts about JVL. The main doubt is that the organizers seem to all be older people whom have known each other for decades. Younger Jewish socialists who joined Labour to vote for Corbyn in 2015 don’t seem to be present among the main organisers of the group.

Hopefully this is just a temporary situation which will change: however if it doesn’t, then I am worried that JVL will not forfill its potential.

Furthermore I am worried the group will only focus on Palestine and Anti-Semitism. While these are massive issues which should be heavily part of JVL’s activism, I think it would be a shame if that was all it fought for.

Despite the stereo-type the vast majority of the Jewish community are working-class and suffer all the same oppression of capitalism that everyone else suffers. Hence I would hope that the organisation would fight zero-hours contracts and the privatisation of the NHS with the same enthusiasm that it fights the crimes of the Israeli military.

The final doubt I have is the JVL having too many overly emotional people like myself who tend to argue too much. Overly emotional people tend to create situations where the original aims of group are lost and personal politics takes over. So its essential that people like myself grow up and learn from the mistakes of the past.

Overall I am optimistic for the JVL and I hope it will be a big success and continue the legacy of generations of Jewish socialists who have been on the front line fighting for socialism and against the oppressions of capitalism and the state.

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