"It has become a banned film. Let's remind ourselves of the kinds of regimes that ban films and ban people and that's not too pretty, is it?"
"There is no greater ridiculousness than this shit" says Alexei Sayle over the re-occurring antisemitism 'row' that has surfaced yet again to displace Brexit at the top of the mainstream media's headlines.
Now, Corbyn ally and Derby-north Labour MP Chris Williamson, a lifelong and passionate campaigner against racism and anti-semitism, has been sacrificed and even branded an anti-semite. Seemingly, the more extreme and far-fetched the accusations, the more it seems to galvanise those in search of truth and justice.
A documentary promoted by Jewish Voice for Labour exposes the campaign to discredit the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership as one based on disinformation, fake news and dirty tricks.
This deserves a much wider audience than just Labour members, left-leaning activists and those who care about truth and justice. I have little doubt it will achieve that.
WitchHunt, by Edinburgh-based filmmaker Jon Pullman, combines extensive archive material with authoritative new interviews, featuring experts in media, Jewish, black and Labour history, racism and the politics of the Middle East.
Pullman says: “This is the trickiest of subjects.....I’ve set out to explore the connections between the attacks on Labour, the unfolding tragedy of Palestine and the wider struggle against race-based oppression.”
The film examines the use of antisemitism allegations to silence critics of Israel’s human rights violations, such as black Jewish activist Jackie Walker, a former vice-chair of Momentum. She continues to be publicly abused by anti-Corbyn Labour MPs, even in the run-up to her hearing before the National Constitutional Committee scheduled for March 26, 2019.
This is the film that Labour MP Chris Williamson was prevented from screening to MP's in Houses of Parliament. The PM has criticised him, and this week, he has been suspended from the party for his comments defending the party from allegations of anti-semitism. The Israeli lobby and its supporters in the UK parliament have managed to remove a true socialist and supporter of Palestinian rights from Westminster.
“Anyone who speaks or writes in the public domain about antisemitism and the current state of the Labour Party has a duty to see this film and address the issues it raises.”
Avi Shlaim, historian
Jacqueline Walker commented on Facebook today:
"The film that none of you are allowed to watch, the film that has been made independently, that is supported by a Jewish group and has had great reviews from the major Jewish directors... none of this seems to matter, because it dares to contradict what someone has decided you need to hear. It has become a banned film. Let's remind ourselves of the kinds of regimes that ban films and ban people and that's not too pretty, is it?"
"The party is now not allowing free speech on this subject in many CLPs. So you can go on media and call Corbyn a "fucking antisemite" you can do on the radio as Louise Ellman did yesterday and call your party "deeply antisemitic". What you can't do, what you will be expelled or suspended for doing is for saying "My party is not a significantly antisemitic party. In fact they've managed to shove it even further down the road. They are now even calling that antisemitic! What a load on nonsense. It's intellectual gibberish and also the kind of vacuous racial identity dialogue which brings shame on anti-racist practice and gives a cover for racists and the far right. Not only that but Momentum apparently are now monitoring the pages of local groups and have started to phone them up and order them to remove anything about Jackie Walker."
There will be a public release of the film on March 17th which will be followed by tours around the country featuring a number of the participants. You are invited to screen the film in your town.
Here's a pre-release version of the film :
It seems that the more the lobby wish to silence free speech for Palestine, the louder, and stronger the movement is set to become, just as when Blair and the Labour grandees were wheeled out to attack Corbyn, the stronger his support suddenly became
It's an insult to underestimate people's intelligence. When the Antisemitism 'row' once again bubbles up and then displaces Brexit as the main agenda on mainstream news, a lot of people begin to smell a rat. Tom Watson is right that there is a battle for the heart and soul of the Labour party once more, and it is being played out through this "ridiculous shit"
Human rights for all, no exceptionalism for anybody, for any reason!
“The case of Jackie Walker is important. This film asks whether her lengthy suspension from the Labour Party and attempts to expel her are fair, or an injustice which should be challenged. She is not the only one in this position. See the film and make up your own mind”
Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake)
See the panel with director Jon Pullman, anti-racist campaigner Jackie Walker, writer & comedian Alexei Sayle, media analyst Justin Schlosberg (Media Reform Coalition, Birkbeck) and chaired by executive producer Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi (Jewish Voice for Labour media officer) with Q&A.
"Throughout Derby Chris Williamson is known as someone who stands up for working-class people, whatever their origins and ethnicity. We are proud to have him as our MP.
Chris has proven himself to be a fierce opponent of all forms of racism, including anti-semitism. He is outspoken and brave in this. As a young man in the 1970s he was an active member of the Anti-Nazi League, confronting the racists and anti-semites of the National Front wherever they raised their vile heads, and he has maintained the same position and active opposition to racism, anti-semitism and fascism ever since.
We should remember that Chris worked hard to spearhead the efforts to ensure Derby was one of the first local authorities to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
What Chris said in Sheffield was that the evils of racism, anti-semitism and Islamophobia need to be fought and beaten wherever and whenever they appear, and that the Labour Party has done more than any other parliamentary party — and therefore should be not so apologetic about its performance in this regard — though of course there is always more to be done.
It is this that has been misinterpreted — deliberately so — by some who seek a stick to beat him with.
It is an absolute absurdity and vile travesty to level the charge of anti-semitism at Chris and everyone in Derby knows it. As secretary of the Derby Area Trades Union Council I urge fair-minded Derby people to speak up for him, just as he speaks up bravely for all of us.
Chris stands for unity, solidarity and community cohesion. Those members of the Labour Party, particularly those MPs, who oppose the restoration of socialism in the leadership of the party have failed in their many attempts to reverse this.
So they have increasingly turned to distortions and smears against the leadership — including Chris Williamson, who is their target of the day. It is they who should apologise for their defamation of a decent man and an MP who really cares for his people, whatever their heritage and background.
Secretary, Derby Area Trade Union Council
Cover photo : Matt Crossick