A prominent signatory of Jews for Justice for Palestinians has resigned from the organisation, accusing it of being “more part of the problem than part of the solution” to anti-Semitism on the British left.

Academic David Hirsh today demanded his name be removed from its supporters list after condemning the organisation’s response to the recent scandal surrounding the Labour party and claimed it had become “wholly hostile” to Zionists.

The organisation’s statement says peace between Israel and the Palestinians requires the end of the occupation and for Israel for accept its responsibility for refugees, claims Israel’s “repressive policies” are breeding hate and adds violence against all civilians is unacceptable.

David Hirsh

David Hirsh

But in a letter in which he described himself as “a Jew for justice for Palestinians”, he said: “While I never agreed with every dot and comma of the JFJFP statement, I have had sufficient agreement with it to enable me to support the common solidarity with the Palestinians. The problem is that more and more, those who speak in the name of the signatories of the statement have moved away from the values and politics of the statement itself.

“In particular I object to recent efforts made in the name of JFJFP signatories to portray the crisis of anti-Semitism in the labour Party as something which is invented by the Jewish community in bad faith in order to smear the left and in order to silence criticism of Israel. I do not agree with this analysis. I believe there is a problem of anti-Semitism on the left and I believe that JFJFP is more part of this problem than it is part of the solution.”

He added: “Anti-Semitism hurts Jews and this is a good reason for Jews to be vigilant against it. It also discredits, mis-educates and corrupts the left. And it undermines the purpose of JFJFP.”

His decision comes after all signatories were approached to make submissions to Labour’s inquiry into anti-Semitism. The letter said the organisation would be contributing “to preserve the right to criticise Israel and/or Zionism, without fear of automatically being accused of anti-Semitism. Such accusations undermine our ability to tackle genuine anti-Semitism, and have a dangerous and ‘chilling’ effect on discussion about Israel/Palestine.”

The group also called for supporters to oppose the role endorsed by the Jewish labour Movement – “an explicitly Zionist organisation” – to provide training about Jew hatred.

Following the publication of a report into allegations of intimidation at the Oxford University Labour Club last month, the Free Speech on Israel website features a statement – which directs media to JFJFP figures including a founder member – accuses JLM of being “one of the Zionist organisations responsible for the false allegations”.

The report found there was no “institutional anti-Semitism” in the Club but a “cultural” problem meant some Jewish students not feeling welcome. It urged “safe spaces” in order to debate but the Free Speech on Israel statement claimed this would only apply to support of Israel.

Jewish leaders have repeatedly stressed the strong link between Judaism and Zionism, with the Chief Rabbi saying: “You can no more separate it from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain.”

A spokesperson for JFJFP told Jewish News the organisation: “takes anti-Semitism very seriously. We believe it is present in all parts of society, though we consider that Britain is, overall, a very safe and welcoming country for its Jewish community. Our concern is that some very vocal supporters of Israel are misusing the issue of antisemitism to shut down legitimate criticism of Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians.”

You can read David Hirsh‘s resignation letter in full below:

 

Dear Jews for Justice for Palestinians,

I write as a Jew for Justice for Palestinians. Unfortunately I feel that I have reached the point where I have to resign from the organisation and have my name removed from the list of signatories.

While I never agreed with every dot and comma of the JFJFP statement, I have had sufficient agreement with it to enable me to support the common solidarity with the Palestinians. The problem is that more and more, those who speak in the name of the signatories of the statement have moved away from the values and the politics of the statement itself.

In particular I object to recent efforts made in the name of JFJFP signatories to portray the crisis of antisemitism in the Labour Party as something which is invented by the Jewish community in bad faith in order to smear the left and in order to silence criticism of Israel.

I do not agree with this analysis. I believe that there is a problem of antisemitism on the left and I believe that JFJFP is more part of this problem than it is part of the solution.

Antisemitism hurts Jews, and this is a good reason for Jews to be vigilant against it. It also discredits, mis-educates and corrupts the left. And it undermines the purpose of JFJFP.

The original JFJFP statement defined itself as having support from anti-Zionists, non-Zionists and Zionists. I believe that for some time now JFJFP has been wholly hostile to ‘Zionists’, in violation of its own founding statement.

Please take my name off the list of signatories.

I am also concerned about the possibility of dying and being put on the list of dead signatories which I noticed on the website. It concerns me that this is an eternal state from which there is no possibility of escape.

Please feel free to publish this email amongst the signatories and on the website in the spirit of open debate and discussion.

Please confirm receipt of this email.

Best wishes,