The Jewish founder of a grassroots group credited with electing Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader has said the Jewish group most supportive of Corbyn is “not part of the Jewish community”.
Jon Lansman, who founded Momentum, was criticising Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), a group set up in 2017 with a remit in part to “offer an alternative to the Jewish Labour Movement’s pro-Israel agenda”.
First published on left-wing news site The Canary, Lansman’s criticism focused on JVL’s reaction to Labour’s antisemitism crisis and included the accusation that JVL was “part of the problem,” not part of the solution.
Speaking to Jewish News, Lansman said: “I did argue that JVL, by denying or diminishing the problem of antisemitism within the Labour Party, have been part of the problem and not part of the solution.
“In addition, I argued that by focusing on ‘Zionism’ rather than the occupation and discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel, they have made it harder to win support for the cause of Palestinians in the Jewish community.”
JVL offers full membership only to Jews who are members of the Labour Party, and has drawn attention to the Jewish Labour Movement’s policy of offering full membership to non-Jews who are not members of the Labour Party and who do not live in the UK.
However Lansman said JVL could nevertheless not be considered as part of the Jewish community because its involvement in communal life was minimal.
“For an organisation to be ‘part’ of the Jewish community most of its members individually, or the organisation collectively, must surely actively participate in and contribute to some aspects of the religious, social or cultural life of the community,” he said. “JVL does not meet this test.”
The Canary published JVL co-chair Jenny Manson’s response to Lansman, saying: “There is increasing concern among our members and supporters about the very negative remarks you make about JVL. Many Jewish Labour Party members, working hard for the election of a Labour government, have felt undermined by your comments.”