Voice of the Jewish News: Keeping bad company
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Voice of the Jewish News: Keeping bad company

This week's first editorial reflects on JVL activist Stephen Marks chairing a Labour party disciplinary panel, and what that says about much change has really taken place

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers his keynote speech during the party's online conference.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers his keynote speech during the party's online conference.

The history of the Jewish Voice For Labour (JVL) group in relation to the antisemitism crisis under Jeremy Corbyn should mean no member of that organisation comes anywhere near chairing a Labour disciplinary panel.

But, as we reveal today, JVL’s Stephen Marks did exactly that last week, when he led a panel on Labour’s highest disciplinary body, known as the NCC.

There will justifiably be anger among many in the community over this.

Questions will be asked as to why, despite pledging to “root out” antisemitism, Keir Starmer can allow such a situation to occur. In truth, Starmer is not responsible for deciding Labour disciplinary panels.  The make-up of these panels is decided by votes cast by Labour members, often in elections held was before he became leader.  Selection of elected officials to take part in hearings often relies on those among the select group available to take part in cases on a particular day, with little prior notice given.

Stephen Marks

There is change ahead, though. One of the key recommendations of the EHRC report, adopted by Starmer last October, was the implementation of an independent complaints system by his party to end the power and influence of the NCC in cases often involving claims of antisemitism.

As the EHRC report recognised, such a change to Labour’s machinery needs to be voted through at its annual conference. Until then, Starmer must ensure that those responsible for appointing elected officials onto its disciplinary panels on cases that involve claims around antisemitism steer well clear of those associated with groups like JVL.

 

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

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