Tony Greenstein

On Anti-Semitism: An Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn

Tony Greenstein

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Leader of the Labour Party

Dear Jeremy,

We write as Jewish and non-Jewish members/ supporters of the Labour Party and Momentum.

We welcome the fact that you have called for a Government inquiry into the revelations in the recent series of programmes by Al Jazeera TV.  However the programmes also raise very serious questions for the Labour Party, not least its relationship to Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement.  We understand Free Speech on Israel has already called for a Labour Party Inquiry into the implications for the Labour Party.  We endorse that call.

In the second programme Joan Ryan MP, LFI Chairperson asks Shai Masot, the Israeli Embassy’s Political Officer, who was caught trying to ‘take down’ Government Ministers:

‘What happened with the names that we put into the Embassy Shai?  To which Masot replies ‘Just now we’ve got the money.  It’s more than £1m, it’s a lot of’s not physical, it’s an approval’  to which Ryan jocularly responds ‘ I didn’t think you had it in your bag!’.

The LFI’s Parliamentary Officer, Michael Rubin was filmed boasting that he was trying to take-down the democratically elected President of the National Union of Students, Malia Bouattia.   Rubin claimed to work “with the ambassador and embassy quite a lot”.

Joan Ryan in the third Al Jazeera programme was seen to concoct a wholly false allegation of anti-Semitism against a Labour Party conference delegate, Jean Fitzpatrick, who had come to ask Ms Ryan what LFI’s support for a 2 State Solution meant in practice and what they were doing to achieve it.  Getting no answer, Jean said that LFI had a lot of money, which is clearly true, a lot of prestige and that a friend of hers had got a good job at Oxford University on the basis of having worked for LFI. 

None of this was remotely anti-Semitic yet Joan Ryan had no hesitation in transforming this into getting a ‘big job in banking and the City’ and an ‘anti-Semitic attack’.  On the basis of this Jean was suspended from the Labour Party.  Subsequently the charge was dropped but this is an example of how false charges of ‘anti-Semitism’ have been concocted.

The reason for making false accusations of anti-Semitism, such as that against Ms Fitzpatrick, is to deter criticism of Zionism and the Israeli state.  Those who make these false claims of anti-Semitism are deliberately jeopardising Labour’s chances of electoral victory.


Although LFI purports to support a 2 State Solution it is clear, as Jean Fitzpatrick demonstrated, that this is a smokescreen for its uncritical support for Israel’s military occupation and settlement of the West Bank and Gaza.  At no time has LFI ever condemned or criticised the Occupation or the Settlements.  LFI supports the 2SS  knowing that it will never happen but also knowing that it will make them appear as reasonable and even-handed rather than an uncritical supporter of Israeli expansion and racism.

Prior to your election as Leader of the Labour Party you had never addressed a meeting of the LFI.  At the 2016 Conference you addressed the LFI fringe meeting for the second time.  It is clear from the Al Jazeera revelations that LFI operates as an emanation of the Israeli state within the Labour Party.  We saw this clearly when Shai Masot introduced Al Jazeera’s reporter, Robin Harrow to people as the Chair of Young LFI, a non-existent organisation.

If you continue to speak at LFI meetings you will be taken to be endorsing a group which favours continued settlement expansion and which opposes their dismantlement.  You will also be interpreted aslending support to those who wage war on Palestinians living inside Israel.  Only last week a Bedouin village in the Negev, Umm al-Hiran, which had been there for 60 years, was demolished by bulldozers from the Jewish National Fund.  One resident was killed by police gunfire. 

Despite Palestinians occupying only 2% of the Negev, the Israeli government and the Jewish National Fund sought, as part of the programme of Judaisation, to demolish an Arab village in order to make way for the Jewish town of Hiran.  This is comparable to, if not worse than, the demolition in the 1970’s of Black ‘squatter’ camps in Soweto.

Neither LFI nor the JLM, which are always eager to accuse supporters of the Palestinians and opponents of Zionism of ‘anti-Semitism’ have anything to say about apartheid in Israel.  Ha’aretz newspaper recently warned, in an editorial, that with the proposed annexation of Ma’aleh Adumim, ‘Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, and officially become an apartheid one’.

Ha’aretz also referred, in the same editorial, to the Israeli Labour Party ‘opposition’, of which the Jewish Labour Movement is the British wing:  ‘It is pointless mentioning the opposition at this stage, since the dead cannot speak’.

We would urge you to cease giving any support to the Labour Friends of Israel and not to speak at any future fringe meetings of theirs.  Both Tony Benn and Eric Heffer resigned from LFI in 1982 as a result of its support for the invasion of Lebanon.  Over the past quarter of a century they have not changed.

Yours sincerely,


Barry Ackerman                         Enfield CLP             

Jane Airs                                     Riverside CLP Liverpool

John Airs                                    Riverside CLP Liverpool

Peter Angell                               Castle Point CLP     

Ben Armstrong                           Brighton Momentum/Hove CLP

Clare N. Ayton-Edwards             Kenilworth & Southam (Warwickshire) CLP      

Georgina Baidoun                        Milton Keynes CLP 

Hilary Barker                              Penrith CLP            

Abdul Basīr                                 Brighton Pavilion CLP   

Haim Bresheeth                          Hornsey and Wood Green CLP   

Peter Bloomer                            Selly Oak CLP         

Tarin Brokenshire                      Cambridge CLP        

Andrea Burford                           Leicester East CLP  

Jackie Cairns                               Preston Labour Party     

Neil Cameron                             Sheffield Central CLP     

Valerie Gene Cane                       Brighton & Hove Momentum    

Marilù Cavaliere                         CLP: Luton South    

Ches Chesney                             Berwick-upon-Tweed CLP          

Brian Chinnery                           Enfield Southgate     

Mollie Collins                             Momentum and CLP South Dorset         

Andy Coombes                           Stroud CLP              

Graham Coupe                            South Norwood CLP

Patrick Darnes                            Congleton CLP        

Deborah Darnes                          Congleton CLP        

John Davies                                Riverside CLP          

Theresa Dunningham                  Central Suffolk & North Ipswich CLP    

Sally Rebecca Eason                    East Surrey CLP       

Simon Milner-Edwards                Withington CLP      

Pete Firmin                                Hampstead & Kilburn CLP         

Jenifer Flintoft                           Meon Valley CLP/Portsmouth Momentum

Philip Foxe                                 Enfield South gate CLP  

Christopher Fraser                      Rushcliffe CLP         

Craig Fraser                                Cheltenham CLP     

Suzanne Gannon                         Vice Chair Membership, Colne Valley CLP         

Daphne Gilbert                           Hexham CLP/Momentum          

Lynda Gilbert                              Milton Keynes North CLP         

Tony Goss                                  Torbay CLP             

Val Graham                                 Chesterfield CLP      

Judy Granville                             Hove CLP                

Tony Greenstein                         Brighton Kemptown CLP

Jenny Hardacre                           South Cambridgeshire CLP

Dr. James Hall                            South Cambridgeshire Constituency Labour Party

Martin Hall                                 Wythenshawe and Sale East CLP

Abe Hayeem                               Harrow East CLP     

Rosamine Hayeem                      Harrow East CLP     

Professor Dave Hill                    Brighton and Hove Momentum

Simon Hinds                               Islington North        

Doug Holton                               Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP         

Carole Hope                               Tewkesbury CLP      

Anna Hubbard                             Southport CLP          a

Steve Jansky                               North West Cambridgeshire CLP/Momentum     

Helen Jenner                               Otley and Yeadon CLP/Chair Leeds UNISON

Peter Jenner                               Otley and Yeadon CLP   

Helena Kearns                            Northern Ireland Labour Party

Chris Knight                               Streatham Momentum Group,

Kay Lawrence                             Torfaen CLP           

Marie Lynam                               Hamsptead and Kilburn CLP      

Doug Macari                               Canterbury CLP and Momentum

Professor Moshe Machover        Hampstead and Kilburn CLP

Dr Alan Maddison                       Houghton and Sunderland South CLP

Miriam Margolyes OBE              Lambeth Constituency Party & Vauxhall CLP   

Helen Marks                               Riverside CLP          

Becky Massey                             Hove CLP

Kathy McCubbing                      East Reading CLP         

Steve Mckenzie                          Bexhill and Battle CLP   

Tricia Neda McLaughlin             Gillingham and Rainham CLP     

Ellen McNay                              Sunderland Central CLP  

John Metson                               Durham City CLP    

Anne Mitchell                            Hove CLP                

Brian Mogford                            Gower CLP              

Brendan Morgan                         N. Ireland CLP         

Wendy Morgan                           Aberconwy CLP       

Elizabeth Morley                        Ceredigion CLP/Momentum       

Suresh Nesaratnam                      Milton Keynes         

James O’Sullivan                         East Worthing and Shoreham CLP         

Gill Page                                     Richmond (Yorkshire) CLP

Pam Page                                   Brighton Kemptown CLP

Frankie Patterson                       Gosport CLP            

Allan Pearson                             South Ribble CLP      a

Nicola Pratt                                Coventry South CLP

Claire Pyper                               South Birmingham Momentum   

Daniel Read                                Portsmouth CLP      

Janine E Reed                             Islwyn CLP              

Joan Rudderham                          Coventry North West CLP        

Professor Richard Seaford           Exeter CLP              

David Selzer                                City of Chester CLP

Lynda Sergeant                           Riverside CLP          

Mehrnaz Shahabi                        Bristol West CLP     

Paul Stygal                                  Rochford & Southend East CLP 

Jean Sullivan                               Warrington South CLP   

Anne Tanner                              Cardiff West CLP    

Max Tasker                                Clwyd West CLP      

Andrew Thompson                     Birmingham Ladywood CLP/Momentum/LRC    

Julian Townsend                         Camberwell and Peckham CLP   

Gareth Walker                            Tottenham CLP       tr

Jackie Walker                             Thanet CLP

Clive Walder                               Birmingham Northfield Momentum       

Adam Waterhouse                      Southampton and Romsey CLP  

Daniel Waterman                       International Member Labour Party       

David Watson                             Walthamstow CLP   

Ian Watson                                 Edinburgh Pentlands CLP           

Sarah Wilkinson                          Ludlow CLP            

Eric Willoughby                          Editor, Palestine Media Digest    

Sara Wood                                  Hampstead and Kilburn CLP       

Ken Willingale                            Southend West CLPh

Charley Young                            Ceredigion CLP        

Sue Young.                                  Ceredigion CLP        


is a founding member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a member of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.