John Mann MP: It is vital that non-Jewish allies call out antisemitism, and show others how to combat it
John Mann MP, Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, writes ahead of the APPG's AGM today that racism against a minority group, is not the responsibility for that group to address.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism will be holding its AGM today. At that meeting, we’ll reflect on everything that we have done over the past year and make plans for the future. However, for our All-Party Group there are constants, which bear repeating.
First, it should not be for the Jewish community to have to lead the fight against anti-Jewish racism. It is vital that non-Jewish allies call out antisemitism, and show others how to combat it. The first All-Party Inquiry into Antisemitism, from 2005, involved 14 parliamentarians none of whom were Jewish. Obviously, Jewish members are welcome and in some cases are leading figures in the group, but our constant is that racism against a minority group, is not the responsibility for that group to address.
Second, that antisemitism is not the preview of any particular perpetrators. That same 2005 inquiry identified the sources of antisemitism as the far-right, the hard-left and Islamist extremism. We highlighted these threats, of equal concern, whilst others were ignoring them. Despite our clarion calls, and the efforts of our group and other anti-racists, the situation has worsened, particularly with the growth of social media. Research published at a conference we organised in November, demonstrated that conspiracy theories, including and specifically misogynist hate, is growing online in far-right hubs like 4Chan or 8Chan where white supremacists and men’s rights groups converse. Populist far-right rhetoric, including that of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is gaining attention online, and in the real world, at an unprecedented rate.
On the far-left, the socialism of fools has taken grip once again. The Labour party has had to expel members for engaging in conspiracism and Holocaust denial. The Jewish community faces constant undermining and a type of treatment far beyond the Macpherson approach to handling investigations of hate, namely that the allegations be probed with due diligence and the perceived victims treated with appropriate sensitivity. Denouncing complaints about antisemitism appears to have become akin to opposition to the Iraq war, namely an admission pass on some parts of the left.
The threat from Islamist extremism, meanwhile, continues as we in the UK know all too well. The Westminster, Manchester, and London Bridge attacks highlighted the threat which the Jewish community is constantly anticipating and suffered when a Jewish charity was bombed 25 years ago in North West London. Antisemitism is a key component of Islamist ideology and an indicator of extremism.
The capabilities of extremists from all backgrounds are growing with the advancement of technology and our constant in this case, is vigilance.
Third, that we remain actively cross-party. Over the last 15 years, we have treated each party equally, and been brutally robust in challenging them all. Preferably, conversations are private and confidential. Where people take action, and many times they have, others will not know. This gives political parties confidence that we will be an honest broker. Sometimes, it is necessary to go public. Our constant, and our greatest strength, is that we will never fail to call out inaction, regardless of the party in question.
Finally, we want people to understand antisemitism. To that end, the 2005 inquiry called for the adoption of the definition of antisemitism which became the IHRA version. Our international campaigning efforts, under the ICCA banner, the London declaration in 2009 and Ottawa protocols in 2011, made the case for IHRA to adopt its definition. We want to lay the groundwork for proper discussions and understanding of antisemitism. We will not stop. That is our constant.
So, our AGM gives us a chance to review, to look back, remind ourselves of the challenges, and to plan for the future. That we won’t give up, that we won’t give antisemites a chance to rest, and we’ll be indefatigable in the face of anti-Jewish racism is our pledge, that will remain our constant.
John Mann MP is Labour MP for Bassetlaw and Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.