Toby Green resigns

BobFromBrockley has the news.

Toby has been a member of the Green Party for 10 years and he was the Chair of a working group on antisemitism established after a number of incidents:

[…] of course, members of the Green Party can´t be prejudiced. If they accuse members called “Levy” of being Israeli academics in disguise defending Israel, they can´t be rehashing old Jewish conspiracy theories. If they circulate emails from David Duke, a key figure in the Klu Klux Klan, on how “Jewish Zionists” are shaping American policy in Israel in alliance with Obama (thereby rehashing not only anti-semitic myths but also an alliance of this with anti-Black racism), they can still work in Caroline Lucas´s office and be on the list for the European elections. If they circulate emails accusing Jewish members of parliament of double loyalty (to Israel and the UK), there´s no need to suppose that they are re-hashing the anti-Catholic discourse which surrounded JF Kennedy´s run for office in 1960. If they talk of the “squealing zionists”, there´s no reason for them not to be respected party figures.

To be fair, after all of this, the party did recognise that there was an issue. A report commissioned by the Green Party Regional Council (GPRC – a powerful decision-making body in the decentralisd power structure of the party), and written by two non-Jewish members, said that these were examples of a toleration of low-level anti-semitism, and that therefore a working party on anti-semitism was recommended to be established. Although kicked into the long grass at first, it started work when a senior figure recommended an article by a known holocaust denier on his blog. But the working party was quickly an impossibility. I should know: I was the chair, a position I only adopted when no one else was prepared to.

Read what happened next here.

Update 1: Some interesting discussions are taking place on Bob’s blog, including a visit by Cllr Darren Johnson.

Update 2 (from Mira): And including this comment by a Tim Dowling, worth reproducing in full:

“One of the things about prejudice is that while it is universal in its characteristic manifestation as unreasoning opposition to a stigmatised other (the main function of prejudice being to stigmatise analeptically or recursively without leaving room for a critical weighing of the stigma as a premise – re Ms. Fink’s contribution) every type of prejudice is also uniquely molded and faceted by the ocular characteristics of the other it seeks to eradicate, and has therefore unique (and negatively creative) vileness. And yes, all prejudice is pragmatic symbolic erradication. 

In the case of antisemitism, it is really impossible to discuss it at all without the due pragmatic (and historically grounded) weighing up. Antisemitism has murdered, exiled and unspeakably disfigured an incommensurable number of human existences. It has helped to destroy every society in which it has ever taken root. It is arguably the back cause of Israel’s foreign policy (the “twin” as Toby calls it – with possibly more than conscious accuracy).

Antisemitism is always, always the sign that the body politic or corporate organisation in which it flourishes is sick unto death. This is a historically proven verdict, the degree of denial of which is one measure of ignorance. Its appearance anywhere is therefore a cause for the gravest concern, as well as a reason to desert from the ship it is on, if one does not wish to go down with the ship.

Other types of prejudice exist that are equally vile, just as a range of illnesses exist that can painfully kill a body. Antisemitism, in this sense, is distinguished not by its vileness, but by its exceptionally insidious nature, which makes it possible for the antisemite to propagate his or her views under the guise of defending other groups of people whom it can usually be shown to have damaged substantially. Or under the guise of redressing some kind of balance which turns out to be an a priori feature of the antisemitic discourse.

Or possibly under the political relegation of a complex idea such as Zionism, whose place in intellectual history is multifoliate. Or the speculative and slanderous marginalization of an individual, as if the individual’s projected vulnerability were not also tactically collective.”

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6 thoughts on “Toby Green resigns

  1. Deborah Fink

    I’m sure Toby will be sorely missed….not.

    I would like to set the record straight. After much pressure from Greens Engage, a statement was drafted by members who did not really understand the issues around anti-semitism, Israel & Palestine. The statement included the EUMC working definition of anti-semitisim, which is a political ‘definition’, devised by American Zionists, not really a definition at all and decried by many Jewish academics. The a/s statement got leaked before it was ready. Many of us, including Jews, were up in arms about the possibility of the party adopting this nonsense and complained.

    A bit later, a motion against the use of this statement was drafted, then revised by myself and someone else, and in November I proposed it at our London Federation meeting. (I bet Mira is kicking herself that she didn’t find out in time and oppose it!) It was passed. This was the original but it was amended (edited) before it was voted on. Unfortunately, I can’t show the amendments easily here so i have put the deletions in brackets:-

    1. “London Fed calls on our Regional Councillors to request withdrawal of the GPRC guidelines statement on anti-Semitism and to vote against the statement at any meeting or consultation called to discuss the statement by GPRC before the date of the next official GPRC meeting in January. Furthermore, we call upon our Regional Councillors to reject the statement if it is presented again at the January meeting of GPRC. We believe that the statement is contrary to party policy, offensive to many Jews inside and outside the party and is likely to bring the party into disrepute as well as causing great division in the party.”

    2. “London Fed calls on our Regional Councillors to request that no guidelines on anti-Semitism are drawn up [as it is problematic and not possible to please everyone. Furthermore, anti-Semitism should not be singled out as if it is the most prevalent and important type of racism. We believe that this notion is offensive.]”

    3. “London Fed calls on our Regional Councillors to request that basic guidelines should be set up for courteous and respectful language and conduct within the party, with particular attention to avoiding discrimination or insensitivity relating to ethnic or national origins, gender, sexuality, disability, appearance, or religious belief or lack of one.”

    In January, our London GPRC reps proposed this motion and it was passed. I think this was it:

    1. “GPRC agrees to withdraw the GPRC guidelines statement on anti-Semitism passed at the GPRC meeting of 16&17/10/2010 . We believe that the statement is contrary to party policy, offensive to many Jews inside and outside the party and is likely to bring the party into disrepute as well as causing great division in the party.

    2. GPRC agrees not to draw up any guidelines on anti-Semitism.

    3. GPRC agrees to set up basic guidelines for courteous and respectful language and conduct within the Party, with particular attention to avoiding discrimination or insensitivity relating to ethnic or national origins, gender, sexuality, disability, appearance, or religious belief or lack of one.”

    As I write, GPRC is finalising a statement on equalities and how we treat each other, so it is not true that they aren’t taking anti-semitism seriously. It is simply, that we don’t think that anti-Semitism is more important or prevalent than any other types of discrimination.

    Greens Engage are simply upset that after a few years of bullying other members, they have not got their own way.

    To see why it would have been such a mistake to have a statement which incorporated the EUMC (Zionist) definition, please read Richard Kuper’s timely piece which has just come out on JNews:

    http://www.jnews.org.uk/commentary/antisemitism-and-delegitimisation

    Debbie

    Reply
  2. Green Concern

    Antisemitism is tolerated in the Green Party. At the Autumn 08 conference we said we wouldn’t stand for it, and GPRC have said that we need to do something about it antisemitism specifically. We already have good anti-racist policy in the Greens but that hasn’t worked in the case of antisemitism. Antisemitism is a particular problem which requires particular measures. That is not to say it is more important than other forms of prejudice and discrimination. But the Green Party can take credit for having actively marginalised all of them except antisemitism.

    The EUMC working definition is the most widely accepted there is. It includes Israel because contemporary antisemitism has found a comfortable home among anti-Zionists (not all). It would be useless without including Israel. People who reject the EUMC definition need to explain what it prevents them from saying or doing, they should say how they would improve on it, and they should propose other ways to limit antisemitism and to help to expose and record incidents which are also, or hiding behind, anti-Zionism.

    Reply
  3. Green Gordon

    Totally pathetic that Deborah would respond by bullying Toby. Not surprising but totally pathetic. How can anyone in the party have any time for this behaviour? Or is it just that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, and my enemy is anyone who doesn’t see Israel as an inherently satanic nation?

    Reply
  4. Adrian Windisch

    ‘After much pressure from Greens Engage, a statement was drafted by members who did not really understand the issues around anti-semitism, Israel & Palestine.’ So calling GRPC incompetent?

    ‘“London Fed calls on our Regional Councillors to request that no guidelines on anti-Semitism are drawn up [as it is problematic and not possible to please everyone. Furthermore, anti-Semitism should not be singled out as if it is the most prevalent and important type of racism.’ But that was never the case. Many issues are difficult, and we can never please anyone, this is a reason for never doing anything. Sit on the fence like some LD. I am astonished that the London Fed would vote for something so poorly written.

    Reply

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