- Created: Tuesday, 18 September 2018 18:49
- Written by London FRFI
Thanks to a large number of supporters who phoned or emailed the Kings Cross and Brunswick Neighbourhood Association, the organisation has agreed that we can hold our meeting on Palestine scheduled for Friday 21 September at its centre. On 19 September, we received the following email from Nasim Ali:
I can confirm that the meeting on Friday can go ahead with the following conditions:
I need confirmation in email from you that there will be no anti-Semitism at the meeting and
The Chair will state this at the beginning of the meeting and be very strict in ensuring that no one breaks this agreement.
As an organisation we have a very strict equal opportunities policy and we do not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia or sexism.
Our equal opportunity policy must be adhered to by anyone using our premises.
Nasim Ali OBE
King's Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association
Thank you again for standing against those who wished to have our meeting banned. You asked us to assure you and the Trustees that there will be no display of anti-Semitism at our meeting. Anti-Semitism is hostility towards Jews as Jews (Sir Steven Sedley). It is a form of racism. Our organisation has campaigned throughout its existence against all forms of racism, whether state, organisational or individual. We have never tolerated expressions of anti-Semitism on pro-Palestinian events or meetings we have organised, and we will not tolerate such expressions tomorrow at our meeting. We will make that clear from the chair. We will however accept no restriction on our right to characterise the Israeli state as a racist state because of its underlying ideology, Zionism.
London Regional Committee of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!/Revolutionary Communist Group
We urge as many supporters of Palestinian liberation to attend our event as we have little doubt that the Zionists will attempt to disrupt the event. However, we also urge you not to respond to their racist provocations.
The Director of Public Affairs of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Labour Party member Philip Rosenberg is attempting to use his position of influence to ban a public meeting organised by London Revolutionary Communist Group and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in support of the Palestinian people. This is a reactionary attack on those who support Palestinian self-determination following the recent adoption by the Labour Party of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
The meeting, entitled ‘Labour, Corbyn and Anti-Semitism: why is solidarity with Palestine under attack?’ is scheduled to take place at Chadswell Healthy Living Centre, near King’s Cross. The venue is a community centre that RCG/FRFI has used many times before. It is run by the King’s Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association (KCBNA), and the meeting room was booked for Friday 21 September 2018 several weeks in advance. Just three days before the meeting was due to take place, the RCG received a call from the Chief Executive of KCBNA, Nasim Ali, who is also Labour Councillor for Regent’s Park and former mayor of Camden. Mr Ali explained that Phillip Rosenberg, who is a member of Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party, a former Camden Labour Councillor and current Director of Public Affairs at the Board of Jewish Deputies, had contacted KCBNA to claim, without any evidence, that our meeting will be anti-Semitic and therefore must be cancelled. Rosenberg warned that he would be launching a campaign calling on all members and supporters of the Board of Deputies to call and email KCBNA to complain about the meeting. KCBNA is considering cancelling the meeting.
To suggest that RCG/FRFI is anti-Semitic is an outrageous slur on an organisation that has fought many determined campaigns against racism. It is quite clear that Rosenberg and the Board of Deputies are now confident that any expression of support for the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination can be construed as anti-Semitic and banned. Our meeting carries an explicitly anti-racist message, with promotional materials stating clearly that Zionism is a racist ideology, and that the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is a deliberate attempt to criminalise support for Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation. The purpose of the public meeting is to discuss openly how we can challenge this conflation and build a movement for Palestine in circumstances where the Labour Party has capitulated, again and again, in the face of Zionist pressure. The most recent example of this capitulation is Labour’s adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which has been used to shut down free speech on Palestine – for example, by universities, to ban events organised during the annual Israeli Apartheid Week.
The attempt to ban this meeting shows that Zionists will now use the Labour Party’s adoption of the IHRA definition to censor the left, and attempt to close off public spaces to supporters of Palestinian liberation. Solidarity with Palestine now involves a fight for free speech which takes on the Zionist Board of Deputies and a Labour Party which has betrayed the Palestinian struggle.
We are calling on all our supporters to oppose this Zionist campaign. We ask you to contact the venue to make clear your opposition to the political censorship of a pro-Palestine meeting. A template email is below, as are phone numbers which you can call to express your opposition. Please feel free to write your own email, or edit the template below:
Phone: 020 7278 5635, 07852 223403
Dear Kings Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association,
I am shocked to hear that you are considering cancelling a meeting to discuss Palestine solidarity on Friday due to its political content. As far as I am aware you have received a complaint from a Labour Party member who is also an officer for the Board of Deputies of British Jews who states without evidence that this meeting will be anti-Semitic.
It is clear that this is an anti-racist meeting, and its content will not be anti-Semitic, and that Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! have fought anti-Semitism throughout its existence. What is at stake however, is the right to support the Palestinian people in their fight for self-determination, and to oppose the racist position of the state of Israel. If you cancel the meeting at the behest of this Labour Party member, you will set a precedent for all meetings supporting the people of Palestine and criticising the Israeli state to be banned.
This is supposed to be a free country, yet in the view of the Board of Deputies and one or two members of the Labour Party, supporting the people of Palestine is now to be censored. I insist that the KCBNA should make a stand for the freedom of political expression that we are supposed to have, refuse to back down in the face of completely unsubstantiated allegations of anti-Semitism, and allow the meeting to go ahead,