Thursday, 10 July 2008

JSG national conference resolutions 2008


Against the Zionist or neo-con Right, and for Jewish alternatives

This conference of the Jewish Socialists' Group affirms our opposition to the regimentation of Jewish communities behind oppressive Israeli policies;
- the alliance of Zionist lobbyists with 'neo-cons' and aggressive US interests;
- the arrogant interference of both Israeli and American-based organisations in Jewish communities' affairs;
and the abuse of Jewish people's genuine concerns along with false charges of "antisemitism" against opponents, to manipulate people behind right-wing policies which belie our history and best traditions, poison relations between us and other communities, and undermine real Jewish interests.

Conference notes that the so-called "Jewish Lobby" in the United States (AIPAC etc) is increasingly dependent on right-wing Christian fundamentalists for support, since its policies are generally to the Right of what most American Jews believe and often of those supported by a majority of Israelis. We also note that wealthy individuals, often with dubious backgrounds, are funding right-wing, racist settlers and politicians in Israel.

We reject any claim that such lobbyists, in the USA or Britain, are speaking on our behalf as Jews, and we support the growing number of people who refuse to be silenced or intimidated by smears such as "self-hater". We say it is the Right who are the "enemy within", and those who strive for peace, justice and progress for all who are the best defenders of the Jewish people.

We challenge those within the Left and the pro-Palestinian movement when they claim that American foreign policy is either directed by or in the interests of America's Jewish community. Many American Jews oppose America's aggressive and imperialist foreign policy, which bolsters oppressive right-wing regimes throughout the world.

Conference welcomes the rise both here and in other countries, including the USA, of broad, independent Jewish associations raising their voices for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine, challenging the establishment, and offering a forum for alternative ideas in the community. We also welcome the emergence of rebellion in various forms among Jewish youth and students. We will encourage Jewish Socialists and friends to participate, help to build links between similar initiatives in the Diaspora and with the Israeli peace camp, but also encourage expansion from single-issue concern to a wider challenge to the establishment.

For the JSG to assist this development and contribute ideas we have a ready-made vehicle in our magazine, which can grow as its value is recognised. But we also need to to bring forward the long-promised JSG publications, as well as planning our meetings, day school and other activities with this perspective.

Through our magazine and website we will publicize the perspectives and activities of progressive American initiatives which challenge the views of the neo-cons.

Hands Off the People of Iran!

This conference of the Jewish Socialists' Group is alarmed at the growing threat of war against Iran, expressed by Western politicians and in the media, and unabated by reports that the Iranian regime has neither nuclear weapons nor plans to acquire them. We are concerned that despite the disastrous results of war in Iraq and unending bloodshed in Afghanistan, attempts are being made to accustom the public to these conflicts and make another, even more destructive war, seem inevitable.

We also concerned that such efforts as the British and US governments purportedly make to revive the Middle East peace process may have the limited aim of making it easier for the Saudi and other Arab governments to support war on Iran; and that secure in this knowledge, the Israeli government can persist in aggressive policies towards the Palestinians and Lebanon, pretending its war is with Iran, regardless of the risks entailed for the Israeli people if this became so.

Our opposition to war, and the death and destruction this would inflict on the Iranian people in no way removes our duty to denounce Iranian president Ahmadinajad, whose irresponsible demagogy plays on the external threat, and who has disgraced his country by hosting a racists and Holocaust deniers. Our solidarity with the Iranian people requires opposition to the repressive Islamicist regime, with its reactionary treatment of women, gays and minorities, as well as the workers' movement. Such policies can only undermine the Iranian people's ability to withstand imperialist attack, and defence of the regime can only weaken and discredit the peace movement.
The Jewish Socialists' Group declares its solidarity with the Iranian people against imperialist war, and with the working people, women, students, gays and minorities in their struggle for social justice and democratic rights.

We demand that the British government which claims to uphold democratic freedoms stops deporting people to face persecution in Iran.

We call for a nuclear weapon-free Middle East, as urged by Mordechai Vanunu, and a ban on all weapons of mass destruction in the area, as a step to removing them from the world.

We demand an end to Israeli occupation in Palestine, and the withdrawal of all imperialist forces from the Middle East.

Conference notes that this is broadly the position as Hands off the People of Iran(HOPI), and that this campaign has facilitated democratic participation by varied Iranian and other left-wing activists and groups. Conference therefore instructs the national committee to affiliate the JSG with Hands Off the People of Iran(HOPI), and to seek ways in which the JSG can work with Iranians and others to to advance these policies among Jewish people, and in the wider labour and anti-war movement.

Emergency resolution on Italy

The Jewish Socialists' Group is alarmed by recent developments in Italy. Following the election as premier of Silvio Berlusconi, the presence of fascists (Alleanza Nazionale) and racists ( Lega Nord) in his government, the provocations made by these fascists and racists against migrants in general and Roma in particular and the election of a fascist mayor ( Alemanno ) in Rome, who owed his victory to a blatantly racist campaign and who has continued to incite racism ever since, there has been a wave of vicious attacks against Roma communities in the last few weeks. These attacks, particularly the arson attack that occurred in Naples, could legitimately be described as pogroms.

Whilst Roma have been the primary target, the gang violence of the weeks since the election, generally led by far right groups such as Forza Nuova, has also targeted, amongst others, Bengali shopkeepers, gay activists and leftwing university students putting up anti-fascist posters; indeed in Verona a young man was brutally murdered by a gang of 'Naziskins' for no more than wearing a ponytail and refusing to share a cigarette, a killing which the fascist Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Gianfranco Fini, claimed was insignificant by comparison with the burning of an Israeli flag by some autonomists in Turin. These attacks have frequently been excused or trivialised by ministers in a government which is engaged in drastically tightening Italy's immigration laws, creating a new imprisonable offence of illegal immigration.

We also note the proposal by Alemanno to rename a Roman street in honour of Almirante, the editor of the violently antisemitic journal La Difesa della Razza (1938-43) and Under Secretary in Mussolini's puppet republic of 1943-45 which colluded in sending so many Italian Jews to Auschwitz, a man who subsequently led the neo-fascist MSI until his death in 1 988. This is a clear indication of the fundamental continuity between the overt genocidal racism of the 1 940s and the somewhat more subtle combination of racist legislation and implicit endorsement of pogroms devised by the heirs of fascism in the present government.

We therefore support the demands of PRAG - Progressive Roma on the European Parliament and European Union to
A) Political Censure of the current Italian government
B) Creation of a CRISIS AND MONITORING COMMITTEE for the on-going violence directed at vulnerable immigrant and migrant communities in Italy - in particular, the Romani communities under the auspices of the European Parliament, and should consist of representatives entrusted by the Romani community amongst its members.

But we do not put our trust in these institutions (and neither do PRAG probably). We call for an international grass roots solidarity campaign involving anti-fascists, anti-racists, migrant organisations, trades unions and so forth, linking with progressive forces in Italy itself to challenge what is going on. The JSG would seek to mobilise the progressive forces in the Jewish community to support such a campaign - there ought to be many who will be eager to oppose fascist inspired pogroms.

Against state funding of faith schools

A motion opposing government policy and state funding of faith schools, together with an amendment which would have broadened it to oppose city academies and private schooling, etc, were withdrawn because of inadequate time for discussion. It was agreed that the JSG will continue discussing these matters with a view to a future resolution, and will meanwhile, on the basis of its existing policy, continue campaigning with others for comprehensive, secular, public education.

To find out more and keep up to date with Jewish Socialists' Group ideas and activities,
read our magazine JEWISH SOCIALIST and visit our website
You can also write to us at JSG, BM3725, London WC1N 3XX