2016 07 – Labour and Antisemitism

The Jackie Walker Interview

Jackie Walker, a senior Labour party activist, was suspended from the party over alleged anti-Semitic comments independently of the party investigation. She was interviewed by John Humphreys on the Today Programme.  This is a transcript of her interview on the

Today programme 30.5.16

John Humphreys: A woman who was suspended from the Labour Party for comments she made about Israel has been reinstated.  She is Jackie Walker, a prominent supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, and she is on the line.  Good morning to you. Did you expect to be reinstated, given the things that you had said?

Jackie Walker: Yes of course;

J.H. So do you have an apology to make for the things you said?

J.W. I don’t have an apology to make.  I’m saddened if I’ve upset people, but sometimes when we talk in political speech we upset people, and these issues are very upsetting, these issues about migration and refugees and of what happened in the holocaust, not just the Jewish holocaust but the African holocaust and the other genocides that there have been.

J.H. But what you were doing in essence surely was diminishing the holocaust; you wrote to one of your correspondents on Facebook ‘As I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the holocaust and the oppression continues on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews; so really what you are saying is ‘let’s get over the holocaust, it happened let’s live with it.’

J.W. Oh my goodness! No I’m saying the opposite; every single death of every person, no matter what their race, no matter what their culture, is an awful thing; no one genocide, no one holocaust is in my opinion worse than any other.  I’m an internationalist and that’s what it means to be an internationalist. Everybody has their own particular history and each genocide has its own particular history, but what I don’t want to see happen is any of the history of our ancestors being used to authenticate human rights infringements now. We don’t have the right to do that.

J.H. But in order to make that point you don’t have to invoke the holocaust; you say ‘many Jews, my ancestors too, were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade, which is why there were so many synagogues in the Caribbeans’, so who are victims, and what does it mean? The clear impression to many people, the people who wanted you suspended, was ‘the Jews had it coming’, almost.

J.W. Oh God what an awful thing to say; nobody has that kind of thing coming.  What a shocking thing to say!  Can I just say on this, that the context of this is extremely important.  Can I remind everybody that this was in a private Facebook post …

J.H. …that doesn’t matter does it?

J.W. …can I finish?  Because the context is important.  I was talking to two friends, one of whom is an Israeli Zionist and the other one isn’t. The one who is Israeli studied the holocaust, both the Jewish holocaust and the African holocaust with me; and what we were talking about actually was whether there was an ethical argument against sanctioning Israel.  That’s what we were talking about.  It’s not the point of whether the Jewish holocaust was important, it was critically important to what was going on there.

J.H. it was different from the slave trade, it was genocide

J.W. of course it was different; if I can just finish my point.  Me and my comrades we were together in Dover, resisting the fascists, the people who were calling out ‘Hitler was right’. What I would like to see is a whole upswell of those people who have been so alarmed by what the Jewish Chronicle has reported.  Let’s see them down there in solidarity with us fighting those fascists.

J.H. Do you believe that the Labour Party has a problem with anti-Semitism?

J.W. I think that the Labour Party reflects society in general. In fact my experience of the Labour Party, or shall I say the Labour Movement tells me that the Labour Movement has much to be proud of in the fight against racism, if we compare it to what has been happening in the Tory Party.  Let’s question why the racism of the Tory Party that is so easily pointed to is not coming under inspection.

J.H.  Perhaps because they don’t have a former candidate who was suspended after tweeting ‘what do you know about Jews, they’ve got big noses and support Spurs LOL’ perhaps that’s why.

J.W. Perhaps not, but you could question why Boris Johnson who described black people as piccaninnies with watermelon smiles was not suspended, because if he had been in the Labour Party he would have been.

J.H. Jackie Walker, many thanks.