Jamie Susskind, a barrister in Littleton Chambers in London, was a member of the Labour Party until this morning. Susskind tweeted out his resignation letter from the party, saying, “I’m doing it for the same reason that I joined: because I’m Jewish.” The letter is transcribed below:

Dear Ms. Formby,

I wish to resign my membership of the Labour Party.

I joined Labour as a teenager and have been a member for more than decade. During that time I was proud to serve as secretary and co-chair of my university Labour Club, on the Executive of the Society of Labour Lawyers, and as deputy chair of Young Labour Lawyers. I worked for Ed Milliband during his candidacy for the leadership. I have spent many happy hours attending meetings and canvassing for Labour candidates.

I joined Labour because I was unhappy about the state of the world and anxious to do something about it. The party opened up a universe of campaigns and causes, and allowed me to meet remarkable people from all over the country who shared my restless idealism. Labour became my political home, and for many years I loved it.

Perhaps without realising it at the time, I also joined Labour because I am Jewish. My most deeply held political values are those I learned at the Sabbath table: the urgency of social justice, the importance of family and community, the power of education. I was taught that our duty as Jews was to stand up for those who suffer; and that there is no high cause than tikkun olam – to heal the world. I see in retrospect that my beliefs were also heavily shaped by what I learned about the Holocaust. There is something fiercely politicising about the knowledge that my dad’s granddad Ralph was eradicated from this earth, together with six million others, just for being a Jew like me. Being Jewish, being British, and fighting for social justice are therefor all wrapped up together in my identity. Until recently, Labour was part of that identity too.

I will not name here the many insults and indignities that the Jewish people of this country have endured at the hands of the Labour party over the last few years. They are apparent to anyone who is willing to see them. I am resigning my membership because I can no longer belong, in good faith, to an institution that has allowed itself to become the foremost platform for anti-Semitism in British public life. Holocaust deniers and racists have been emboldened by the silence (and in some cases complicity) of senior figures in the party. In part, therefore, I am leaving Labour for the same reason that I joined: because I am Jewish.

I know that the vast majority of Labour members are not anti-Semites. Quite the opposite. Many have been courageous in opposing the direction in which the party is heading (and I hope they know how much it means to their Jewish friends). But that is no longer what matters most to me. In the last few months, I have been unable to take solace in the fact that my values are essentially Labour values, or that I have tried in my own small way to change the culture from within. There is no greater good so important that it allows me to disregard the safety and dignity of the Jewish community. My continued membership has become an insult to them and to my heritage. Labour was meant to be about fighting hatred, not playing host to it.

I do not know whether Labour will form a government under its present leadership. But I am certain that I wish to play no part in helping it do so. Electoral success is not the same as moral legitimacy. An institution that turns a blind eye to the injustice festering in its own ranks surrenders it claim to moral leadership of the country. And “comrades” who tacitly offer a safe space for intolerance, or turn their faces from the suffering caused by racism (or misogyny, or any of the ills that afflict Labour) are not really comrades at all. There is life beyond Labour, and I will try to find it.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Susskind

 





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