Sunday, 9 September 2018

Palestinian Arab MPs Salute Corbyn

This important letter in support of Jeremy Corbyn from Palestinian Arab members of the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) deserves to shared and read as widely as possible.
 
As members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, representing our fellow Palestinian Arab citizens of the state of Israel and Jewish supporters of peace and democracy, we are writing to express our solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party in the United Kingdom. Palestinian Arabs constitute about a fifth of Israel’s citizenry. As such, we have a deep understanding of the vulnerability that many minority communities feel, in the UK and around the world. We respect the vigilance with which minority groups monitor the actions and statements of their local leaders, to ensure that their rights are not infringed upon, and to defend their members from unwarranted attacks on the basis of their group identity.

Palestinian citizens of Israel have yet to experience a single day of equality, de jure or de facto – to say nothing of the millions of Palestinians under military occupation in the West Bank, under siege in the Gaza Strip, and the 6 million in exile abroad, prevented from returning to their homeland simply because they are not Jews. As part of the Palestinian people, this has been our lived experience of the Zionist movement since day one.

In the Knesset, in the streets, and on the world stage, we Palestinian parliamentarians have always argued that it is not possible for any ethno-state, Jewish or otherwise, to also be a state that guarantees equality to all its citizens; for the state of Israel to be both Jewish and democratic. Now Benjamin Netanyahu has proved that we were right all along, by passing the constitutional nation-state law, which explicitly raises the rights of Jewish people to paramount status, downgrades the Arabic language and eclipses any mention of equal rights, regardless of race or religion.

Emboldened by the rise of far-right forces in the US and other parts of the world, the Netanyahu government has made it abundantly clear that Palestinians will never have a state of their own, and that they will never be allowed equality inside Israel. Emboldened by Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalism, Israeli racists are stepping up their violent vigilante attacks on Palestinian people, putting the spirit of the nation-state law into practice.

Incredibly, instead of taking that government to task for its unadulterated racism, the British political class ignores the Palestinian historical plight, and attacks and abuses the British and European leader who vocally supports the Palestinian cause of peace and equality. With the Netanyahu government ramping up the racism, our struggle for survival is more precarious than ever. But while we focus locally, defending what’s left of our ever-diminishing rights, we feel that we must speak out now and register our repugnance at these recent attempts to complete our erasure, by forbidding within the UK Labour party any mention by name of the forces allied against the Palestinian cause.

As long as efforts to curb anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK are focused on combating the disparagement of Jews merely for their membership in a minority group, they have our full support. But when some try to force the Labour party into using as its litmus test a definition of antisemitism that goes far beyond anti-Jewish animus to include anti-Zionism, we must raise our voices and decry these efforts.

We commend Jeremy Corbyn for his decades of public service to the British people, and for his longstanding solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people. We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and we recognise him as a principled leftist leader who aspires for peace and justice and is opposed to all forms of racism, whether directed at Jews, Palestinians, or any other group.

Ahmad Tibi MP Deputy speaker of parliament, Joint List/Arab Movement for Change
Masud Ganaim MP Joint List/United Arab List
Yousef Jabareen MP Joint List/Democratic Front for Peace and Equality
Jamal Zahalka MP Joint List/National Democratic Assembly
On behalf of all 13 members of the Knesset who are part of the Joint List

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Zionists & Blairites Stoke Antisemitism


Tonight Labour's National Executive Committee will vote on adoption of the 'full' IHRA definition of antisemitism, i.e. the definition itself plus all the appended examples. If the proposal goes through - and it seems likely that it will - all legitimate criticism of Israeli state terror will be outlawed in the Party. Any Party member who dares to call Zionism a racist ideology, or who dares to point out that  Israel was founded on a policy of ethnic cleansing (nowadays pretty much the mainstream academic view), will be liable to suspension and expulsion.

Israel decided some time ago that the only way to halt the slide in grass-roots support for its appalling policies was to deliberately push the line that anti-Zionism equals antisemitism. The UK was a specific, key target in that operation.

Four factors have led to the success of Israel's intervention in the current Labour Party struggle.

Firstly, the Israel lobby has found a willing ally in the Blairite wing of the Party, who are prepared to use any smear that weakens the Corbyn leadership. They are not interested in the wider consequences. They are 100% focused on forcing Jeremy and his circle out of office.

Secondly, the self-appointed 'leadership' of the Jewish community - the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, a handful of religious leaders and a second-rate actress - have been prepared to lauch a rolling series of dishonest and increasingly risible attacks on the Party. In reality, the vast majority of Jews know full well that there is a world of difference between Hitler's Germany and Britain in 2018 - but our 'leaders' are willing to gloss over that in order to promote their pro-Israel agenda.

Thirdly, the mainstream media - particularly 'liberal' outlets like Channel 4 News and the Guardian - have conducted a campaign that is staggering in its consistently dishonest reporting and in its underlying cynicism. We should also give an honourable mention here to the BBC, which has managed to outdo itself in peddling disingenuous twaddle around the issue twenty-four hours a day.

Fourthly, and perhaps crucially, our own side has adopted a strategy of retreat and appeasement that has enabled the Zionists to find themselves standing today on the brink of outright victory. Jeremy's response has been feeble, while Momentum has played a consistently equivocal role in the debate on antisemitism. Jon Lansman must surely bear the brunt of the responsibility for that, muddying the waters over the distinction between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, and refusing to call out the spurious nature of the accusations.

Outside of the Westminster bubble and the Looking Glass World of the mainstream media, the effects of the debate have been equally poisonous but rather different from what the 'liberal' establishment might have expected.

Labour does not appear to have been impacted negatively in the opinion polls. There is a growing impatience and frustration amongst ordinarily people, both inside and outside the Party, with the constant claims of antisemitism and the outrageously florid language in which they're couched.

People's real concern is with real issues - the NHS, pensions, benefits, workplace rights, housing etc - not with the faux outrage of Jewish community 'leaders' or Guardian editorial writers.

And in a country where Black and Asian people face institutional racism, and where Muslims face daily violence on the streets, the endless focus on antisemitism is an insult to the lived experience of other minority communities.

Antisemitism was very much a discredited fringe position before the current crisis blew up, outside of the hothouse world of internet conspiracy theories. But there is anecdotal evidence that the constant barrage of anti-Corbyn propaganda, combined with the ridiculous tirades of the Jewish community's so-called 'leaders', is beginning to change all that. Add in the fact that Israel, which loudly claims to 'speak for all Jews' - a lie echoed by those self-same 'community leaders' - while it brutally suppresses Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and one can see why people's patience is wearing thin.

There is every risk that in the wake of current events antisemitism will gain a new respectability. I doubt many of the current movers and shakers behind the anti-Corbyn campaign will care about that. Indeed, it will reinforce the position of Israel and the Zionists, whose very raison d'etre is  that Jews will never be safe outside of the 'Land of Israel'. As for the Blairites, the demise of the Corbyn leadership is worth any cost - and for all their bleating about antisemitism most of them really couldn't give a damn about what happens to this country's Jewish community.

It is ironic that the Zionists and the Blairites have done more to promote antisemitism in the UK than the far right have managed in fifty years of propaganda and agitation. If the IHRA definition and examples are adopted in full tonight, the situation can only get worse.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Zionists Threaten Free Speech In Our Party

The continuing weaponisation of the antisemitism issue has begun to take on ludicrous proportions. In the latest incident, which has happened in my own constituency, a local councillor has been accused of racism for tweeting a comment about the "Israeli state lobby" - despite the care she took with the wording of her tweet. She was, predictably, treated to a torrent of abuse as a result.

We are fast reaching the point where any comment that could be construed as critical of Israel, or as supportive of the desperate Palestinian struggle for basic human rights, is liable to be portrayed as a "racist incident", with all that that implies - including disciplinary proceedings. 

The Orwellian situation produced by the artificially manufactured "antisemitism crisis" in our Party now threatens free speech on Israel/Palestine in a way that would have been unthinkable just a year ago. The meaning of key words - racism, antisemitism - has been changed to suit the foreign policy interests of a vile apartheid state. 

That state's use of language is equally Orwellian. Their siege of Gaza is "peace-keeping". Their policy of aggressive expansion and creeping ethnic cleansing is "defense". Their repeated use of state terror against captive populations is "anti-terrorism". And their creation of a bully-boy regional superpower, backed to the hilt by the US and NATO, is hidden under the rhetoric of "plucky little Israel".

So it should come as no surprise that the techniques of Newspeak used so effectively by Israel are now being deployed by Israel's supporters in the Labour Party. 

Lest there be any doubt, let me repeat - for the umpteenth time - that this is not about a "Jewish lobby". This is about the Israel lobby, which is as blind to religious affiliation as it is to any recognisable ethical or moral standard.

The interests of this lobby coincide with the interests of the Blairites in the Party, and often involve the same individuals. The pro-US, interventionist foreign policy of Blair and co. - which John Kampfner so memorably laid bare in his book Blair's Wars - aligns neatly with the interests of the Israeli state, even as that state faces increasing international isolation.

Indeed, Israeli isolation is one of the main drivers behind the present ideological offensive in the Party and elsewhere. As the Israeli state becomes more overtly racist - witness the so-called "nation state law" enacted recently - so its defenders become more and more strident. Yet Israel faces mounting problems. First, it is losing the debate amongst young people - including young diaspora Jews. More and more young people see Zionism and Israel as racist endeavours. Second, the terms of the debate on Israel are also changing, thanks to the pioneering work of Palestinian and Israeli Jewish historians in exposing the settler-colonialist nature of the Zionist movement and the ethnic cleansing it has carried in its wake.

Sadly none of that changes the fact that we face an immediate, pressing problem in the Labour Party. Our leadership's constant hand-wringing and its constant concessions to the Zionists - of which Len McCluskey's climbdown over the IHRA definition is the latest disheartening example - have created a situation where anyone raising their head above the parapet is considered fair game. 

The threat of disciplinary proceedings is already shifting the terms of debate on Israel/Palestine in the Party, and creating a McCarthyite atmosphere of distrust and anxiety. 

But we are where we are - and the key issue is how we respond going forward. Do we cave in to the pressure from the Zionists and the right of the Party? Do we allow the worst elements in Labour to set the terms of the debate for the foreseeable future, and take down the Corbyn leadership in the process? Because we need to be clear on one thing: our enemies will not respond to concessions by suddenly becoming reasonable. They will respond by pressing home their advantage.

There is also a question of principle at stake here, beyond any considerations of factional advantage and electoral calculation. I would ask anyone reading this post to carefully consider their response, and to act accordingly. The question is this:

Do we throw the Palestinians - and their advocates in our Party - under the bus? And what does it say for our vision of socialism if we're prepared to do that?

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Migrant & BAME Groups Oppose IHRA Guidelines

In a week that saw Len McCluskey advise acceptance of the full list of IHRA 'examples' - which will effectively silence debate on Israel inside the Labour Party - over eighty migrant and BAME organisations have signalled their rejection of such a move. It will be instructive to see whether their views are taken on board - or whether we are given further confirmation that the only form of racism taken seriously by the Party today is anti-semitism (in a version carefully calculated to appease the Israel lobby). The full text of the BAME letter plus signatories is reproduced here.

As migrant and BAME groups in Britain, we reaffirm our fundamental right to the freedom of expression, and publicly to express our anxieties about the suppression of information on the history and lived experience of our communities.

Many of us arrived in the UK as migrants and as refugees, seeking safety from war and repression, and the effects of racism, persecution and colonialism both past and present. As a result, we know their oppressive impact on our communities, and can identify where many of the current experiences of injustices we face in Britain today are also based on racism and colonialism.

These problems are having a destructive impact on public discussions about race and immigration. It is therefore our responsibility – and also our right-  to relay our direct experiences of human rights abuses suffered here and abroad, as well as their structural and historical causes, to address them.

This democratic obligation is recognised in Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, to “receive and impart information”, and provides the basis for a democracy to function. As the Institute for Race Relations recently confirmed, our communities: “have a right to be heard, to make…information public, while others have the right to hear them, and the arguments based on these facts”.

We are deeply worried about current attempts to silence a public discussion of what happened in Palestine and to the Palestinians in 1948, when the majority of its people were forcibly expelled. These facts are well established and accessible, are part of the British historical record, as well as the direct experience of the Palestinian people themselves. The Palestinian community in the UK has raised the disturbing absence of key information about these past and current injustices, and highlighted the racism it exposes then and now.


Public discussion of these facts, and a description of these injustices, would be prohibited under the IHRA’s guidelines, and therefore withholds vital knowledge from the public. This silencing has already begun. Today we can freely describe the racist policies experienced in the era of British and European colonialism in our countries of origin (indeed it is taught in British schools), but the colonial history of the Palestinians is continually erased. This is a dangerous breach of our own rights, and of the wider British public: we must all hear the full story of the Palestinians in order to make sense of the current discussions about racism and Israel.

We also know of the efforts by organisations – including UK-based fundamentalist groups aligned with the far-right in the US – to deny Palestinians’ basic humanity by suppressing their entire history and current plight. At the same time, hard-line conservative groups in the US, such as the Middle East Forum, are providing funding and support to anti-Muslim extremist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson), deliberately increasing hatred, fear, and confusion. These coordinated efforts by right-wing extremists are being actively encouraged by President Trump’s racism and fear-mongering, which is now aimed at dismantling UNRWA, the UN agency that protects Palestinian refugees.

Over this past year, several terrible events have demonstrated the dangers of silencing migrant and BAME communities. The fatal fire at Grenfell Tower and the shameful Windrush scandal have shown the active legacies of British colonialism, where racism forms an integral part of British policies, and renders our communities invisible. This denies our dignity and humanity, and our right to fair treatment under the rule of law: the bedrock of British society.

We urgently remind politicians and public bodies of their responsibilities to uphold the principles of the Human Rights Act for every British citizen and resident in the UK equally, especially the direct victims of colonialism, racism, and discrimination. As migrant and BAME communities we stand as one, united against all attempts to suppress our voices and our calls for justice, freedom and equality.

List of Signatories

1.    African Rainbow Family
2.    The Arab Labour Group
3.    The Arab Refugee Support Group (ARSG)
4.    The Association of the Palestinian Community in the UK
5.    Baraka Youth Association (Somali)
6.    Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC)
7.    Black Lives Matter UK
8.    Black Women’s Forum UK
9.    The British Arab Association
10.    British Muslim Initiative (BMI)
11.    The British Palestinian Communications Centre
12.    The British Palestinian Policy Council
13.    The Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)
14.    Communities Inc, Nottingham
15.    Community Integration Project, London
16.    Congo Great Lakes Initiative
17.    The Cordoba Foundation
18.    Daikon East Asian Women’s Collective
19.    Dar Assalam – Iraqi Association in Britain
20.    Decolonising Our Minds
21.    Deport, Deprive and Extradite Project
22.    Eritrean Elders Welfare Association in UK (EEWA-UK)
23.    Eritrean Parents and Children’s Association
24.    Europal Forum
25.    Facilitate Global
26.    The General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS)
27.    Grenfell Speaks
28.    Ikram United Kingdom and Eire
29.    Indian Matters UK
30.    Indian Workers Association
31.    Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, the United Private Hire Drivers Branch
32.    Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, the University of London Branch
33.    Iraqi Transnational Collective
34.    Iraqi Women’s Organisation: Tadhamun
35.    Jawaab
36.    Justice for Grenfell
37.    Kashmiris for Labour
38.    Kurdish Student’s Union
39.    Kurdish Assembly in the UK
40.    Lebanese Association of Britain
41.    Leeds Unity Centre
42.    Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
43.    London Latinx
44.    London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium
45.    Media Diversified
46.    Meridian Women’s Association
47.    The Meena Centre, Birmingham
48.    Migrant Media
49.    Migrant Rights Network (MRN)
50.    Migrant Solidarity Manchester
51.    Migrants Organise
52.    Min Quan – Chinatown People Rights Group
53.    Minaret Community Centre
54.    Momentum Black Caucus
55.    The Monitoring Group (TMG)
56.    Movement for Justice
57.    Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland
58.    Muslimahs Resist
59.    Muslim Association of Britain (MAB)
60.    Muslim Worker’s Association
61.    Network of Eritrean Women
62.    Nijjor Manush (Bengali and Bangladeshi Campaigning Group)
63.    North West Peoples’ Voice
64.    Olive – Palestinian Youth Group
65.    Oxford Syria Solidarity Campaign
66.    Pakistani Community Centre Oldham
67.    The Palestine Return Centre (PRC)
68.    The Palestinian Forum in the UK
69.    Pal Med UK
70.    PCS Union National Black Members Committee
71.    Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
72.    Racial Justice Network
73.    Rethink Rebuild Society (Syrian)
74.    Right 2 Work UK
75.    Roj Kurdish Women’s Assembly
76.    Sante Refugee Project
77.    The Society of Black Lawyers
78.    South People’s Project (SOPPRO)
79.    Tunisian Association in Britain
80.    United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC)
81.    Voices for Creative Non Violence UK
82.    West London Moroccan Association – Widadia
83.    Women’s Alliance for Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria
84.    Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation (ZHRO)

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Israeli Interference Has Become Intolerable


It's nice of the Israeli government, backed by their allies in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and the mainstream media (MSM), to undermine all the work we've been doing to counter the old antisemitic trope about 'Jewish control of the media'. Thanks for that.

On last night's Channel 4 News the Daily Mail's latest absurd slander against Corbyn - the affair of the wreath - was repeated without qualification, and backed by an explicit intervention in the debate by Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister, rather than face questions about Israel's latest atrocity against the civilian population of Gaza, was instead quoted approvingly by reporter Fatima Manji alongside Luciana Berger to 'prove' just how egregious Jeremy's behaviour had been.

The report might as well have been put together by the Israeli embassy. 

In a week where the main story has been Boris Johnson's vile racist tirade about the burqa, and the subsequent infighting in the Tory Party, Channel 4 News managed to shift the spotlight once again onto Corbyn and antisemitism. Despite admitting in her report that "few here [in Walsall] made mention of Labour's antisemitism row", Manji was clearly determined to make that row the focus of her report.

Why? And on whose authority?

One wonders who, in the C4 News hierarchy, is making decisions about what should - and shouldn't - feature in their broadcasts. And while that news program forfeited its liberal credentials some time ago, last night's propaganda broadcast hit a new low.

In a sense, the back story was far more sensational than what was explicitly covered. Because we are now seeing clear Israeli interference in this country's democratic process, rather than the covert manipulation that we have witnessed previously. Israel's behind-the-scenes influence on Labour policy, expertly exposed in Al Jazeera's documentary The Lobby, has now become overt. Netanyahu is confident enough of his position, and of the unassailable status of allies like Luciana Berger, to dabble his blood-stained fingers openly in British political discourse.

It is extraordinary that no Parliamentarian has raised concerns about this ongoing intervention by a foreign power in domestic political affairs.

Two things mitigate against a serious British response. The first consideration is that of policy - Israel is the prime US/Western ally in the Middle East, and is therefore subject to special treatment bordering on sycophancy. The second consideration is one of expediency, both in terms of undermining Corbyn's position and at the same time avoiding the ubiquitous charge of antisemitism that seems to spring up nowadays whenever Israel's actions are critically examined.

For the same reasons,  the alignment of public discourse on antisemitism and Palestine with the interests of the Israeli state is likely to continue.

The objective of course is the collapse of the Corbyn leadership, either through a PLP coup or through simple exhaustion. In the face of such a collapse it's by no means certain that the Left of the Party will have the heart to continue the fight for a socialist government.

Would Corbyn avoid that fate if he agreed to accept the full list of IHRA examples - including the ones that effectively shut down debate on Israel? Unlikely. Such a retreat would simply encourage the circling wolves, who would no doubt raise cries of "too little, too late" in response.

Corbyn's opponents scent blood, and they are unlikely to be satisfied with anything less than a clean kill.

If Corbyn falls it will be as the result of a lash-up between four distinct forces - the Blairite wing of the PLP, the neo-liberal MSM, the conservative wing of the Jewish establishment, and the Israeli state.

A victory for this opportunist alliance will have two consequences.

First, for those who prefer conspiracy theories to careful analysis, the destruction of Project Corbyn will provide all the evidence they need to 'prove' the old calumny that Jews control the media and the political mainstream. Antisemitic discourse and antisemitic incidents will soar as the most disenfranchised sections of our society look for a convenient scapegoat. Holding the line against antisemitic conspiracy theorists - already a tough ask - will become all but impossible.

Second, the collapse of a viable Left alternative to neo-liberal economic policies will open the door even further (in the wake of Trump, Brexit, Tommy Robinson et al) to a Right populism that will see the rise of a genuine neo-fascist movement in the UK. That movement is likely to teach Corbyn's current Labour critics what a real 'existential threat to Jewish life' looks like.

That is the likely legacy of the current anti-Corbyn offensive - unless it can be stopped in its tracks.

We all have a role to play in that. But Corbyn and his inner circle - not least the supine leadership of Momentum - have to lead the way. Time is running out for us. 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Open Letter To NEC - No Retreat On IHRA Examples!

Please sign and share this link widely: https://lettertolabournec.wordpress.com/

Dear members of the NEC,

As members of the Labour Party, we, the undersigned, call on the party’s National Executive Committee to resist calls to adopt all eleven examples accompanying the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism into the party’s code of conduct on antisemitism.

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party and as such must stand up for justice and equality and speak up against oppression. We are gravely concerned that two of the currently omitted examples in particular will be used to silence free speech on Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights and freedom.

The IHRA states that instances of antisemitism may include “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”. We fear that if adopted into the party’s code of conduct, this example will be used to oppose and ban support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Criticism of BDS often centres upon it “singling out” Israel and treating it differently than other “democratic” states. However, Israel is not a democratic state. It enforces a system of apartheid in the occupied West Bank, with different roads and different legal systems and courts for Israelis and Palestinians, including the world’s only military court for children, and has recently adopted a law relegating Israeli Arabs to second class citizens in Israel proper. The BDS movement is modelled on the boycott of apartheid South Africa, the latter which had broad support on the European left. We resisted apartheid then and we must resist it now.

The IHRA further includes as an example of antisemitism “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” We fear that this will be used to silence discussion and raising awareness of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of some 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-48 so that the Israeli state could be established as an ethno-nationalist “Jewish homeland”, as well as criticism of the current apartheid system. We ask the NEC to please note that the two parts of the example are separate issues. Claiming that the State of Israel is a racist endeavour is not the same as denying Jewish people the right to self-determination. It is denying such self-determination at the cost of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people. It is denying self-determination in the form of an ethno-nationalist state. All people and nations have an internationally recognised right to self-determination, but it is our view, and we believe it should be the view of the Labour Party, that such self-determination should be in the form of a democratic state that grants equal rights to everyone lawfully residing within its borders. That is not how the state of Israel was created. It was created through the expulsion and killing of members of one ethnic group to make room for another, and this continues to be the basis of the Israeli state today. The Nakba has been well documented by both Palestinian and Israeli scholars, and the Palestinian right of return has been formally recognised by the UN. We must be allowed to speak freely about this. Our Palestinian members must be able to speak freely about the Nakba and about the current system of apartheid and ongoing ethnic cleansing just like our Jewish members must be able to speak freely about the Holocaust. Recognising that right does not equate to denying Jewish people in Israel the right to self-determination in a fully democratic state.

As members of the NEC will be aware, the IHRA definition and examples have been used elsewhere to shut down legitimate and non-racist debate on Israel, such as at the University of Lancashire last year, where a panel on “Debunking misconceptions on Palestine and the importance of BDS” was banned by the university citing the IHRA definition, after pressure from pro-Israel groups. If all eleven examples are adopted by the NEC at its next meeting in September, many party members will face an impossible choice – be silent or face possible suspension and/or expulsion. We are deeply concerned and fearful of what will become of our party and our movement if members are not able to freely speak out against apartheid and ethnic cleansing. To endorse the BDS movement or to suggest that the the State of Israel in its historic and current form is a racist endeavour are not expressions of antisemitism. Imagine if members had been banned from speaking out in a similar way against apartheid South Africa. It is absolutely crucial – for the future of our party and the country, and for the prospect of an end to the brutal occupation of Palestine – that members of the Labour Party are able to speak freely about Israel’s crimes without fear of punishment.

To add your name click here - https://lettertolabournec.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

You Don't Have To Be Black To Be Expelled - But It Helps

You don't have to be Black to be expelled on a charge of 'bringing the Party into disrepute' - but it helps.

Yesterday's announcement that charges against Margaret Hodge were to be dropped, following her foul-mouthed outburst against Jeremy Corbyn, marks a watershed in the ongoing war between the Party's leadership and the Israel lobby.

If the people behind that decision seriously thought, against all evidence and all common sense, that such appeasement would draw a line under the issue, they were quickly put right. Hodge immediately released a statement through her solicitor denying that she had apologised. It was a statement that reeked of arrogance. It was also a clear indication - as if any were needed, except by those unable to see the obvious - that the civil war in the Party will continue. Only Jeremy's head on a platter will satisfy the Blairites and the Zionists.

One of the first victims of Corbyn's policy of appeasement was Marc Wadsworth. He was suspended two years ago for an innocuous comment to Labour MP Ruth Smeeth - and his expulsion duly followed earlier this year at a kangaroo court hearing. Despite a long record of anti-racism and anti-fascism, and despite his instrumental role in organising for Labour in the BME community, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell didn't lift a finger to help him. Instead Marc was hung out to dry, one of the first victims of our leadership's refusal to confront the Zionists in the Parliamentary Party. As gutless as it was unprincipled, that decision - and countless other refusals to intervene in a series of egregious suspensions and expulsions - has now come back to haunt the Party leadership.

One wonders what the BME community makes of this double standard. It certainly looks to this Labour Party member as if there is one rule for the PLP - and in particular for its Blairite/Zionist wing - and another rule for the rest of us. One might even suggest that there is clear evidence of institutional racism in this double standard. But as the only form of racism Labour Party members are allowed to talk about nowadays is antisemitism, we'd better not broach that possibility...

In any case it looks as though the Zionists have all but won the battle. Short of a major counter-offensive at Conference next month, it looks like the foreign policy interests of the Israeli state have proven to be more important than this country's desperate need for a change of government. Never mind the poor and disenfranchised. If any Labour leader dares to support the right of the Palestinians to decent treatment, no matter in how moderate a way, he will be taken down. It's a lesson that won't have been lost on those members of the PLP plotting to replace Corbyn.

Yesterday's events furnish the final proof, if any were needed, that the Israel lobby is able to exercise an extraordinary degree of influence within our Party, and that they are able to do so with apparent impunity. One can rest assured that there will be no internal enquiry into the Labour Friends of Israel or the Jewish Labour Movement. Likewise there will be no investigation into the unholy lash-up between the core of the Zionist/Blairite wing of the PLP and their shills in the mainstream media.

On the other hand, we can be sure that the suspensions and expulsions of good socialists will continue - with the quiet collusion of our own wing of the Party. The leadership will wring its hands and announce that it has no power to intervene in disciplinary cases (despite Hodge proving otherwise). Momentum's ruling circle will selectively approve of some expulsions, while remaining conveniently silent on others.

You won't have to be Black - or a Jewish anti-Zionist - in order to be expelled in the coming months. But it will certainly help.

Click here for more info about Marc Wadsworth's case and to support his legal appeal.