Labour Party revokes Electronic Intifada press pass

Man seen from shoulders up speaks and gesticulates

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers his keynote speech at the party’s conference in Liverpool last September. The party approved and then apparently revoked the press pass for The Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley to cover this year’s conference.

Phil Noble Reuters

Last month, the Labour Party approved a press pass for The Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley to cover its annual conference next month.

But last week the UK opposition party’s press team claimed in an email to Winstanley that “Your application has not been approved.”

This amounts to a revocation of an approved press pass without cause, and an undemocratic attack on media freedom.

The move came just days after an influential Israel lobby group conceded that The Electronic Intifada has been “the single most popular website” for reporting on the Labour anti-Semitism witch hunt against supporters of Palestinian rights.

The terse 15 August email claiming Winstanley’s pass had not been approved flatly contradicts an email he received from Labour Party Conference Services on 22 July.

The July email to Winstanley states: “I can confirm that your application has been successful. Your pass will be dispatched in early September.”

The revocation of Winstanley’s press access appears to be part of an ongoing effort by factions within the party’s bureaucracy to silence critics of how it has handled largely bogus accusations of anti-Semitism targeting the left, supporters of Palestinian rights and prominent Black and Jewish members.

That campaign has been in full swing ever since left-wing lawmaker and lifelong Palestine solidarity campaigner Jeremy Corbyn won the party leadership in 2015.

The Electronic Intifada “most popular website”

In March, Labour launched a disciplinary investigation into Winstanley, a party member.

Winstanley first learned about the investigation from information leaked to the Jewish Chronicle, a right-wing, pro-Israel publication that has fueled the campaign of false allegations that Labour is rife with anti-Semitism.

At the time, Winstanley lodged a formal complaint for violations of his rights under the UK’s Data Protection Act.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is currently investigating the leaking of his data as a potentially criminal act.

Winstanley has a long record of meticulously accurate and widely read reporting on the Labour Party.

The broad impact of The Electronic Intifada’s reporting was confirmed this month by the Community Security Trust, an Israel lobby group with close ties to the British government.

The CST published a report purporting to expose the “the online networks behind the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis.”

The report states that “the single most popular website for article shares about the subject of anti-Semitism, the Labour Party and Israel/Palestine was [The] Electronic Intifada.”

The Electronic Intifada’s reporting, the Israel lobby group states, “generated nearly four times the online engagement than The Guardian did for content about this specific area of discussion.”

While the CST report cites many of Winstanley’s articles for The Electronic Intifada, it does not point to any factual inaccuracies.

Rather, the report attempts to spin incontestable and highly relevant facts, including the close ties between the Jewish Labour Movement, a pro-Israel lobby group within the party, and the Israeli embassy.

Winstanley was the first to expose that the Jewish Labour Movement’s sometime executive director, Ella Rose, had previously worked at the Israeli embassy.

He also revealed how Rose, as director of the Jewish Labour Movement, worked closely with Shai Masot, the Israeli embassy spy expelled from the UK after his activities were exposed.

Secret coordination

Winstanley’s work has often cited Al Jazeera’s documentary The Lobby, which exposed how the Israeli embassy, working with British Israel lobby operatives, tried to covertly create a fake grassroots organization called Young Labour Friends of Israel.

The documentary also exposes how Joan Ryan, then chair of Labour Friends of Israel, fabricated an allegation of anti-Semitism against a party member.

The secret coordination between groups including the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel, on the one hand, and the Israeli government, on the other, has taken place against the background of Israel’s global covert war to sabotage and silence supporters of Palestinian rights.

This campaign has included inciting death threats against human rights defenders.

Despite being unable to point to errors in Winstanley’s articles, the Community Security Trust smears his reporting on the role of the Jewish Labour Movement in fueling the bogus anti-Semitism crisis as “a classic ‘dual loyalty’ trope, by which Jews (and other minorities) are often accused of not being fully loyal to the country of their birth.”

Needless to say, Winstanley has made no such allegation, and this spin by the CST is an effort to defame him and to misrepresent and discredit his reporting.

The CST, notably, has influence with the British security establishment.

In 2011, British authorities ordered prominent Palestinian political figure Raed Salah deported based on bogus allegations of anti-Semitism contained in a report sent to the government by the CST.

After a 10-month legal battle, Salah was completely vindicated as a court upheld his appeal against the deportation “on all grounds.”

The Electronic Intifada has written to the Labour Party to ask that Winstanley’s press pass be immediately reinstated. Winstanley has also taken the matter up with the National Union of Journalists, of which he is a member.

Tags

Comments

picture

How can the Labour Party not need a purge, of the nature of what was performed against the Militant Tendency.

Only this time, against the racist supporters of a nation state which depends on racism, (and therefore on ethnic, "cleansing", and therefore on acts of genocide), in order to maintain the artificial racist majority by which it has existed for 70 years, as a genocidal state ?

picture

Completely wrong of course, though I suspect many of these censors would like to ban Corbyn himself from conference. Generating 4 times as much discussion as the Guardian made me smile...Its almost impossible to find an article even laterally linked to anti semitism where any discussion at all is allowed BTL. Even on the rare occasion when comments are open, any questioning the 'Corbyn is an evil racist with special hatred for Jews' editorial, are swiftly removed, as I found when relevantly posting the '40 reasons' from Dorset eye. https://off-guardian.org/2019/...

picture

I once posted a comment in the Guardian back in the day when subjects like Gaza and war crimes were still open, denouncing the slaughter underway in 2014's "Operation Defensive Shield". Within minutes the comment had received more than 300 clicks of approval. Then it suddenly disappeared. You'd see announcements thickly stacked one after another declaring that readers' contributions had been removed for violating something called "community standards". The censorship got to the point where I posted two words- "Warsaw Ghetto". That was immediately deleted, too. The Guardian really is in a class by itself on this score. These days, as you point out, they can't even risk opening a comment thread on Israel/Palestine or the antisemitism smears. Even the most putrid right wing British rags will tolerate dissenting responses. Not the Graun.

picture

Labour just threw the Electronic Intifada under the bus. I think there are still some crypto "Independent Group" members still clinging to the Labour Party. Intifada already!

picture

According to the media, Corbyn and his supporters have seized control of the Labour Party. Some control. When Blair was leader, no one would have defied his wishes or those of his cabal over a matter like this. Blair controlled the Party at its centre. Corbyn has the support of the members but the staffers are heavily against him. Corbyn would not exclude Asa. Nor would any rational person. Irrational fear has gripped the inner apparatus of the Party. They are jumping to the Zionists' cacophonous tune. I know someone recently suspended who is no more an anti-Semite than Donald Trump is an egalitarian. We are in Kafkaesque territory: accusation is guilt, the punishment seeks the fault. What is truly astonishing is that the Zionists are treated as if they are innocent. They who, as Ilan Pappe has shown, ethnically cleansed Palestine in the 1948 war and now imprison Palestinians in Gaza. They should be excoriated as enemies of democracy. Instead, they secure the exclusion of an honest journalist from the conference of a Party of which he is a member. The Stasi would have been proud of that.
Don't forget, though, that the membership is against this. The membership will save the Party. We must keep our nerve ensure that the leadership remains principled, egalitarian and democratic and in time the apparatus of the Party can be changed to serve the elected leadership. Corbyn's enemies (Watson chief among them) believe that when he steps down they can regain power. We must ensure that his successor is in his mould, perhaps Rebecca Long-Bailey. The Party must not fall into the grasp of risen-from-the-dead Blairites. And we must make a noise to get Asa his credentials. He is one of the most honourable journalists in Britain. Who is behind his exclusion? We know, we must not let them prevail.

picture

If you think this has been done against Corbyn's wishes I suspect you're naive. Corbyn mainly wants the anti-semitism issue to go away, and isn't averse to chucking a few people under the bus to avoid hassle. This will certainly have been approved by Formby if not JC.

picture

I doubt it has been anywhere near Corbyn. Formby, very likely. Corbyn is not permitted to intervene directly in these administrative matters, which is how the bureaucracy is working against him.
His strategy of appeasing the Zionists has left him vulnerable, but I don't believe, if the decision was his, he would exclude Asa. I don't think he is willing to sacrifice anti-Zionists for the sake of winning votes. Chris Williamson is a close ally of Corbyn, who most definitely wants him in parliament; but Corbyn has his hands tied. It's a matter of internal discipline, of the rules, and the rules say the Leader's Office can't interfere.
The best way, in my view, to scupper the Zionist accusations of antisemitism in the Party is to expose their own deplorable history of antisemitism, well-documented and irrefutable. The waters are muddied because there have been incidents of antisemitic abuse which the Party has to deal with. They are peripheral, the Zionist campaign has succeeded in making them look central. This is what has thrown the bureaucracy into a funk which has then been seized on by those like Watson who want to displace Corbyn and spavin the possibility of a radical government.
I think it's unwise to group Corbyn with the accusers. He's under enough pressure. If we don't get him into Downing St, what will we face?
The answer lies with the membership. They must organise to face down the cowardice and manipulation of the bureaucracy. They defied the elite in the Party and elected Corbyn, twice. They can stop this McCarthyite circus by using their power in Branch and CLP meetings and at conference. The grassroots in the unions too.

picture

Frank

you are right in terms of procedure HOWEVER what Corbyn should have done when Chris was resuspended was speak out vigorously against Watson's petition from Lords and various rats and say, loudly and clearly, that Chris is not an anti-Semite and this attack is intolerable. He kept quiet and that is unforgivable

picture

The Labour Party did the same last year when they rescinded Miko Peled's valid pass and called the police to prevent him entering the conference in Liverpool.

picture

I eagerly await Asa Winstanley's report on this matter. He's the best journalist covering Britain's Labour Party from the perspective of Palestinian rights, and he's done more than any other to reveal the machinations of the Israeli embassy in the sordid "antisemitism crisis". Why the Israelis and their minions in Labour think that revoking his credentials will restrict his reporting or his readership is a mystery. Presumably, this move comes in the nature of a warning to other journalists, that they face a loss of access should their dispatches fail to meet Israel's standards. A decline in income, even blacklisting, may suggest themselves to employees of left-branded media companies should their reporting prove too focused. This is not the case with Asa, who will remain independent, and for mainstream corporate media the point hardly needs driving home. But for ambitious young journalists looking to make a career as anti-establishment figures, his banning may prove cautionary.

If there's a petition to sign on his behalf to the Labour Party, will someone post a link? And a list of those involved in this decision and those who will rule on any appeal would be appreciated by party members wishing to register their support for Asa.

picture

As a member of the Party I cannot believe that his pass has been revoked. It should be re-instated immediately. There are few sources accurately reporting the atrocities inflicted on the Palestinian people. It is time that the Party stopped attempting to placate those making bogus allegations against Party members and silencing those that would report the truth.

picture

And not forgetting that Ella Rose - un-named, and posing as an ordinary (Jewish) Labour Party member - kicked off the Panorama hatchet job, claiming that when she was handing out leaflets at a LP conference, someone came up to her and screamed abuse in her face, and then finishes by saying - and implying that she has been subjected to anti-semitic abuse at her local CLP meetings - that she "wouldn't tell a friend to go to a Labour Party meeting" and then, holding back tears of the crocodile variety, she says "I wouldn't do that to someone I cared about", implying of course that she hadn't told any of these friends about the anti-semitic abuse she had supposedly been subjected to at CLP meetings, which you would have of course if it had actually happened, and told them at the time(s) it happened, or shortly there-after AND wouldn't HAVE to tell them as such not to go to LP meetings. Needless to say, it was all abhorrent fabrication, as with the OTHER nine supposedly ordinary Jewish LP members who participated in the program, seven of whom were executive committee members of the Jewish Labour Movement, and one who was their former Campaign's Officer, who no doubt relinquished his position just prior to starting work on the Panorama program.

What I find extraordinary though is that none of the CLPs where they attended meetings appear to have refuted the claims. Izzy Lenga (who was the only one who mentioned her name), for example - who claimed that at meetings people said that "Hitler was right" and that "Hitler didn't go far enough", is involved with Chipping Barnet CLP, but they didn't say a dickybird about the Panorama program on their twitter page or refute the claims. And as if anyone who joined the LP and started attending their local CLP meetings and was subjected to anti-semitic abuse, would then continue to attend meetings and be subjected to more anti-semitic abuse. Of course you wouldn't. And yet just about all of them imply that THAT is what they did.

picture

Re VOTING for Labour's CAC (Conference Arrangements Committee this week, I read the CVs of the candidates presenting themselves for election: I then commented (as invited)
"Amongst all candidates I see only one specific supporter of Jeremy Corbyn - and no mention at all of the huge trouble being caused by the FAKE ANTISEMITISM caused - in particular, by Tom Watson, Dame Hodge and the so-called Friends of Israel Group - who have somehow managed to capture the powers of the NEC, without letting us know how - or why. They are also, very successfully fermenting REAL antisemitism amongst the general public. They are so full of hubris that they obviously see noi danger in this perilously extreme position.
Norman Finkelstein has, quite specifically, called them out.

I would like to see support for fair-speaking Jews - generally -and disgracefully - known as the 'Wrong Jews' to be found in the Jewish Voice for Labour - and in other - more surprising places - such as amongst the younger Orthodox Jews.

The CAC has an incredibly important job in giving Public Voice to the Truth, coupled with solutions which will help us to support and retain the loyalty of those invaluable - and totally innocent - Labour members - such as Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson, Mike Sivier and others - who have been sacrificed to the monstrous lies of their accusers.
Until I know that the Conference Arrangements Committee is totally informed as well as being judicially & properly disinterested in the merits and lack of merits in those who address the conference, I am not willing to vote.
I hope you will inform the candidates of my response.
I am posting my reply to Facebook."

picture

Yes, but Jill, how can THEY, or anyone else for that matter, give public voice to the truth, when not only is the MSM hostile to Jeremy and the left - as it has been for the past four years or so - but has been complicit and conspired in disseminating the false narrative about anti-semitism in the Labour Party? On the one occasion (that I can think of) when the LP DID 'respond', and denounced the Panorama program, as such, they were condemned for attacking the "brave" former staffers who so "courageously" spoke out about it etc, etc. And every time Ken (Livingstone) tried to explain that he was, in passing, just alluding to an historical fact when he said that Hitler supported Zionism - ie the Haavara Agreement - he was just condemned AGAIN for repeating his 'vile anti-semitic poison', or words to that effect. And look what happened to Chris (Williamson) when he called out all the bogus claims of anti-semitism, or Pete Willsman, for that matter, albeit an obvious set-up the second time, and when he was obviously one or two the worse for wear. It's a no-win situation, and the MSM are hardly gonna give the LP a fair hearing AND as such, expose the lies and falsehoods that THEY have been part and parcel of disseminating to the public.

Add new comment

Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.