Spectacular defeat for Israel lobby at Labour Party conference

Man in hat wears Palestinian headscarf and facemask in colors of Palestinian flag

The flag of Palestine is seen on T-shirts and face coverings of Labour Party delegates during the British opposition party’s annual conference in southern English resort city of Brighton, 27 September.

Julie Edwards Avalon

In a spectacular defeat for the Israel lobby, delegates to Britain’s Labour Party conference overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Monday condemning the “ongoing Nakba in Palestine.”

Calling for sanctions and an arms embargo, the resolution highlights recent reports by human rights groups concluding “unequivocally that Israel is practicing the crime of apartheid as defined by the UN.”

“We welcome this important and historic motion which represents a significant step for the Labour Party in acknowledging the reality of the system of apartheid imposed by Israel on Palestinians,” said Kamel Hawwash, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

“Despite huge pressure imposed on Labour to reverse policy commitments made at conference in 2018 and 2019, this demonstrates the strength of solidarity with the Palestinian people amongst Labour’s grassroots members and within the trade union movement,” Hawwash added.

“It is time impunity ended and accountability started.”

The resolution backs the International Criminal Court investigation into war crimes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

It endorses other “effective measures” as “called for by Palestinian civil society” – an affirmation of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to end Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights and international law.

It also explicitly affirms “the right of Palestinian people, as enshrined in international law, to return to their homes.”

Israel and its supporters oppose letting Palestinian refugees return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled or fled just because they are not Jews.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee, the steering group for the international boycott campaign, also hailed the “landmark motion.”
The annual party conference is where the main opposition Labour Party votes on the policies that it is supposed to implement when in government. In practice, however, the leadership often ignores the will of the party’s grassroots.

Nonetheless Monday’s vote signals that years of purges and bogus anti-Semitism smears aimed at stamping out support for Palestinian rights have failed.

“The motion passed on a ‘show of hands,’ so overwhelmingly that its opponents didn’t even bother asking for a recount or card vote,” the left-wing news site The Skwawkbox reported.

The vote came “a day after many delegates were browbeaten and intimidated into passing support for the party’s ‘dangerous’ new disciplinary rules designed to prevent free speech on the conduct of Israel,” The Skwawkbox added.

Since the 2015 election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, the party’s right-wing along with Israel lobby groups have mounted a years-long campaign to smear, suspend and expel members who support Palestinian rights.

Despite Corbyn’s 2019 ouster, the right has continued the purge, culminating in the recent expulsion of globally acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach.

Corbyn’s replacement, Keir Starmer, won the party leadership after a campaign funded with Israel lobby money.

After taking office, Starmer moved immediately to shift the Labour Party in a sharply pro-Israel direction.

Israel lobby groups expressed anger after Monday’s vote.

Lawmaker Steve McCabe, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said the resolution was “completely unacceptable, grossly inaccurate and morally repugnant” and that it “propagates the apartheid smear.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews endorsed that attack on the resolution.

Israel lobbyists continued their smear tactics Monday, making it unambiguously clear that they fully equate criticism of Israel and solidarity with Palestinians, on the one hand, with anti-Jewish bigotry, on the other.

Their frustration is understandable. Politicians like Starmer can be bullied and bought, but ordinary Labour members are proving that their commitment to Palestinian rights and solidarity runs broad and deep.

Tags

Comments

picture

Well, before we all get too enthusiastic about this we might ask who are Labour UK in 2021? All the anti-Zionist Jews have been forced out of the party and practically anyone with ANY chance of winning an election. Labour UK is dead. Turning policy around now is too late. It is a party of turncoats with the likes of Keir Starmer who is an absolute nobody and certainly not a democrat, and despicable Ruth Smeeth, the hysteric or perhaps a CIA agent or something closer to Israeli 'intelligence'. And what are their other policies because the only reason Israel interfered in British election anyway is to preserve neoliberalism? No, I won't be cheering, though it is unexpected, but I doubt it will translate into policy ever.

picture

Such is the gulf between Labour's grassroots and its leadership and hence the desperate attempts by Starmer and his guard-dogs to close down on democracy. Evans made the astonishing remark that his responsibilities trumped members' rights: pure Stalinism - the Party represents the people, I represent the Party, therefore I represent the people and shall be obeyed. What is truly eye-watering is that these people seem to have not a glimmer of awareness that they are rehearsing totalitarianism and that their behaviour would be at home in Orwell's most sobering pages. The hysteria from the Israeli lobby is all too predictable, and pathetic. Akehurst challenging the well-established, thoroughly evidence-based view that Israel is a classic settler-colonial project is the measure of their intellectual vacuity, moral depravity and psychological instability. Make no mistake though, the leadership will not enact the motion. There will be huge pressure from the B o D, the CST, LFI and various sententious Rabbis who appear on R4's thought for the day spouting cant about brotherhood and equality while supporting the IDF's murder of Palestinian children. Starmer will wilt. He will not face down the lies of the followers of Herzl for a second. The members will be ignored, there will be more suspensions and expulsions and Starmer will reiterate his unequivocal support for Israel. Note too that the MSM have said virtually nothing about this resolution. Most people have no idea it was passed. On the other hand, everyone knows that Rachel Reeves is very ambitious and has an ego the size of a continent. The common folk speak and the MSM put on the gag. A sharp-elbowed, mendacious place-seeker speaks and they fawn to give her air time and column yards. For the common folk to prevail, which is called democracy, Starmer must be defeated because he stands for what is called authoritarianism, and worse, the nasty viciousness of the Israeli State.

picture

Regardless of the naysayers , I applaud the Labour Party grass roots for standing up for democracy,
not only in the UK but also for Palestine. Today ,the big elephant in the room , was exposed for the world to see ,regardless whether the MSM / BBC reported on it.
Although not a UK citizen , I for one am today pleased with the Labour party membership for standing up to the big money lobby group influencing UK politics .

picture

Regardless of the strangehold that the right of the Labour Party has always exercised over internal democracy, the Resolution has passed and, I for one, am cheering!! Well done to all those who have had the stomach to remain in the Party and fight for this. Nobody has illusions about the 'leadership' but this will make it harder for them to pursue their false allegations of anti-Jewish bigotry and whip up a 'moral panic' based on lies. Solidarity with the trade unions who stood firm on the issue, many of whose members have visited Palestine under the auspices of the PSC. Once seen, never forgotten. Going to Palestine is a life-changing experience.

picture

Keir Starmer comes down as a rabid and ultraconservative antisemitic pogrom zionist. For sucking up to evangelical fascist fiend horde affiliated lobby scums and persecuting progressive Jews, who dare to protest Israels genocidal rule of terror against Palestinians, out of his own party, he himself first among all should be purged and chastised into oblivion. Having fawningly and fiendishly abetted the impending, but perhaps still checkable, Israeli genocide schemes against Palestinians, he shall never ever be forgiven or forgotten. Starmers pathetic but Stalinist purges against so called "antisemites" proves however beyond dispute two things. A): That the opposition force in British politics finally has totally abdicated and effaced itself into oblivion. B): That democracy in general and that one within the so called Labour party in particular is dead as a door-nail. It obviously requires a new vicious, protracted suffragist struggle against the evil Murdoch empire in order to be revived and rebooted.

picture

That B r i t i s h democracy in general and that one within the so called "Labor party" in particular is dead as a door-nail.

picture

I do not understand how and why the pro-Israel lobby groups are allowed to hold the power they do in British politics (or US politics for that matter). How did we get to the position where agencies of a foreign state are able to determine the political landscape of the UK with such impunity? Time for a wake up call.

picture

... B r i t i s h democracy...

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.