Has the UK’s “Labour anti-Semitism” probe been rigged?

The Jewish Labour Movement’s lawyer James Libson belongs to a firm that has represented the Israeli prime minister and embassy in the UK.

Lisi Niesner Reuters

The UK’s official equality watchdog is facing questions over its impartiality after it was revealed that one of its commissioners failed to declare financial links to the ruling Conservative Party.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) last year launched an investigation into the Labour Party amid accusations that it is institutionally anti-Semitic.

Newsweek has revealed that EHRC commissioner Pavita Cooper made donations totaling $4,400 to the Conservative Party.

Cooper’s donation was not declared when she took up the role in 2018.

Cooper and her husband also hosted a fundraising event for their local Conservative member of Parliament.

The investigation into Labour was launched at the request of two pro-Israel lobby groups in May 2019. It is expected to report sometime this summer.

The supposedly impartial watchdog also appointed one of the same groups’ leaders to its panel of legal advisers mere days before it announced its probe of Labour.

The Jewish Labour Movement’s vice chair Sarah Sackman said she was “delighted” to have been given the post.

A spokesperson for Sackman at her law firm denied to The Electronic Intifada that she had discussed the investigation with anyone at the EHRC at any stage. “Her appointment to the panel was entirely independent and unrelated,” he said.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn charged in an interview with Middle East Eye that the Conservative government has in recent years politicized the EHRC.

The Tories “decided to take away its independent status and make it part of the government machine,” Corbyn said last month.

Last year, after the EHRC first announced it may investigate Labour’s anti-Semitism “crisis,” activists said it was “part of the witch hunt against Jeremy Corbyn.”

The first of the two pro-Israel organizations that referred Labour to the EHRC was right-wing anti-Palestinian group the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

It was founded in 2014 during that year’s Israeli war against the people of the Gaza Strip, in order to shield Israel by smearing critics of its actions as anti-Semitic.

In December the group claimed to have “slaughtered” Corbyn after Labour’s general election defeat. The group then attempted to have the video of these disturbing comments removed from the internet.

The second group that referred Labour to the EHRC is the Jewish Labour Movement – a Zionist organization affiliated to Labour which acted as a proxy for the Israeli embassy during its long war against Jeremy Corbyn.

One Jewish Labour Movement activist last year tweeted out an article claiming that Labour “risks bankruptcy” – from the same investigation his group had helped instigate.

For years the Jewish Labour Movement smeared its own party as anti-Semitic, as a political weapon against Corbyn, the left-wing leader many supporters of Israel despised.

Having insisted that Labour was “insitutionally anti-Semitic” under Corbyn – a false allegation that it repeated in its submission to the EHRC – the Jewish Labour Movement has now abruptly decided that “we are not going to get the answer to the question ‘is Labour institutionally anti-Semitic.’”

With the former leader now safely out of the way and his successor Keir Starmer purging the party of the left, the Jewish Labour Movement no longer needs to destroy the leadership.

Left-wing group Jewish Voice for Labour called the Jewish Labour Movement’s submission to the EHRC, “gossip, distortion, double standards and presumed guilt.”

More links to Israel

Last year, the day after the EHRC announced the start of its formal investigation, the Jewish Labour Movement told its members that “a problem of leadership and culture” meant that Labour had become a party which “discriminates against Jews and that it has become an unsafe space for them.”

In an email to members obtained by The Electronic Intifada, the Jewish Labour Movement said that it had “retained top law firm Mishcon de Reya” to represent it to the EHRC – led by James Libson.

Mishcon de Reya is the high-profile law firm that represented Princess Diana in her divorce from Prince Charles.

But it has also repeatedly represented the government of Israel and other Israeli bodies in the UK.

Libson himself has been part of the Mishcon legal team in at least two cases against the boycott of Israel.

In 2012 this writer witnessed him watching in a London court room as the Israel lobby accused the University and College Union of supposed “institutional anti-Semitism” – the same false charge now brought against the Labour Party.

“Institutional anti-Semitism”

The University and College Union was completely vindicated in 2013, when the case against it failed on all counts.

The judge famously dismissed the complaint as “an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means,” and threw out claims that opposition to Zionism was inherently anti-Semitic.

“It would be very unfortunate if an exercise of this sort were ever repeated,” judge A. M. Snelson warned. His advice seemed to have been ignored.

The second known anti-Palestinian case pursued on behalf of Israel by Libson was that of Moty Cristal.

An Israeli army colonel, Cristal sued public sector union Unison as well as the National Health Service after they declined his offer to host a workshop on “negotiations.”

The case was ultimately dropped.

Former Jewish Labour Movement chair Jeremy Newmark (who resigned in disgrace in 2018 amid serious financial irregularities) was also deeply involved in the Israel lobby’s case against the academics and teachers’ union.

In 2012, Newmark told an Israeli newspaper that he and his Israel lobby group of the time – the Jewish Leadership Council – were “liaising closely with the government of Israel” on the Cristal case.

At a conference in 2011, Newmark told pro-Israel activists to join political parties “and become a voice for Israel.”

You can watch his comments in the video above. It was obtained by The Electronic Intifada but was later deleted by conference organizers from YouTube.

Newmark was a leading force in the 2015 revival of the Jewish Labour Movement specifically to fight Corbyn.

The group’s main strategy was to smear Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semitic – and it worked.

The campaign involved increasingly thuggish tactics over the years before Newmark was forced out.

Islamophobia and the Tories

Huda Elmi, a left-wing member of Labour’s ruling national executive, last year said the EHRC should be abolished.

She later backpedaled.

As well as the Newsweek revelation, communist newspaper The Morning Star ran a series of exposés last year of a string of conflicts of interest at the EHRC.

Journalist Phil Miller revealed a litany of the body’s financial ties to the Conservative Party and the government.

Perhaps the clearest sign so far of the EHRC’s institutional bias against Labour is how it has repeatedly refused to investigate the Conservatives for their endemic bigotry against Muslims, even while investigating Labour for supposed anti-Semitism.

Writing for The Financial Times, Trevor Phillips – a former EHRC chair who has himself made Islamophobic comments for years without consequence – insisted that his ex-colleagues should “ignore protests that the Conservative Party should also be investigated for Islamophobia,” because it would be “aiding and abetting anti-Semitism.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has attacked Muslim women as “letter boxes.”

One poll last year showed that almost two-thirds of Conservative Party members consider Islam a “threat to Western civilization.” And 43 percent of those polled said they would refuse to accept a Muslim prime minister.

By comparison, even polling commissioned by the Campaign Against Antisemitism confirms that the Labour Party is one of the least likely to have members with any anti-Semitic views.

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It's a big mistake to claim a courtroom victory vindicates a positon you support. The obvious implication is that a courtroom defeat vindicates the position you oppose. In real life, those who gloat that their legal victories show them right will unselfconsciously reject verdicts that don't go their way as miscarriages of justice in a classic heads-I-win-tails-you-lose manoeuvre, conclusively demonstrating their underlying contempt for The Rule Of Law™ and undermining their original premise that some judge's or jury's opinion proves their correctness. They are, of course, quite right to hold the Law in contempt, but it would behove them to do so explicitly and consistently.

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Zionists will try anything. Truman recorded in his memoirs that never had he received so much pressure and propaganda as over the UN partition resolution. The day before the resolution was passed, the CIA issued a secret report arguing that the Zionists would not accept the boundaries but would push for more territory. Had the vote taken place before the pressure was permitted to build- "every form of pressure direct and indirect" Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles said -the UN would have upheld its charter and defeated the resolution which denied the Palestinians statehood. Truman's delay permitted the Zionists to get their way.The enormity of this should not be played down: the Zionists see every institution, every international body, every court, every political party even the local nursery as a tool to be used to secure their nefarious aim of total control of Palestine. At the core of Zionism is utter contempt for democracy and compromise. There can be no compromise: Palestine is theirs. They have messianic title. The Bible is their deed. Sadly, God doesn't offer tribunals. The EHRC is being misused. just as the Zionists have misused the Nazi genocide. A body like the EHRC assumes complaints will be honest and based on real injury. The claim Labour is institutionally racist is a farce. However, Mrs Hodge deserves to be called a racist. She is major shareholder in a company (Stemcor) which made a fortune from apartheid. She claims the money she received from SA investments was donated to charity. Which? She can't remember. She is a millionairess from her dividends. She, who claims her being is non-racist, who accuses Corbyn of being an f....racist, has profited from the vile practice of SA racism. Thus, the anti-racist is portrayed as a racist by a woman who has gained from racism and the media act as her stenographer. All this will come out in the wash and she will be condemned by posterity, as Corbyn will be exonerated. On we go.

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I love the Electronic Intifada! Good reporting. Fearless. Asa Winstanley would have been better than Corbyn

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Asa Winstanley would have got the same smears that Corbyn had. Look how many Guardian articles their were on smearing Corbyn an online newspaper thet is supposed to be left-wing

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.