A renowned Israeli anti-Zionist was expelled from Labour on Tuesday, as the party bureaucracy falsely accused him of anti-Semitism.
Retired philosophy professor Moshé Machover told The Electronic Intifada that the expulsion by the UK’s main opposition party was a “clear violation of natural justice,” was “Stalinist” and “completely undemocratic.”
He said he would be taking legal advice and was considering whether to appeal the decision.
Machover is well known in scholarly and Palestine solidarity circles as an activist and a co-founder of Matzpen, a group of dissident Israeli socialists active in the 1960s and 1970s. He has lived in London since 1968.
A spokesperson for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said they do not comment on disciplinary cases.
But The Electronic Intifada understands the leader’s office is in fact looking into the expulsion.
In a letter from Labour’s “Head of Disputes,” Machover was told that an article he had written “appears to meet the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.”
Both the letter and the article can be read in full below.
The article, “Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism,” was published in a bulletin by the group Labour Party Marxists and handed out at the party’s conference last week.
Machover said it “won a lot of response at conference” and “very positive and widespread agreement.” This put the right of the party on the defensive, and they are now lashing out, he said.
In the article, Machover argued that in Labour, a “campaign of equating opposition to Zionism with anti-Semitism has, in fact, been carefully orchestrated with the help of the Israeli government.”
Machover also critically quoted Reinhard Heydrich, one of Hitler’s most notorious lieutenants, who he said in 1935 wrote that the Nazi “government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, so-called Zionism.”
Sam Matthews, the Labour official who wrote expelling Machover, did not specify which part of the article he claimed was anti-Semitic.
Mann, who has been a leading opponent of left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn, claimed that the group’s “scurrilous publication, which contains anti-Semitic material, is good only for the recycling bin.”
The Times report misquoted the bulletin, claiming it “discussed the ‘commonality between Zionists and Nazis’ ” – the article in fact contains no such quote.
The report also failed to mention the fact that Machover is an Israeli Jew, and falsely implied that he had quoted the Nazi official approvingly.
Machover told The Electronic Intifada that he had quoted “the great monster Heydrich” to discuss the undisputed historical links between a Zionist minority of German Jews in the 1930s and the Nazi Party.
Machover was expelled rather than suspended because the Labour bureaucracy claims he has violated party rules by writing articles for the Weekly Worker, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
“Membership or support for another political party” is grounds for immediate expulsion, the letter states.
Speaking to The Electronic Intifada, Machover said he was not member of either the Communist Party of Great Britain or Labour Party Marxists.
The latter group asked to use his article and he agreed. The Weekly Worker is an “open forum” which is very democratic in its publication policy, he said. He has spoken at some of the Communist Party of Great Britain’s meetings.
He told The Electronic Intifada that he also spoke at elite private school Eton College some years ago: “I went there. Am I associated with Eton? I don’t know! If people invite me to talk about Israel/Palestine, I usually respond. That’s what I do.”
Mounting a tenacious but futile attempt to stay in control, the right wing of the party has teamed up with Israel lobby groups such as Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement to smear supporters of Palestinian rights as anti-Semites.
The letter to Machover marks the first known time Labour Party officials have cited the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s document containing a “working definition” of anti-Semitism as a justification for “formal notice of investigation.”
Until now, Labour’s leadership has only endorsed a two-sentence definition of anti-Semitism, contained in the controversial document, which does not mention Israel. This letter appears to contradict that distinction.
The document could also define advocating for a single, democratic state in historic Palestine, in which Jews, Muslims and Christians have full and equal rights, as anti-Semitism, because under the terms of the definition that could be construed as “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”
Updated since initial publication.
- Labour Party
- Moshe Machover
- Jeremy Corbyn
- John Mann
- Mike Katz
- International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
- Labour Party Marxists
- Jewish Labour Movement
- Communist Party of Great Britain
- Communist Party of Britain
- Weekly Worker
- Morning Star
- IHRA definition of anti-Semitism
- Labour witch hunt