Update, 16:30 GMT: Just after this story was published, fellow EI blogger Jala Abukhater pointed out to me that Vinson appears to have de-activated his entire Twitter account. Update 2, 19 Jan: Vinson’s Twitter account has been re-activated.
Since the story of the Labour party students officers who took an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel and its illegal West Bank settlements broke last week, they have been coming under increasing pressure from student activists. It has caused a strong negative reaction in the wider student body in the UK, which is generally sympathetic to the Palestinians, and critical toward Israeli war crimes and apartheid.
I understand that party members in one local Labour Students group are planning a no-confidence vote in an officer who took the free propaganda tour.
But strong evidence has now emerged the delegation spent a night clubbing in Tel Aviv with a spokesperson for the Israeli occupation army in the West Bank.
Captain Barak Raz, an Israeli spokesperson who energetically posts army propaganda on Twitter and Facebook, wrote that “partying is always fun too” and he had been “Honored 2b taking out young political leadership [sic.]” concluding with the hashtag #telaviv. The tweet was a reply directed at delegation member Joe Vinson, who had written of being “very glad” to meet Captain Raz.
Cocktails in Tel Aviv
In one of her now deleted tweets another Labour Students delegation member from around the same time, Ruth Brewer, mentioned “enjoying cocktails in Tel Aviv” (screenshot in previous article) although none of the students seems to have written about doing so with the Captain. She also boasted of a “short cut through the West Bank”. Palestinians are routinely forced to queue for hours on end at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank.
I emailed Joe Vinson on Friday with a link to the tweet, and asked if what the Captain had written was true. Sometime between then and Monday afternoon, the tweet was deleted. But by then I had already taken the screenshot above.
Calls and voice mail to Vinson’s office enquiring if he had asked Captain Raz to delete the tweet have not been returned. Vinson previously described Captain Raz’s presentation to them as “unbiased”, despite the fact that he’s openly employed to do PR for the Israeli army.