Jewish anti-Zionist sues Labour over suspension

Jackie Walker

A Jewish anti-Zionist who has been suspended from Labour is suing the party’s general secretary for what she says was a breach of data protection laws.

Jackie Walker told The Electronic Intifada on Monday that her case was only one of many such breaches made by the party bureaucracy in the UK over the last year.

Her lawyer Martin Howe wrote to The Electronic Intifada: “Jackie Walker has faced a barrage of hurtful, threatening and nasty abuse since the private details of her investigation by the Labour Party over alleged anti-Semitism was leaked to the press before even she knew of her suspension by the party.”

He said the breach “led directly to her being prejudged and unfairly cast as a racist before she was given any opportunity to tell her side of the story.”

Walker on Monday launched a crowd-funding campaign to cover legal costs.

She said she hoped the case would force an “immediate revamping of the Compliance Unit and the way it operates.”

Purges

Under the authority of party general secretary Iain McNicol, the unit has been responsible for a purge of Labour members over the summer – most of them supporters of left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The party has reportedly admitted that one percent of its eligible membership – approximately 5,000 people – was disqualified from voting in the summer’s leadership election campaign.

But according to the newspaper Morning Star, some estimates say the true figure could be as high as 5 or 10 percent.

Weeks before Corbyn decisively won re-election as party leader in September, his allies expressed concern about a “rigged purge” aimed at his supporters.

For most of 2016, Corbyn has faced an exaggerated and in some cases fabricated media narrative about an “anti-Semitism crisis” in the Labour Party.

Walker was briefly suspended from the party in May after decontextualized comments from what she had thought was a private Facebook conversation were sent by a pro-Israel group to The Jewish Chronicle.

Without investigation, the Labour Party suspended Walker as soon as “the JC brought her comments to the party’s attention,” the paper boasted.

No case to answer

It is this “unfair” briefing of the press which forms the crux of Walker’s legal case against McNicol, she said. She first found out about her suspension from press reports.

After a grassroots campaign pressed McNicol to rescind Walker’s suspension, the party found that the long-time anti-racism activist had no case to answer and she was readmitted.

But she was suspended again earlier this month, after a member of the Jewish Labour Movement executive filmed questions she asked at a training on anti-Semitism at the Labour Party conference in September.

Walker said she could not work with the politicized anti-Semitism definition the JLM promoted at the training, and said it would be good if all peoples who have experienced holocausts could be recognized by Holocaust Memorial Day.

The video was then leaked to the right-wing newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

Another media storm ensued and Walker was suspended from Labour and removed from her role as vice chair of the left-wing Corbyn support organization Momentum.

“Hooligans”

In September, Morning Star columnist Charley Allan was suspended from the party. At first he was given no reason why, but after he pressed McNicol and his staff, the Compliance Unit cited four Tweets.

In one of those Tweets he wrote “#AntizionismIsNot­Antisemitic.”

In another, he wrote: “Confused by #LabourCoup? Wonder why Blairite hooligans would rather smash up @UKLabour than let @jeremycorbyn win?”

He attached a meme of Tony Blair’s notorious quote about not wanting “to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform.”

As one of many members campaigning against unjust suspensions in the party, Allan has called for the current general secretary to step down: “To wipe the slate properly clean, McNicol must go.”

Allan told The Electronic Intifada on Monday that “Jackie’s legal challenge is important because it looks like this is the only way she’s going to get any justice.”

He said that “this is just another example of the right wing using false claims of anti-semitism as a weapon against the left.”

“We need a full investigation into the purge,” he said. “With general secretary Iain McNicol personally abusing his powers by suspending us all without any hearings, his position is now untenable.”

In perhaps the most stark example of the party machinery’s over-zealous policing of speech, one Labour member was suspended for writing on Facebook, “I fucking love the Foo Fighters,” a famous rock band.

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Comments

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Labour needs to be forced into taking a position on Palestine. Leaving accusations of anti-semitism unchallenged will make it impossible to discuss Israel and the occupation once Labour is in power. The issues needs to be cleared up now. Thank you Jackie for being one of the few of us who have dared to stand up to Israeli Zionist bullying and to the Blairite neo-liberal plotters.

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Is there a strategy to make the policy a reality without alienating Jewish members of the party and the general public?

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Nobody should be fooled: this zealous Labour right wing has been orchestrated by the Likud and Netanyahu fadcist tentacular, powerful propagaganda machine.
It was so powerful, using shamelessly the fabricated 'one bullet-kill-all' anti semitism diffamatory accusation, that even a very strong willed and perspicace leader like Jeremy Corbyn lost momentarily his punch and gave latitude to the pro Zionist Ian McNicol to launch a true purgatory 'witch hunt'.

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I support Jacqueline Walker 100%. Labour's Compliance Unit and Iain McNichol, Labour's General Secretary, MUST be made to answer for their awful policy of mass suspensions and the mass purging of all those who were targeted for suspension because they have been very vocal in their support for Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader. And also, for all those who were suspended, because they were falsely accused of anti-semitism for speaking out against the appalling policies of the Netanyahu led, right-wing Israeli Government. For this, Iain McNichol and Labour's 'McCarthyite' Compliance Unit MUST GO! Good luck and solidarity to Jacqueline Walker.

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I had the very same experience a Jackie, details of the allegations against me being leaked to the national media before I found out.

I am also taking advice in regard to suing the LP under the Data Protection Act. If Jackie is willing I'm willing to join her in the case.

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Tony, thank you for your most informative and tireless campaigning. Your blogs are excellent and have been uplifting during these dark days politically. We must all campaign in every possible way, to get those Labour Party members who were suspended because they were falsely accused of anti- semitism on the most spurious of grounds, reinstated with an apology. And also campaign for the reinstatement of the many hundreds of other suspended members, who were purged, in an attempt to vastly reduce the number of LP members who were able to vote for the 2nd time for Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader. I wish you luck in your campaign. Solidarity to Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker!

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Any group that at one time had war criminal Tony Blairigula as its head is no group that I would want to join.

I know, I know, one has to be nice to the little fascists, to turn them from their wicked ways. The down side to all that is the type of stunt they are pulling with Ms. Walker. She should ditch the party and pursue the course that George Galloway pursued.

At the very least Corbyn should clean house. The detritus is weighing it down. Time to dump some wee fascists.

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Interesting article. Yes, anti-Zionism is NOT anti-Judaism. As for the term "anti-semitism," it is constantly misused. Palestinians are Semites. The Jews of Israel are not...they came from America, Russia, Europe, being mainly Askanazis. DNA proves this. So if one is anti-Semitic, s/he is prejudiced against Arabs. And then there's this: "He attached a meme of Tony Blair’s notorious quote...." For heaven's sake writers should stop using the word "meme" when it obvious they doesn't know the definition. Here it's completely misused.

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My Father worked in the White House in the forties (HST). He was not
running it. I played on the dirty green floor of what had been in its day
the War Department, the State Department and today after renovation
functions as the Vice President's Office. I just remember the dirty
green floor. I was a little boy...Because Dad worked a White House employee
he was compelled to sign a "loyalty oath". He was not a "commie" as
the distinguished Secretary of State Dean Acheson called our former allies in WW II in a hearing before the US Senate.

I urge Mr. Corbyn to keep his head (the British understand this
phrase better than I) and not to join in the witch hunts of those
spreading hate, the so-called (pro)Zionists.

This depends on a profound understanding that Zionism does not
represent world Jewry at all. In fact, most Jews have elected NOT
to go to Palestine but elsewhere if possible. Professor Maxime Rodinson's
family fled the oppression in Russia to Paris. Despite Leo Pinsker
and others, only a few hundred went to Palestine. Tens of thousands
wanted to go to an America decades before the immigration restrictions
(early 1920's), Time and again, Jews have CHOSEN the "diaspora".
(Rodinson, due to his knowledge of Arabic, was in Lebanon during the
Nazi occupation of France and stayed there. His parents were eventually
killed in occupied France.)

---Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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Well done Jackie Walker, you are brave & strong and are helping to highlight this ongoing distracting and foolish action, which I see as a huge 'own goal' as it gives an opportunity to highlight the urgent need for justice for ALL Palestinians whether they are refugees inside or outside the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza. Those who are organising and part of the witch-hunt within Labour appear to be supporting the status quo within Palestine & Israel, including the demolitions of Palestinian homes while illegal Israeli settlements continue to grow on Palestinian land unabated, just one example of this huge injustice. I agree with Jon it is also important to be clear who Jackie is taking action against.

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All these antisemitism charges are pure BS, as anyone with a brain knows. Yet the mainstream media, including the BBC and C4, report it as though there really are a load of antisemites in Labour - this only proves that the media is influenced (to put it mildly (controlled might be a better word)) by the Israel Lobby and other powerful groups.
Mainstream 'news' is little more than propaganda.

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There's an ugliness about the labour establishment,atm.I hope it changes/is changed.
I was going to say what a welcome difference facts make as demonstrated above.Love it!
And good luck to Jackie Walker!

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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.