Labour has investigated the director of one of its affiliated pro-Israel organizations for “threatening to attack” another member of the UK’s main opposition party.
Director of the Jewish Labour Movement Ella Rose had been caught on camera saying her critics should “die in a hole.”
But the investigation was closed after just nine days when General Secretary Iain McNicol claimed on Tuesday that Rose’s comments did not constitute a threat.
One of the individuals who lodged the complaint accused McNicol of a “whitewash.”
Seven party members had written earlier in February to McNicol complaining about Rose’s conduct, after her comments were exposed by the undercover Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby that aired in January.
“As female members of the party who happen to be Jewish and supporters of Palestinian rights, we wish to make a formal complaint against Ms. Rose for the statements and behavior shown in the film,” they wrote in the complaint.
Rose is a former public affairs officer at the Israeli embassy, a fact which was exposed by The Electronic Intifada in September.
The Al Jazeera film shows Rose reacting angrily to The Electronic Intifada’s revelation. Using expletives, she refers to her critics as “anti-Semites, the lot of them.”
The women wrote to McNicol that Rose’s behavior “calls into question her suitability as head of an affiliated Labour Party grouping” as well as her selection in November for the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Program.
Named after the Labour member of Parliament who was murdered by a white supremacist Nazi sympathizer last year, the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Program aims to advance women in more roles within the party.
“In our view,” the complaint read, Rose’s “continued presence as part of the program would discredit both it and the Labour Party at a time when we need to demonstrate that we are building a democratic, accessible party based on equality and mutual respect.”
McNicol replied on Tuesday that he had “conducted an investigation into the allegations which you made,” conceding that “some of the language which Ms. Rose is filmed using does fall below the standards expected of Labour Party members.”
But he wrote that since Rose had “made clear” to him that “she was not a violent person” and had been “engaged in a private conversation with someone she considered to be a friend,” that “Ms. Rose’s comments did not constitute a threat.”
McNicol concluded that Rose “has been reminded of the conduct expected of party members” but said that she had not been in breach of the rule book. “As such, the Labour Party considers this matter closed,” McNicol wrote.
Rose was shown in the Al Jazeera documentary speaking to an undercover reporter expressing a wish for violent revenge against her enemies.
“I saw Jackie Walker on Saturday and thought, you know what, I could take her, she’s like 5’2 and tiny,” Rose said in September.
“That’s why I can take Jackie Walker. Krav Maga training,” she said, referring to the Israeli army hand-to-hand fighting technique. “I’m not bad at it. If it came to it I would win, that’s all I really care about.”
Walker is a long-time anti-racist and anti-Zionist Jewish activist in Labour.
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, one of the party members who complained, told The Electronic Intifada that the swiftness of McNicol’s investigation into Rose “contrasts markedly with the drawn out process of inquisition for others against whom complaints have been made” for allegedly bringing the party into disrepute.
“For Ella Rose, context is everything,” said Wimborne-Idrissi, “whereas for Jackie Walker no consideration has been given for the context in which her allegedly contentious remarks were made. Those remarks were also secretly filmed at an ostensibly safe training session” at the party conference in September.
Advocating for Israel
The Jewish Labour Movement is close to the Israeli government, and its chair, Jeremy Newmark, has a long history of involvement in the UK’s pro-Israel lobby.
It has promoted a discredited definition of anti-Semitism which includes criticism of Israel’s state ideology, Zionism.
She is currently suing the Labour Party in an attempt to have her suspension lifted.
Rose did not reply to a request for comment. The Jewish Labour Movement said it would issue a response, but it was not forthcoming by time of publication.