Labour purges defenders of Palestinians

Keir Starmer is expelling those who disagree with his unqualified support for Zionism.

John Sibley Reuters

Labour, the UK’s main opposition party, is purging left-wing members who disagree with its anti-Palestinian policies.

Academic David Miller told The Electronic Intifada he quit the party on Monday, objecting to many of its MPs’ “Islamophobic ideology and anti-Black and anti-Palestinian racism.”

Party bureaucrats also expelled Becky Massey, a Palestine solidarity activist in the city of Brighton, earlier this month, she has confirmed.

And in the Wavertee area of Liverpool, four anti-racism activists have been suspended from Labour after criticizing a pro-Israel article written by their local MP, Paula Barker.

In a Jewish Telegraph article, Barker had claimed that the departure from the party of their previous MP, Luciana Berger, “was a shock,” which was down to “the scourge of anti-Semitism within our ranks.”

Berger in 2019 quit in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, one of a group claiming the party was systemically anti-Semitic.

But in a bulletin for local Labour members, the “Wavertree Four” countered that local opposition to Berger had been down to purely political differences and had nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

Nina Houghton, Helen Dickson, Kevin Bean and Hazuan Hashim wrote that Paula Barker had “reiterated the inaccurate and factionally motivated position on anti-Semitism” which had been used to “seriously undermine Labour’s socialist program during the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.”

It was apparently this objection that got them suspended.

Smear campaign

Labour under Corbyn lost December’s general election. A four-and-a-half year smear campaign run by the pro-Israel lobby – which continuously alleged that Labour was anti-Semitic– contributed to that loss.

One leading Israel lobbyist claimed they had “slaughtered” Corbyn.

Paula Barker had also written in her Jewish Telegraph piece that she supports “Israel’s right to exist” and the definition of anti-Semitism endorsed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a grouping of 34 governments.

The Wavertree Four replied quoting another, left-wing Jewish member who stated that “the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is deeply flawed. It is clearly designed to protect the Israeli state from legitimate criticism.”

The misleading and politically motivated IHRA definition is widely promoted by Israel and its lobby. It includes “examples” of anti-Semitism which conflate criticism of Israel’s political ideology, Zionism, with anti-Jewish hatred.

Although the four criticized the IHRA definition, which Labour fully embraced in 2018, they did not comment on Israel’s supposed “right to exist.”

The notion that Israel as a state has an abstract “right to exist” goes against basic precepts of democracy and international law. Israel has no more “right to exist” than, for example, East Germany or the United Kingdom.

Suspended

The Wavertree Four were suspended from the party at the end of May, after details of their article in the bulletin were leaked to the press.

Labour’s new leader Keir Starmer has said that he supports “Zionism without qualification.”

A former director of Labour Friends of Israel, Luciana Berger quit Labour in February 2019, to join the short-lived Independent Group of breakaway Labour and Conservative MPs. All lost their seats in Parliament in December’s general election.

The group had claimed that Labour under Corbyn was “institutionally anti-Semitic.” It was also funded by David Garrard, a long-term Israel lobby financier.

The Wavertree Four wrote last month that after Berger’s resignation, local members “were subject to further abuse and false allegations in the media, all of which were designed to obscure the political differences between” her and the local Labour party.

Massey and Miller

Becky Massey, a leading activist in the Brighton branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was suspended as a Labour member last month.

Her suspension was part of a wider purge of supporters of Palestinian rights by the party. Other members of Brighton Palestine Solidarity Campaign remain suspended.

On 2 June, Labour informed her that she had been expelled. The party cited her “support for a candidate who was standing against an official Labour candidate.”

That was a reference to Chris Williamson, an MP until last year, who ran as an independent candidate in the December election.

Williamson, a left-wing anti-imperialist, had originally been elected on a Labour ticket but was pushed out of the party for refusing to accept the false narrative that – under Corbyn’s leadership – the party was “institutionally anti-Semitic.”

David Miller is an academic with the University of Bristol, an expert in lobbies and systems of propaganda. Miller had been suspended from Labour last month before deciding to leave the party.

In his full resignation statement on Monday, provided first to The Electronic Intifada, he said that his suspension was one of many designed to target those who understand that Zionism is “founded on and sustained by ethnic cleansing and racial supremacy.”

Miller also described the response of the Labour leadership to the Black Lives Matter protests as “appalling.”

Keir Starmer recently opposed direct action undertaken by anti-racist campaigners. Starmer argued it was “completely wrong” to pull down a statue of a slave trader in the city of Bristol.

Miller said his research into the Zionist movement, shows it to be a “transnational network of organizations, which work tirelessly to justify Israel’s ongoing dispossession of the Palestinians” and which has “influence on the British left and British politics more widely.”

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Israel has the right to exist. Senseless. No State does. States recognise one another. A State is not a thing but a relationship. Absolutely right, Asa, an abstract right to exist applies to no State. The IHRA definition has only one flaw: it defines nothing. Here's an alternative: anti-Semitism is the irrational or abstract hatred of Jews because they are Jews. Nothing more required. Recall that in the final years of South African apartheid its viciousness increased. The same is true of Israel. It has long been pursuing a suicidal trajectory. The BDS movement and its increasing pariah State status across the globe is forcing its leadership and followers to the absurd conclusion that the entire world is anti-Semitic and intent on the destruction of Israel. Starmer's embrace of this is intellectually vacuous and morally cowardly. His offer to the British people is a social-democratic settlement with a serious caveat: that the Palestinians will be the black South Africans of the 21st century. Only those who accept this are now welcome in the Labour Party. There is a difference between SA and Palestine however: the whites could not eliminate the blacks. They were 85% and the workforce. The Israelis want the Palestinians to evaporate. As Rabin used to say: he longed to wake up and find Gaza swallowed by the sea. Nor are there Cubans fighting Israeli expansion as in Angola and Namibia. Starmer is siding with a power engaged in the slow genocide of the Palestinians. Worse than SA. He is prepared to do this for electoral success. He is ensuring future generations will revile him as today we revile Colston, Rhodes, Clive, the whole sorry tribe of white supremacists (including Churchill and Lloyd George.) In the name of anti-racism Starmer is supporting the most blatantly racist regime in the world. Zionists define themselves as superior, it is the justification for their oppression of the Palestinians. Not to mention Zionist anti-Semitism. Labour has bargained its soul.

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Appears that Labour has chosen to do like other political parties of the Left in Europe (and Israel) have done.
In terms of Communication: Having lost votes in political elections they decide to modify their communication strategy. They change their positioning from left to center right. For that they become less appreciated by their original target group and loose even more votes - eventually becoming obsolete. The future of UK's Left is predictable.

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Agree that human rights can only apply to people and it is nonsensical to talk of a 'State' having a right to exist. I think that when Zionists claim that Israel has a right to exist, they really mean that the Jewish people have a collective right to reside an a privileged majority within Israel/Palestine and that this right should be respected regardless of the consequent adverse effects on the human and civil rights of the existing non-Jewish population. I disagree. Neither individual or collective rights are absolute and are rightly extinguished (if they ever existed) if exercise of those rights causes harm to others.

You give an alternative definition of anti-Semitism. My question is why should we have a definition of anti-Semitism at all. That is also nonsensical to me. The existing laws and/or conventions regarding discrimination, hate speech or vilification that apply to others within a society, can just as effectively apply to Jews.

Hatred is an emotion; not an act. Whatever hatreds I (or anybody) may harbour, whether these be irrational or not, cannot be held out to be anybody's business but my own. If I do hate irrationally (or unjustly) and I act on that hatred in a way that discriminates against or vilifies another person (or set of people), then and only then can I properly be held to account or it becomes other peoples' business so to speak.

As for Starmer, he is just a par for the course politician taking the path of least resistance in relation to Israel/Palestine. He deserves our contempt.

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Israel has a choke hold on the West Bank and Gaza whilst blaming the victim. The Palestinians are right to fight back and to demand their rights as a people and a nation.

#BlackLivesMatter
#PalestinianLivesMatter

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It looks like the old Labour Zionist who created this mess, to begin with. Their descendants are now usurping the British Labour Party as they did to those poor Palestinians.
I do not know who is more disillusioned, more like deranged, the right-wing Zionist having the best times of their lives building more settlements at full throttle, or the Liberal Zionist who are continuing the tradition of expulsion, except this time, it is happening to the British Labour Party and usurping it of its most valued members.

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My response to this statement is quite simple.

Human beings have a right to exist, not states, which are inanimate. Racists states certainly have no such rights. Did the Nazi and South African states under apartheid have a 'right'?

What this statement and the fact that it is repeatedly made suggests is that supporters of Israel realise that deep down it is illegitimate. No one ever says that the British state has a right to exist

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Shame on the Labour Party to support the actions of that illegal apartheid state of Israel. I am a Labour Party member and invite them to expel me. Long live the just cause that is Palestine's freedom from the yoke of Zionism.

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Well, it only confirms the reasons for the incessant false attacks on former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn who is an exceedingly fair-minded man in his views on Israel and Palestine, something that is not really allowed.

Keir Starmer comes in now with associations with Murdoch's Times and security services and making a number of objectionable statements right at the start.

So, sympathies with Palestinians, which have nothing to do with anti-Semitism, are being purged.

You might well describe the entire set of events as "a color revolution" conducted inside a major British political party.

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The Israeli IDF =Israel Defence Force =Germany`s SS and Gestapo, America`s Marine Division at Fallujah. They have their own Ghetto, where they Torture and Imprison Palestinians at will.

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As Starmer and a number of other talking heads, politicians, media moguls etc so easily forget to mention, Palestinians are a Semite people too. Therefore their support for Israel and the branding of those who support the Palestinians as anti-Semite makes no sense. Bearing in mind the Israeli governments genocidal actions against the Palestinians, that makes Zionism the greatest anti-Semite force on the planet.

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I leave this in a simple line.

YOU WILL NEVER BE ELECTED BY THE ACTION YOU TOOK.

YOU CAN NOT GAIN POPULARITY BY TAKING SUCH DRASTIC MEASURES BY ELIMINATING THE TRUTH.

YOU SHOULD HAVE WORKED WITH YOUR PARTY MEMBERS AND GET INTO DEBATE TO COME TO A CONCLUSION. I SUPPOSE KIER STAMMER IS PUPPY AND SERVING CERTAIN GROUP TO SATISFY THEM AND GAIN THEIR APPROVAL.

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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.