New Labour purge against Israel critics

David Miller discussing the Emirati lobby in 2018. (RT/YouTube)

The UK Labour Party has launched a new purge of the left and the Palestine solidarity movement still remaining in its ranks.

A noted academic expert on the Israel lobby and two leading members of a Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) branch were among those whose party membership was suspended on Monday.

Professor David Miller of Bristol University, as well as Becky Massey and Pam Page of Brighton PSC all received letters from the party within hours of each other, they told The Electronic Intifada.

Along with the summary expulsion of another local member in October, the suspensions seem to add up to an attack on Brighton PSC – one of the UK’s most active branches of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The new purge commenced only hours after Labour’s new right-wing leader Keir Starmer held a virtual meeting with the leadership of the Jewish Labour Movement, a pro-Israel lobby within the party.

A sociologist, Miller is an expert on the propaganda operations of state and corporate lobbies.

He has documented the methods and history of the pro-Israel lobby for years.

“This latest round of suspensions continues the targeted harassment of socialist members,” Miller told The Electronic Intifada.

A book Miller co-wrote about Labour was censored during the party’s conference last year, after Israel lobby pressure.

Under the guise of Labour’s “anti-Semitism crisis,” the party bureaucracy has accelerated this trend in recent months under the new right-wing leadership.

But it is merely a continuation of a similar policy under Jennie Formby, the outgoing pro-Corbyn general secretary, Miller said.

He argued that the suspensions were designed to target members who understand the racism of Zionism, “which is very obviously incompatible with membership of the Labour Party.”

Pam Page and Becky Massey.

Becky Massey told The Electronic Intifada that the purge – occurring even during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown – was “barbaric.” She said that Labour bureaucrats “don’t know me. I could be isolated, nervous, frail, anything.”

Pam Page told The Electronic Intifada that the suspensions seemed to add up to a purge against Brighton PSC. “I am 71 years of age and live alone,” she said. “I felt sending it when we are isolating was a very insensitive thing to do.”

Included in the party’s letters were details of how to contact the Samaritans, the suicide prevention hotline. This only “added insult to injury,” said Page.

“I don’t intend to fight to stay in the party,” she said. “I may have felt differently if we had a socialist project to fight for.”

Former left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn stepped down after a devastating general election loss in December.

The years-long manufactured anti-Semitism crisis against him played a decisive role in his defeat.

Among the party’s allegations against one of the three purged Brighton PSC members was the posting on Twitter of an article by this writer from 2016 on how the Israel lobby manufactured the crisis against Corbyn.

The Jewish Labour Movement declined to comment.

The Labour Party declined to comment on the record.

Updated after publication to add Becky Massey tweet thanking supporters.

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Look at it this way. It shows the world two things. The ugliness which lies underneath the smiley face mask of those neo-fascists drones and the political flim flam farce of the Labour-Tory two step-shuffle.

Hopefully those purged will not be discouraged. They will see this for what it is. Freedom to organize and mobilize for a truly better world and future, apart from the hypocrisy and chicanery of Labour-Tory. Now get to it.

Free Julian Assange, Free Palestine... Now!

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I think it's important that we know urgently the nature of the accusations against David Miller.

If those accusations arise from any academic work he has published in a book or peer-reviewed journal, any conference or meeting in which he has presented the results of research, any interaction with students in the course of his teaching, or any advice he has given to any organization in his expert capacity, grave issues of academic freedom are involved. I would hope that the University and College Union would be all over that like a rash.

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Part 1
Antisemitism is a form of racism and, unfortunately, an increasing evil. It is usually associated with those on the extreme right of the political spectrum but should always be opposed wherever it is found. It has been wrongly used to silence legitimate criticism of Israeli govt racist policies and/or of some Israelis’ racist behaviour. This wrongful use has often been used against individuals and organisations with a long and honourable history of anti-racism. Without going into the original definition of ‘semite’, there is a commonly accepted and simple definition of antisemitism which is ‘hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jewish individuals, Jewish communities or Jewish organisations.’
For centuries, many Jewish people lived peaceably in Palestine. When Theodor Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism, wanted to hold the First Zionist Congress in 1897 some Jewish people rose up in protest and accused the authorities of anti-Semitism. Why? Because the Zionist proposition that Jews formed a separate nation from other Germans meant that they were therefore aliens.
Of course, Jewish people should feel safe (indeed celebrated!) wherever they live but Zionist racism MUST be resisted and doing so is not antisemitic despite what the Board of Deputies (BoD) or anyone else asserts. In fact, the BoD have no right to claim to speak for the British “Jewish Community”, especially given that Charedi Jews (approx 20% of the British Jewish population) do not recognise their authority. The BoD also can’t claim to represent the 50% of all British Jews who happen to be secular either.
We all need to be aware of the centuries of dreadful antisemitism endured by a wide variety of Jewish communities which culminated in the utter inhumanity of the holocaust. However, it is unacceptable that Palestinians should be persecuted for European racism.

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Part 2
Yet, with the founding of Israel in 1948, racist Zionism became a matter of state policy supported by the west. Some believe this support was partly motivated by antisemites who did not want thousands of Jewish refugees settling in the west.
At any rate, anyone who researches the 1948 Nakba would be horrified at the systematic destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages, the creation of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees let alone the bloody carnage ruthlessly meted out to Palestinian men, women and children.
This racist violence has continued for over 70 years and International law has been, and continues to be, extensively flouted.
Even now, Palestinian farmers suffer regular violence, have their land stolen, their animals attacked, vital water supplies sabotaged and their crops destroyed.
Palestinian homes are regularly demolished and thousands of Palestinians have been disabled and murdered. Unarmed civilians, journalists, medics and children included.
Palestinians regularly have their family life, culture, movement, health, education and religious practices undermined.
This violent anti-Palestinian racism is often executed by Israeli settlers in occupied territories. However, it is also encouraged by Israeli state policies and laws. It is time to call-out this violent and relentless Zionist racism.

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No doubt Prof Miller's colleagues will be open-mouthed, as we all are when we hear of long-standing anti-racists being suspended or expelled because of criticism of the Israeli State or Zionism. His students too. The bureaucrats involved in the actions may have little concern for the welfare of the Labour Party and those it claims to represent. We know from the infamous report that at the heart of the Party people were working for Corbyn's defeat in 2017. As far as the Zionist interest goes, Labour Zionism (a confused doctrine which misses the point that the core belief of socialism is equality for all peoples) may wish for a Starmer government, but a Tory administration is surely more in tune. Can't the leadership see that in the long run this purge will damage the Party? The dismay felt by those who see family, friends, colleagues they know to be anti-racists suspended or expelled is bound to spread. Finally, when the dust settles, the documents are released and the full truth is exposed, the Party will be shown to have complied with a factitious campaign of denigration by outside bodies and to have punished its own people. Further, when Starmer says he accepts the existence of the State of Israel, doesn't he understand Israel is not a thing but a relationship, like any State. Its defining relationship is with the Palestinians who lived on the land it appropriated. By saying what he does, is he condoning that relationship? No State enjoys an abstract right to exist. Every State is accepted by the international order because it exists and functions, but no one thinks that accepting the State of China means we shouldn't criticise its policies towards Hong Kong. By "acceptance" does Starmer imply Israel is exempt from criticism? It seems so, as every member who engages in criticism is suspended or expelled. Trump is trying to turn Palestine into the South Africa of the 21st century. What does Starmer have to say? So far, nothing. Will Labour be complicit?

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Netanyahu tells Trump what to do in the Middle East, the Board of Deputies tells Starmer what to do in the UK. Unfortunately or fortunately I am not a British Labour Party Member but here goes: Israel is a racist, apartheid state that has ethnically cleansed Palestine for the last 72 years and continues to do so to this day. We are all Palestinians.

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I also suffered, well, was merely irritated, when I was admonished by a local Labour secretary for comments I made about the treatment of Chris Williamson. I opined that Jeremy Corbyn, indeed the whole Labour movement, should kick back, very hard, about outrageous criticisms being made against Labour for alleged, no categorical, claims of antisemitism within the LP. And that was even before the truly unbelievable Panorama programme; that has to go down as the nadir of truthful comment by the BBC. Utterly outrageous, unconscionable and truly unbelievable. I'm not sure I will ever believe another qword they say.
And now starmer and his obsequious turning towards and support of zionism. The game is over, at least for me; I used to vote Labour, always, but that is now a very questionable action. The lack of outrage by the MSM after the Panorama insult says everything.
It would be nice to think that the BLM movement might home in on murders and War Crimes committed by israel and other such Crimes against Humanity all over the World and that the World will start to take each and every instance seriously and sanction the people who commit these foul acts.

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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.