Revealed: the Israel lobby’s Labour hit list

Becky Massey (center) was expelled from Labour after appearing on a secret hit list.

Brighton PSC

The UK’s Labour Party has been purging members using a hit list by a leading Israel lobby group, The Electronic Intifada has learned.

In a secret document in May, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said a Palestine solidarity activist and 10 other Labour members would “require permanent expulsion.”

A redacted section of the hit list was revealed last week after a data access request made by Becky Massey, one of the targeted activists.

You can read the disclosure in full at the end of this article.

“This is a political hit list,” Massey told The Electronic Intifada. She was suspended a few days later and expelled the following month.

The revelation comes amidst an escalating civil war in Labour, triggered by the ongoing manufactured anti-Semitism campaign against former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour leader Keir Starmer on Wednesday announced that Corbyn could no longer be a Labour MP – despite a disciplinary panel readmitting him to party membership the previous day.

Corbyn was first suspended as a party member last month. The pretext was a statement by the former leader that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”

This overly cautious, blandly factual statement caused outrage among the party right and the Israel lobby.

Labour’s remaining left-wing MPs rhetorically condemned the suspension, but did very little.

However a backlash among the Labour membership and the threat of a party split – along with potential legal action – may have played a role in ending the suspension.

Five Labour councillors in the northern city of Lancaster quit the party in protest at Corbyn’s suspension and Labour’s lurch to the right.

“For a brief time, a ‘moment’, the Labour Party offered hope to millions, to the many not the few. Today under Starmer, it is offering a return to ‘business as usual’,” they said.

Corbyn backpedals

On Tuesday, a Labour disciplinary panel ruled that Corbyn should be readmitted to the party. According to The Times, they also “ordered” Corbyn to delete his statement that anti-Semitism has been dramatically overstated from social media.

However, the BBC reported that this was only “a suggestion” not a requirement.

Either way, as of this writing, Corbyn has not deleted the posts. But the former leader did – once again – capitulate to demands made on him.

In another apologetic statement issued on social media the morning the disciplinary panel met, he seemed to reverse his earlier statement that anti-Semitism had been “dramatically overstated” for political reasons.

“To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated,’” he wrote.

Corbyn’s backpedaling did him no good.

After Corbyn was readmitted, Labour Friends of Israel supporter Margaret Hodge, a right-wing Labour MP, threatened to quit the party. Israel lobby group the Jewish Labour Movement accused Corbyn of having “offered no apology for his total failure of leadership to tackle anti-Semitism.”

Starmer announced the next morning he had “taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn” – meaning that Corbyn cannot be part of the Labour group in the House of Commons.

The purging of Corbyn is only the most high-profile sign of a much wider problem in the Labour Party: the fabrication, exaggeration and weaponization of anti-Semitism in order to attack the left and the Palestine solidarity movement.

That purge has been raging for more than five years now, dramatically ramping up since Starmer took over in April.

“Good spot”

Starmer – who says he supports “Zionism without qualification” and has been richly backed by prominent Israel lobby funders – made his very first acts as leader meetings with the Israel lobby to confirm his intention to meet their demands.

The secret Board of Deputies document was sent the following month, on 11 May. Seven days later Massey was suspended.

Earlier the same day Labour Party staffers had discussed how to have the activist expelled, redacted emails released to the activist by Labour under her subject access request show.

Under British law, individual members of the public have the right to access most information an organization holds on them.

You can read the full chain as redacted by Labour below.

“Good spot,” wrote one of the staffers, after a colleague found a tweet by Massey to use as a pretext.

The November 2019 Twitter posting had been an expression of respect for Chris Williamson, an MP who wrote in an article – linked to in the tweet – that he had “resigned from Labour to spend more time fighting for socialism.”

Williamson had been the only Labour MP to call out the smear campaign. He was pushed out of the party as a result.

The letter suspending Massey was sent the evening of the day of the email chain. Earlier that day, Starmer had met with the Jewish Labour Movement.

A Labour Party spokesperson at the time told me that it was “categorically untrue to claim or imply that this or any other suspension was in any way connected” to the JLM meeting – even though the group has for years been demanding suspensions and expulsions of leftists from Labour.

But a statement the very next day by the Board of Deputies suggested there was indeed such a connection.

Obliquely referring to the hit list later revealed by Massey’s access request, the Board wrote they had “sent Labour a briefing on 11 cases of anti-Semitism that we believe to be outstanding.”

The hit list is titled “Briefing: Eleven Outstanding Labour Antisemitism Cases.”

The statement went on to say the Board was “heartened by Sir Keir’s meeting with the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) yesterday.”

Political interference

The hit list is marked “confidential” on each page and is dated 11 May – exactly a week before Massey was suspended.

The email chain released to Massey also suggests that Labour’s “investigation” process is a sham, with staffers discussing the fact they had suspended her “with a view to her autoexclusion.”

By way of contrast, the letter sent to Massey said only that she had been suspended “subject to the approval of the next meeting” of Labour’s ruling national executive.

A failed redaction in the email chain also suggests that Keir Starmer’s office is guilty of political interference in the disciplinary process.

The subject line of most of the emails reads: “Subject: [REDACTED] Rebecca Massey.”

But one email in the chain reveals that the unredacted subject had read: “Subject: RE: For LOTO: Rebecca Massey.”

“LOTO” is a reference to the office of the “Leader of the Opposition” – Keir Starmer.

This suggests that Starmer’s office initiated the purge of Massey and the other left-wing Labour activists, or at least was informed about it from the outset.

And Starmer’s contemporaneous meetings with Israel lobby groups in which they demanded the expulsions of those on the hit list – combined with the contents of the document itself – shows that, once again, the so-called crisis of anti-Semitism in the party is actually being driven by the Israel lobby.

Ironically, “political interference” is exactly the charge that the Labour right and the Israel lobby leveled at Corbyn during his time as leader, accusing him of protecting “anti-Semites.”

A controversial report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last month also accused Corbyn of “political interference.”

After a 17-month investigation, the report failed to find Labour guilty of the alleged “institutional anti-Semitism.”

“We lobby unashamedly for Israel”

Becky Massey is a leading activist in one of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s most visible branches, in Brighton on the south coast.

Massey’s suspension in May came as part of a wider purge of Palestine solidarity activists from the party, including others in Brighton PSC.

Responding to the new revelations on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said they had “warned on many occasions of the wrongs of any conflation of anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism” of Israel.

They said Labour should make its complaints process “fair, transparent and free of political interference.”

They said Labour should not restrict members’ rights to discuss the “historical and ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people and to call for action, including via support for boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

The Board of Deputies and the Labour Party did not reply to requests for comment.

Although it represents itself as almost the sole spokesperson for “the Jewish community,” much of the Board’s activities are devoted to protecting Israel’s crimes.

In 2013 its president wrote that “we lobby unashamedly for Israel.”

Corbyn’s options

Corbyn’s current Labour Party limbo leaves the former leader in a contradictory and confusing situation.

He is still an MP and still a member of the Labour Party but – at least according to the Labour leader – no longer a Labour MP.

It is currently unclear how long the suspension of the whip will last.

This situation means that, were a general election held tomorrow, Corbyn would not be the party’s official candidate for his North London seat in Parliament. The next election is due in 2024.

Corbyn could be facing a choice between giving up altogether or standing as an independent socialist MP – perhaps forming a new party.

Corbyn’s massive local support base, national profile and enduring popular loyalty would mean he’d have a serious chance of winning the seat, even standing against the Labour machine.

But Corbyn’s half-century of party loyalty means it’s hard to see a scenario in which he would willingly split off from Labour.

A far more likely scenario is for Starmer and the Labour machine to connive another pretext to have him expelled.

Tags

Comments

picture

We now see the Board of Deputies giving direct orders to the present leader of the Labour Party and his circle. If further proof were needed we have it here, that the party leadership is under the decisive influence of a foreign power, committed not merely to a process of consultation but to the most craven obedience to that entity. It remains only for those who continue to speak out to resign or face expulsion. Though bloodless, this purge, with its imaginary offences (including "denialism") and constant assumption of guilt, reminds me of Stalin's tactics within the communist parties of Europe and the USSR.

It's surprisingly hard to prove your innocence of a crime that didn't occur. See also "Salem Village, 1692."

picture

I agree with Tom Hall: a very worrying trend. I am one of the 2000+ signatories of the Jews for Justice for Palestinians statement. There is no "the" Jewish community. Not all British Jews are feeling "hurt".

Starmer's unreserved Zionism sits oddly with his reputation as an international human-rights lawyer, given that Israel is in breach of numerous UN resolutions. Does his (and the BoD's) commitment to Israel stand without caveats? Does he not oppose the house-demolitions, the land-grabs, the destruction of Palestinian olive groves, the theft of water, the detention of Palestinian children as young as 12, imprisonment without charge, the refusal to allow emergency ambulances through checkpoints?

I was worried when Starmer sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey for promoting an "anti-Semitic conspiracy theory" when she "liked" an article by actor Maxine Peake. Peake had stated that the officer who killed George Floyd had been taught the knee-on-neck hold by Israeli forces. It transpired that this was not the case, but Israeli forces do use that hold, and they do give seminars to police forces outwith Israel. Starmer's language was both inflammatory and un-lawyerly.

Since then, Stephen Kinnock has been reprimanded by both Starmer and Lisa Nandy for calling for a boycott of settlement goods -- not full BDS -- just settlement goods.

Corbyn was right when he said that the scale of anti-Semitism in the Party was perceived by the general public to be far greater than it actually was. But Starmer has declared that people who deny the scale of AS in the Party should be removed. A cynic might say that he uses the word "denial" because of its echoes with Holocaust denial.

I can only conclude that Starmer does NOT want this issue to go away. I don't want this knight riding to my rescue. I want him to draw a line under this affair and to tackle the very grave issues facing our country. Not in my name.

picture

Hello Vera, it is over a year and a half since we corresponded. I am glad to find you in such good form, and making such excellent points. I wish I could say the Lib Dems had behaved better over this topic.

picture

Hi Jonathan. Political suicide, to raise the issue of Israel/Palestine. People in deep denial about what's going on there.

picture

"Peake had stated that the officer who killed George Floyd had been taught the knee-on-neck hold by Israeli forces. It transpired that this was not the case..." Actually, Peake's claim was never disproven. It's just that there is no absolute proof that it DID occur.

picture

You state that israel training usa officers was incorrect. How very very wrong you are. They absolutely do train them and train them with the knee on neck technique. Amnesty international were investigating it as early as 4 years ago and this was their second report. Dont spread disinformation to make their cover up better

https://www.amnestyusa.org/wit...

picture

This journalist does more for democracy, accountability and transparency than all the other hacks put together

picture

It is beyond ironic that the "clear evidence of anti-semitism" was a suggestion of Israel having undue influence. And then an organisation which, as you quote, " lobbies unashamedly for Israel" "requires" that she be permanently expelled, apparently with the involvement of LOTO and that is acted upon.
There were 10 other people for whom the the board 'required' expulsion and expected a report back before the end of the month, though that report back does not seem to be part of the disclosure. It would be very interesting to know what exactly the allegations against them were and whether they were as thin. And how many suspensions followed between 11th and 31st May.

picture

Excellent article Asa. This is conclusive proof that Starmer's 'rooting out anti-Semitism is nothing more than a direct attack on Palestine solidarity supporters. The Board of Deputies is simply functioning as a pro-Israel lobby group, undoubtedly co-ordinating its activities with the Israeli Embassy.

Unfortunately it also shows how Corbyn laid the basis for this witchhunt that has now claimed him as a victim by his acceptance of the false antisemitism narrative.

Until the Labour Left rejects the whole basis of the fake and false anti-Semitism campaign it won't be able to fight Starmer's Zionist witch-hunt

See my latest blog
You Can’t Unite With A Rattlesnake - the Left Will Never Defeat Starmer as long as it accepts his ‘Anti-Semitism’ Narrative

Starmer Promised to ‘tear the poison of anti-Semitism out of Labour’ - what he means is destroying socialism in the Labour Party

https://azvsas.blogspot.com/20...

picture

As usual Asa, your journalism is right on the ball, and you correctly say that Corbyn’s backpedaling did him no good. And as Tony Greenstein says, it is time to reject the whole basis of the fake and false anti-Semitism campaign. But don't restrict this cause to the Labour left; it needs the support of everybody concerned about freedom of expression in this country.

picture

Interesting - sadly not surprising. Merely sharing an Electronic Intifada article, in my case, was ‘evidence’ of alleged AS according to the Labour Party. And which article was that? The one that stated the plain fact of Starmer’s 50k funding from Sir Trevor Chinn- leading Israeli lobbyist.
In plain sight, as they say....

picture

Hi Zoe, your case is very similar to that of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine (LDFP), suspended by the Lib Dem Federal Board because they posted a FB link to one of Asa's article pointing out that the "Independent Group" (Luciana, Chuka etc.) that left Labour, were being funded by Sir Trevor Chinn et al. This silencing of opposition is so f***ing obvious, you couldn't make it up.

picture

What a pity Corbyn and his closest supporters haven't read their Kafka well enough. To be accused, is to be guilty; to be forced to examine yourself minutely for your fault and the more you seek to placate the shady accusers, the more they pursue you, until you are destroyed...like a dog. They don't seem to have read Finkelstein either. They were paddling in the shallow waters they are used to and were hit by a tsunami of lies, deceit, manipulation, denial, history-twisting and plain nastiness- the stock-in-trade of Zionism, Israeli State style. Out of their depth, they assumed apology would bring retreat, as if apologising for being Jews would have ended the Nazi persecution. Worse than Corbyn was the feeble Mc Donnell who urged those accused to visit their local synagogue and apologise. We are being asked to apologise for believing in the equal worth of every human life; for refusing racism; for standing firm with the Palestinian people in their enduring grief. We are being asked to apologise for being democrats and for extending compassion and practical help to those who suffer most. We are being asked to apologise for our revulsion at the murder of the innocent, the imprisonment of the innocent, the dehumanisation of the innocent. And we are being asked to apologise to right-wing racists, some of whom have celebrated Trump's four-year regime of viciousness and vitriol. Those who claim the privileged status of victim are always liars. Honest victims of injustice do not demand privilege, they fight for justice. The Zionists claim the right to privilege because of the Nazi genocide and the privilege they demand is to treat the Palestinians in an analogous manner. They claim the privilege of tyranny. Their nauseating dishonesty calls for outrage and consistent opposition. No apology for resisting injustice. No acceptance of guilt on the basis of accusation. No agreement with the dissembling BoD's ten totalitarian pledges.

picture

Brilliant and informative, thank you. Someone has been suspended for simply sharing a link to an EI article which gave fact; someone else for liking a twitter comment critical of Labour policy; also know someone who simply pointed some members of Momentum to a discussion on the EHRC report but because certain contributors at that event were ''persona non-grata'' because of supposed guilt of antisemitism (in fact in one case they couldn't make that stick and so it was ''bringing the party into disrepute'' that did for her), it was removed apparently. How long before Craft D's words 'this and that' in a ''Letter to Corbyn'' as in, 'accusing him of this and that' is also deemed ''antisemitic''? All this is being pointed out in an echo chamber - there needs to be an acknowledgement that they are playing really dirty and the gloves have to come off - legally at least.

picture

I object to labour constantly labellijg hamas as terrorists. If the word terrorism is to be banded arond it should apply to all. The acts of criminal genocide towards palestinians is terror. Pouring petrol down a babies throat and setting him on fire is terror. Purposely using snipers to shoot palestinian aid workers and children is terror. Hamas has been known in the past for their total restraint. Israel has goaded them many times and hamas have not responded. In the massacres of 2015 it took hamas 5 months to fire back one rocket at israel. Israeli politicians making statements along with LUKE AKEHURST last week in the NEC meeting justifying killing muslim children to protect israel as they may grow up to be terrorists?? Luke akehurst has not been suspended for his vile coments. Why not?? I complained too and have no reply from labour. Yet he was named by the israeli spy 3 years ago
I will never never vote for labour friends of torture. Not now. Not ever

https://www.middleeasteye.net/...

Add new comment

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.