Israeli anti-Zionist expelled from Labour amid anti-Semitism smear

The 81-year-old retired professor was expelled from Labour outright with no hearing. (TeleSUR)

A renowned Israeli anti-Zionist was expelled from Labour on Tuesday, as the party bureaucracy falsely accused him of anti-Semitism.

Retired philosophy professor Moshé Machover told The Electronic Intifada that the expulsion by the UK’s main opposition party was a “clear violation of natural justice,” was “Stalinist” and “completely undemocratic.”

He said he would be taking legal advice and was considering whether to appeal the decision.

Machover is well known in scholarly and Palestine solidarity circles as an activist and a co-founder of Matzpen, a group of dissident Israeli socialists active in the 1960s and 1970s. He has lived in London since 1968.

A spokesperson for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said they do not comment on disciplinary cases.

But The Electronic Intifada understands the leader’s office is in fact looking into the expulsion.

In a letter from Labour’s “Head of Disputes,” Machover was told that an article he had written “appears to meet the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.”

Both the letter and the article can be read in full below.

The article, “Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism,” was published in a bulletin by the group Labour Party Marxists and handed out at the party’s conference last week.

Machover said it “won a lot of response at conference” and “very positive and widespread agreement.” This put the right of the party on the defensive, and they are now lashing out, he said.

According to Labour Party Marxists, the Jewish Labour Movement’s vice-chair Mike Katz accused Machover of being an “amoral historian,” although he did not contest the facts in Machover’s article.

In the article, Machover argued that in Labour, a “campaign of equating opposition to Zionism with anti-Semitism has, in fact, been carefully orchestrated with the help of the Israeli government.”

Machover also critically quoted Reinhard Heydrich, one of Hitler’s most notorious lieutenants, who he said in 1935 wrote that the Nazi “government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, so-called Zionism.”

Sam Matthews, the Labour official who wrote expelling Machover, did not specify which part of the article he claimed was anti-Semitic.

Speaking to The Times last week, right-wing Labour lawmaker John Mann called for Labour Party Marxists to be “thrown out of the party, every single one of them.”

Mann, who has been a leading opponent of left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn, claimed that the group’s “scurrilous publication, which contains anti-Semitic material, is good only for the recycling bin.”

Misquoted

The Times report misquoted the bulletin, claiming it “discussed the ‘commonality between Zionists and Nazis’ ” – the article in fact contains no such quote.

The report also failed to mention the fact that Machover is an Israeli Jew, and falsely implied that he had quoted the Nazi official approvingly.

Machover told The Electronic Intifada that he had quoted “the great monster Heydrich” to discuss the undisputed historical links between a Zionist minority of German Jews in the 1930s and the Nazi Party.

Machover was expelled rather than suspended because the Labour bureaucracy claims he has violated party rules by writing articles for the Weekly Worker, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

“Membership or support for another political party” is grounds for immediate expulsion, the letter states.

Speaking to The Electronic Intifada, Machover said he was not member of either the Communist Party of Great Britain or Labour Party Marxists.

The latter group asked to use his article and he agreed. The Weekly Worker is an “open forum” which is very democratic in its publication policy, he said. He has spoken at some of the Communist Party of Great Britain’s meetings.

He told The Electronic Intifada that he also spoke at elite private school Eton College some years ago: “I went there. Am I associated with Eton? I don’t know! If people invite me to talk about Israel/Palestine, I usually respond. That’s what I do.”

Machover pointed out that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was for 10 years a columnist for the Morning Star, which is closely associated with the Communist Party of Britain – another left-wing group.

Since Corbyn – long a Palestine solidarity activist – was elected leader of the party, Labour has faced a mostly invented “anti-Semitism crisis.”

Mounting a tenacious but futile attempt to stay in control, the right wing of the party has teamed up with Israel lobby groups such as Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement to smear supporters of Palestinian rights as anti-Semites.

The letter to Machover marks the first known time Labour Party officials have cited the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s document containing a “working definition” of anti-Semitism as a justification for “formal notice of investigation.”

The controversial document has been promoted by Israel lobby groups, because it alleges that “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” is an example of “anti-Semitism.”

Until now, Labour’s leadership has only endorsed a two-sentence definition of anti-Semitism, contained in the controversial document, which does not mention Israel. This letter appears to contradict that distinction.

The document could also define advocating for a single, democratic state in historic Palestine, in which Jews, Muslims and Christians have full and equal rights, as anti-Semitism, because under the terms of the definition that could be construed as “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”

Updated since initial publication.

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Long Live Matzpen, the Israeli Socialist Organization. Long Live Hadash, The Democratic Front For Peace & Equality & Maki, The Israeli Communist Party. Even though Matzpen were more Trotskyist oriented (with some Maoists/Anarcho-Communists as well), and i as a Marxist-Leninist or "Stalinist" (Hoxhaist) don't agree with their characterization of the USSR/Eastern Bloc, i will always defend Matzpen...Moshe Machover is a good Jewish man and Israeli of exemplary character who represents the best of Israeli society and Jewish values and principles.

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I have known Moshe for many years. His voice has always been one of the most insightful and courageous. In fact, over the past half century his has been one of the few Israeli Jewish voices presenting a principled and critical anti-Zionist analysis. He, of course, is the victim of the same calumny as many of us are, equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. I know that's a charge that Corbyn himself has been charged with. But Jeremy, like Moshe, hangs in there. I'll bet that Moshe is reinstalled as a Labour Party member.

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I hope Jeremy Corbyn does not try to dodge this obvious miscarriage of justice. Weakness in the face of such skulduggery will only be rewarded with more of it.

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I find it hard - no, intolerable - to believe that what I think of as my Labour Party would adopt the heinous "International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance" definition of anti-semitism at all, much less as a guideline for disciplinary action against ethical anti-racists such as Moshe Makover. I trust the action against Makover will be promptly reversed, and that Labour, in combatting anti-semitism and other forms of racism, will reject, and publicly critique, the IHRA definition.

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This is a new low. Moshe Machover was singled out because he is a Jew. The Labour Right, in collusion with Israel, is determined to crush Jewish dissent. Israeli leaders know that they're losing support around the world among Jews, the one constituency they've been able to mobilise politically and economically and point to as victims of anti-Semitism. In consequence- and it's already happening- the larger population in these countries will say, "If Jews here don't support apartheid, why should we?"

The smear of falsely imputed anti-Semitism is hurled at so many Jews by Zionist groups that we're entitled to ask openly, is there something in this movement which actually despises Jews? And keep in mind, they are being attacked AS Jews, of the apostate variety. A special hatred is reserved among Zionists for Jews like Miko Peled and Moshe Machover who break ranks and campaign for justice.

If Corbyn rolls over for this sort of thing, his devotion to Palestinian rights ought to be re-examined. What is he prepared to do about this campaign of hatred directed against faithful members of his party?

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Anti-Israel state sentiment is not anti-semitism. Brutalising, torturing and murdering women and children on a daily basis is indefensible...

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Moshe Machover was apparently expelled from the Labour Party because of his alleged 'membership or support for another political party'. As he is not a member of another party, his crime must be 'support' but the NEC is stretching things a bit if the reprinting of an article in paper affiliated with the CPGB constitutes support for that party. This is nonsense.

We all know his real crime is the substance of his argument that Anti-Zionism is not Anti-Semitism. There is nothing anti-Semitic in this article so the NEC then looks around for another means to get rid of Machover and comes up with the 'support' for another party to do the job. The letter from the NEC tells Machover that he has opened himself up to the charge of anti-Semitism but this allegation left up the air because of his expulsion but will be considered if he decides to re-apply for membership at a later date. This is standover tactics worthy of the mafia. What on earth is happening to the British Labour Party that the NEC can stoop so low; if you don't toe the Israeli/Zionist line and we can't get you for anti-Semitism, we get you another way.

I hope that Machover does take legal action - to leave this unchallenged is to accept that similar standover tactics will be used against any Labour member who challenges Zionism. The financial and emotional costs can be high - but this is fight for the integrity of the Labour Party as much as for the right to speak freely and fearlessly on the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The up side is that Machover's article gets a higher profile; its a great article and not being a reader of the Weekly Worker one that I would have otherwise missed.

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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.