Labour Party investigates Electronic Intifada journalist

Asa Winstanley

Labour has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Asa Winstanley, a reporter with The Electronic Intifada who is also a member of the UK’s main opposition party.

The first person to report on this publicly was a journalist from the Jewish Chronicle, a right-wing newspaper with a stridently anti-Palestinian record.

Winstanley wasn’t aware of this until seeing the Tweet.

He then checked his email account and saw a letter from the Labour Party informing him of an “investigation” into several of his tweets critical of Israel and its official ideology, Zionism.

The paper published an article which contained Winstanley’s personal information.

Winstanley has lodged a formal complaint with the Labour Party for a serious data protection breach and is considering referring the matter to the police.

Because a journalist was informed of Winstanley’s private matters, the Labour Party may be in breach of its legal obligations to protect a member’s sensitive data.

Leaking such personal data may be a criminal offense under the UK’s Data Protection Act of 2018.

Since the Jewish Chronicle published the private information apparently provided by the Labour Party, Winstanley has received online abuse.

While Labour’s investigation is ongoing, it is unclear whether Winstanley’s press pass to the party’s annual conference in September will be issued.

If a press pass were not issued then the investigation into Winstanley would in effect be a form of censorship of a journalist with a long record of meticulously accurate and widely read reporting on the party.

Winstanley reported from inside the conference in 2016 and 2018.

Investigations of many Labour members have taken years.

Black and Jewish anti-Zionist Labour member Jackie Walker, for example, only last month received a hearing date for allegations relating to her comments at the Labour Party conference in September 2016.

While at a Jewish Labour Movement training session, Walker was one of several to disagree with the pro-Israel group’s definition of anti-Semitism.

As Winstanley reported at the time, the only definition used was one which includes describing Israel as a racist endeavor – something that would bar Palestinians from speaking about their lived reality and history.

As Winstanley reported this month, the Jewish Labour Movement was re-founded in 2015 in order to fight Corbyn.

Since 2015, Winstanley has reported in depth on the witch hunt against Labour Party members who are on the left, and who support Palestinian rights.

Since Jeremy Corbyn – a veteran campaigner for Palestinian rights – was elected party leader, a rash of often-fabricated allegations of anti-Semitism have plagued the party.

In one notorious case, an allegation was fabricated by lawmaker Joan Ryan, the chair of Labour Friends of Israel. Last month, Ryan was among a handful of MPs to resign from the party in part over claims about anti-Semitism.

This week’s action by Labour against Winstanley is an example of a wider problem.

For the past three years, Labour Party members have habitually learned of investigations, suspensions and expulsions via the press or have faced similar injustices.

After the election of Jennie Formby last year – a new, left-wing general secretary who is pro-Corbyn – many members expressed hope for change.

But this latest action, as well as several recent alleged suspensions and investigations of other members, indicate that the Labour Party may be in breach of legal obligations to protect members’ private data.

Left-winger Chris Williamson, who was the only MP to speak openly against the witch hunt, was suspended at the end of February.

If the Labour Party investigation is an attempt to retaliate against Winstanley – and by extension The Electronic Intifada – for reporting on the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis and the activities of Israel lobby groups, it would not be the first one.

In 2017, lawyers for the Jewish Labour Movement, a party-affiliated group with close ties to the Israeli embassy, wrote Winstanley in an apparent attempt to intimidate him from his reporting work.

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Comments

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I am shocked and furious about this. Since when does Israel and the Jewish Chronicle dictate Labour policy? Since when does Labour take orders from Zionist Israel and the Jewish lobbies? I will not be renewing my membership to Labour, this is the final straw. I am so fed up with Labour's kowtowing to Israel and Jewish/Zionist media/supporters/lobbies #Solidarity with #AsaWinstanley #ChrisWiliamson #IlhanOmar #Palestine

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If you withdraw support from the Labour Party, you are playing right into the hands of the lobby who have manufactured this scandal. Their one and only purpose is to make sure Jeremy Corbyn is never the Prime Minister. If you want to protest, use your membership to stand firm with Corbyn - don't be swayed. As Chris Williamson say" "Keep you eyes on the prize" - because it is close.

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Considering what happened in the US congress, I think change is coming to the west, regarding confronting Zionism. Its a serious issue as the Zionists do not care about the country they reside in. They only care about the support for the racist colonial state called Israel. It will be difficult to confront them as they are embedded in key positions in the society and employ totalitarian tactics...

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You haven't been very awake, Labour have followed Zionist orders for decades, especially under Blair. Now we have a leader who fights back, they don't like it! Don't resign, they want that, stay and help Corbyn defeat these arse-holes.

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answer: for a long time...and though it is scary to see yet another blowup in the US in which Israel's supporters use Rep. Omar's rhetoric as an excuse to try to push her to the margins to silence debate on the influence Israel has over US lawmakers, the situation in the UK seems a lot worse. It's already established that comments critical of Zionism and the actions of the government of Israel are anti-Semitic...chilling.

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As someone has already said, that is exactly what these hard line Zionists who hav infiltrated the Labour party, wantMembers to stop supporting Corbyn,,?

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I joined the Labour party after Jeremy Corbyn became party leader in the hope that a Labour government with him as prime minister would help to bring about social justice in the UK and also support the political rights of the Palestinian people. The harassment campaign against Labour party members, who support the Palestinian people, needs stiff opposition. Leaving the Labour party would indeed play right into the hand of organisations like JLM and LFI.
I am a medical doctor and my medical practice is based on the latest clinical evidence. If one looks at the substance of the allegations of "institutional antisemitism" in the Labour party the evidence is thoroughly lacking. Also, many of those making the allegations - Tom Watson is one - have conflicts of interest. They are being paid and funded by pro-Israeli and Zionist organisations and personalities. I work in my local CLP to inform my fellow Labour party members of this.
As someone who is in principle opposed to political Zionism as a colonial settler ideology it is my moral duty to oppose any form of genuine antisemitism, because political Zionism can only thrive with the existence of antisemitism.
I urge you not to leave the Labour party, Samantha, particularly at this time. We as Labour party members who are passionately supporting social justice in the UK and justice for the Palestinian people, must join up and be steadfast. The JLM's actions are aimed at defaming the Labour party and actively wrecking a future Labour government with Jeremy Corbyn as prime minster. You are much better placed to fight this as a member of the Labour party than outside.

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This is a terrible development. Your Pulitzer-worthy reporting on the shenanigans behind the campaign against Corbyn has been invaluable. Whatever can be done to help, I'm in.

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The only "good" thing about the latest development is that it exposes how desperate are the Zionists and their chosen "Witchfinders-General" in the West to stem the turning tide of external opinion against the supremacist, colonial project in the Levant. Argument doesn't work because the indefensible is incapable of being cogently defended; suppression and deceit, along with the "three Rs" of Hasbara Central's basic syllabus - conflation, deflection and projection - are the only weapons available.
I'm saddened at the lack of fighting spirit that the Labour leadership and the PLP in general has shown throughout the manufactured crisis/scandal/hysteria of anti-Semitism in the party. Corbyn et al. would have done better these past three years to hearken to the wisdom of their erstwhile parliamentary colleague, George Galloway, "If you don't run, they can't chase you." Good luck to Mr. Winstanley! If justice prevails, his writings will be adjudged for what they are - inconvenient lights shining into dark, bloody corners which powerful interests would prefer remained concealed - rather than evidence of any irrational, ethno-religious animus.

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Well said Rashers: 'The indefensible is incapable of being cogently defended' and we thus see the attempt to smear an honest voice. This has got to be fought head on and if the Labour Party leadership is unable or unwilling to do, the fight has got to be taken up by the rank and file and if necessary via the courts. The Israeli lobby and their fellow travellers within Labour will not stop until Corbyn is either toppled or tamed. No apologies or appeasement short of Labour returning to its former silence on Palestinian human rights will stop this witch hunt.

There is no point in trusting or waiting upon the Labour Party elite to take leadership on this issue either because of senior Labour members being divided over the I/P conflict or because it is considered an issue on which the Party is considered to be on an electoral hiding to nothing. It is up to the rank and file to clearly and directly voice their disgust at these baseless charges and the attempt to purge the Labour Party of members critical of Israel/Zionism. And support those targeted for smearing and expulsion and this support is probably going to include funding.

The 'good' news is that this does expose the essential weakness of the Zionist story but these battles still take a toll on those targeted. I hope that Asa can continue his work and that this serves to boost his (and EI) readership.

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In a few years time when the dust settles and an objective view is allowed, I suspect that this will be remembered as an appalling episode of McCarthyism, when the Labour Party allowed itself and its procedures to be hijacked by the weaponisation of almost evidence free racism allegations. Are there any productions of 'the Crucible' being staged at the moment?
In the meantime my best wishes to Asa. Hopefully the new procedures mean that this will be resolved shortly rather than being allowed to drag on in the old style.

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Samantha Bentley, this behaviour does piss one off to put it mildly, but please stick in for now, EB is correct, the bastards want us to leave. We are in a lies trump truth situation at present but this wont last. No modern state can sustain itself as an apartheid state, they know this hence the ferocity of the lie storm

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Mr. Winstanley, from Ottawa, Canada to London, UK: steadfestness! Zionist ideology is falling. The greater crime is the silence of the Conservative party.

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Asa Winstanley is far and away the best reporter on the Israel lobby in the UK and the Labour Party. That these people would get around to targeting him in the widening purge now at high tide is not surprising. And the fact that he learned of his new status from a Jewish Chronicle hack serves as a deliberate reminder to other party members of the privileged insider position still enjoyed by the fifth column within Labour. It's a none too subtle way of instilling fear. Members are made aware that they are being monitored by hostile elements at multiple levels of their lives. Their social media accounts, their entire public and private history, their confidences, everything is being scrutinised by professionally trained semi-state operatives with a view to silencing dissent and expelling, even destroying those who refuse to accept Zionism's sway within the party. And before they have a chance to defend themselves at the disciplinary board of the party to which they contribute their dues, their votes and their campaign efforts, they're smeared by a right wing anti-Labour, pro-racist rag whose directors have better access to the party's top echelons than do members themselves.

Having said all this, it's essential that no one quit the fight. Talk of resigning from Labour because of this situation can only play into the hands of those who want the party returned to its former condition, as a neoliberal prop for imperialism, austerity and in the case of Israel/Palestine, for apartheid. This is a fight that has to be joined, not fled. Labour is still the best available vehicle for democratic change in Britain. But first the party must itself be changed, something that requires commitment and long-term solidarity.

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How that political flim flam has gone on for as long as it has is an indication of the general laziness and sloth of the British public. One says laziness, because rather than going out and starting a political organization that ACTUALLY DOES represent the interests of the overwhelming majority of the British public it allows itself to be subverted, cowed and abused by such corrupt toady hacks, war criminals and racists (and yes, Zionism IS racism) as Tony Blairigula, Ruth Smeeth, Joan Ryan and Luciana Berger.

If the British public ever does get up off its rear ends to establish such an organization it should keep in mind the words of Eugene Victor Debs. "It is infinitely better to vote for freedom and fail, than to vote for slavery and succeed."

Slavery under Blairigula etal is little different than slavery under May etc.

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When will Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left be strong enough
to halt this witch hunt that is attempting to destroy the party?

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disgusting, but when will Corbyn and co grow a pair and defend all of you slandered as anti-semites especially the Jewish members when all of you simply speak out on Israel or defend comrades against the slander? Corbyn and his team keep throwing people under the bus, and the more they did it, the more it vindicates that its futile this attempt to change the Labour Party and its high time a proper socialist and anti-imperialist/Palestine justice party be formed or merge because we can't have revolution in a counterrevolutionary party like Labour.

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The best way we can fight back against the saboteurs is to expose their lies. And by that, I mean expose their lies to the millions of people who don't KNOW they've been lied to, and deceived and duped. Every lie they dissemble about 'anti-semitism' is a potential gift which we can use to expose them for what they are, and for what they've done, and what they're doing.

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you're right...I've been using threads on Facebook following Rep. Illhan Omar's comments on AIPAC to engage people with history...both the widely unknown history of the dispossession of Palestinians by Zionism, and the history of AIPAC silencing any substantive discussion...even though some of the comments on FB have been incredibly ignorant, e.g., "Zionism has not oppressed Palestinians", and "Israel has not ethnically cleansed Palestinians", these folks give you an opportunity to make a fact-based challenge to their ignorance.

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Its quite incredible that Labour has turned on one of the journalists standing up for Palestinian rights, especially given Corbyns record. This is exactly what he's been warning about. Hopefully, it will cleared up. In the meantime - we're with you.

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.