The Labour Party has yet again capitulated to the Israeli lobby as front running leadership contenders including Rebecca Long-Bailey and Keir Starmer lined up to accept the British Board of Deputies ten demands made against the party.
The list of demands, pushed under the guise of fighting antisemitism, will ensure that not only will all critics of Israel’s apartheid domestic policies and belligerent foreign policy be expelled from the Party, but that anyone so much as offering support to expelled members will be also suspended.
The list of demands ranges from the almost fair to the outright absurd, committing the Labour Party to Zionism and the state of Israel in perpetuity. Now accepted by the front-running candidates, Labour has effectively silenced the voice of thousands, including the Palestinians themselves alongside both Palestinian and human rights activists and huge swathes of the Muslim community who care passionately about the issue of Palestinian oppression.
The fact that Israel’s piecemeal genocide of the Palestinian people has now been referred to the International Criminal Court seems to be of little interest to the likes of Long-Bailey and Starmer, nor the fact that the demands are an affront to democracy and both freedom of speech and expression.
The demands are:
Resolve outstanding cases: All outstanding and future cases should be brought to a swift conclusion under a fixed timescale.
While everyone can agree that cases should be brought to a conclusion, putting a time limit on the modes of justice is wrong. Complex cases will undoubtedly take longer than others to process and, given the seriousness of such an allegation, it is of vital importance that justice takes its natural course no matter how long that takes.
Make the Party’s disciplinary process independent: An independent provider should be used to process all complaints, to eradicate any risk of partisanship and factionalism.
And whom exactly will be providing this “independent” service? The Board of Deputies perhaps? One of the innumerable “campaigns against antisemitism” that have long been exposed as fronts for pro-Israeli propaganda? The Labour Party is the largest political party in Europe, it is more than capable of dealing with a complaints process, one that had no criticism before the leadership of the pro-Palestinian Jeremy Corbyn.
Ensure transparency: Key affected parties to complaints, including Jewish representative bodies, should be given the right to regular, detailed case updates, on the understanding of confidentiality.
A demand to access confidential documentation, including potential legal evidence, is an affront to privacy and justice, it is also a potential breach of data protection laws.
Prevent readmittance of prominent offenders: It should be made clear that prominent offenders who have left or been expelled from the party, such as Ken Livingstone or Jackie Walker, will never be readmitted to membership.
Who defines who is and is not a prominent offender? Why only “prominent” offenders? While nobody would disagree that legitimate racists should be expelled from the party for life, the examples given are critics of Israel and Israeli apartheid, not antisemites.
Provide no platform for bigotry: Any MPs, Peers, councillors, members or CLPs who support, campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents should themselves be suspended from membership.
Possibly the most outrageous demand on the list, this suggests that anyone who so much as offers their solidarity and support to an individual deemed an “antisemite” must also be expelled.
Thousands of supporters of the likes of Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth would be suspended en masse under such a ruling. Such is the extremist nature of the McCarthyite demand that leadership contender Clive Lewis would be suspended for his support for Marc Wadsworth. Anyone sharing a platform with somebody falssely deemed an “antisemite” by Israeli lobbyists would also be in the firing line, including potentially Jeremy Corbyn.
Adopt the international definition of antisemitism without qualification: The IHRA definition of antisemitism, with all its examples and clauses, and without any caveats, will be fully adopted by the party and used as the basis for considering antisemitism disciplinary cases.
The IHRA definition of antisemitism is unworkable and has been weaponised by the Israeli far-right to quell criticism of its criminal policies. This is the opinion of Kenneth Stern, the man who drafted the IHRA definition in the first place.
Deliver an anti-racism education programme that has the buy-in of the Jewish community: The Jewish Labour Movement should be reengaged by the Party to lead on training about antisemitism.
This being the same Jewish Labour Movement who was one of the leading fronts in the debunked “antisemitism crisis” conspiracy? The same Movement who anyone can join, even if you’re not Jewish?
Engagement with the Jewish community to be made via its main representative groups: Labour must engage with the Jewish community via its main representative groups, and not through fringe organisations and individuals.
A contender for the most outrageous demand on the list as the Board of Deputies means that Labour should engage with Jewish communities through them alone, a body which is fervently pro-Israel and does not represent the diversity of Jewish communities. The demand effective silences left-wing Jewish voices such as Jewish Voice for Labour and is, therefore, antisemitic.
Communicate with resolve: Bland, generic statements should give way to condemnation of specific harmful behaviours – and, where appropriate, condemnation of specific individuals.
What “specific harmful behaviours” exactly? and condemnation can only come after a legitimate process of justice, not on a whim. When has a Labour leader not rightfully condemned genuine antisemitism?
Show leadership and take responsibility: The leader must personally take on the responsibility of ending Labour’s antisemitism crisis.
A veiled threat to give the Corbyn treatment to anyone who doesn’t agree to these demands.
Make no mistake, this is a power-grab by the Israeli government and their far-right supporters in Britain.
Would Labour have agreed to ten demands from the apartheid South African government? Will they be agreeing to ten demands from the racist government of Victor Orban? Will they be bowing to the whims of Britain First?
Those who have agreed to the Board of Deputies demands, namely Rebecca Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer, Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry are not stupid people. They must remember well the Board of Deputies supporting Boris Johnson and the Conservative government at the last election, the must equally know that the vast majority of “antisemitism” cases have been vexatious attempts to conflate criticism of Israeli policy with legitimate antisemitism, an agenda pushed by the far-right Netanyahu government, far-right supporters in the UK and opponents to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, both within Labour and from opposing parties.
Equally, there is no way that these individuals are unaware of the suffering and plight of the Palestinian people, nor that the state of Israel has been referred to the ICC at the Hague over its crimes against humanity. The leadership contenders have made a conscious decision toward pragmatism, deciding that sacrificing the defence of Palestine and the human rights of those suffering is the price that they must pay for power.
It is unacceptable and many Labour supporters agree.
Only Clive Lewis has yet to comment on the ten demands, the member for Norwich South only having secured four nominations from the PLP. It seems unlikely he will be able to move forward.
Labour abandoning the Palestinian people and activists is completely unacceptable, as is aligning the party with the criminal apartheid state of Israel. In agreeing to these demands, the leadership contenders have sacrificed prominent public action against human rights abuses for the advancement of their careers. None of them are fit to be members of the Labour Party, let alone have the audacity to call themselves socialists.
We cannot and will not abandon principles for party, nor can we ever countenance abandoning the struggles against oppression, imperialism and human rights abuses. All socialists must face the sad reality that Labour has once again abandoned true socialism and reject all candidates for the leadership. We cannot support either Rebecca Long-Bailey or Keir Starmer and, no matter which wins the race for the leadership, we cannot support the Labour Party under these circumstances.
All Labour members who support the Palestinian struggle must begin organising for the future outside the Party with immediate effect.