Last week the French Republic’s Human Rights Award was presented at the Ministry of Justice in Paris to this year’s winners. At the ceremony, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad thanked the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights for the award and said of Israel’s behaviour towards the Palestinians: “The occupation…. is organized, prolonged state violence which brings about dispossession, killings, and oppression. All branches of the state are part of it: ministers and judges, officers and planners, parliamentarians and bureaucrats.”
Most of us have known this for years, but when an Israeli rights group utters the truth in such stark terms it’s time to cheer. The crimes of that replusive regime are no longer a secret. So why should anyone take the slightest notice of those who pimp and bully and lobby on its behalf?
Can we now ‘be of Good Cheer’?
No. While celebrating the Christmas season of goodwill consider this not-so-heartwarming tale from the Labour Party. Two Scottish Labour politicians are falsely accused of anti-Semitic remarks. One is a former MP now a regional councillor (let’s call him A), the other a well-respected lady regional councillor (B).
For more than 3 months the Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard, and then the General Secretary, Brian Roy, have dodged requests for an update on the suspension and public shaming of A before he was given a hearing, and the party’s similarly rough treatment of B.
Labour has been severely criticised from all quarters for taking a ludicrously long time to deal with allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ that are often false or vexatious and could be dismissed in five minutes. Constituency party officials declared A guilty and issued a press statement to that effect without waiting for him to be heard, hugely prejudicing any investigation. This idiocy was compounded by his Council leader calling on him to resign as a councillor and saying his thinking belonged to the Dark Ages: “To smear an entire community both past and present, to say he has lost ‘all empathy’ for them is utterly deplorable,” he was quoted in the press.
What was A’s ‘crime’? He had tweeted: “For almost all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering. No longer, due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain…” Was nobody else aware that the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies, which claim to represent the Jewish community in the UK, were leading a vicious campaign against Labour and Jeremy Corbyn?
B was accused of anti-Semitism by a former Labour MP who, in 2015, wrote to the Culture Secretary urging a debate to ban Hitler’s Mein Kampf, a best seller. He claimed many would argue that it is “too offensive to be made available” and there was “a compelling case for a national debate on whether there should be limits on the freedom of expression”.
A Tory MP then put the boot in, telling the media it was clear to the vast majority of people that B was no longer fit to hold office and suspension didn’t go far enough. Who was that MP? The chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews which is funded, supported and administered by The Board of Deputies who are a major player in the campaign to vilify Corbyn and weaken the Labour Party.
Isn’t this something the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner ought to look into?
And what was B’s ‘crime’? She had the audacity to voice suspicion on social media that Israeli spies might be plotting to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader after three Jewish newspapers ganged up to publish a joint front page warning that a Corbyn-led government would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country”.
She added that if it was a Mossad assisted campaign to prevent the election of a Labour Government (which would be pledged to recognise Palestine) it amounted to an unwarranted interference in our democracy. For good measure she said Israel was a racist State and since the Palestinians are also Semites, an anti-Semitic State too.
B was interviewed by party investigators in early September. They surely knew that in January 2017 a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, Shai Masot, had plotted with stooges among British MPs and other maggots in the political woodwork to “take down” senior government figures including Boris Johnson’s deputy at the Foreign Office, Sir Alan Duncan. And that Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s former chief spokesman and the con-artist behind Israel’s hasbara programme of disinformation, had recently arrived in London as the new ambassador.
Masot was almost certainly a Mossad tool. His hostile scheming was revealed not by Britain’s own security services and media, as one would have wished, but by an Al Jazeera undercover team. Our Government dismissed the matter saying: “The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.” But not everyone considered it closed and at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting Israel insider Miko Peled warned that “they are going to pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn…. the reason anti-Semitism is used is because they [the Israelis] have no argument….”
Given the blatant attempt by an Israeli asset to undermine British democracy, with Regev in the background and (what’s the betting?) Mossad pulling the strings, B’s suspicions were reasonable enough.
As for Israel being a racist State, its ethnic cleansing and other brutal policies over 70 years make it obvious. And the discriminatory Nation State laws recently imposed by Israel reinforce the fact. The point about anti-Semitism is also fair comment. DNA research shows that only a tiny proportion of Jews are Semitic (see for example the Johns Hopkins University study published by Oxford University Press) whereas most indigenous Arabs in the Holy Land, especially Palestinians, are Semites. ‘Anti-Semitism’, although long used to describe hatred of Jews, is a term that’s misused.
Weeks later B posted on her Facebook page that she was still suspended from the Labour Party and added this anguished message: “I can’t make any decisions about my personal, political, or professional future whilst this hangs over me. I am constantly tired and anxious, and feel I am making mistakes. I have lost paid work because of what has happened.”
In total she had to wait 16 weeks under sentence.
What account is taken of the right to free expression?
In these two cases a simple, informal assessment at the beginning would have shown no need for formal action. The Council leader mentioned earlier raised the spectre of Dark Ages thinking, and today we see it at the very heart of Labour.
Councillors don’t ‘belong’ to the the Labour Party or any other party; they belong to the public who elected them as their representative. No jumped-up party official should be allowed to interfere with their freedom of thought and action. What account is taken by Labour of the right to free expression guaranteed by international convention and domestic law? Have Labour’s investigators heeded the warnings by top legal opinion (for example Hugh Tomlinson QC and Sir Stephen Sedley) that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is “most unsatisfactory” and has no legal force, and using it to punish could be unlawful?
And thank-you, B’Tselem, for pulling the rug from under the feet of the various friends of Israel and we-adore-Zionism organisations who for decades have supported a criminal project that is a chief cause of conflict in the Middle East and here at home within our political system.
Back to B. Her suspension is now lifted but she is “advised” not to post about it or she’ll risk losing professional work on which her livelihood depends. WHAT??? If the Party has lifted its suspension shouldn’t it issue a public statement saying so? Should the wrongly accused be left struggling to re-establish her good name?
In the meantime I have heard nothing from A. He is not answering emails and there is nothing in the press. Has his suspension been lifted? I simply don’t know although I phoned and wrote again to the Leader and the General Secretary for an explanation. The latter eventually replied that “the Labour Party cannot, and does not, share personal details about individual party members” and placing a member in administrative suspension “allows a process of investigation to be carried out whilst protecting the reputation of the Labour Party”. Oh really? So how did the media get news of these suspensions in the first place? And what about the damage done to the reputations of the two councillors and their months of anguish? Anyway, I wasn’t asking for case details. All I wanted was the answer to three simple questions:
# Have the suspensions been lifted?
# If so, has the Party issued a public statement to that effect?
# And if the suspensions are lifted, have the false accusers been disciplined?
24 December 2018