THE Labour Party has “lost its way,” Jewish Labour campaigners said today as the party faces a formal complaint over its mistreatment of Jews.
A legal letter on behalf of the Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), sent to the party and copied to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, sets out evidence that Jews who disagree with the current leadership about Israel, Palestine, zionism and anti-semitism “suffer disproportionately from the party’s harsh disciplinary regime.”
Jewish members are six times more likely to be investigated and more than nine times more likely to be expelled from the Labour Party for anti-semitism than non-Jewish members, according to recent research by JVL.
The letter, sent on August 22, says the party has failed to understand the diversity of opinion among British Jews and misconstrued criticism of Israel as anti-semitism, illegitimately restricting the free expression of Jewish views on Israel and zionism.
It highlights that restrictions are contrary to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and to the party’s own rules.
The anti-boycott Bill targets the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in solidarity with Palestine. It is openly a bid to enforce British foreign policy on all public bodies: Communities Secretary Michael Gove claims councils, universities or other institutions which seek to make ethical decisions on how to spend or invest funds are guilty of “pursuing their own foreign policy agenda.”
In banning public bodies from taking stances on international questions at odds with that of central government, the law is part of the creeping enforced conformity chilling democratic debate in Britain, reflected in Tory anti-protest legislation, Labour’s relentless search for heretics to expel and the online censorship of alternative and foreign media in the name of combating “disinformation.”
The cross-party consensus on stripping us of our democratic rights is evident here too. Though Labour proposed a “reasoned amendment,” setting out objections to the Bill without actually amending it, it instructed its MPs to abstain when that fell rather than oppose the legislation.
In an interview with Jewish News, shadow communities secretary Lisa Nandy stressed the party’s support for a ban on BDS, saying Labour’s only concerns were that the Bill might also stop councils boycotting other countries, namely China: suggesting Labour would police enforced alignment with British foreign policy even more closely than the Tories. Her concerns are misplaced, anyway: the Bill breaks new ground by explicitly referencing Israel, giving it a unique impunity from activist pressure under British law, as well as by specifying that it should also cover the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights, endorsing Israel’s illegal colonisation projects in practice while continuing to oppose them formally.
“Israeli forces are now blocking ambulances from reaching the dozens of wounded Palestinians after at least eight people were killed in Jenin,” the Michigan Democrat said Monday.
In the wake of another deadly raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the illegally occupied West Bank of Palestine, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on Monday led renewed calls for Congress to cut off the nearly $4 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Israel’s apartheid government.
Israeli forces killed at least eight Palestinians and wounded dozens of others in the early morning attack on Jenin that included bombardment by unmanned aerial drones. Israeli and international media described the airstrikes as the fiercest to hit the West Bank in nearly two decades.
Retweeting an Al Jazeera English video of an Israeli bulldozer destroying a street in Jenin, Tlaib (D-Mich.)—the first Palestinian-American woman elected to the House—asserted that “Congress must stop funding this violent Israeli apartheid regime.”
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The U.S.-based Jewish Voice for Peace issued a similar call.
“Last night,” the group said Monday, “the Israeli military unleashed a full-scale assault on Jenin, surrounding the Palestinian city, preventing people from leaving and launching airstrikes. The state-sanctioned violence Palestinians endure daily must end. End U.S. military funding to Israel now.”
The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights called Monday’s attack a “horrific massacre” that was “directly funded with $3.8+ billion/year of our U.S. tax dollars.”
Lamenting that “the Israeli government is completely out of control because it does not expect to face any consequences from the Biden administration,” Council on American Islamic Relations national executive director Nihad Awad said that “this must change.”
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The Institute for Middle East Understanding, an advocacy group headquartered in Tustin, California, tweeted: “Israel has no right to invade Palestinian cities, and must be held accountable for its war crimes.”
“The U.S. sends Israel nearly $4 billion a year in military funding,” the group added. “Enough is enough.”
The peace group CodePink reshared a petition urging President Joe Biden and Congress to “stop funding the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”
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Monday’s raid came less than two weeks after Palestinian militants killed four Israelis near Eli, an illegal Jewish-only settler colony built partly on land stolen from residents of the Palestinian village of Qaryut. In response to the killings, a mob of Israeli settlers attacked the West Bank town of Turmus Ayya, killing one Palestinian and burning many homes, businesses, and vehicles.
In May, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and co-sponsors reintroduced legislation that would prohibit Israel from using U.S. taxpayer funds to detain or abuse Palestinian children in the West Bank.
The Israeli use of administrative detention, a controversial practice that allows the Israeli occupation to hold suspects without trial for months or even years, has reached its highest level since 2003, according to a report by an Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem.
B’Tselem said that as of November 2021, there were 1,128 Palestinians in administrative detention, including 10 minors and two women. The group said this was the largest number of such detainees since the end of the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, in 2003.
The group accused the Israeli occupation of using administrative detention as a “tool of oppression” and a “means of collective punishment” against Palestinians, especially those involved in political or social activism. It said that most of the detainees were held based on secret evidence that they and their lawyers could not challenge in court.