The EHRC’s rather large blind spot

Mike Cushman disputes the EHRC’s claim that Labour has a clean bill of health. He argues that as long as Labour singles out Jews who are critical of Israel and only welcomes Jews the leadership agree with it continues to have major problems.


Source > Jewish Voice for Labour

Keir Starmer and David Evens are running a regime that is intolerant of dissent and bullies Jews and others who recognise that the Zionist project is incompatible with universal human rights. A regime that has written into the Party rule book that “Neither the principles of natural justice nor the provisions of fairness shall apply.”

The EHRC seems to believe that Keir Starmer has worked his magic and eradicated antisemitism from the Labour Party although Rachel Reeve’s believes this is only stage one: task completion requires elimination of anti-Zionism as well.

However, the task Starmer set the Party was not elimination of antisemitism, hatred of Jews as Jews. It was the silencing of support for Palestinian rights and criticism of Israel. The EHRC report provided much evidence of disquiet among Jewish members of the Labour Party and official Jewish community organisations. It found far less evidence of a level of antisemitism that justified such disquiet. The much-cited EHRC report cites three examples of what it claimed to be unlawful behaviour but the evidential and legal basis of each of these has been severely challenged.

Starmer’s programme was not directed primarily at eradicating the low level of actual antisemitic behaviour. It was a public relations exercise aimed at convincing pro-Israel organisations, especially Jewish pro-Israel organisations, that the Party would be reliably supportive of Israel: apartheid, settlements, human rights abuses and all.

The biggest threat to this project was discordant Jewish voices in the Party who were inconveniently opposed to the Zionist project. Starmer and his enforcer, David Evans, set themselves to silence these Jews, to make them feel unsafe in their Party and to drive them out. Their complaints about the abuse they received and the bullying they endured were systematically ignored or summarily rejected. A pattern JVL reported to the EHRC, with detailed case studies, but which the Commission declared was not their responsibility to consider. This contrasts with the credence given to far less well supported claims of ‘antisemitism’ in its report.

It has reached the stage in some constituencies that Jews who do not support Israel have become too frightened to attend Party meetings because of the intimidation and abuse they suffer. They might risk attending if they have even a residual hope that the Party would clamp down on the abusers but instead they see the abusers protected and promoted. Their willingness to bully Jews they disagree with is seen as a positive when they seek to become Council or Parliamentary candidates.

JVL has collected detailed statistics on the number of Jewish Party members who have been investigated, disciplined and expelled from the Party. Jewish members are over five times more likely to be investigated for antisemitism than other members. The figures for members of Jewish Voice for Labour are even high and every single member of JVL’s Executive has had some form of discipline, four of its members have been expelled. Even if it goes no further than investigation the members concerned find the experience oppressive. Jews find it highly offensive to be accused of antisemitism and such accusations are very damaging to their standing and disruptive of their private lives. It is possible, though very rare, for a Jew to be antisemitic. Suggestions that it might be rampant require a detailed underpinning that the Party has never tried to provide.

The only possible explanation is that the Party has decided, ab initio, that for a Jew to be opposed to Zionism as it manifests itself in contemporary Israel is proof of antisemitism. Given the well documented abuses that are systematic in Israel and justified in the name of Zionism, this holds that to be opposed to such abuse is to be antisemitic.

JVL has provided detailed data on this disproportionality to the EHRC. The EHRC has turned its well-developed blind eye to this evidence of discrimination.

In seeking to pursue this course without challenge the Labour Party has incorporated this extraordinary clause in its rule book:

2.1.4.D Neither the principles of natural justice nor the provisions of fairness in Chapter 2, Clause II.8 shall apply to the termination of Party membership pursuant to Chapter 2, Clauses I.4.A and C.

It takes a lifetime of claiming to be a human rights lawyer to have the chutzpah to write that.

The Forde Report does not make comfortable reading for any Party member, it discloses missteps and worse on every side. It does not endorse the way that the Starmer/Evans regime has pursued making the Party welcoming to all members. It is particularly harsh on the misguided path the Party has taken in what Forde describes as its inadequate antisemitism education programme. It is even more severe on the way that an exaggerated attention to the relatively small, while still serious, problem of antisemitism has overshadowed the far larger problem of anti-Black racism and Islamophobia in the Party.

This must be why the specious claims by Starmer are broadcast by the Party while the Forde Report is kept as hidden as possible.

Senior members of the Party are continuing to tell Jews who are not Zionist that they are not welcome in Labour. Rachel Reeves has told us that anti-Zionism is to be banned as well as antisemitism. Margaret Hodge has said that Labour is not the Party for anti-Zionist Jews. We do not become antisemitic because we disagree with Hodge on Israel and it is insulting and hurtful to suggest we do.

Despite its decision that its work in the Party is done the EHRC still has much work to do to ensure that all Jewish members of the Party can feel safe and welcomed.

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The Anti*Capitalist Resistance Editorial Board may not always agree with all of the content we repost but feel it is important to give left voices a platform and develop a space for comradely debate and disagreement.  

Mike Cushman is the JVL Membership Secretary

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