General secretary David Evans accepted ‘all’ LMN’s damning report on anti-Muslim racism among the Labour right – and its recommendations. But just days later, Labour is ‘investigating’ an NEC member for standing against the same anti-Palestinian bigotry Labour just promised to outlaw
As the SKWAWKBOX showed earlier today, Labour is ‘investigating’ – the word used by the Jewish Chronicle’s Lee Harpin (author of ‘a litany of lies’ for which the paper paid out hefty compensation to a smeared Labour-supporting pensioner without even trying to argue its case in court), to whom the news was apparently leaked by someone in the party – newly-elected NEC member Gemma Bolton.
Her ‘crime’? Agreeing with the United Nations that Israel is an apartheid state and with Labour’s three biggest affiliated unions that the ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ (BDS) campaign against goods and services produced in illegally-seized Palestinian territories, is a an effective means of protest.
But in targeting Ms Bolton, the party has put itself in a cleft stick of its own making.
Late last week, the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) published a measured but no less damning report on Islamophobia in the Labour Party, a huge problem among the Labour right. The SKWAWKBOX exclusively revealed that Labour general secretary David Evans – he could hardly do otherwise after pledging to implement the whole EHRC report on antisemitism in the party – subsequently emailed party figures to announce that Labour would implement every recommendation in the LMN report, with leader Keir Starmer, deputy leader Angela Rayner and himself taking a lead to ensure it is done.
And one of the key recommendations of the report – and now a Labour commitment – is to adopt in full the working definition of Islamophobia created by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims.
And that definition, now Labour’s ‘bible’ on the subject of Islamophobia, is this:
Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.
The report gives examples of such racist targeting – which include these:
– Denying Muslim populations the right to self-determination…
– Calling for, aiding, instigating or justifying the killing or harming of Muslims in the name of a racist/ fascist ideology, or an extremist view of religion.
BDS is a campaign led by Palestinians in an attempt to resist the continuing annexation of their territory by an ultra-right Israeli government – it is a textbook case of an attempt to secure self-determination for the Palestinian population against a country that only last year was condemned by the United Nations for killing and maiming unarmed Palestinians, including children:
And in targeting Gemma Bolton for standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against their persecution and often murder, Labour has opened itself and its hierarchy to charges of gross Islamophobia – even more so because Gemma Bolton is of Moroccan Muslim heritage.
Gemma Bolton was born Gemma Phaytan-Bolton, to a Moroccan Arab father and English mother. She adopted her mother’s surname a few years ago, but is very proud of her Arab roots and acutely aware of the racism experienced by Palestinians and other Arab people. Labour is targeting her for standing in solidarity with Palestinian Arabs against the racism perpetrated against them – as do many Muslims and non-Muslims – in direct contravention of the LMN report the party has just said it will implement in full.
Solidarity with other Muslims is very much an ‘expression of Muslimness’ – just as much as solidarity with the oppressed is a core feature of genuine socialism.
Ronnie Kasrils, the Jewish former Mandela ally, ANC government minister and anti-apartheid campaigner, said in 2007 of his own experience of visiting occupied Palestine:
Travelling into Palestine’s West Bank and Gaza Strip, which I visited recently, is like a surreal trip back into an apartheid state of emergency.
It is chilling to pass through the myriad checkpoints — more than 500 in the West Bank. They are controlled by heavily armed soldiers, youthful but grim, tensely watching every movement, fingers on the trigger…
The West Bank, once 22% of historic Palestine, has shrunk to perhaps 10% to 12% of living space for its inhabitants, and is split into several fragments, including the fertile Jordan Valley, which is a security preserve for Jewish settlers and the Israeli Defence Force. Like the Gaza Strip, the West Bank is effectively a hermetically sealed prison.
It is shocking to discover that certain roads are barred to Palestinians and reserved for Jewish settlers. I try in vain to recall anything quite as obscene in apartheid South Africa.
For standing against this and daring to call it apartheid, the Labour right have set their sights on an Arab woman, perhaps not realising her heritage and the trap they were setting for themselves because of her now-English surname.
And shortly after promising to stamp out any such racism in the party, Labour is ‘investigating’ her – and leaking the information to a right-wing paper with a track record of lies and distortions against the left:
If Labour fails to reverse its action and instead act against those who targeted Gemma Bolton for agreeing with the UN, Labour’s biggest unions and many others – and the staffer who leaked the news to a right-wing rag – its position on Islamophobia is a sham and one that certainly merits statutory investigation.
Labour’s complaints department can be reached here.
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