Right-wing’s abuse of process continues – as does pattern of targeting newly-elected/selected lefties
Labour is ‘investigating’ Gemma Bolton, who was elected to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) only on Friday, for stating that Israel is an apartheid nation in a 2018 tweet.
In 2017, the United Nations condemned Israel for ‘imposing an apartheid regime on Palestinian people’:
A complaint has also been made for a comment Bolton made a month after her ‘apartheid’ tweet, in which she said that ‘BDS works’, referring to the ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ campaign that encourages organisations and individuals not to buy from or invest in businesses operating from Palestinian territories illegally occupied by Israel.
In making that statement, she was in agreement with giant, Labour-affiliated union Unison – one of Labour’s and Keir Starmer’s biggest backers, which officially supports BDS after a 2016 vote at its annual conference carried the following motion:
Unison is not alone. Last year, the UK and Ireland’s biggest union – and Labour’s biggest donor – voted to boycott Hewlett Packard products because the company provides the system that the Israeli government uses for its ‘population registry’, which a spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, described as:
the very instrument that enforces apartheid and racial segregation upon Palestinian citizens of Israel and ‘residents’ of occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem.
Likewise the GMB – Labour’s third-biggest union and another that supports Keir Starmer – voted as long ago as 2011 to:
take a lead in driving forward the boycott and divestment initiatives of companies who profit from illegal settlements, the occupation and the construction of the wall.
The union reconfirmed its commitment the following year and at the same time reaffirmed that it was ‘unashamedly’ affiliated to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Labour’s then-Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry – a member of Labour Friends of Israel – has also condemned Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu for ‘trying to turn Israel into an apartheid state’.
Supporters of Israel, unsurprisingly, label BDS antisemitic. The IHRA ‘working definition’ of antisemitism, which Labour’s critics support and which the party adopted despite criticisms even from the document’s creator of its potential for misuse, does not mention BDS, nor do its accompanying examples.
The targeting of Gemma Bolton is the latest in a string of attempts to sideline or expel left-wingers when they are elected to senior positions – or selected to contest them. Earlier this year, popular councillor Jo Bird was suspended over complaints of antisemitism, despite being Jewish – a suspension that was quickly overturned because the complaint had no substance. She was also targeted when she was in line for selection to represent a Liverpool constituency in the general election – and again as recently as this month, when she was standing for election to the NEC as a local government representative.
Labour is now targeting left-wingers elected to its ruling body for agreeing with the world organisation aiming to foster peace, justice and the rule of law – and with the three biggest unions backing the party.
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