Analysis Breaking

Breaking: JVL makes new submission to EHRC on Labour’s discriminatory ‘action plan’

New evidence invited by EHRC highlights Labour’s war on left-wing Jews

Jewish Voice for Labour has today submitted a damning new document to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) invitation to provide input on the implementation and ramifications of Labour’s ‘action plan’ response to the EHRC’s widely-misreported 2020 report on antisemitism.

The new document, the third in a series of submissions by JVL highlighting the political nature of Labour’s supposed plan to eliminate antisemitism in the party, draws attention in particular to two ‘broad issues’ of the right-wing regime’s conduct:

– the continued unfair targeting of Jewish members of the Party and in particular Jewish
members with particular beliefs set out in further detail below, which appears to be entirely
contrary to the findings of the EHRC Report and the purpose of the Action Plan; and

– the unfair procedures the Party is continuing to follow in respect of disciplinary proceedings
against individual members
, in breach of principles of fairness, natural justice and
recommendations made by both the EHRC, and by Baroness Shami Chakrabarti in her report
published on 30 June 2016, following her inquiry into antisemitism in the Party (the
“Chakrabarti Report”).

But it also accuses Keir Starmer, his sidekick David Evans and others in the regime of failing to understand what antisemitism really is:

As a preliminary point, JVL considers that the failure of the Party to introduce a fair process
to tackle antisemitism has resulted from its failure to properly understand antisemitism.

5) JVL draws attention to the publication it prepared with Free Speech on Israel, entitled ‘What
is – and what is not – antisemitic misconduct’, which was submitted as a contribution to the
Labour Party’s consultation on its Code of Conduct on Antisemitism in September 2018.

6) The overview to the publication states:

The understanding of antisemitism on which this analysis is based reaffirms the traditional meaning of the term. This is important in the light of attempts to extend its meaning to apply to criticisms often made of the state of Israel, or to non-violent campaigns such as BDS. A charge of antisemitism carries exceptional moral force because of the negative connotations rightly attaching to the term. It is illegitimate to make such claims to discredit or deter criticism, or to achieve sectional advantage. To do so is to devalue the term.

To be clear: conduct is antisemitic only if it manifests ‘prejudice, hostility or hatred against
Jews as Jews”.

To support its conclusions, JVL points to the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism:

JVL also draws attention to the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism. This declaration is far clearer on defining what constitutes antisemitism than is the IHRA document. “Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).”

Its guidelines expand this in ways that are not slanted towards a particular view of Israel; the examples, being both ones that should prima facia be regarded as antisemitic and those that should not, are more helpful in aiding all parties to identify what activity should be the subject of complaint and sanction.

The submission continues:

7) The Party has ignored these publications. Instead, the Party currently has three guidance documents in publication in respect of antisemitism:e. Appendix 9.2 of the Rule Book 2020;

f. the ‘NEC Code of Conduct: Antisemitism’ contained in the Labour Party Complaint Handling
Handbook; and
g. the IHRA definition of antisemitism, also set out in the Complaint Handling Handbook.

8) Notably, despite containing two sets of guidance on antisemitism, the Complaint Handling
Handbook does not contain any explanation for how both forms of guidance should be applied, nor address the inconsistencies between them. The Party’s approach in practice also seeks to treat the “examples” within the IHRA Definition as automatically constituting antisemitism, but even the Definition is clear that this is not the correct approach. Members are therefore left uncertain as to the actual definition being applied by the Labour Party.

9) JVL considers that until the Party understands and properly communicates what does and does not constitute antisemitism, it will not be able to effectively tackle the issue of antisemitism in the Party and will continue to engage in the multiple failures set out in these submissions.

Most damningly, the document then outlines Labour’s naked discrimination against left-wing Jews and their beliefs, along with the contempt and cynicism revealed by the party’s behaviour:

13) The Party continues to unfairly target Jews who have anti-Zionist and anti-nationalist beliefs and who have objections to how the State of Israel is treating Palestinian people (referred to hereafter as “anti-Zionist Jews” for ease of reference). There is also an overlap with the targeting of Jews who have been uncomfortable with the way the Party has interpreted antisemitism and how it has conducted its investigations.

JVL has identified four ways in which the Party does this:

a. by carrying out a disproportionate number of disciplinary actions against anti-Zionist Jewish members in comparison to other Jewish members, in respect of alleged antisemitism;
b. by failing to recognise anti-Zionism as a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010;
c. by failing to represent anti-Zionist Jews in the Advisory board process (combined with a wider lack of representation); and
d. by bringing charges of ‘Undermining the Party’s ability to campaign against racism/ against the many Jews who have questioned the Party’s policy and methods”. See Paragraphs 33 and 34.

14) Such potential discrimination, arising after the EHRC investigation and Report, is indicative of the Party’s increased hostility towards certain Jewish Party members, which is directly contrary to the intended outcome of the Report and the Action Plan.

Disproportionate disciplinary action against anti-Zionist Jews

15) JVL refers the EHRC to Annex 11, which contains statistics on the number of investigations
by the Party brought against Jewish members and in particular, anti-Zionist Jewish members
. Annex 11 sets out that, as a population share, over five times more Jewish than non-Jewish Party members have been investigated in relation to allegations of antisemitism.

As far as JVL is aware, of the 41 Jewish members who have been investigated for antisemitism, 38 of those are members of JVL the vast majority of whom would consider themselves anti-Zionist Jews and all of whom see a strong distinction between anti- Zionism and antisemitism. As set out in Annex 11, JVL is concerned that this constitutes a systematic targeting of anti-Zionist Jews and in particular JVL members.

16) Please see Annex 17, which relates to Jewish writers finding out by chance that their work
is cited as evidence of antisemitism. No attempt has been made by the Party to discuss the
work with the respective authors; instead the Party proceeds on a misrepresentation that its
interpretation is based on firm, legal evidence.

17) The Party’s disproportionate action against anti-Zionist Jews is exemplified in the case of
Ms Diana Neslen. Ms Neslen is an over-80 year old Jewish woman who has herself
experienced physical and verbal antisemitism and who has lived through and opposed
apartheid in South Africa, yet who has been accused by the Party of antisemitism three times
in less than three years. JVL refers the EHRC to Annex 1 to the First Submission, which sets
out the background to her case.
18) Since the date of those submissions, Ms Neslen has been forced to instruct Bindmans LLP
to defend herself against unfounded charges brought against her by the Party, which she considers amount to harassment and discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010.

Bindmans’ correspondence is enclosed with these submissions at Annex 12. The Party has failed even to acknowledge such concerns, raised by a vulnerable Jewish woman, let alone respond to them. JVL instructed Bindmans to alert the EHRC about these concerns on 10 November 2021.

The report also highlights at length how Labour’s targeting of the anti-Zionist beliefs of left-wing Jews is directly discriminatory and in breach of laws on protected beliefs and characteristics, before summing up:

The Party’s disproportionate targeting of anti-Zionist Jews is brought into stark relief when compared with its failure to follow up on complaints made by mainly left-wing Jewish members. Please see Annex 14 for a list of the complaints that have not yet received any response. This is a matter that has been chased on numerous occasions, see for example the email sent by Bindmans to the EHRC on 26 October 2021, confirming that no response had been received from either the EHRC or the Party to JVL’s emails of 8 September 2021, requesting that the EHRC liaise with the Party to ensure it would investigate the complaints set out in Annex 6 of the First Submission.

And JVL points out that left-wing, anti-Zionist Jews – and Palestinians directly affected by the party’s application of the ‘IHRA definition’ have been entirely excluded from Labour’s so-called ‘advisory board’ on antisemitism, which in reality has been hand-picked by David Evans and the right:

JVL emphasised the risks and limitations of a narrow, unrepresentative, consultation among ‘Jewish stakeholders’ including the unhelpful precedent for other communities of interest and the narrow framing of what should constitute education through partisan ‘training’ from one source, the JLM (which has close links to Israel). JVL refers back to Annex 9 in this regard.

30) JVL had also instructed Bindmans LLP to write a letter to the Labour Party to raise concerns that appointments to the Advisory Board did not include non-Jewish Palestinians in light of the Party’s interpretation of antisemitism and its reliance on the heavily contested IHRA definition of antisemitism.1 The arguments in that letter are set out at Annex 5 of the First Submission.

As set out in Annex 5 to the First Submission, JVL remains concerned that the Party has adopted an unfair and opaque process for appointing the Advisory Board, which has resulted in the exclusion of anti-Zionist Jews and those concerned about the Labour Party’s actions. They are also concerned that a similar process will be followed in respect of the “independent boards” to be involved in the disciplinary process in light of the Action Plan.

The Party’s amended rules give complete discretion to the General Secretary in the appointment of those boards and there is a real risk they will end up as unrepresentative as the Advisory Board if there is no open and transparent process for their appointment.

It concludes by listing in detail the discriminatory and fundamentally unjust nature of Labour’s disciplinary processes and the ways in which these are being abused to target those whose beliefs make them ‘the wrong type of Jew’ in the eyes of the Labour regime.

Of course, none of this detailed information by Jewish members and former members of the Labour party will see the light of day in the so-called ‘mainstream’ media, because Keir Starmer and his gang are part of the Establishment they largely exist to protect.

It would be a very different story if Jeremy Corbyn were still leader, though of course none of this discrimination would be happening under him. But will the EHRC listen to what is being done under Keir Starmer?

Download the full submission here.

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