Socialist Worker

Leading activists suspended from Labour as assault on the left continues

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2734

A protest in support of Jeremy Corbyn in 2018

A protest in support of Jeremy Corbyn in 2018 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Two leading left wing Jewish activists have been suspended from the Labour Party for speaking out on Palestine and antisemitism.

Right wing newspapers report that Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi has been suspended “pending investigation” after a speech of hers was leaked to the press.

Israeli academic Moshe Machover also faces disciplinary action. The Labour Party has suspended him, demanding that he responds to a dossier of “evidence” that he criticised and protested against Israel.

They are the latest left wing activists to be targeted under the witch hunt launched by party leader Keir Starmer—and attacks on Palestine solidarity.

Machover—a respected philosopher, and a prominent critic of Israel—has released the suspension letter sent to him by the Labour Party.

The evidence Labour has demanded he answer includes a photograph of him at a protest boycotting an Israeli film festival event in north London. It also includes several examples of Machover linking accusations of antisemitism to attempts to silence criticism of Israel.

Machover was previously suspended in 2017 after an article he wrote criticising Israel’s founding ideology Zionism was distributed at Labour conference. He was later reinstated.

Machover said, “I Joined the Labour Party in 2016, when it opened its doors to socialists—who are, by definition, anti-imperialists.

Activists speak out—the left’s hope lies outside Labour
Activists speak out—the left’s hope lies outside Labour
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“At least I can use this occasion to promote the views I have been advocating for many years—in particular, socialist opposition to the Zionist project of colonisation and the Jewish-supremacist regime of the Israeli settler state.”

Other left wing activists are also being punished for speaking out.

Silence

Naomi was suspended after speaking at an online meeting of Chingford and Woodgreen constituency Labour Party (CLP) against the drive to silence the left.

The meeting had been due to debate a motion in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn, who has been suspended as a Labour MP. It was withdrawn after Labour’s leaders said anyone who supported or debated such motions would be suspended.

Instead chair Gary Lefley used his opening remarks to criticise Starmer for the ban on dissent inside Labour. He has now also reportedly been suspended.

Naomi hit out at it by saying there were  “damned good comrades and friends of mine being suspended from this party for doing nothing more than trying to discuss the questions which led to Jeremy Corbyn’s unjust suspension.”

Their speeches were both leaked to the right wing Jewish Chronicle, which published them shortly before their suspension was reported.

Other members of the CLP apparently said Naomi and Gary’s speeches made them feel “uncomfortable”. It follows a recent pattern of right wing Labour activists claiming support for Corbyn makes the Labour Party an unwelcoming place for Jewish people.

The Labour right are using a recent report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into Labour’s handling of antisemitism to silence the left.

The report wrongly links support for Israel to Jewish identity. It says “illegitimate” criticism of the Israel could be antisemitic if it creates a “hostile and intimidating” environment for Jewish people.

It comes on top of a definition of antisemitism adopted by Labour that rules out calling Israel a racist state. This denies the rights of Palestinians to describe their treatment by the state as apartheid, or their expulsion from their land as ethnic cleansing.

Naomi told the meeting, “This is a dangerous road. Do we really want us Jewish members to be seen as gatekeepers—as people who prevent others from discussing issues of importance? This is serious stuff comrades.”

The latest suspensions are some of the clearest examples yet that the assault on the left has made criticism of Israel almost entirely unacceptable inside Labour. The best place to fight for Palestine is outside


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