Socialist Worker

Labour leadership attempts to crush Palestine solidarity

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2734

Showing solidarity for Palestine is becoming almost impossible in the Labour Party

Showing solidarity for Palestine is becoming almost impossible in the Labour Party (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The Labour Party escalated its war on solidarity with Palestinians last week—banning members in east London from discussing a charity bike ride for Palestine.

Officials told two east London Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs)—where activists debate and organise—that a motion backing the Big Ride for Palestine was “out of order”.

Labour-controlled Tower Hamlets council in east London denied the Big Ride permission to hold a rally in a borough park in 2019.

The motions submitted to the Poplar and Limehouse, and Bethnal Green and Bow CLPs condemned the council’s decision.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism says it could be antisemitic to call Israel a racist state. This denies Palestinians their right to explain their history of persecution. 

It is also used to clamp down on solidarity with them.

Stand with the Palestinians against Israeli annexation
Stand with the Palestinians against Israeli annexation
  Read More

Despite this, Labour adopted the IHRA definition in 2018 as part of a campaign to brand left wing party members antisemitic.

Labour’s general secretary—backed by leader Keir Starmer—banned CLPs from “repudiating” the definition earlier this year.

Sybil Cock from east London Palestine Solidarity Campaign told Socialist Worker, “The Labour Party is becoming a place where the ability to talk about Palestine is shrinking.”

She added, “I know loads of people who’ve left the Labour Party over this in the last months. And I think there’ll be more to come.”

The ban comes amid a witch hunt of left wing Labour members. 

Suspended

Leading left wing Jewish activists Moshe Machover and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi were both suspended last week.

In its suspension letter to Machover, Labour demanded he respond to a dossier of “evidence” that he spoke out against Israel.

It 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.

Naomi was suspended after speaking at an online meeting of Chingford and Woodgreen 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.

Naomi and her CLP chair Gary Lefley both spoke out against the ban, in speeches leaked to right wing journalists.

Naomi said it was wrong to use accusations of antisemitism to shut down support for the left and Palestine.

“This is a dangerous road,” she told the meeting. “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.”


Israel murders Palestinian child

Israeli soldiers killed a child in the West Bank as he watched a demonstration against illegal settlements that rob Palestinians of their land.

Residents of the settlements attack nearby Palestinian villages with increasing frequency.

The teenager, Ali Abu Alayya, was reportedly shot in the stomach with live ammunition fired by Israel soldiers against weekly demonstrations at his village.

Ali is the sixth child to be killed by Israel in the West Bank this year.

He is the latest victim of Israel’s racist war against Palestinians.

Ali’s father Ayman said, “This is not new. We are continuously targeted—our sheep, our houses and our kids.“If not by the Israeli army, it’s by the settlers.”


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.