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THE Labour Party has “lost its way,” Jewish Labour campaigners said today as the party faces a formal complaint over its mistreatment of Jews.
A legal letter on behalf of the Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), sent to the party and copied to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, sets out evidence that Jews who disagree with the current leadership about Israel, Palestine, zionism and anti-semitism “suffer disproportionately from the party’s harsh disciplinary regime.”
Jewish members are six times more likely to be investigated and more than nine times more likely to be expelled from the Labour Party for anti-semitism than non-Jewish members, according to recent research by JVL.
The letter, sent on August 22, says the party has failed to understand the diversity of opinion among British Jews and misconstrued criticism of Israel as anti-semitism, illegitimately restricting the free expression of Jewish views on Israel and zionism.
It highlights that restrictions are contrary to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and to the party’s own rules.
One of the cases highlighted in JVL’s research is of Stephen Marks, who was in the Labour National Constitutional Committee (NCC) from November 2018 until he was suspended from the party in July 2021.
The charges related to his having signed open letters and a petition — before his election to the NCC — which allegedly breached Chapter 2.1.8 of the party’s rules.
He was expelled in July and an appeal by his lawyer was turned down with no explanation, JVL said.
Mr Marks rejected the allegations and pointed out that: “Anti- semitism is abhorrent to me, as an anti-racist, a human rights activist and as a Jew.”
JVL co-chairwoman Jenny Manson said that Mr Marks’s case contains a “catalogue of serious mishandlings.”
She told the Star: “This experience that we are receiving suggests that the party has lost its way, its credit as an anti-racist party.
“Labour doesn’t understand anti-semitism and Jews who feel targeted.”
Ms Manson said that this, along with Labour’s failure to implement the Ford report, was “very worrying.”
“The effect of misunderstanding anti-semitism and refusing to let us challenge Labour on its method of investigation is inhibiting conversations about Israel and Palestine and this is noticeable in meetings where it is hardly discussed,” she added.
Labour was approached for comment.
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