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Push against anti-semitism ‘purging Jews from Labour’

JVL reports shocking clampdown on left-wing Jewish members

JEWISH Labour members on the party’s left are being disproportionately targeted by investigations into anti-semitism, a shocking new report has claimed.

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) published its study today, having submitted it to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for investigation.

The dossier – also sent to the Institute of Race Relations, the Runnymede Trust and the Forde Inqury into Labour’s handling of anti-semitism complaints – catalogues what it says is a clampdown on Jews who disagree politically with the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Labour Movement.

JVL warned that the Labour leadership has limited its engagement “to groups who claim to represent ‘the Jewish community’ but who in fact represent only one position within it.” It said that disregarding wider perspectives in this way has led to the “administrative persecution” of hundreds of its members, which it branded a form of discrimination.

It urged the EHRC to investigate “the climate of hostility being built up and directed against us,” adding that “no action has been taken against those who have repeatedly disputed, maligned or mocked the Jewishness of JVL” within the Labour Party.

JVL co-chair Jenny Manson said the group believes there is now a pattern of left-wing Jews being targeted as a result of the party’s actions, and that there has been an attempt to purge those with dissenting views.

The group found that actioned anti-semitism complaints have involved a maximum of 0.29 per cent of Labour members, with at least 35 investigations of Jewish Labour members.

Its report claims that about 1.4 per cent of Jewish members have been the subject of an actioned complaint of anti-semitism, rising to 6 per cent among JVL members. 

Nine of JVL’s 17 officers and committee members have been investigated, with three currently suspended, meaning that 53 per cent have faced actioned complaints of anti-semitism.

Ms Manson said: “We are suffering just the kind of anti-semitism that people pretended was going on in complaints to the EHRC. Our feeling that a lot of that was made up is why we are disliked, and they are trying to get rid of us.

“There has been anti-semitism in the Labour Party, always has been, on a much lower level, but I never experienced it until the past few years.

“Anti-semitism, harassment — just the kind of mix of discrimination and persecution the EHRC were supposed to have been investigated some time ago. 

“Now I think they should investigate this. I fear they won’t, because the Establishment is closing its eyes to what is happening to Jews like us.” 

Shortly after the report was sent to the EHRC, Ms Manson was served with a notice of investigation by the Labour Party herself, relating to an appearance on BBC Newsnight last year.

The study contains the experiences of other JVL members, such as Stephen Marks of Labour’s national constitutional committee, who has now been suspended for alleged anti-semitism.

Socialist historian David Rosenberg, a Jewish Labour Party member and constituency officer, said that the targeting of JVL members was outrageous and sickening. 

“This submission by JVL is a truly shocking indictment of the way that Jews on the left wing of the party have been severely mistreated under a new management which said its first priority was to listen to the Jewish community and rebuild trust with it,” he said.

“That work surely begins at home — listening first to the diverse opinions of Jewish Labour Party members. 

“But the leadership has chosen to listen instead to a narrow section of right-wing Jewish voices in and outside the party. It has not only ignored the opinions of Jews on the left but has actively persecuted them.

“Reading the testimonies in the submission has been painful. Several concern people I already knew and respected for many years long before JVL even existed. I know them as people steeped in knowledge of and involvement in Jewish history and culture who are also dedicated anti-racists. To see any of them accused as Jews of anti-semitism is as outrageous as it is sickening.”

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell called on Labour to consider the report’s findings, and praised the work of JVL.

The report includes notes from the MP regarding the membership of Labour’s advisory board on anti-semitism and on calls for JVL to be consulted on the party’s complaints process. 

“From its inception, JVL has made a valuable contribution to the Labour Party’s appreciation of the diversity of thought and experience amongst the Jewish community,” Mr McDonnell told the Morning Star.

“This latest report deserves a thorough consideration by the bodies to which it has been submitted, and a full assessment and appreciation by the Labour Party in order to achieve a better and fuller understanding of the range of views and feelings of Jewish people in our country.”

The Labour Party was approached for comment. 

The EHRC confirmed that it had received the report, but did not comment further.

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