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Editorial: Dirty tactics and lack of natural justice mar the Labour Party

THERE should be no place in the Labour Party — or anywhere else for that matter — for anti-semitism. 

Hatred and prejudice against Jews has a long and ugly history in Britain and other countries. 

Whether its motivations are economic, political, religious or racial, anti-semitism must never be tolerated — least of all by a society that claims to be civilised.

Unfortunately, it still persists to a greater or lesser degree in most spheres of life. 

Many people in modern Britain engage in anti-semitic thinking and make anti-semitic remarks without realising it; most would be horrified by any accusation that they are anti-Jewish and would hotly deny being so.

In such cases, the error of their thoughts and conduct can be explained with a reasonable expectation that they will learn from their mistakes. 

In other cases, the anti-semitism is conscious, deliberate and must be exposed and repudiated without excuse or compromise.

In recent years, subconscious and unintentional anti-semitism has grown in Britain and around the world as a consequence of the policies and actions of successive governments in Israel. 

Proclaiming their country to be “the Jewish state,” they have denied the national and democratic rights of the Palestinian people in flagrant breach of United Nations resolutions. 

Most recently, a new nationality law approved by all major parties in the Israeli Knesset has elevated the legal status of Israel’s Jewish citizens — and by extension of Jews around the world — above that of the Palestinian Arabs and other non-Jewish minority groups.

However, justifiable opposition to Israeli state policies does not justify anti-semitism in any form. 

Those policies should be assessed according to their own merits or demerits.

The tragic history of Jewish communities in Europe is not a valid reason to judge Israel by different standards from other countries. 

Nor should it be acceptable to draw equivalents between Israel and its governments and the Nazis, which is understandably regarded by many Jews in Israel and beyond as a cruel and painful taunt. 

Nonetheless, these points notwithstanding, condemnation of Israeli state and government policies is not in itself anti-semitic. 

Championing the right of the Palestinian people to sovereign statehood is a thoroughly legitimate — and politically necessary — standpoint. 

Many Jewish people in Israel as well as Britain share it.

It is, therefore, reprehensible that zealous supporters of Israeli policies — Jews and gentiles — abuse the noble cause of anti-racism by using it as the pretext to silence those who support the Palestinian cause.

In the case of the Labour Party, it is clear that the recent drive to root out anti-semitism inside the party has to a significant extent been promoted and pursued not only to gag Israel’s critics, but also to smear and marginalise the left. 

Bodies hostile to the Labour Party, and especially to Jeremy Corbyn as its leader, have clearly connived with Labour MPs and staff to expel pro-Palestinian campaigners.

Indeed, in the Humpty Dumpty world of Sir Keir Starmer and his hand-picked general secretary David Evans, it is now deemed anti-semitic even to question allegations of anti-semitism against oneself or others.

Whereas in the past MPs could only be ejected by a vote of the whole Parliamentary Labour Party — as happened to the likes of Aneurin Bevan, Michael Foot, Sidney Silverman and SO Davies — now it can be done by diktat of the party leader alone. 

The necessary task of excluding the small number of anti-semites from the party is being overshadowed by the dirty tactics of those who betray the cause of anti-racism and care nothing for human rights and natural justice.

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