Tag Archives: Moshe Machover

Corbyn should speak up

Labour HQ has decided upon yet more suspensions. Carla Roberts reports on the appalling consequences of appeasement

Tom Watson’s inaugural meeting of rightwingers in parliament this week certainly looked quite impressive in terms of numbers – there are reports of up to 140 people present, including between 60 to 80 current Labour Party MPs, among them “at least 13 members of the shadow front bench”. But dig a little deeper and the thing looks decidedly uninspiring.

Despite its name, ‘Future Britain’, this outfit is looking firmly back towards the past: “I feel that the voice of the social democratic and democratic socialist traditions hasn’t been strong enough in recent times,” said Watson. Darren Johnson, MP for Bristol North West, expanded: “This is the coming together of the TBs and GBs.” So we presume Tony Blair is supposed to be the social democrat and Gordon Brown the democratic socialist? Have we got that right? It does not matter, really. “Even some of Watsons’ supporters remain unsure what his ultimate intentions are,” writes The Guardian, not known as a friend of Corbyn’s.

Apparently, the group wants to “concentrate on policy development”, move alternative papers to those of the national policy forum and other such exciting things. The New Statesman believes that Tom Watson is “in effect trying to provide a support network and safe space for Labour MPs contemplating life outside the party”.

They can call it what they want, but we know that it is part of the ongoing slow coup against Corbyn. They know they cannot challenge Corbyn in a leadership contest, because they are bound to lose. The membership is still firmly on his side. So Future Britain is very much part of the campaign to kill Corbyn’s leadership through 1,000 cuts, as is the formation of Chuka Umunna’s The Independent Group. In and of themselves, they would not amount to much.

But they have to be seen within the exceptionally successful and very much ongoing campaign to paint Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites. This was the only muck that ever really stuck – because Corbyn and his allies allowed it to stick. They bent over backwards to try and prove to the right that they would take the allegations seriously and ‘sort it out’ – when clearly it was only ever a miniscule problem, reflecting the low-level prejudice and racism that exists in wider society.

But, by suspending one person after another on false and trumped-up charges of ‘anti-Semitism’ (or expelling them for ‘bringing the party into disrepute’) and by adopting the much-disputed definition of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the party could only ever achieve the opposite: ie, it is demonstrating that Labour has indeed a ‘huge problem’. The fact that 12 members have been expelled over anti-Semitism does not prove that the party is dealing with that problem – but that it has let off the other 661!

Now the Jewish Labour Movement, which has sadly voted to remain a part of the Labour Party for now, has succeeded in getting the government quango, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, to open an investigation into the Labour Party over anti-Semitism. And at the same time – as if to show how important such an investigation is – the compliance unit seems to have lost all sense of proportion.

Not only have automatic suspensions for the most minor of accusations been reinstated – in clear contravention to what Shami Chakrabarti recommended following her inquiry. We have also seen members being suspended for even questioning the claim that there is a big anti-Semitism problem in the party.

For example, part of the case against Jackie Walker (whose expulsion hearing takes place on March 26) is that she described the witch-hunt against her and others as … “a witch-hunt”. That charge was, of course, added after her suspension. So fighting back against your suspension becomes part of the charge sheet against you – that is clearly against all natural justice and reeks of Kafkaesque madness.

New victims

These are just some of the latest suspensions that we have become aware of:

– Councillor Stuart Porthouse, former mayor of Sunderland, was suspended for sharing an interview with George Galloway on Sky News, in which the former MP said the party was not-anti-Semitic.

– The suspension of Chris Williamson MP also clearly falls into this category: he is not charged with saying anything anti-Semitic, but questioning if the party’s tactics were wise.

– Councillor Jo Bird from the Wirral has been suspended for making a number of jokes, like changing ‘due process’ to ‘Jew process’ (she is Jewish herself).

– Sean McCallum, mayoral candidate in Mansfield, has been suspended on the basis of two 25-months-old tweets questioning the origins of a meme that Naz Shah MP had posted three years ago.

– Asa Winstanley, investigative journalist with the Electronic Intifada, has been suspended for calling out the Jewish Labour Movement on Twitter: “Israeli embassy proxy the JLM confirms it was responsible for the referencing of Labour to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for supposed ‘institutional anti-Semitism’. Shameless sabotage of the party.”

– Last but not least, we are also seeing a new attempt to ‘get’ eminent Middle Eastern expert Moshé Machover, who John Mann MP and the JLM first tried to have suspended back in 2017, after we reprinted his article, ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’, in our Labour Party conference issue of Labour Party Marxists. But the compliance unit did one better and expelled him under clause 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) in the party’s rulebook. You see, because comrade Machover attended meetings organised by LPM and the CPGB, it was seen as ‘proven’ that he was a member of LPM, CPGB (or both) and therefore not eligible for membership of the Labour Party.

Comrade Machover, however, managed to get not only some very pointed lawyer’s letters to the compliance unit: his expulsion also led to an international outcry and the party was flooded with supportive statements and resolutions. Within 30 days, the party reinstated him as a full member. The original charge that his meticulously researched article was anti-Semitic was never looked into, “because you are not currently a member of the Labour Party”, as his expulsion letter stated.

This week though, the Jewish Chronicle is fronting another attempt to get him on those allegations. As part of the campaign to charge Jeremy Corbyn with ‘interfering’ with disciplinary cases, the JC reminds its readers of comrade Machover’s crime: “He quoted Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the final solution, to support the notion that the Nazis supported Zionists before the holocaust.” I mean, where do we get if we actually start quoting sources to make a point?

The JC has also dug up a number of newish quotes from comrade Machover, “who has continued to make controversial remarks”: for example, “Mr Machover also claimed Israel’s ministry of strategic affairs had driven an ‘immense public campaign’ in the UK against Labour’s new guidelines on anti-Semitism.”

That is, of course, common knowledge – as well as the fact that the pro-Zionist lobby put enormous pressure on the party to accept the disputed IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, including all 11 examples. The paper also quotes from a speech at Labour Against the Witchhunt’s conference, when he “compared incidents of anti-Semitism in the party to the hunt for paedophiles – suggesting eventually someone will be found”.

Of course, he did not “compare” the two. As opposed to the hack from the JC, I was actually there. Comrade Machover said: “… of course there are some anti-Semites in the party, just as no doubt there are some paedophiles, but it is definitely not the major problem it has been portrayed to be”.

None of these so-called accusations would hold up in any bourgeois court system. But unfortunately, we cannot be sure of what kind of madness has broken out in the compliance unit – we would not put it past them to suspend comrade Machover too. Having accusations printed in the Jewish Chronicle is usually the first step in the campaign to get somebody suspended – Asa Winstanley first learned of his own suspension from that rag. Comrade Machover, however, is not one to go down quietly. The compliance unit might well stretch itself too far with such a move – which could have all sorts of unintended consequences.

We hear that Jeremy Corbyn is getting increasingly unhappy about some of the recent suspensions – especially that of Chris Williamson MP. How much longer can he simply watch, as one of his supporters after another is handed over to the witch-finders in the compliance unit?

Yes, he is a prisoner of the rightwingers in the Parliamentary Labour Party and it is true that even his long-term ally, John McDonnell, now appears to have fully jumped on board the ‘anti-Semitism’ crisis bandwagon (which Momentum’s owner, Jon Lansman, has been sitting on for quite some time).

But Corbyn still has a voice – and he is, after all, the reason why hundreds of thousands of members have joined the party. If he spoke up – publicly – in support of Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson, Jo Bird, Moshé Machover and Asa Winstanley, he could make a massive difference to the outcome of the civil war in the Labour Party.

LAW conference: Standing up to the right

David Shearer reports on the threats, debates and decisions at Labour Against the Witchhunt’s first conference

The first national conference of Labour Against the Witchhunt, which took place in London on February 2, was a success, with around 50 comrades from around the country attending.

That, of course, is not a huge figure, but in view of the various attempts made to sabotage the event, it was excellent that so many were determined to come along, despite the snowy conditions. The conference was originally to have taken place in a church hall in west London, but, just two days before the agreed date, the booking was cancelled. The normal threats and accusations of anti-Semitism were made. According to the email received by LAW, the venue was “not really appropriate for such a conference, bearing in mind safeguarding and security issues”.

It goes without saying that the anti- Semitism allegations are totally false. It is true that among those attending were comrades who had been falsely accused of anti-Semitism, in the witch-hunt driven by the Labour right and backed by the establishment, but no such allegations have been upheld against any of them. In fact Moshé Machover – an Israeli Jew who was summarily expelled from Labour in 2017 for writing an article noting the collaboration that occurred between German Zionists and the Nazis – was quickly reinstated following the outrage this called.

Another speaker was Tony Greenstein – another Jew accused of anti-Semitism because of his staunch anti-Zionism. But in his case too the allegations were quietly dropped – although he was eventually expelled from the Labour Party under the catch- all charge of “bringing the party into disrepute” – basically for being ‘rude’ online. Then there was Jackie Walker, whose case has not yet been heard (see below).

Fortunately LAW booked an alternative venue, but, in order to avoid further malicious threats, the location was not publicised. It comes to something when a democratic campaign has to keep details secret – comrades were asked to meet outside a nearby tube station. Unsurprisingly, however, people were followed. We had a little reception committee, including a well known member of the far-right Britain First. One his Zionist chums filmed herself screaming, “Why do you call Jews Nazis?”


Opening the conference was LAW chair Jackie Walker, who has recently been named by the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society as an “extremist figure”, comparable to Tommy Robinson. She described this as a “hate campaign that puts my quality of life at risk”. In other cases, she said, people had lost their jobs, and at least one person had even attempted suicide.

Suspended from Labour since November 2016 merely for saying she knew of no definition of anti-Semitism she could work with, comrade Walker – another Jewish comrade (she pointed out that there were a disproportionate number of Jews who were victims of the witch-hunt) – has now learnt that the hearing is finally expected to take place on March 26-27. But she still does not know what exactly she is accused of and who her accusers are.

Despite the disgraceful nature of this campaign, comrade Walker noted, some on the left had been complicit – not least Momentum owner Jon Lansman. She predicted there would be a “miraculous change” if the right succeeded in removing Jeremy Corbyn – Labour’s ‘anti-Semitism’ problem would suddenly disappear.

Our first session discussed a motion entitled ‘The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn’, which was introduced by comrade Machover and investigative journalist Asa Winstanley of The Electronic Intifada, who emphasised how false claims of anti-Semitism have been weaponised in order to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. As comrade Winstanley put it, “They’re trying to defeat the man by demoralising, splitting and defeating the left movement supporting him.”

Comrades Winstanley and Machover were both supposed to be introducing the steering committee motion, but, in my opinion, it was unnecessary to have two people doing that job. Comrade Winstanley in particular took up a lot of time going back to the beginning of the anti-Corbyn campaign, which began three years ago. He highlighted the role of the Israeli government and described Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement as “proxies for the Israeli embassy”. He quite rightly pointed out that such people should have no place within Labour.

Comrade Machover talked about Corbyn’s “big mistake” in not challenging the smear campaign. Yes, of course, there are some anti-Semites in the party, he said, just as no doubt there are some paedophiles, but it is definitely not the major problem it has been portrayed to be. Corbyn should have said right from the beginning, “This is clearly not about anti- Semitism”. Comrade Machover went on to point out that Israel and Zionists claim to speak on behalf of all Jews, but we need to combat that through political education, and not react against the Zionist lobby in a way that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic.

When the debate was opened up to the floor, one comrade pointed to the positive signs – at the Labour conference, Palestinian flags had been raised on numerous occasions in the hall – and the members knew what the truth was, he said. In the end McCarthyism was discredited in the United States and surely the same would happen with the parallel campaign here in Britain. In reply to this, comrade Walker agreed that support for the Palestinians within Labour was positive, but that did not mean that the mass of delegates were strongly opposed to the witch-hunt.

For his part John Bridge of Labour Party Marxists also warned against any complacency. Anti-Semitism had now been redefined to mean ‘criticism of Israel’ – Labour’s national executive has gone along with that by adopting the International Holocaust Alliance so-called ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism – including all 11 of the “examples”, seven of which relate to criticism of Israel. Comrade Bridge concluded that what we are seeing could be “only the beginning”: we might even see legislation based on the IHRA, which would criminalise such criticism.

The motion was carried unanimously.


In the afternoon session, comrade Greenstein introduced the steering committee motion on the IHRA, whose actual ‘definition’ is limited to stating that anti-Semitism “may be expressed as hatred toward Jews” (my emphasis – yes, that really is as far as the ‘definition’ goes). The real purpose, stated comrade Greenstein, was to “equate everything but the most benign criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism”.

Glyn Secker of Jewish Voice for Labour also spoke on the IHRA from the platform, even though he is not a LAW member. He pointed out that he had lost a whole generation of his family in the holocaust, yet he is still accused of anti-Semitism for his critique of Zionism – there is a deep conflict between Zionists and “revolutionary socialist Jews” like himself, he said. Yet, while there was an outcry against such “manufactured anti-Semitism”, asked comrade Secker, where was the mainstream campaign against the growth of the far right?

Another comrade, speaking from the floor, thought that “the train has left”, in that the IHRA had now been adopted by Labour. So it was best not to continue campaigning against the whole IHRA definition, but to demand the ditching of the examples and their replacement by the JVL’s own code of conduct. However, Tina Werkmann – a member of the LAW steering committee – stressed that the IHRA symbolised the political collapse of the Labour left – it had to be opposed “in its entirety”. Comrade Bridge agreed and added: “In the middle of a witch- hunt, silence is as good as complicity.” That is why we need to be critical of Jeremy Corbyn, he said.

Because the motion drafted by comrade Greenstein quoted a dictionary definition of anti-Semitism in contrast to the IHRA nonsense, conference – quite unnecessarily in my view – spent a long time discussing alternative definitions. Several last- minute amendments were drafted in relation to that. But, as one comrade asked, why does LAW need a definition at all? We are a campaign against the witch-hunt – that is why we are opposed to the IHRA, which equates anti-Zionism with anti- Semitism. But that does not mean we have to agree on the precise wording of a replacement definition.

When the vote was taken, however, all amendments to that effect were defeated – although some minor changes to the wording were accepted and the motion, as amended, was carried unanimously. Two motions from Pete Gregson were also passed overwhelmingly: the first called for support for targeted activists and the second was a model motion on opposition to the IHRA. Once again there were attempts to insert references to a particular alternative definition of anti-Semitism.

Because so much time had been taken by this – and by platform speeches – there was very little time left for what turned out to be the most controversial debate – over LAW’s draft constitution. While most of it was clearly approved by those present, there were two alternative and mutually contradictory amendments to the steering committee draft. After the sentence, “The national all- members meeting (including conference) is the highest decision- making body of LAW and it elects the steering committee”, comrade Werkmann proposed to add: “A simple majority at any all-members meeting can decide to appoint or recall a member of the steering committee.”

Comrade Greenstein’s alternative amendment on the steering committee sought to delete, “It elects its own officers and sub-committees” and replace this with a provision for the four main officer posts to be elected by “the annual general meeting”. Most controversially, he proposed adding: “Officers can be recalled by a two-thirds majority of the all-members meeting” (my emphasis).

Ironically, comrade Greenstein claimed that we had to guard against LAW being taken over by some sect, which might be able to mobilise its supporters to turn up at a poorly attended members’ meeting and vote off the committee a member who had been democratically elected at an AGM. That was why there must be a two-thirds majority to recall an officer or committee member, he contended. In reality, the opposite is the case. Rather obviously, such a requirement would make it more likely that the will of the majority of members was thwarted. For example, if we assume that the attendance at Saturday’s conference was exactly 50, it would only have needed 17 of those present (whether members of the same ‘sect’ or not) to veto a decision favoured by a substantial majority, if comrade Greenstein’s proposal had applied.

Fortunately, however, it was comrade Werkmann’s amendment that was carried (by a narrow majority), which meant that comrade Greenstein’s automatically fell. Clearly a good number of comrades have not grasped the benefits of genuine representative democracy and hopefully the article accompanying this one – William Sarsfield’s ‘Real workers’ democracy’ (which outlines the case, in particular, against the allocation of individual officer responsibilities by the entire membership, as opposed to the committee itself) – will help bring out those advantages.

All in all, as I pointed out at the start of this report, the conference marked a step forward for LAW – and struck a blow against those who have sought to cow the left in order to return the Labour Party into safe, Blairite hands.

Why Israel is a racist state

Any colonial-settler project must involve systematic discrimination against the indigenous population. Moshé Machover calls for the deZionisation of Israel

That Israel is a racsist state is a well-established fact. On July On July 19 2018, it enacted a quasi-constitutional nationality bill – ‘Basic law: Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people’ – which has been widely condemned as institutionalising discrimination against Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. As many have observed, this law merely codifies and formalises a reality that long predates it.1)Thus, for example, Bernie Sanders remarked in passing that “the recent ‘nation state law’ … essentially codifies the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens”. (‘A new authoritarian axis demands an international progressive front’, The Guardian, 13 September 13 2018). Within its pre-1967 borders, Israel is an illiberal semi-democracy. It defines itself as “Jewish and democratic”, but, as its critics point out, it is “democratic for Jews, Jewish for others”. In the territories ruled by it since 1967, Israel is a military tyranny, applying one system of laws and regulations to Jewish settlers and an entirely separate one to the indigenous Palestinian Arabs.

The ways in which Israel exercises racist discrimination are too numerous to list here. Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, lists over 65 Israeli laws that discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinian citizens in Israel and/or Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). In addition to these laws there are countless unofficial bureaucratic practices and regulations, by which Israeli racist discrimination operates in everyday life.

The conclusion cannot be denied: the state of Israel is structurally racist, an apartheid state according to the official UN definition of this term.

Shocking comparison

In Israeli public discourse, racist speech is extremely common even at the highest echelon of politics. Some of this high-level racist discourse is almost casual, such as Benjamin Netanyahu’s infamous “Arabs voting in droves” video 2)“The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them in buses.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/17/binyamin-netanyahu-israel-arab-election on election day, March 17 2015; or the “we are not Arab lovers” declaration of Isaac Herzog, leader of Israel’s Labor Party. 3)‘We are not Arab lovers – Israeli Labor’s bankrupt efforts to stave off decline’, Middle East Eye, 25 April 2016, https://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/when-israels-main-opposition-party-has-problem-countrys-palestinian-citizens-1878921672  At the most obscene end of the range there are statements by senior politicians containing barely concealed calls for ethnic cleansing.

Some of the harshest condemnation of Israel’s racism is voiced by two Israeli academics, who, as recognised experts on the history of fascism and Nazism, speak with considerable authority.

Professor Zeev Sternhell is emeritus head of the department of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one of the world’s leading experts on fascism. In an article published earlier this year, he referred to statements made by two senior Israeli politicians, members of the ruling coalition, Bezalel Smotrich (deputy speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament) and Miki Zohar (chair of one of the Knesset’s most important committees). These statements, Sternhell writes4)‘In Israel, Growing Fascism and a Racism Akin to Early Nazism’, Ha’aretz January 19 2018, https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-in-israel-growing-fascism-and-a-racism-akin-to-early-nazism-1.5746488?=&ts=_1537002401268, “should be widely disseminated on all media outlets in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. In both of them we see not just a growing Israeli fascism, but racism akin to Nazism in its early stages.”

This shocking comparison with Nazism is endorsed by Daniel Blatman, professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, whose book The death marches: the final phase of Nazi genocide won him in 2011 the Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research. In an article published last year he commented: “deputy speaker Bezalel Smotrich’s admiration for the biblical genocidaire, Joshua bin Nun, leads him to adopt values that resemble those of the German SS.” 5)‘The Israeli Lawmaker Heralding Genocide Against Palestinians’, Ha’aretz May 23 2017, https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-israeli-mk-heralding-genocide-against-palestinians-1.5475561. The biblical reference is to the book of Joshua, which contains a mythical account of the conquest and ethnic cleansing of the land of Canaan (Palestine) by the Israelites. The account is of course purely fictitious, but is taken as inspiration and virtual blueprint by the likes of Smotrich

Blatman returned to this topic in a more recent article:

Deputy Knesset speaker MK Bezalel Smotrich … presented his phased plan, according to which the Palestinians in the occupied territories (and possibly Israeli citizens, too) would become, in the best case, subjects without rights with a status that reminds us of German Jews after the passage of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. To the extent that they do not agree to the plan, they will simply be cleansed from here. If they refuse to leave, they will be uprooted violently, which would lead to genocide.

Another elected official from the ruling coalition, Likud’s Miki Zohar, did not hesitate to state that the Arabs have a problem that has no solution – they are not Jews and therefore their fate in this land cannot be the same as that of the Jews .…  Prof Zeev Sternhell wrote in this paper earlier this month that this racism is “akin to Nazism in its early stages.” I think it is Nazism in every way and fashion, even if it comes from the school of the victims of historical Nazism.

He concludes that “if a racism survey were held in western countries like the one on anti-Semitism, Israel would be near the top of the list.” 6)‘International Holocaust Remembrance Day: An Israeli Hypocrisy’, Ha’aretz January 28 2018, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-international-holocaust-remembrance-day-an-israeli-hypocrisy-1.5768945

Role of racism

Exposing Israel’s racism is all too easy. Mere denunciation, without explanation of its underlying context, may actually be misleading if not counterproductive; it may appear as singling Israel out for some peculiar and exceptional moral defect of its leaders or, worse, of its Jewish majority. In fact, racist structures and attitudes, wherever they occur, are part of the legal and ideological superstructure and cannot properly be understood in isolation from their material base.

In the case of Israel, that material base is the Zionist colonisation of Palestine – a process of which Israel is both product and instrument. That the Zionist project is all about the colonisation of Palestine by Jews is, once again, an indisputable fact. It is how political Zionism described itself right from the start. Thus, the second Zionist Congress (1898) adopted the following resolution (supplementing the Basel programme adopted at the first Congress a year earlier):

This Congress, in approval of the colonisation already inaugurated in Palestine, and being desirous of fostering further efforts in that direction, hereby declares, that:

For the proper settlement of Palestine, this Congress considers it is necessary to obtain the requisite permission from the Turkish government, and to carry out such settlement according to the plan, and under the direction of a committee, selected by this Congress ….

This committee to be appointed to superintend and direct all matters of colonisation; it shall consist of ten members, and have its seat in London. 7)www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2612-basel-program

The Congress also resolved to establish a bank to finance the activities of the Zionist movement. The bank was duly incorporated in London in 1899; its name was the Jewish Colonial Trust.8)www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jewish-colonial-trust Well into the 20th century, Zionists continued to describe their project unabashedly, in a perfectly matter-of-fact way, as one of colonisation. Later in the 20th century this usage became a public relations liability, and the term was replaced by various euphemisms. But the practice of colonisation of Palestinian land has continued unabated and is going ahead at full steam to this day.

This context makes Israel’s racism quite ‘natural’, in the sense of conforming to a general law. Every colonisation of an already inhabited territory is accompanied by racism. This is the case whether or not the colonisers arrive with preconceivedracist ideas. Colonisation invariably meets resistance by the indigenous people. This was clearly understood, for example, by Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880–1940), the founder of the Zionist current that has been politically dominant in Israel for the last 41 years. In his seminal article ‘The iron wall’ (1923) he wrote:

Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonised. That is what the Arabs in Palestine are doing, and what they will persist in doing as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of ‘Palestine’ into the ‘Land of Israel’ .…

Colonisation can have only one aim, and Palestine Arabs cannot accept this aim. It lies in the very nature of things, and in this particular regard nature cannot be changed.

Zionist colonisation must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. Which means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power [ie, Britain – MM] that is independent of the native population – behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach. 9)‘The iron wall’ (O Zheleznoi stene), published November 4 1923 in the Russian-language journal Rassvyet (Dawn); English translation https://tinyurl.com/m8dp3le

In their conflict with the ‘natives’, the settlers tend to develop a racist ideology as self-justification.

We can say more. Racism in general comes in many different variants, and colonisers’ racism takes different forms, depending on the type of colonisation. In colonisation based primarily on exploiting the labour-power of the indigenous people, the latter are usually depicted by the colonisers as inferior creatures deserving no better fate than working for their conquerors.

But in colonisation based on excluding and displacing the ‘natives’ rather than incorporating them into the colonial economy as workers, they are usually depicted as dangerous wild and murderous people who ought to be ethnically cleansed. Zionist colonisation belongs to this category. In this respect, it is not unlike the colonisation of what became the United States, except that the Zionist organisation insisted explicitly and deliberately on denying employment to non-Jews. 10)See the 1929 constitution of the Jewish Agency, https://tinyurl.com/ycq3nqpo

In the US Declaration of Independence, the freedom-loving founding fathers – only some of whom were slave owners – complain that the king of Great Britain “has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” In today’s terminology they would no doubt be described as ‘terrorists’. The Palestinian Arabs are Israel’s “merciless Indian savages”.

When viewed against the background of the history of this type of colonisation, Israeli racist ideology and practices are par for the course. The annals of colonisation certainly have grimmer chapters, such as the total extermination of the people of Tasmania, to mention an extreme example. Zionist colonisation is, however, exceptional in being anachronistic: it continues in the 21st century the kind of thing – settler colonialism – that elsewhere ended in the 19th.

To conclude: apart from its anachronism, there is little that is exceptional about Israel’s racism. It is rooted in its nature as a settler state. Uprooting colonialist racism requires a change of regime, decolonisation – which in the case of Israel means de-Zionisation. 11)See my article ‘The decolonisation of Palestine’, Weekly Worker June 23 2016, https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1112/the-decolonisation-of-palestine/




1 Thus, for example, Bernie Sanders remarked in passing that “the recent ‘nation state law’ … essentially codifies the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens”. (‘A new authoritarian axis demands an international progressive front’, The Guardian, 13 September 13 2018).
2 “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them in buses.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/17/binyamin-netanyahu-israel-arab-election
3 ‘We are not Arab lovers – Israeli Labor’s bankrupt efforts to stave off decline’, Middle East Eye, 25 April 2016, https://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/when-israels-main-opposition-party-has-problem-countrys-palestinian-citizens-1878921672
4 ‘In Israel, Growing Fascism and a Racism Akin to Early Nazism’, Ha’aretz January 19 2018, https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-in-israel-growing-fascism-and-a-racism-akin-to-early-nazism-1.5746488?=&ts=_1537002401268
5 ‘The Israeli Lawmaker Heralding Genocide Against Palestinians’, Ha’aretz May 23 2017, https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-israeli-mk-heralding-genocide-against-palestinians-1.5475561. The biblical reference is to the book of Joshua, which contains a mythical account of the conquest and ethnic cleansing of the land of Canaan (Palestine) by the Israelites. The account is of course purely fictitious, but is taken as inspiration and virtual blueprint by the likes of Smotrich
6 ‘International Holocaust Remembrance Day: An Israeli Hypocrisy’, Ha’aretz January 28 2018, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-international-holocaust-remembrance-day-an-israeli-hypocrisy-1.5768945
7 www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/2612-basel-program
8 www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jewish-colonial-trust
9 ‘The iron wall’ (O Zheleznoi stene), published November 4 1923 in the Russian-language journal Rassvyet (Dawn); English translation https://tinyurl.com/m8dp3le
10 See the 1929 constitution of the Jewish Agency, https://tinyurl.com/ycq3nqpo
11 See my article ‘The decolonisation of Palestine’, Weekly Worker June 23 2016, https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1112/the-decolonisation-of-palestine/

Moshe Machober: Zionist chutzpah

On the 70th anniversary of the nakba, Moshé Machover notes a remarkable piece of hypocrisy

this article first appeared in the Weekly Worker

The besieged people of Gaza have been marking the 70th anniversary of their dispossession and ethnic cleansing, the nakba, by a series of unarmed mass demonstrations – a largely symbolic attempt to assert their right of return and break out of their repeatedly ravaged cage, the world’s largest concentration camp. Israel, for its part, has also been marking the anniversary: it has deployed well-trained marksmen, instructed to kill or maim those daring to approach the prison fence, using ammunition designed to cause horrendous injuries. 1)For evidence suggesting the use of expanding (‘dumdum’) bullets, see the Médecins Sans Frontières report of April 19, ‘Palestine: MSF teams in Gaza observe unusually severe and devastating gunshot injuries’: www.msf.org/en/article/palestine-msf-teams-gaza-observe-unusually-severe-and-devastating-gunshot-injuries. See also Satar on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Satar_Gaza/status/982562328477683713.

The British media have hardly reported on this ongoing massacre: they have been too busy accusing Labour Party members supporting Palestinian rights of ‘anti-Semitism’. The main Israeli media (with the honourable exception of Ha’aretz) and the overwhelming majority of Hebrew Israelis, have been wholly supportive of ‘our children’, who are ‘defending’ the beleaguered homeland against ‘terrorists’ threatening its destruction. This moral blindness – the inverted perception of who is the victim and who is the oppressor – pervades Israeli Hebrew society, from the ideologues at the top right down to the ‘Kill all Arabs’ mob.

But in this month of nakba anniversary I would award the first prize for a combination of hypocrisy, cynicism and lack of self-awareness to brigadier general (retired) Ephraim Sneh, a former Labor Party minister and currently head of the Strong Israel mini-party. So, in Israeli terms, he belongs to the centre, or even centre-left, rather than to the extreme right.

In an article published on May 7, he proposes what he obviously wants to be regarded as a fair historical deal between the worldwide “Jewish people” and the Palestinian Arab people. He sets up an apparent equivalence or symmetry between two conflicting claims over the whole of the “Land of Israel” (that is, pre-1948 Palestine). And he urges both sides to give up their right to return to certain parts of it:

… anyone wishing to advance an agreement in the Land of Israel – and such an accord is ineluctable – must create a narrative of conciliation, built not on ignorance, but on an understanding of the sensitivities of the other side …

The most sensitive and loaded emotional issue for both sides is their historical affinity to this land, in its entirety … Palestinians must understand that the cradle of the historical legacy of the Jewish people lies in the heart of the West Bank. Jeremiah and Amos did not prophesise in Bat Yam or Holon, but in Anatot and Tekoa. Our national past is rooted in Shiloh and Beit El, on the road to Efrata.

Yes, we have a right to return to these places. However, all Israelis who support a two-state solution and a division of this land relinquish the exercising of this right, even at the heavy, but unavoidable, cost of evacuating tens of thousands of Israelis who have exercised this right. This concession is aimed at enabling a peaceful life in the Land of Israel, which includes a Jewish and democratic state on most of its territory.

The Palestinians cleave to the ‘right of return’, but they have relinquished the return. Abbas said so publicly with regard to his family home in Safed, attracting heaps of abuse from Hamas. They know refugees will not return to live within the boundaries of a sovereign State of Israel. There is a reason Hamas finds it difficult to mobilise masses to participate in its provocative displays on the Gaza border. However, when they say ‘right of return’, the Palestinians are referring to their historical affinity with Jaffa, Lod, Ramle and hundreds of villages that were abandoned in 1948. We as Israelis must understand and respect that.

One must distinguish between a right and its realisation. A narrative of conciliation can be built on the understanding that for the sake of coexistence between two national entities in this land both sides relinquish the exercising of what each one of them sees as their historical right.2)E Sneh, ‘The mutual right of return’ Ha’aretz May 7: www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-mutual-right-of-return-1.6060664

Note that in his hypocritical advocacy of ‘sensitivity’ there is no recognition that the Palestinian people have been the victims of Zionist colonisation and ethnic cleansing by Israel. He refers to their right of return in scare quotes, making it seem suspect. But his claim of a Jewish right of return is apparently in no need of any reservation. His sense of history makes one gasp in amazement. He forgets to mention that the Palestinians were deliberately exiled from their homeland by Israel, within living memory. 3)See Moving Forward special nakba issue, May 1 2018: http://fowardd.com/editorial/unearthing-truths-israel-the-nakba-and-the-jewish-national-fund. Not even the most ardent Zionist could claim that the Palestinian Arabs expelled the Jews from their homeland, many centuries ago. The widespread story is that the Jews were expelled by the Romans; but as a matter of historical fact this is a myth, for which there is no evidence. There was no expulsion. 4)A useful summary of the well-established contrary evidence is in Shlomo Sand’s The invention of the Jewish people (London 2009).

Note that the “heavy but unavoidable cost” that he is prepared to concede is that of “evacuating tens of thousands of Israelis who have exercised [the] right” to colonise the occupied West Bank. So the vast majority of the 800,000 settlers should continue to exercise their divine right to steal the land of the indigenous Palestinian people.

Sneh is so devoid of self-awareness and so full of self-righteousness that he wants us to accept that the Palestinian right over the homeland of which they were dispossessed in his own lifetime is inferior to that of the “Jewish people”, which is based on an ancient religious myth. He proposes a partition of “the Land of Israel” (aka Palestine), in which “a Jewish and democratic state [would keep] most of its territory” in exchange for allowing its indigenous people to hold on to the fragmented leftover.

But this piece of chutzpah is the best you can expect even from a relatively moderate Zionist.


1. For evidence suggesting the use of expanding (‘dumdum’) bullets, see the Médecins Sans Frontières report of April 19, ‘Palestine: MSF teams in Gaza observe unusually severe and devastating gunshot injuries’: www.msf.org/en/article/palestine-msf-teams-gaza-observe-unusually-severe-and-devastating-gunshot-injuries. See also Satar on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Satar_Gaza/status/982562328477683713.

2. E Sneh, ‘The mutual right of return’ Ha’aretz May 7: www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-mutual-right-of-return-1.6060664.

3. See Moving Forward special nakba issue, May 1 2018: http://fowardd.com/editorial/unearthing-truths-israel-the-nakba-and-the-jewish-national-fund.

4. A useful summary of the well-established contrary evidence is in Shlomo Sand’s The invention of the Jewish people (London 2009).


1 For evidence suggesting the use of expanding (‘dumdum’) bullets, see the Médecins Sans Frontières report of April 19, ‘Palestine: MSF teams in Gaza observe unusually severe and devastating gunshot injuries’: www.msf.org/en/article/palestine-msf-teams-gaza-observe-unusually-severe-and-devastating-gunshot-injuries. See also Satar on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Satar_Gaza/status/982562328477683713.
2 E Sneh, ‘The mutual right of return’ Ha’aretz May 7: www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-mutual-right-of-return-1.6060664
3 See Moving Forward special nakba issue, May 1 2018: http://fowardd.com/editorial/unearthing-truths-israel-the-nakba-and-the-jewish-national-fund.
4 A useful summary of the well-established contrary evidence is in Shlomo Sand’s The invention of the Jewish people (London 2009).

NEC readmits leftwingers

But hopes that this might mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt could be premature, warns Carla Roberts

One of the biggest problems the Labour Party has today is its lack of a media outlet. Apart from the occasional email and snazzily produced video, we receive very little unfiltered, unbiased news from Jeremy Corbyn.

Having said that, it is, of course, far from certain that he and his allies would indeed always be prepared to share important decisions and developments with the membership. Take the last meeting of the party’s national executive committee, on January 23 in London – its first meeting since its expansion following the election of three pro-Corbyn members. We all know of the decision of the NEC to request a “pause” in the housing development in Haringey (we will come that later). But apparently the meeting also took the decision to readmit a number of members previously suspended or expelled from the party. An important and potentially very positive development, that we were informed of through an acidy skewed report in The Sunday Times:

A holocaust denier and a leading member of Militant during its takeover of Liverpool council are among a first wave of expelled hard-left activists who have been readmitted to the Labour Party. Activists have been allowed to rejoin despite still belonging to organisations ‘proscribed’ by Labour – including a Trotskyist group, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. Others stood against Labour for hard-left parties as recently as 2016.1)The Sunday Times February 4

Clearly, the information was leaked by a rightwinger on the NEC, with the intention of inflicting damage on Jeremy Corbyn. There are no official reports or records of these decisions to be found anywhere. In fact, we still do not know how many members have actually been suspended since Corbyn’s election (and how many remain suspended) or how many have been expelled for ‘supporting’ non-Labour organisations. The Times last week wrote that the party “had to suspend 18 members for anti-Semitism”.2)The Times February 2
 If this figure is true, that immediately begs the question: how on earth can the right can get away with continuing to claim that anti-Semitism is a huge problem in the party?

We also do not know if The Sunday Times is correct when it claims that “the appointment of leftwing members to review leftwing activists’ membership appeals was part of an understanding that would allow centrist members to review their own allies’ disciplinary cases”. It seems rather unlikely that the right of the party – which, of course, initiated the expulsion and suspension of so many leftwing members – would now simply leave everything to the pro-Corbyn NEC left to deal with. Also, how many disciplinary cases are there against “centrist” members? Not many, presumably. But we have to guess here, of course.

Even the latest, extensive report sent out by veteran NEC leftie Pete Willsman (Campaign for Labour Party Democracy) does not mention any of this. We cannot even be sure if the January 23 decisions on disciplinary matters are in any way unusual, as we do not know how many cases have been dealt with at previous meetings.

The Sunday Times (and those leaking to it) does, however, present the decisions of the meeting as highly unusual, as the outcome apparently “shows the extent of the resurgent left’s control over the party after recent elections to its governing body, where Momentum candidates won a ‘clean sweep’ of new positions”.

With a bit of detective work, we can gather that the NEC on January 23 decided that the membership requests from three applicants should come “under NEC review”: They are Ken Livingstone’s “race tsar”, Lee Jasper, who stood against the Labour Party for George Galloway’s Respect in 2012; Kingsley Abrams, who stood for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the 2015 general election; and a man convicted of fraud in 1981, for which he served a seven-year sentence.

The NEC also decided to reinstate one member suspended for anti- Semitism (under certain conditions – see below) and that the membership applications of two previously expelled activists should be accepted. Here are the cases the NEC dealt with :

Alan Fogg was a Labour councillor in Liverpool, when he was expelled from the party in 1985 for supporting the Militant Tendency (today’s Socialist Party). He stood for Tusc in the 2016 local elections. The acceptance of his membership application is good news for a number of leftwingers who have been denied membership on the grounds that they have stood for Tusc or Left Unity. It is also an indication that Lee Jasper and Kingsley Abrams will probably be reinstated, too. Good.

Author Mike Sivier, according to The Times, is a “holocaust denier” and was suspended last year for “comments about Jews and Zionism”:

On his website, Sivier, 48, said it “may be entirely justified” to say Tony Blair had been “unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisors”. He also said he was “not pretending it was a big problem” if Jews were omitted from a list of holocaust survivors, and claimed “I’m not going to comment” on whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the holocaust, as “I don’t know”.

Mike Sivier has commented at length on the “libellous article” and, while this writer did not have the time to investigate the whole case or all of the man’s writings, it seems pretty clear that his few words above – which have been taken from a single Facebook thread and seem to form the entire case against him – were presented to the Labour Party by the truly vile ‘Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’ out of context, out of sequence and in a seriously misleading way.

Take his most problematic comments about the holocaust – I mean, how can you pretend not to know about it? Sivier explains the context: a Facebook conversation with somebody called “Ben”, who seemed intent on setting him up. Ben sent him a link to an article in the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s publication Workers’ Liberty, which stated:

In 2008, the SWP issued an explanation of the holocaust that referred to “thousands” (not ‘millions’) of victims and omitted any reference to Jews. Whether this was ‘organised’ or ‘just a mistake’ seems irrelevant.

Workers’Liberty featured alongside it a picture of a scruffy Socialist Worker petition against the “Nazi BNP”. And one of the points on the petition does indeed read: “They [the BNP] deny the holocaust, where thousands of LGBT people, trade unionists and disabled people were slaughtered.” Sivier explains:

I responded: “I’m not going to comment on ‘thousands’ instead of ‘millions’, because I don’t know” – meaning, of course, I don’t know why the SWP had said that. I have always used the ‘high’ figure of six million Jews who were killed in the Nazi holocaust. Perhaps your reporter should have read my recent articles on Holocaust Memorial Day before typing that reference into his piece? Or, indeed, any of my articles.

Clearly, this man is no David Irving, problematic formulations like the “‘high’ figure” above not withstanding. Understandably, the NEC felt it needed to let him back in. According to The Times, “the NEC voted by 12 to 10 to issue Sivier a ‘warning’, but not to expel him, suggesting the new arithmetic on the body had a decisive impact.” Indeed. We also know that Jon Lansman in particular is a firm believer in the anti-Semitism “problem” in the Labour Party, so it is more than doubtful that he would indeed vote for the readmission of somebody who is indeed a “holocaust denier”. We simply presume, of course, that it was the NEC left voting in favour of his readmission, rather than the right – but who knows?

As an aside, we also wonder if the voting figure is correct, seeing as there are 39 members of the NEC and the fact that The Sunday Times got another thing wrong: Sivier has actually not (yet) been readmitted, because he is refusing to attend the NEC-instructed “anti-Semitism awareness training”.

Janine Booth, senior member of the AWL, has seemingly learned nothing from her own expulsion or those of her comrades. On Facebook, she replied “Indeed” to a comment that repeated the description of Mike Sivier as a “holocaust denier”. The writer continued: “Extraordinary to put you in the same article as a holocaust-denier. How utterly appalling. I hope he is not readmitted.” Underneath Janine approvingly posted a tweet by Richard Angell, leader of Progress, who wrote: “Why the leadership on the verge of winning an election would want to be associated with holocaust deniers and the like?” She comments: “Richard Angell (Progress) makes an even stronger connection.”

Well he would, wouldn’t he? No doubt it was his Progress friends on the NEC who leaked the decisions to The Sunday Times – in order, of course, to harm Jeremy Corbyn.

One really has to wonder sometimes about the pro-Zionist AWL. In its blind mission to label everybody on the “fake left” anti-Semitic, it fails to grasp some pretty basic political truths. The witch-hunt against the left in the party has nothing whatsoever to do with wanting to stamp out anti-Semitism, real or imaginary – it has everything to do with weakening Jeremy Corbyn by tainting his supporters on the left. Which is, of course, why the witch-hunt is also directed against members of the AWL.

Janine Booth also proudly posted a tweet by Jeremy Newark, leader of the Jewish Labour Movement, who wrote: “Putting other politics aside, I know that Janine Booth’s readmission means the Labour Party gains a robust and fearless voice against anti-Semitism – much needed right now.”

Her lack of political astuteness (acquired through years of membership in the AWL) aside, we do, of course, welcome Janine’s readmission into the Labour Party. The party should be the home of all socialists and trade unionists – and there will be plenty of members with perhaps even funnier ideas.

Her reinstatement gives some hope that we might be seeing the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt against the Marxist left in the Labour Party.

Her case is, however, quite different to that of the dozens (hundreds?) who have been expelled from the party for their alleged support for groups like Socialist Appeal and Labour Party Marxists. It does, however, highlight how the rules are being used, abused and even ignored, depending on who is applying them and for what reason.

Janine was expelled from Labour in 2003, after having stood as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in Hackney in the general election of 2001 and the local elections of 2002. She was expelled under rule 2.4.1. A, according to which “anybody who stands for election … in opposition to a Labour candidate shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member”. It carries an automatic ban of five years.

She applied to rejoin in 2015, when the (not yet Corbyn-dominated) NEC ruled that it had no objections to her readmission and that it was solely up to her CLP (Hackney South and Shoreditch) to decide on the matter. The CLP “objected on the grounds that (a) I (allegedly) support Tusc and (b) I’m a member of Workers’ Liberty.”

The first accusation is quite funny, of course, because it shows how little the witch-hunters know about the left. The AWL never did more than back a few individual Tusc candidates. She “freely admitted the second, arguing that there are plenty of factions in the Labour Party and that is part of healthy debate”.3)www.janinebooth.com/content/my-exclusion- labour-party A week later, she received an official letter refusing her application to rejoin. It mentioned, however, that she could reapply in two years’ time.

Which Janine did again last year, when once more the NEC ruled that it was up to her CLP to make the decision. This time, the local party agreed – no doubt a reflection of the dramatic political changes in its membership.

Bans and proscriptions

The Sunday Times complains about her re-admittance: “Activists have been allowed to rejoin despite still belonging to organisations proscribed by Labour – including a Trotskyist group, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.” Further on though, the same article quotes “a senior party source” as saying that the party

no longer recognised the list of proscribed organisations, so people linked to them could not be banned. “There is a debate about whether these existed at points in Labour history,” the source said. “Our view is that they no longer exist.”

Proscribed-Groups-1935 2Labour has not had an official list of proscribed organisations since 1973. In 1930, the party leadership produced its first ‘proscribed list’, squarely aimed at the Communist Party of Great Britain, which included organisations and unions influenced by the CPGB.4)www.labourpains.group.shef.ac.uk/dust In 1939 the NEC added the Socialist League to the list, then in 1942 the Labour Research Department (which had originally been founded in 1912 as the Fabian Research Department, an offshoot of the Fabian Society). In the McCarthyite atmosphere of the 1950s, a few more organisations and publications were added, including Socialist Outlook and the Socialist Labour League (of which Gerry Healy was a leading member).

In 1973, general secretary Ron Hayward abolished the list, because “Difficulties have been experienced in keeping a current record of the many political organisations that are established, many of which are of short life, change their names or merge with other organisations.”5)R Hayward, ‘Discontinuation of the proscribed list’ (circular to secretaries of affiliates and Labour Party organisations, July 1973 In other words, it was not a democratic policy – quite the opposite. The list had been viewed more and more like an entry visa for all those organisations not featured on it.

For the Militant Tendency (today’s Socialist Party in England and Wales), the bureaucrats had to think of a new trick: after various failed attempts to kick it out, in 1982 they proposed the establishment of a register of non- affiliated groups that would be allowed to operate in the Labour Party. Militant was invited to apply – and was rejected. Not a few of its members were expelled over the next few years.

The bans continued. In 1990, a proposal to ban the newspaper Socialist Organiser was confirmed at Labour’s annual conference. In response, the Socialist Organiser Alliance dissolved and in 1992 launched a new grouping: the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty! Some people claim that this means the AWL and the Socialist Party remain the only two organisations that are featured on the (unofficial) list of organisations proscribed by the Labour Party.

Of course, we welcome the news that the list seems no longer to be “recognised”. It has always been a tool of the right to keep the party ‘safe’.

Whose rules?

While Marxists today are not being excluded for membership of explicitly “proscribed” organisations, they are, of course, still being expelled. In the wake of the publication of Tom Watson’s ridiculous ‘Reds under the beds’ dossier of 2016, supporters – and alleged supporters – of LPM, Red Flag and the AWL have received a standard expulsion letter, which reads:

It has been brought to our attention that you have been closely involved with and supported [named organisation], whose programme, principles and policies are not compatible with those of the Labour Party. Chapter 2.I.4.B of the Labour Party’s rules states:

A member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or unit of the party … shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member” (my emphasis).

The first paragraph does, of course, give the impression that there is – perhaps in some well guarded location – a secret list of dangerous organisations or some sort of overview of banned terms (like ‘revolutionary’) that could explain what makes a group incompatible with the Labour Party.

It seems not. More likely the bureaucrats have been picking and choosing from the rulebook as they see fit. According to the constitution, it does not actually matter if the programme of the organisation you are deemed to be supporting is “incompatible” with that of the Labour Party. Indeed, the organisation in question does not even have to have a programme to lead to the instant expulsion of any “supporter”. The witch-hunters have mangled up 2.4.1.B with rule 1.2.5.A, which deals with organisations wanting to affiliate:

Political organisations not affiliated or associated under a national agreement with the party, having their own programme, principles and policy, or distinctive and separate propaganda, or possessing branches in the constituencies, or engaged in the promotion of parliamentary or local government candidates, or having allegiance to any political organisation situated abroad, shall be ineligible for affiliation to the party (my emphasis).

Neither the AWL, Socialist Appeal, Red Flag nor LPM have applied for affiliation – though we are very much looking forward to the day when socialists organisations can do so again – an absolute necessity in the fight to transform Labour into a real party of the whole class.

It goes without saying that both rules should be abolished (along with a few others!) as part of the long process of transformation ahead of us. According to rule 2.4.1.B, Janine Booth would now have to be expelled again, because she openly admits to being an active member of the AWL.

While it obviously makes sense to stop Labour Party members from standing against the party, rule 2.4.1.B has to go. It is wide open to abuse. Notoriously, Moshé Machover was expelled for having articles published in Labour Party Marxists and the Weekly Worker. That, apparently, was enough to prove his “support” for a non-Labour organisation. After a national campaign, in which dozens of Labour Party branches and CLPs issued statements in opposition, he had to be reinstated within three weeks. How different from the case of Mike Palin, who remains expelled under the same rule – simply for sharing Facebook posts that included a handful of articles from Labour Party Marxists and the Weekly Worker.

All this proves that the problem is not the rules in and of themselves. The problem arises from those in charge of applying them. Of course, we will continue to demand the abolition of the various witch-hunting rules (like 2.4.1.B and 1.2.5.A), but an important part of that fight is to get Labour Party members and branches across the country to protest publicly. The active involvement of the largely pro-Corbyn membership is the best way to aid this necessary transformation – as will continuing pressure from campaigns like Labour Against the Witchhunt.


1 The Sunday Times February 4
2 The Times February 2

3 www.janinebooth.com/content/my-exclusion- labour-party
4 www.labourpains.group.shef.ac.uk/dust
5 R Hayward, ‘Discontinuation of the proscribed list’ (circular to secretaries of affiliates and Labour Party organisations, July 1973

“Discipline the rascals who are bringing the Labour Party into disrepute”

New interview with Israeli Jewish socialist Moshé Machover whose rescinded expulsion is a major blow the right in the Labour Party.


The charges against you seemed to be particularly crude and hastily thrown together. Why do you think the right responded in such an amateur, sloppy fashion? Over-confidence, or the need to score a swift high-profile scalp in the aftermath of a disastrous conference for them?

I think that the second explanation is correct; but I don’t think the sloppiness is unique to my case. The right has developed an overabundance of confidence. The slapdash manner – to say the least – that they employed to exclude, suspend or expel other members of the Labour Party convinced them that thy they were invulnerable; they thought they could get away with anything! So, they didn’t feel they even had to try to make a better job of this stitch-up.

It was a particularly bad piece of fiction, not doubt. But it would require a meticulous textual analysis to compare this letter with other letters sent to party members to establish whether they were especially careless in my case. I suspect you would find that they were just as slapdash and shoddy with most people as they were with me.


How important was the surge of support you received from individual party members and organisations like CLPs, etc? There have also been many rumours of disquiet at top levels of the party and anger against McNicol and his compliance unit. Was it a combination of pressure from above and below that explains your victory?

The support that people offered me was amazing. It truly astonished me … and I’m sure it astonished the witch-hunters as well! It was a major factor in their efforts to quickly wriggle out of the hole which they had dug for themselves. The solidarity offered from comrades in the movement here was wonderful; but of particular significance was the international campaign. This started in the United States and continues to grow.

The scale of this solidarity is truly astonishing. The number of signatures – and the political and academic standing of individuals who have signed up – is truly humbling, from my point of view. However, I am not so vain to think this is all about me! It’s clear that masses of people have realised that you must make a stand against this crazy witch-hunting culture. Even after my expulsion was rescinded and the news announced, very large numbers were still signing up to the international online petition in support of reinstatement and investigation of the procedure used to expel me.

I think the international support – once the witch-hunters got wind of it – was instrumental in making the leadership realise that the actions of these people were sinking the Labour Party into serious disrepute – not only nationally, but internationally.

We are talking now about a surge of support from below here. There were also quite a few rumours that leading members of the party expressed genuine disquiet about this whole fiasco. I have not been contacted by anyone from this level of the party, I have no strong evidence – however, there have been enough unconfirmed reports to assume that the idea is not totally fanciful.


The charge against you of “anti-Semitism” is still on the books, of course. How important do you regard it that they withdraw this accusation?

Well, if you quote a libellous accusation and you don’t distance yourself from it or express reservations, then you are complicit in the libel. I am saying “libellous” because the expulsion letter sent to me in which they cite this vile accusation was not only delivered to me; it was also sent to the local Labour Party. It was broadcast, in that sense. Disseminated.

Now this is a very serious thing! It is serious morally; it is serious legally. Of course, they have prevaricated with the ploy that this charge of anti-Semitism is based on some junk definition that they appear to set a lot of store by. Frankly, the so-called definition is a load of rubbish. It is specifically designed for abuse, not to identify genuine anti-Semitism.

Throughout the exchanges with the witch hunters, I have been clear that I reserve my right to take things further legally. However, first I require an immediate apology and retraction.


Where next? There was a general feeling that the witch hunters had torn off more than they could chew this time – and so it proved! But there are many comrades out there that have been suspended, expelled. Moreover, the right is in lockstep with the mainstream media in a campaign to smear the left with “anti-Semitism”. What are the next steps in the fightback? We still have some powerful resourced enemies out there!

Well, la luta continua! There is an urgent need to discipline the rascals who are bringing the Labour Party into disrepute with these scurrilous and unfounded accusations. It is a question of disciplining these individuals. This is important, but there are three additional political points.

First, the campaign to counter the ‘weaponisation’ of the charge of ant-Semitism must continue and be stepped up. This cannot be allowed to continue. The ‘achievement’ of the right has been to make it appear to the outside world that Labour is riddled with anti-Semitism. This is calumny on the Labour Party! An outrageous lie!

This must be fought and stopped dead in its tracks. As I wrote in the article back in May last year, “don’t apologise – attack!” (Weekly Worker, May 18, 2016). This vile campaign must be defeated and expunged from the party.

The second issue is this vague notion of “support” for other organisations that are deemed verboten by the party apparatus. What needs to be done here is a fundamental overhaul of the clause in the Labour Party rule book that allows these bans and proscriptions. The rule is formulated in such a way that it virtually cries out for abuse. Let me quote it to you: 2.I.4B

“A member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Labour Party, or supports any candidate that stands against an official Labour candidate … shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member …” (Rule 2.1.4b, Labour Party rulebook)

There are three things obviously wrong with this rule. First, it does not specify what “political organisation” means. For instance, it is certainly arguable that CND is a political organisation. By the same token, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a political organisation. Does membership of these organisations make you ineligible for membership of the party? A “political organisation” is a catch-all phrase, that is crying out for abuse.

Secondly, what does its means to “support”? For instance, when they accused me of supporting the Communist Party of Great Britain and Labour Party Marxists, I was genuinely not able to say yes or no to the charges. They have not defined what ‘support’ means, let alone shown that ‘support’ for these organisations is runs counter to the existing rules.

Certainly, I support some positions that the CPGB stands on. For example, I support the call for all unions to be affiliated to Labour: so does the CPGB. The CPGB has argued this quite forcibly against other groups on the left – and I think they are right!

On other issues, I don’t agree with them. So how can someone be expelled – let alone automatically expelled! – based on something so indefinable and nebulous?

So, we have the twin, totally undefined categories of “political organisation” and “support” as a basis for peoples’ membership of the party.

A third issue is this word “automatically”! A member is expelled without any chance to defend themselves, to answer their accusers or even know who has said what about them. This runs counter to natural justice. The word “automatically” should be deleted, in addition to the phrase “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Labour Party”.

Of course, if someone supports a candidate against the official Labour candidate, that’s another matter. I do seem to recall that not long ago a certain Anthony Blair falling the wrong side of this rule in the general election – no action was taken, I believe! Why? Well, we all know don’t we …

Some of Labour’s rules as they exist today are scandalous. They are badly formulated: and badly formulated for a purpose, I believe – as my experience and that of many other in the Labour Party has amply illustrated.

Fantastic success: Moshé Machover has been reinstated!

Clearly, the mass protests against the outrageous decision to expel the well-known pro-Palestinian campaigner Moshe Machover from the Labour Party have borne fruit! The Labour movement has put so much pressure on Iain McNicol’s compliance unit that they were forced to – clearly very reluctantly – reverse their own decision. We understand left-wingers on the NEC and Jeremy Corbyn himself have also added pressure on witch-hunter general McNicol, who must now be fearing for his job. Good. The man must be sacked and the compliance unit abolished.

More extended commentary on this soon. In the meantime, check out the newly formed platform of Labour Against the Witchhunt.

Below, we publish the latest exchange between comrade Machover and “Sam Matthews, head of disputes”.


Letter from Sam Matthews

Dear Mr Machover,

Thank you for your letter dated 16 October 2017.

26 October 2017

Firstly, I would like to make absolutely clear that the Party has come to no decision about the content of the article. Please accept our apologies if the language in our letter of 3 October 2017 was unclear to you. At this stage, the allegations about your article remain allegations – the Party’s intention was merely to inform you of the allegations about your conduct and that they did not solely relate to a breach of rule 2.I.4.B. The Party is making no assertion as to their truth or validity and implies no guilt regarding any breach of rule 2.I.8 as this has not been subject of an investigation or hearing.

Your letter stops short of actually stating that you do not support Communist Party of Great Britain and/or Labour Party Marxists. The Party is trying to assess whether the matters of fact in this case are subject to legitimate dispute. It would be helpful when the Party comes to assess this fact if you categorically stated whether you do or do not support either of these organisations at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely

Sam Matthews, Head of Disputes

From Moshé Machover to the legal queries unit

30 October 2017 I refer to your letter of 26 October 2017.

  1. Your apology is wholly inadequate, as it sidesteps the matter for which you ought to apologise. Your letters of 3 and 6 October were in fact all too clear. It was perfectly clear that you included in them an allegation of antisemitism on my part, which should never have been put in the letters at all, as it is plainly otiose as far as the purpose of the letters is concerned. Moreover, by use of the words ‘apparently antisemitic article published in your name’ you lent some spurious credence to that scurrilous allegation against me. I am still awaiting your apology for this.
  2. As for your suggestion that I categorically state whether I do or do not ‘support’ (whatever that means) the organisations you name (CPGB and LPM): I find this suggestion entirely inappropriate. It carries a whiff of McCarthyism.

In any event, I have dealt with this issue in my letter of 16 October. I stated that I am not nor have ever been a member of either group, and challenged your accusations of ’supporting’ them; see points 8 – 12 in my letter of 16 October.

I reject your attempt to move the goalposts now that you appear unable to justify your unfair and improper decision of 3 October to summarily expel me. It is up to you to provide valid evidence that since I became a member of the Labour Party I gave illicit support (however that term is defined) to either or both of the said groups. I know of no such evidence.

Yours sincerely

Moshé Machover

Letter from Sam Matthews

30 October 2017

Thank you for your letter clarifying you do not support the Communist Party of Great Britain and Labour Party Marxists. The Party has reviewed the matters of fact surrounding your case and the decision has been taken to rescind your automatic exclusion from the Labour Party.

The Party remains of the view that any reasonable person looking at the evidence available in public (which includes at least one video of you speaking at an event sponsored by CPGB and LPM, 44 articles published with your permission by CPGB’s own publication and primary form of campaigning, the Weekly Worker and 17 videos of you speaking published on CPGB’s website as of 6 October 2017) would conclude that you have given support to at least one, if not both, of these organisations over a period of ten years including while you were a member of the Labour Party. Such support is incompatible with Labour Party membership, so thank you for clarifying that this was not your intention to provide such support.

The Party would like to urge you to take a cautionary approach towards any actions which appear to be clear prima facie breach of the Party’s rules in order to avoid any future misunderstandings regarding your eligibility for membership of the Labour Party.

Yours sincerely

Sam Matthews, Head of Disputes

Communication from Moshé Machover to the legal queries unit

30 October 2017

I refer to your letter of 30 October 2017.

I note that you have rescinded my expulsion from the Party. However, you fail to address the allegations of antisemitism mentioned in your letters of 3 and 6 October. Please confirm by return of email that these allegations have been withdrawn and apologise for raising them in the first place.

Yours sincerely

Moshé Machover