Why 2,123 Labour members & I will tell the truth about Israel even if it means party expulsion
Pete Gregson, Labour party member in Edinburgh, suspended by party HQ and expelled from his union on anti-Semitism allegations, explains why he and 2,123 other Labour members are backing a petition renouncing Labour’s support for the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism which states that ‘Israel is a racist endeavour’
THIS is a tribute to the 2,123 Labour comrades who’ve signed my “death-wish” petition at tinyurl.com/israelihra so far. Each and every one has declared “Israel a racist endeavour” and asked Labour’s NEC “to abandon the full IHRA”. Each has thought deeply about the damage the IHRA and the so-called ´anti-Semitism crisis’ has done to our Labour Party. They have had the courage to stand by their convictions in recognising the threat posed to the Party by its adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. Its founding planks of equality and social justice are at risk. And not just Labour members are affected. Both UK and Scottish Governments, all political parties (bar the Greens), the big 4 trade unions, the police, schools and colleges have adopted the IHRA definition, along with a third of the UK’s local authorities- so around 10 million people are now at risk of expulsion or dismissal for criticising Israel as racist. At least two people in England have been fired for “bogus anti-Semitism” and their Employment Tribunals in late May will hopefully result in their seeing justice.
The petition is really an open letter to Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) challenging them to expel us signers from the Party, if they truly believe in their IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which can be seen at tinyurl.com/ihradef . This test of the NEC’s resolve was launched by me on the 4 September, the moment the BBC broadcast the tragic news that Labour had fallen in behind so many other UK bodies in adopting the IHRA. A pernicious policy. As a Party member since ’86 (although I left for a few years over Iraq), I was horrified the way the Party was going vis-à-vis silencing strong criticism of Israel.
Where it Began
For me this battle began in August 2018, as explained in my article on the American Jewish online Mondoweiss website — based around the question posed to NEC candidates “If the IHRA is passed and I said Israel is a racist state, would I get expelled?”. [read it at tinyurl.com/mondoweiss1 ] Although a third of these candidates have now taken office, the NEC which adopted the IHRA looked pretty similar, bar a handful of new faces amongst the 39 who rule our Party.
My position on the IHRA is in no small way influenced by the illuminating Al Jazeera undercover investigation “The Lobby” (part 1) , which I urge every citizen to view, the better to understand who really is trying to control our country. [view it at tinyurl.com/thelobbyp1] The Israelis’ success in conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is astonishing in its double-think. It defeats reason as to why so many intelligent people have swallowed this IHRA nonsense; the Party will be tearing itself up for as long as it continues to stand by its September decision. Society too; the ten million who have unwittingly lost their freedom of speech on Israel are seeing witch-hunts. I was expelled by my union, the GMB, in December for breaking two of the IHRA tenets; as well as the racist endeavour statement, I had said Israel “exaggerated the Holocaust for political ends”. Even though I brought Rabbi Ahron Cohen of the Neturei Karta to my hearings who declared I was no anti-Semite, it made no odds. I hold the dubious honour of being the first shop steward ever, to be disciplined for pointing out a country operated “de-facto” apartheid. There are over 60 laws discriminating against non-Jews in Israel and the Nation State law passed last July makes clear there are now two classes of citizen, only one of whom has the rights enjoyed by you and I.
The statistics on Zionist power in the UK are stark. 80 per cent of Tory MPs are ‘Conservative Friends of Israel’. The explains the UK Government’s enthusiasm for the IHRA and its directives that publicly-funded bodies follow suit. Israel’s Government now controls how so many countries must view them, for to be critical is to invite punishment. Europe and the USA have fallen into line — and everywhere we look we see those who oppose Israel’s apartheid being branded as anti-Semites.
This is about freedom of speech. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of anti-Semitism is “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews”; the IHRA definition is “saying Israel is a racist endeavour”. This should lead anyone willing to open their eyes to see that the IHRA only serves the interests of Israel in supporting its persecution of non-Jews. In August, 24 Palestinian trade unions and civic groups wrote to the Labour Party asking them not to adopt the IHRA definition [see tinyurl.com/ihrapal] saying it was “fraudulent and politicised”] but they were ignored.
We are in a war of words. The Palestinians suffer the real war of bullets, bombs, forced evictions, humiliating discrimination, starvation and misery, with our media, state and politicians becoming complicit in their persecution. The world wrings its hands and looks away, just as Netanyahu and so many of the Knesset wish.
Even the Tories are not immune from attack. Last year, the Deputy Foreign Secretary, Sir Alan Duncan, was smeared by the Israeli Embassy too — an action for which the Israeli Government was forced to apologise. His crime? Being too concerned about Palestine. [see tinyurl.com/SirAlanDuncan ]
One or Two States?
The deeper I get into this affair, the more I realise that Labour’s conviction that only a “two-state solution” will work is another bad policy. To me, this approach smacks of South Africa’s Bantustans — where blacks in South Africa were offered the chance to rule their own affairs, leaving the rich whites to control the best of the rest.
If, on the other hand, we had a “single state solution”, we might see Israel become the kind of democratic nation that deserves to be called a democracy. That is, one where it’s racist laws are abolished and all Arabs in Israel (I’m including Gaza and the West Bank) get to vote in Knesset elections.
Palestinians I have spoken with support this solution. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) movement do too. We could then see that country with an Arab prime minister. This prospect is so terrifying to Zionist leaders that they will do anything and everything to prevent it. And they are clever, as their success with the IHRA attests. The racist Nation State Law is another work of insidious genius. This apartheid will be so much harder to defeat than South Africa’s.
Internal Struggles — Anyone Can Join In
Every action matters. The UK Labour Party has, for too long, been beholden to Zionists. This summer we saw its power. Yes, I’m taking about the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and the Labour Friends of Israel (LFoI), bodies committed to promoting Zionism in Labour.
I felt that they, along with the IHRA, represented an existential threat to the Labour Party, so I registered a complaint against them, that they had brought the Party into disrepute. ‘Of course they were innocent’, the Head of Complaints, Sophie Goodyear, declared, as she tossed my complaint aside at the same time as her colleague, General Secretary Jennie Formby, decided that I must stand trial on charges of anti-Semitism and — yes- bringing the Labour Party into disrepute.
I urge readers to pick up the cudgel and make a complaint — you don’t even have to be in Labour to do so. The more we send in, the more power we have. For an example to build on, go to tinyurl.com/labourcomplain .
It is also because I lodged this complaint on the 28th September that I am now expelled from my union, the GMB. To understand why, read the statement I issued on the failure of my appeal against expulsion on the 11th March at tinyurl.com/gmbstatement
If you are still unconvinced, take a look at my videos on the IHRA at tinyurl.com/ihravideos. This includes a video I made with Rabbi Cohen, who came to all my GMB Appeal hearings. Ken Loach said of the video, which can be seen at tinyurl.com/gmbihra -“Pete, your case is made very clearly and is unanswerable. Your position is justified and has to be defended.” He too, has been pilloried for speaking out about “bogus anti-Semitism”, even to the point of receiving death threats.
I do think Labour HQ is riddled with Zionists. News of my suspension appeared in the Jewish News a week before I got the letter, so their Disputes Depts is as leaky as a sieve. The same has happened to many others- most recently to campaigner Jackie Walker (expelled), to journalist Asa Wistanley (suspended). I am complaining to the Information Commissioner, but more needs to be done.
I am now in the throes of setting up a new group “Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism” (LAZIR) which calls for, amongst other things, Jewish Voice for Labour to replace the Jewish Labour Movement in speaking for Jews in the Party. I have prepared a working rulebook at tinyurl.com/laziwork and I invite readers to contact me through my website, at kidsnotsuits.com, to comment on this. With this group, I hope to begin to remove the inordinate amount of influence Israel has over our politics and assist our leaders to make up their own minds about how best to secure peace in the Middle East. For me, that means a Labour Government, with Corbyn as PM, imposing sanctions on Israel until it abandons apartheid, honours the Palestinians’ right to return and becomes a true democracy. At present, if he even dared to say Israel was racist, he’d be booted out of his own party.