JVL Submission to EHRC on Labour’s Action Plan

by Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

JVL Submission to EHRC on Labour’s Action Plan

by Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL
Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL
Case Owner
To request that the EHRC takes action on the Labour Party's application of the Action Plan to remedy the disproportionate targeting of Jewish members
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To request that the EHRC takes action on the Labour Party's application of the Action Plan to remedy the disproportionate targeting of Jewish members
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Latest: May 26, 2022

The Diana Neslen Case continued


The article by Haroon Siddique, reproduced below, first appeared as part of the Guardian’s rolling news column at 11.24 on 24th May 2022 .

It reports on Diana Neslen’s demand for an indepe…

Read more

JVL submitted a letter of complaint to the EHRC via our solicitors – Bindmans LLP – making it clear that the Labour Party Action Plan in response to the EHRC report has failed to consider or reflect the views of the breadth of ‘Jewish stakeholders’ and Party policy “would appear to be having the opposite effect to that which was intended; namely the exacerbation as opposed to elimination of the mistreatment of Jewish members by the Party”.

We pointed out that “the Party is disproportionately targeting and disciplining Jewish members that question the Party’s interpretation of antisemitism, as compared with non-Jewish members”.

The EHRC have responded: As you are aware, the Action Plan requires the Labour Party to take steps to implement the recommendations set out in our Report and they are required by law to comply with the Action Plan. We are actively monitoring the implementation and progress of the Action Plan. … In the meantime, we would welcome any further submissions from your client in respect of the matters within the Action Plan”.

We are now making this further submission (link below).  JVL points out that there have, up to now, at least  41 Jewish members investigated for antisemitism with 49  investigations (some Jews have faced more than one investigation ) and 5 auto-exclusions as a population share. As far as we can ascertain over five times more Jewish than non-Jewish Party members have been investigated in relation to allegations of antisemitism.

There is a particular concentration on visible JVL activists as ten of the current eleven JVL Executive officers have now been accused of ‘antisemitism’ and 38 of the 41 Jewish members investigated are members of JVL.  

This has resulted in a level of persecution many times higher for JVL officers and  for rank-and-file members of JVL than for non-Jewish party member.

JVL considers that the disproportionate targeting of Jews, with the spurious and offensive charges of ‘antisemitism’ arise from the Party’s recognition that our questioning of the Party’s interpretation carries some weight.   There is some indication that this is a planned policy of purging dissenting Jewish voices.

The Party’s deliberate attempts to exclude JVL from its ongoing engagement with Jewish communities is deeply unfair and amounts to discrimination of a subset of Jews on the basis, for instance, of their philosophical and political beliefs regarding Israel and Palestine and their concerns about the Party’s interpretation of antisemitism. Such potential discrimination, arising after the EHRC investigation and Report, is indicative of the Party’s increased hostility towards certain Jewish Party members, which is directly contrary to the intended outcome of the Report.

An additional form of this targeting of Jews is the quoting or sharing of articles by Jews as evidence of antisemitism in members’ charges.   (Link: Why on earth is citing me antisemitic? – asks Jewish blogger Robert A.H. Cohen)

JVL has made it clear in our document on antisemitic misconduct (Link: What is – and what is not – antisemitic misconduct) that conduct is antisemitic only if it manifests ‘prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews’.

The Party has ignored this document and instead currently has three guidance note on antisemitisms - the Code in Appendix 9 Code of Conduct: Antisemitism and Other Forms of Racism the NEC Code of Conduct on antisemitism and the IHRA. These last two documents run consecutively in the Complaints Handling Handbook with no explanation of how these forms of guidance can be applied. The Party has also ignored the important Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, supported by over 200 scholars in the fields of Holocaust history, Jewish studies, and Middle East studies, which simply and effecively states:Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).”

The Party is applying a ‘blanket’ charge that is legally weak if not unprovable: “Undermines the Party’s ability to campaign against AS”.  This applies where the only ‘offence’ is questioning the public perception of the scale of complaints of antisemitism against LP members. But more widely this is applied to any criticism or questioning of the Party’s so called campaign. It is frequently accompanied by other charges and often the correspondence is aggressive in tone from the start.

We intend to draw the EHRC’s attention to the Party’s disproportionate targeting of Jewish members in relation to the Action Plan and request the EHRC take action on this harsh treatment of so many Jewish members.

Engaging legal advisors to put forward our submission is costly but we think the principles are worth fighting for.

We are aware that there are many demands on our supporters’ pockets. But we ask that you donate to this action if you can and share the link to this page widely with all your relevant networks.

Thank you.

Link to relevant articles on JVL website:  

JVL Intro and link to full submission (within article): https://www.<wbr>jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/<wbr>statement/jvl-third-<wbr>submission-to-the-ehrc/

2021.https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/how-labours-claim-of-countering-antisemitism-has-resulted-in-a-purge-of-jews/

https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/supplementary-submission-by-jvl-to-the-ehrc-and-the-forde-inquiry/


Update 4

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

May 26, 2022

The Diana Neslen Case continued


The article by Haroon Siddique, reproduced below, first appeared as part of the Guardian’s rolling news column at 11.24 on 24th May 2022 .

It reports on Diana Neslen’s demand for an independent investigation into what she believes was a campaign of harassment against her for tweets she posted about Israel and Zionism.

It is accompanied by two letters from Bindmans solicitors acting on behalf of Diana Neslen; one a complaint to the Labour Party detailing Bindmans concerns, the other a letter to the EHRC drawing their attention to this letter of complaint


The Diana Neslen case

Haroon Siddique, Guardian, 24th May 2022

Lawyers for an 82-year-old Jewish woman who was investigated three times in three years by Labour for antisemitism have written to the party demanding that it carry out an independent investigation into what it alleges was a campaign of discrimination against her. They suggest her anti-Zionism was a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.

Labour dropped the latest investigation into Diana Neslen, who regularly attends her local synagogue and keeps a kosher home, after she threatened to sue the party for unlawfully discriminating against her based on her belief in anti-Zionism.

The party was investigating her for tweets she posted about Israel and Zionism. Her lawyers, Bindmans, had said the investigation was unjustified and disproportionate, with the only admissible tweet being one from 2017, in which Neslen said “the existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour and I am an antiracist Jew”.

A new letter sent to Labour by Bindmans says the party’s governance and legal unit (GLU) has “failed/refused to properly investigate and/or address our client’s complaints under the party’s own policies on bullying and harassment”. It continues:

Anti-Zionist (or indeed Zionist) beliefs that are strong enough to justify protection under the EA (Equality Act) 2010 are most likely to be held by those of Jewish or Palestinian ethnicities, given it is those ethnicities that are likely to be primarily affected by such beliefs. Accordingly, harassment based on anti-Zionist beliefs equates to harassment based on ethnicity, and it is therefore submitted that the party has subjected our client to harassment on the basis of ethnicity.

In 2018, Labour, under pressure to act on allegations of antisemitism. adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA’s) definition of the term. The IHRA definition of antisemitism includes as an example: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour.”

Jewish Voice for Labour, of which Neslen is a member, says it knows of 52 Jewish Labour members, two of whom have since died, who have faced or are facing disciplinary charges relating to allegations of antisemitism.

See also:

Letter of complaint to the Labour Party (redacted)

Letter to EHRC drawing attention to the letter of complaint to the Labur Party (redacted)

We continue to seek legal advice on cases against the LabourParty and in submissions to the EHRC. If you can, please donate - and please share.

Update 3

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

April 24, 2022

Skwawkbox article on our case

We were pleased to have Skwawkbox publish on our case. Here is the article, below, in case you missed it.

“JVL has consistently argued that lumping the occasional real instances of antisemitism together with the multitude of false accusations often aimed at political anti-Zionism diverts attention from the real and growing danger to Jews of the violent antisemitism of the far-right.”

Please note that we still need funds to cover our legal bills if you are in a position to donate. Please share widely.

                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                           

JVL’s new submission to EHRC details Labour regime’s abuse of six Jewish members

                                                                               by SKWAWKBOX (SW)                                                                             

                                                                                                                                           

More than fifty Jewish members have been targeted by Labour. JVL's fourth submission to equality watchdog details the cases of six of them

Jewish Voice for Labour, the organisation representing left-wing Jews in the party - and increasingly those targeted for racist discrimination and forced out of the party - has made a further submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on the right-wing regime's conduct toward Jewish members.

In this fourth document, JVL gives detail on six of the more than fifty Jewish party members mistreated by the regime - at a rate of more than thirty times the average for non-Jewish members and well over two hundred times more for senior members of JVL.

The group's announcement of the new submission says it covers:

- the Party’s process for appointing its Advisory Board on antisemitism;
- its failure to engage with a range of stakeholders;
- its failure / delay in responding to complaints;
- the disproportionate number of actioned complaints taken against Jewish Party members, and in particular Jewish anti-Zionist members;
- its failure to keep complainants updated with the progress of their complaints;
- breaches of the code of conduct on confidentiality and extensive delays in responding to SAR requests.

In each of these areas we have identified actions by the Party which are detrimental to Party members who are at odds with the current Labour leadership establishment.  The pernicious processes are then compounded by bureaucratic incompetence.

The submission reports on the disproportionate number of actioned complaints taken against Jewish Party members, and in particular anti-Zionist members. It examines, in particular, the cases of six Jewish members: Mike Howard, Jonathan Rosenhead, Pam Laurance, Jenny Manson, Stephen Marks and Diana Neslen.

JVL has consistently argued that lumping the occasional real instances of antisemitism together with the multitude of false accusations often aimed at political anti-Zionism diverts attention from the real and growing danger to Jews of the violent antisemitism of the far-right.

The six members whose stories are covered include:

  • Diana Neslen, the woman in her eighties repeatedly targeted by Labour. Ms Neslen's legal action forced the party to back down, but she has still seen no response to her own complaints of antisemitic behaviour toward her by right-wing figures and the party bureaucracy, as the 'preliminary issues' section of the new submission makes clear
  •  Mike Howard, whose lifetime of activism in the labour, union and anti-racism movements was trampled by the party - and who died, after months of victimisation, without even receiving an acknowledgement of his appeal from the party
  • Stephen Marks, an elected member of Labour's National Constitutional Committee targeted by the party for signing petitions - another whose communications with the party have been almost entirely ignored and have seen no action
  • Jonathan Rosenhead, an emeritus professor of the London School of Economics who was also targeted by police for his involvement in the protest movement against South African apartheid
  • Pam Laurance, targeted for sharing a Facebook article by the well-known Jewish author and musician Leon Rosselson
  • Jenny Manson, JVL co-chair, suspended for appearing on a BBC Newsnight programme discussing antisemitism in the Labour party - a programme that led to many complaints that she was bullied by the presenter - and whose suspension was used against her by the right-wing press

The report highlights:

  • the complete inaction of the Labour party in cases of genuine antisemitism against left-wing Jews
  • the way in which the Labour party has treated questioning the authenticity of right-wing complaints as inherently antisemitic - while it questions and ignores genuine complaints made by left-wing Jews
  • the party's repeated breaches under Keir Starmer and David Evans of its obligations and commitments in the report by the EHRC on antisemitism in the Labour party
  • Labour's determination to deny left-wing Jews any voice in its supposedly independent and representative 'Advisory Board' on antisemitism
  • the fact that Labour currently has three codes of conduct relating to antisemitism - with some contradicting each other
  • the fundamental and probably wilful ignorance of the party about what antisemitism actually is and of the breadth of Jewish opinion
  • imposing 'antisemitism training' that equates anti-zionism with antisemitism, with the imposed trainers resisting any attempts to make clear that the two are not the same

and much more.

The Labour right's racism is by no means limited to Jewish people - the right has deep-rooted issues with Islamophobia and racism against Gypsy Travellers and the hounding-out of black councillors and candidates. Not only has the party refused to address these issues or discipline those indulging in such racism, but Keir Starmer - who has refused to express any solidarity with abused black and Muslim women MPs - has even promoted some of them to his front benches and Labour officials have trampled on the wishes of members to impose right-wingers with a history of racism as candidates.

But in its treatment of left-wing Jews, the current regime routinely makes clear that it has no interest in genuinely addressing the evils of antisemitism and instead is abusing the idea of antisemitism in order to use it as a factional weapon. In a less corrupted country with 'mainstream' media doing the job they are supposed to do, this would be a huge scandal.

Read the full fourth submission here.

Update 2

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

March 15, 2022

Fourth submission to the EHRC

There are lessons to be drawn from our experience of the Labour Party Action Plan on Antisemitism

JVL has made a fourth submission to the EHRC, responding on issues the EHRC highlighted for us. These are:

  • the Party’s process for appointing its Advisory Board on antisemitism;
  • its failure to engage with a range of stakeholders;
  • its failure / delay in responding to complaints;
  • the disproportionate number of actioned complaints taken against Jewish Party members, and in particular Jewish anti-Zionist members;
  • its failure to keep complainants updated with the progress of their complaints; and
  • breaches of the code of conduct on confidentiality and extensive delays in responding to SAR requests.

    In each of these areas we have identified actions by the Party which are detrimental to Party members who are at odds with the current Labour leadership establishment.

The submission reports on the disproportionate number of actioned complaints taken against Jewish Party members, often anti-Zionist members. To date there have been 49 Jewish members undergoing a total of 62 investigations. We focus on 6 particular cases involving Jewish members. The lack of understanding of the diversity of Jewish views - and their right to hold them – highlights the lack of understanding of antisemitism.  This is particularly harmful in the area of ‘antisemitism training’ which does not distinguish clearly the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism and does not allow for the exchange of ideas. 

We have consistently argued that ‘lumping’ the occasional real instances of antisemitism together with the multitude of false accusations often aimed at political anti-Zionism diverts attention from the real and growing danger to Jews of the violent antisemitism of the far-right.

We understand that the independent complaints procedure is being implemented in the very near future.  We hope that the EHRC will take note of our concerns as highlighted in this and previous submissions in order to ensure greater understanding of the issues and to introduce fair processes within the new procedures.

Click here for link to JVL blog: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/jvls-fourth-submission-to-the-ehrc/

We still need financial support for the legal help we are receiving. If you are able to donate then please do and please share on all your networks. Thank you.

Update 1

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

Jan. 11, 2022

Update sent to EHRC

We are expecting a response from EHRC to our lawyers following their letters and our submissions. We have therefore written to notify them of the latest developments.

It appears that the new Labour Party disciplinary process commences on January 20th. We are highlighting an increasingly dogmatic misunderstanding of antisemitism by a Party which includes, in its guidance, both the IHRA definition and the NEC code of conduct and Appendix 9 of the Rule Book. In this the Party appears to be overly influenced by certain partisan views rather than taking into account the diverse experience and deep knowledge of antisemitism among Jews.

Jews are being disproportionally targeted: the total number who have been sanctioned according to our records is now 43 and there have been 55 investigations of Jews with alleged antisemitism at the core, more investigations than individuals because several have been investigated serially e.g. Diana Neslen, three times. These are only the cases that Party members have brought to our attention, there may well be others.

There is a newer concern that well known JVL figures are being particularly harshly treated by the NEC Panels that determine the Party’s disciplinary actions.

Noticeable elements are the eight ‘auto exclusions’ of Jews arising mainly from retrospective application of the proscription of organisations with significant Jewish participation such as Labour against the Witchhunt. The term ‘support’ is being applied extraordinarily widely to include, for instance, merely expressing concern about the proscriptions. The intent appears clear – to eliminate anti Zionist and other legitimate points of view challenging influences from the Party.

One Jewish member has received an eighteen-month suspension from the Party. This penalty seems to rest solely on Appendix 9 of the rule book which includes the following text, which has been used by the Party to brand as antisemitic any questioning of its handling of allegations of antisemitism, even the correction of the facts or any explanation of Jewish identity which questions the Party’s assumptions.

"Any behaviour or use of language which targets or intimidates members of ethnic or religious communities, or incites racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia,or undermines Labour’s ability to campaign against any form of racism, is unacceptable conduct within the Labour Party."

The first investigation was concluded with the Claimant having no knowledge of a right to defence under the NEC Code of Conduct; a request in 2021 to reopen that investigation was ignored.

This harsh sentence as a conclusion to the second investigation includes a component that effectively will exclude the claimant from the Labour Party: a new rule that requires compulsory training on antisemitism.

This training is given by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM). JVL, some of whose members have attended the voluntary open sessions out of interest, has critiqued this training as lacking in depth (it is not ‘education’) and privileging a Zionist viewpoint. See the following article: JVL response to JLM antisemitism training

The view of antisemitism promoted in these sessions is reductive in the extreme; to impose it on Jews who hold a different view of the world based on their own life experiences (in this case of more than eight decades) is surely concerned with humiliation rather than education.

We will update this site again once we have a reply from EHRC.

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