Hurrah! I’ve been suspended by the Labour Party. I was wondering if they’d ever get around to it.

July 28, 2018

by Martin Odoni

I mentioned a couple of months back that I was expecting some kind of suspension to my membership of the Labour Party. Well, it took them a long time, but there is predictable news, and unexpected news on that front. The predictable bit (a friend and fellow Labour ‘suspendee’ even said, “Unsurprisingly” when I informed him of my suspension) is that I have indeed received my suspension notice. Not a promising reflection on the party’s competence that they got my address wrong some seven months after I informed them that I had moved to a new home, but I shall not dwell on that.

Wrong address

The Labour Party suspends me while getting my home address wrong.

The unexpected detail is what I have been accused over. I was expecting the suspension to be connected to past entanglements with the malevolently vulpine Zionist, Jonathan Hoffman, who claims to have lodged a complaint against me. In fact, the accusation does not appear to have anything to do with arguments with him. Instead, it was over the cover picture I put together for an article I wrote back in February. Here it is; –

star of david swastika

I am told that the image may “meet the definition of antisemitism [their spelling, right or wrong, not mine] adopted by the Labour Party, and thus be in breach of the Labour Party’s rule 2.I.8.”

It is entirely possible that I am guilty, given the well-recorded problems with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism, which the Labour Party has largely adopted. The dangerous flaw in the definition – that comparing the policy of The State of Israel to that of Nazi Germany is inherently anti-Semitic –  would probably apply here.

I am quite pleased that I have been suspended over this though, because it may force Labour to have a close look at the absurdity of this clause in the definition. What is likely to force the matter is the obvious, big drawback in the allegation against me; it is directed at someone who is ethnically Jewish. As I have said more than once in the past, it is quite possible to be prejudiced against one’s own race, but it is very counter-intuitive and rare, so when the suggestion is made, it needs a very strong supporting case. In other words, if anyone wishes to accuse me of being a Jewish anti-Semite, they had better come up with some ultra-solid reasons why.

My history of criticism of Israel is not an ultra-solid reason, or even a half-solid reason. Anti-Semitic feeling will never be the only possible motivation for condemning Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Arabs. Nor is it the only possible reason why people might see resemblance between the deeds of modern Israel and the deeds of Nazi Germany.

Even if one could argue that there is no such resemblance at present – a very shaky assertion but let us humour it for now – there is no reason for certainty that there never will be one in the future. But the IHRA working definition insists that we must assume that, and that if we do not, we are anti-Semites. And worse, this further means that, even if Israel actually went as far as to set up extermination camps complete with gas chambers and incinerators, and started ‘processing’ Palestinians through them in their thousands (no, I am not suggesting that Israel really is doing that, or that it is likely to in the future, this is purely hypothetical), the IHRA definition would still class it as anti-Semitic to suggest a resemblance to Nazi policy. Even though, in such a scenario, Israel’s policy would not only resemble but exactly match that of the Nazis.

Policy criticisms of Israel are not necessarily even anti-Zionist, let alone anti-Semitic, as it is quite possible to support Israel’s existence as a Jewish state without supporting its policies. (I support neither, just in case anyone was somehow in any doubt.)

That clause in the definition is clearly horribly, dangerously flawed, that is the clause I appear to be falling foul of, and it is a part of the definition I reject. Being an ethnic Jew, I believe I have an intimate right to dispute it.

15 Responses to “Hurrah! I’ve been suspended by the Labour Party. I was wondering if they’d ever get around to it.”

  1. Oh, FFS! I probably said the same to your friend on his blog.

  2. Shameful that the Party has taken this action. Solidarity Martin.

  3. I don’t claim to be of any religion, I am an atheist. However I will fight to defend others rights to follow any religion they may choose. Quite some time ago I read in detail the IHRA definition of antisemitism and the now infamous two paragraphs leaped out at me. I am not sure how anybody could be happy with contents that literally associate criticism of Israeli political policy towards Palestinians or comparison with actions of the nazi’s as being antisemitic, yes the latter is in poor taste but it is not a criticism of persons of that state, its a criticism of political policy.

  4. Johnny Beggs Says:

    Sorry to hear of your suspension, however much you anticipated it. It’s outrageous, and I hope you run rings round them.

  5. 4foxandhare Says:

    I am standing by your side in solidarity, Martin.

  6. G Millward Says:

    Martin I tried to DM you on twitter but you’re not on there I think.
    You should make a subject access request to the Labour Party for ALL and ANY information they hold on you

    You may find some useful information in what comes back to you.

    This decision to suspend seems flawed because you have to remember that the IHRA definition upon which such importance is being laid is a working definition which includes examples related to “political antiSemitism” if I can put it like that which as of yet has not been accepted and ratified by conference.
    The only “definition” sent to members was an e mail from Jeremy Corbyn which clearly stated that antiSemitism is hatred towards a jew because they are a jew.
    So essentially we have here is a breach of contract.
    Short of telepathy you could not have been reasonably expected to know that the political definition of anti Semitism was to be used as grounds for suspension even though it has not yet been adopted in terms of the examples.

  7. Here is the reality of the damned thing. Or a third of it

  8. Ian Says:

    Would it be worth making a complaint against the Labour Party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, or even taking action yourself, on grounds of associative Anti-Arab discrimination? There have been many Nazi-like genocidal statements about Arabs from Israeli ministers, notably Lieberman and Shaked. There are also numerous statements by leading Israelis noting the Nazi-like behaviour of the state. This action by Labour is racist as it denies equality to Arabs threatened by Nazi-like terror from Israel, denies the right to full solidarity to victims and indeed denies their humanity.

    Formally adopting the IHRA definition, which in my view is racist, has created a hostile environment for supporters of the Palestinians. That’s even without the ‘examples’. Meanwhile supporters of Israeli crimes, of ethnic cleansing, have free rein and don’t have to abide by any ‘code’. This means Labour is now an anti-Arab racist party. The ‘examples’ would make it a racist party with a totalitarian internal regime like some of the old Stalinist parties, but this hostile environment is bad enough. This could be a very important case.

  9. […] Martin’s article can be read at Hurrah! I’ve been suspended by the Labour Party. I was wondering if they’d ever get arou… […]

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