PREDICTABLE AS THE TIDE, we were all poised for the next wave of false accusations of antisemitism, timed for the run-up to the local elections and aimed at Jeremy Corbyn. Arrive it did, but with a sting in the tale.
Fearful of the new voice on the block which threatens to puncture their narrative that the Labour Party is awash with antisemitism, the right wing added Jewish Voice for Labour to their targets. I was duly removed by ‘administrative suspension’, by letter from Sam Matthews, Head of Disputes. As the hapless figurehead secretary I discovered I had become an antisemite and must hate myself. That my family fled the pogroms, that my lifelong partner lost a generation of her family to the Holocaust, that I have been on the executive of the widely respected Jews for Justice for Palestinians for over a decade, count for nothing.
All of a sudden I am supposed to have flipped to make common cause with my family’s annihilators. On the basis of anonymous “allegations (which) relate to comments made on social media that may be in (sic) antisemitic”, I was plunged into suspension: barred from any party meetings including annual conference because of my “conduct”, or because my presence at branch meetings may be “detrimental to the party”. This, despite the fact that there have been no complaints about me since I joined my local branch nearly two years ago, and having been a very active member.
I posted up the dreaded letter with the caption “Now they are going for JVL.” It went viral and within hours there was a chorus of angry voices, letters to the disputes committee, motions passed through party branches, support from senior members of the party, a statement signed by 100 plus - a veritable rolling campaign. Then a second email dropped into my inbox to inform me that I had been reinstated; the reason was “it would not be in the party’s interests to pursue further disciplinary action.” No explanation, no apology for the defamatory allegation. The purpose of ‘administrative suspension’ is that it is an emergency measure to prevent serious abuse or disruption. To put me in this category is abusive and insulting.
There is a very serious development of racism and antisemitism across Europe, and this crying wolf for sectional interests is a shocking undermining of the lessons of history. This disgraceful disciplinary process, and those who exploit it, must be rooted out and the Chakrabarti recommendations implemented as a matter of urgency.
is General Secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour.