An open letter to Keir Starmer from Malcolm Segall

Malcolm Segall trained as a paediatrician in UK and became Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health in the new University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

He became Fellow of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, from where he researched health systems in low income countries, and worked with governments and international agencies to develop public health services in Africa (including newly-liberated Mozambique, newly-liberated Zimbabwe and post-apartheid South Africa) as well as in Vietnam and China.

He is now retired.

Dear Keir

I’m sorry for the delay in sending you this letter, but I have been poorly. Still belatedly I am writing because I want you to know that I, as a Jewish member of the Labour Party, characterise Israel as an expansionist, settler-colonial, ethnocratic, apartheid State, which has occupied, illegally expropriated, and may be on the point of formally annexing land belonging to the indigenous Palestinian people, who are deprived of their political rights. Do you think this characterisation of the Israeli State makes me antisemitic? I don’t. And I’d like to tell you why.

First then: what does the word antisemitism means? The Oxford English Dictionary defines antisemitism as “prejudice, hostility or discrimination toward Jewish people on religious, cultural or ethnic grounds.” That sounds pretty good to me. How about you? So the reason I think my characterisation of the Israeli State is not antisemitic is because it says nothing whatsoever about the Jewishness of the State’s leadership nor of the now majority population of the country. It is based entirely on objective and observable facts of the policies and actions of the State involved. In other words, we (and I mean we) should not conflate Jewish ethnicity with the political behaviour of a foreign country.

Why am I going on about this now? Because it seems to me (and believe me to many members of our party) that this conflation must be the explanation for your extraordinary reaction to a passing comment made by Maxine Peake in a newspaper interview. This is not only important in its own right, but is the very conflation that has also mischaracterised our party as being riddled with institutional antisemitism, that has led to good party members being unjustifyingly accused, suspended or expelled, and that was so damaging to us in the recent general election.

You have the deserved reputation for forensic dissection of arguments. So I’m going to a take a leaf out of your book and tease apart the different issues that are at stake here.

Let’s start then with the Maxine Peake incident. This has well been publicised and I need only summarise it here. Maxine made the comment that Israeli secret services have trained US police in the kneeling technique that led to the death of George Floyd and you said that this constituted an ‘antisemitic conspiracy theory’. It is widely acknowledged that Israeli forces have trained the security forces of a number of countries, including the US in, among other things, restraining techniques and it is also documented that Israeli forces have employed the kneeling technique to restrain Palestinians. What is not known is that Israeli forces taught that particular technique to US police, so Maxine’s wording was loose and she has withdrawn the comment. But the issue for us here is that, even as the comment stood, there is no way that this criticism of Israeli forces could remotely be construed as antisemitic (let alone a conspiracy theory) since there was no suggestion at all that the criticism was because the people doing the training forces were Jewish. That comment of yours, conflating Israeli actions with Jewishness was completely illegitimate, for reasons I have pointed out above. So what were you thinking of? Was it a momentary aberration of muddled thinking or was it deliberate to send out an underlying message and, if so, to whom?

You said you made the comment in order to reassure the ‘Jewish community’. What ‘Jewish community’ is that? Could it be the ‘Jewish community’ that the Board of Deputies (BoD)) of British Jews claims to represent? The deputies are elected by synagogues and other communal organisations, but some half of the roughly 300,000 British Jews do not have synagogue membership and a quarter of them self-describe as secular. So any implication that the BoD represents the collective views of Jews in Britain is far from the truth.

Could it be that you are trying to placate the BoD and related pro-Israeli lobby groups such as their affiliate, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM)? The JLM has been affiliated also to the Labour Party for 100 years, though for most of that time it was known as – what it actually is – as Poale Zion (Labour Zionist Movement). Its remit includes the promotion of self-determination of the Jewish people within the State of Israel and promotion of the centrality of Israel in Jewish life. These and related groups ran a relentless campaign, ably supported by the right wing press, of disinformation and lies about Jeremy’ Corbyn’s alleged tolerance of antisemitism in the Labour Party and even his being guilty of antisemitic acts himself. So is it that you are trying to earn relief from such relentless pressure?

The problem is that if you give into playground bullies, they only bully you more. There’s no better example than the BoD’s demand that the then Labour leadership contenders must sign up to its 10 pledges, which include (I paraphrase): that Labour should only relate to the ‘Jewish community’ though its ‘main representatives’ (meaning principally themselves), that these representatives should have effective supervision of the handling of complaints of antisemitism, and that JLM should be engaged to teach party members what antisemitism means – can you imagine what their curriculum will be?! Well, the answer to that rhetorical question is to be found in Pledge 6. I quote this in full because it is central to the purpose of this letter: “The IHRA definition of antisemitism, with all its examples and clauses, and without any caveats, will be fully adopted by the party and used as the basis for considering antisemitism disciplinary cases.” What an absolute chutzpah this all is! Is the Labour Party to become a vassal of a self-interested pressure groups? And what is worse is that you signed up to this.

So we’d better examine what exactly is this IHRA document defining antisemitism? I’m sure you studied this in forensic detail before you signed up to it but, if I may, I’ll just refresh your memory. The document has quite a long history. Essentially the same text was considered as long ago as 2005 by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia and later inherited by the Centre’s successor, the Fundamental Rights Agency, but no decision was ever made to adopt it. It was then finally adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in 2016. So what is the IHRA? It is effectively an intergovernmental task force, with at the time just 33 participating governments. The antisemitism document produced by the task force was actually adopted by only 8 of the 33 participating governments and 2 of 9 observer governments – which is not exactly a ringing endorsement.

What of the IHRA document itself? It comprises a definition of antisemitism and 11 illustrative examples. The definition is described as a “working definition” which is “non-legally binding” and the examples could be considered antisemitic but only in certain contexts, which are unspecified. It certainly reads like a working document because a lot of the writing is unclear and confusing, leaving much room for interpretation. But despite the apparently unfinalised nature of the document, it has been seized upon cynically by people wishing to extend the definition of antisemitism to include anything other t­­han trivial criticism of Israel. Let’s see that now.

The preoccupation of the IHRA document with Israel is shown by the fact that 7 of the 11 examples relate to the State of Israel. The most contentious of the examples is that it would be antisemitic to claim that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour. This example was resisted initially by the Labour Party, which finally caved in to persistent bullying. The wording “a State of Israel” in the example is very strange. It might have made some sense before 1948 as a kind of exercise of hypothetical model building. But now there is only one State of Israel. So is it racist? Ask the Palestinians.

Twenty percent of the population of Israel proper are Palestinian citizens. Putting aside for this purpose the situation of the occupied territories (including the siege of Gaza and the illegal expansions in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights), since 1948 Israeli Palestinians have been subject to the political control of the Jewish majority. This de facto control changed to de jure in July 2018 when the Knesset passed the Nation State Law, which embedded Jewish hegemony structurally into the constitution of the country. The law established officially that Israel is the Nation State of the Jewish people and the Jewish people alone. This meant that, while Palestinian citizens have equal individual civil and human rights, they have no political rights as a people. Any state which defines political rights on the basis of ethnicity, as distinct from citizenship, is – in and of itself – racist. This is not a matter of opinion. The Nation State Law applies not only to Jews in Israel. Jews worldwide have the ‘right of return’ to Israel and the right to gain citizenship, while no such rights are afforded to the 700,000 Palestinian refugees (and their descendants) who fled or were expelled from the country in 1948, leaving behind their land and possessions.

So, Keir, are you really going along with such a distorted, politically tendentious ‘definition’ of antisemitism. If so, you will be selling the Palestinian people down the river. What happened to Robin Cook’s ethical foreign policy?

Now finally, what about your peremptory sacking of Rebecca from the opposition front bench for not instantly withdrawing her tweet of her constituent Maxine’s published interview and before she had a chance to speak to you? To draw on Shakespeare’s Mark Anthony: Oh, what a fall was there, my fellow party members! Rebecca was a first class Shadow Business Secretary with her Green New Deal. She gave a very creditable speech in Parliament as your Shadow Education Secretary laying out what needed to be done for schools to reopen safely. Don’t you see your sacking Rebecca on such flimsy grounds has driven a coach and horses through your claim to want to unite the party? Or is it that you actually just don’t care?

Keir, I voted for you in the recent leadership election. So, please, now be a mensch, do the right thing: reconsider your current acceptance of conflation of antisemitism with any telling criticism of Israel, and reinstate Rebecca to a role on the front bench.

In solidarity

Malcolm

 

 

 

Comments (101)

  • Tony Burford says:

    Wonderful!
    Send a copy to the BBC

  • Rita Mendelson says:

    Yes. This 100%. Clear and logical.

  • Erica Flegg says:

    Good critique! But surprising that the author voted for Starmer as leader when this outcome was predictable….

  • oldandgrumpy says:

    I only hope he reads this article. I fear he is selective in what he chooses to read and more importantly take on board. Can you not print this in the Guardian or independent. although he still might not read it as these days he appears to be writing for the Daily Mail and pandering to the Sun. For me, Starmer is a lost cause and as he so aptly says has a lot to prove… but not to the right-wing/centrist media – to members of the labour party and voters.

  • Matthew Owen says:

    Finally
    Someone defining anti semitism who actually knows what they’re talking about.

  • jonathan Hamilton Russell says:

    Clear , logical and to the point. The nonsense that has gone on in relation to this issue has left the Palestinian people even less defended than they were before against appalling injustice. Members of the Labour Party who believe in standing against injustice wherever it happens has been wrongfully accused. I hope the reply from Keir Stamer also gets published .

  • Billy says:

    Excellent written but sorry Keir will not take any notice of it as according to BOD you are not the right jew

  • R Barnett says:

    Someone should pay to have a full page advert of the letter in all the newspapers in the UK.

  • Michael Westcombe says:

    SPOT ON!!! Been waiting for someone to cut the crap. Well said, Malcolm, I salute you.

  • Peter says:

    An excellent summing up of the horseshit that is antisemetism in the Labour Party and decent people are still being affected by it

  • James Hall says:

    This is clear, concise and accurate. I have a slight problem with it however – the judgement of any one who voted for Starmer as Party leader must be suspect.

  • S Robinson says:

    Brilliant, many Labour members feel the same way, yet are being shown the door . Starmer needs to start listening to the grassroots and remember the party is a democracy.

  • Martyn Warwick says:

    Bravo Malcolm an excellent letter that Starmer will due well to refute your coherent argument. My fear is it will be ignored rather than addressed head on.

  • Elizabeth Stanley says:

    Dear Malcolm, I read the article and was shocked by what Maxine Peake said. It was the juxtaposition of two sentences which hit me. You have only quoted the second one. If that had been all she said it would have been fine. Or if she had just said the first one, which (I am going from memory here) was along the lines of “Systemic racism is everywhere, it’s global.” But the two sentences together were dynamite. Going straight from “global systemic racism” to “the police who killed George Floyd were trained by the Israeli secret service” is a complete non-sequitur, unless you wish to imply that Israel is the source of global systemic racism. Which is clearly bonkers, but then conspiracy theories ARE bonkers. Goodness knows what Maxine Peake thought she meant. But Rebecca Long-Bailey should have more sense than to retweet ANY article without reading it properly. And once the possible interpretation had been pointed out to her she should have deleted it immediately.

  • Barbara Campbell says:

    Thank you Malcolm,
    I now understand what’s happened, I will pass this on.

  • Bonny Ambrose says:

    Very good letter. I’d be very interested in the reply.

  • Hilary Beardmore says:

    Yes, yes and yes again. Everybody should be able to read this and understand these fundamental distinctions.

  • Mary Davies says:

    Brilliant letter but KS will not change course.

  • Annie Richardson says:

    A coherent, persuasive argument which I hope Labour will heed. I feat it won’t. Fir whatever reason it seems wedded to a highly controversial and logically weak definition of anti-semitism.

  • Ikhlaq says:

    Myself couldn’t agree with the above secret letter to Sir Keir.
    It is about time , Labour Party was working for working classes globally,not just for the states that oppress people whose land they are grabbing.
    Yet have the cheek to class the oppressed as terrorists.
    While these oppressors are the real terrorists.

  • Deborah Collinson says:

    Brilliant, clear and so true. How come Starmer doesn’t understand it?

  • Sandy Palmer says:

    It would be good if Labour members, and others, were able to sign this letter in support of this coherent and well thought out missive.

  • Gary whiting says:

    That sums up the whole thing up excellently whith clarity . Very Well articulated .

  • Sylvia Davies says:

    This is the most sensible letter unraveling the lies which have been spun about antisemitism. Stop lying Starmer

  • June says:

    Well said but sadly I doubt that Sir Kier will take any notice.

  • John Fry says:

    As a life long Labour supporter, I was deeply dismayed by the dismissal of Rebecca long- Bailey and I heartily endorse your argument and conclusions.

  • Dr Rodney Watts says:

    A superbly readable exposition of the matters pertaining to the current state of the Labour Party and its leadership. Is it too much to hope that Sir Keir will respond with integrity and demonstrate his “deserved reputation for forensic dissection of arguments”? Surely, if this Tory Government can execute humbling U-turns, –and I noticed Sir Keir making political gain from the latest– then it should not be beyond Sir Keir to execute similar.

  • Anthony Sperryn says:

    The saboteurs have taken their salaries under false pretences and the endorsement of their actions by Starmer by way of the settlement brings the Labour Party into disrepute, to the extent that it might, improbably, still be believed to be fighting for working people. Starmer, clearly, is not the right man for the job. He must go.

  • Sally Cavanagh says:

    Thank you for setting out clearly what anti-semitism is and – equally importantly – what it is not. Not being of the Jewish faith – or indeed of any, I’ve found myself disempowered from being able to challenge the prevailing view in the Labour Party of what constitutes anti-semitism as I’m not Jewish.

    One has to question what the underlying motive is within the Labour Party hierarchy to have allowed the conflation between criticism of the State of Israel and criticisingJewish people. I suspect that it has been and still is an important part of the campaign to discredit those who wish to see socialist principles really driving Labour Party policy, not to mention a major tactic in derailing the last election campaign.

    Please publish this letter in The Guardian and Independent.

  • Joe farrell says:

    Great letter very informative but a waste of paper. Starmer is a coward even looks it never a leader. He will do what he is told by the likes of Murdoch. The BoD will enjoy pulling his strings.

  • JanP says:

    Well said Malcolm Segall, you have spelt it out to Starmer.
    I lived and worked in Tanzania when Nyerere was President. I know that a different way of doing politics is possible.
    However I suspect the real reason for RLB s demotion was not for repeating the Maxine Peake tweet but because Rebecca supported the teachers union stance of not going back to school until it was made safe for everyone concerned. There was a real ground swell of support for both the Union stance and Rebecca. What a strong combination, Labour and the unions working together against this corrupt and inept government. That couldn’t be allowed.

  • Lesley Stewart says:

    Thankyou Malcolm you have put in to words what all labour members wanted to say , sadly starmer has already been bought by the establishment

  • Cathy Chapman says:

    At last, the voice of clear reason, cutting through the obfuscation. Kier Starmer ‘s actions in this were the final push that forced me to resign my membership of the party.

  • Jean Alderson says:

    Shame on you Mr Starmer.
    You have betrayed our socialist principles for power

  • Margaret Morgan says:

    A Brilliant letter .I do hope our leader reads it and acts on it .Thankyou

  • John W says:

    Look at this positively. This gives us an opportunity to inject some politics into the Labour Party. It is interesting that that is the last thing that many of the ‘functionaries;’ want.

  • Mike Ketchum says:

    Clear and calm , it is obviously time for Labour to change tack and get behind efforts to change the racist state of Israel. This is certainly what Jewish socialists would demand of the Labour party. The party at present is pandering to the extreme right and to racists.

  • Wonnie says:

    This is a welcome forensic examination worthy of a response from our leader.

  • Margaret Mc Blain says:

    Well said that man.

  • Peter Cronin-Hill says:

    Having in younger days had two Jewish boyfriends, i think I can comfortably say I am not antisemitic.
    What I can say with conviction however, is I am against Israel’s expansionist behaviour, and I can say in all honesty that I think Israel’s treatment of Palestinian people and theft of their land, utterly deplorable.

  • David Petty says:

    A first class forensic analysis of Keir Starmer’s failings as a politician and as a human being.

  • Shernaz says:

    That’s a great letter outlining what most of us feel. Any critical thinker will be able to see- But will Ker Starmer? I have my doubts!!!

  • David Jones says:

    Oh, thank you, thank you, Malcolm! Until now, I’ve been hoping and longing for someone who identifies as Jewish to spell it out so clearly and unambiguously, because only a Jewish person could do it without the false accusation of “antiSemitism” being used to obfuscate the logic and truth of it. Though no doubt there will be those who accuse you of being a “self-hating Jew”, or some such nonsense!

  • Mirjana Brennan says:

    Very well said Sir. It resonates with my thoughts and feelings on the matter. Hope to see Sir Keir’s reply. With respect

  • David platt says:

    Starmer someone who is better at forensics than you

  • DJ says:

    A superb article. The adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism by the Labour Party is clearly problematic. It is being used to prevent free speech on Israel. It is not anti semitic to call the state of Israel a racist endeavour. It is the truth. This state is a form of settler colonialism based on ethnic cleansing and apartheid. The Palestinian victims of this state understand this. It’s about time their voices were listened to rather than the unrepresentative BoD. We should not be afraid to call for the replacement of the ethnocratic state of Israel with a democratic multi faith state based on genuine equality. What’s not to like about that?

  • Kevin Harrison says:

    I couldn’t have written that but I agree with every word .
    Well said sir.

  • Alan Stanton says:

    It’s inspiring to read that there are still groups of sensible honest people insisting on some sort of fairness, evidence and rationality on these issues.

    But I wonder if they are misreading the map. Didn’t we fall down the rabbit hole a while ago? Trying to clamber back up into the real world may not help. Because the bullies appear to have won. In the process teaching other bullies and would-be authoritarians that bearing false witness is an easy and effective way to win any argument and scare most people into nervous nodding and smiling. Silencing dissent.

    It seems we are called on to surrender the red roses and paint them white. As for carefully crafted explanations of why the IHRA definition is as useful as a waterproof teabag, if only I had a crimson rose bush for every one I’ve read.
    Does anyone really suppose that some calm academic argument is going to make the slightest shift, let alone dismantle, the twenty-year-old (?) invention of the “New Anti-Semitism? In other words, conflation with criticism of the Israeli Government.

    It especially saddens me that there seem so many unbridgeable gulfs. So much refusal to listen and reflect. So much anger and hatred between people who were once prepared to listen to one another.

  • Jenny Skelton says:

    Brilliant letter written by Malcolm Segall. The best letter I’ve read so far regarding the whole anti semitism fiasco. A wake up call for those with vested interests who undermined and continue to undermine those in the Labour party who were never anti Semitic at all but we’re unjustly tarred with that title.
    I would like to think that those involved will wake up but will they ?

  • ian kemp says:

    Brilliant Malcolm I Hope Starmer reads and understands it

  • Frank Forman says:

    Kier Starmer Forgive Me When I Say That Your Promises Of Uniting The Labour Party By Being A Friend To The Fascist State Of Israel Is Absolutely And Totally Reprehensible And The Founders Of The Labour Party Would Be Turning In Their Graves. After Coming So Close To A Left-wing Revolution With Jeremy Corbyn To Destroying The Hopes And Dreams Of So Many People In The UK And Uniting Every Corner Of The UK. We Were Hoping That You Would Continue The Corbyn Project But Sadly YOU HAVE SOLD US DOWN THE RIVER!! IF YOU WANT THE SUPPORT OF THE LABOUR PARTY MEMBERS THEN CHANGE YOUR WAYS AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR US NOW!!

  • Stephen says:

    Can’t argue with any of this.

  • This letter from Malcolm Segall, I believe details what is in the minds of many people – it is articulate, intelligent and well informed. It leaves no doubt that criticism of the state of Israel is criticism of the anti humanitarian acts carried out by the state, not an anti religious criticism. Atrocities remain atrocities regardless of the ethnic/religious beliefs of the state/person who perpetrates them.

  • Chris wallis says:

    Great letter we should fb it everywhere. However KS got a lot of money for his leadership campaign from the Israel lobby, and made sure he didn’t have to make it public till after the election. It’s payback time.

  • Marlene says:

    Brilliant comments.

  • christine says:

    Delighted to read this – about time and so clearly and eloquently. Thank you

  • Keith Veness says:

    Brilliant exposition that I totally agree with. Starmer needs to reaffirm conference policy supporting Palestine or go,

  • Diane datson says:

    Could this letter be printed in the following rags?
    The mail
    The sun
    The independent
    And the worse of all – the guardian
    Did the author really vote for Starmer I wonder? He sounds much too careful and sensible

  • Tim Maltwood says:

    Thank you Malcolm Segall.
    Your informative and insightful letter reinforces my, and hundreds of thousands of socialist Labour members belief that this ‘antisemitic witch hunt’ orchestrated by factions within our Labour party, were, and always have been a sinister device used to destroy Jeremy Corbyn, a much needed socialist movement, and this Country’s opportunity of a socialist Labour Government…
    They have, with their allies destroyed our very democracy…

  • What a fantastic letter written by a very knowledgeable Person .
    I Just hope the good Sir has the decency to read it and take in the contents of it

  • Alan Jowett says:

    Rebecca should be the leader. Reinstatement to a serious post is the minimum requirement.

  • Ray Aplin says:

    Any evidence required to support Malcolm Segall’s letter can be had by reading one of the excellent books on the Israel/Palestine situation by the well-respected Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe.

  • Jo says:

    Brilliant!

  • William says:

    I’m impressed by the cogency of this well argued missive. I totally agree that criticism of the State of Israel and their actions towards, and treatment of indigenous Palestinians should not be interpreted as ‘antisemetism’ Well said Malcolm

  • Irene Tait says:

    STARMER IS ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE BENCH AND SHOULD STEP DOWN. HE GOES ALONG WITH EVERYTHING THE TORIES SAY. FAR RIGHT AND DEFINITELY UNSUITABLE IN A SOCIALIST PARTY, LET ALONE LEADER.

  • Philip Tomkins says:

    Time to stand up and be a man, admit Jeremy Corbyn was wrongly removed from office and needs to be reinstated

  • Graham lewinton says:

    That is a finely argued piece of writing,and I personally completely agree,,
    I frequently wear a T-shirt that states in white on black ,pro Semitic antizionist ,,I do get quire a few thumbs up and I was threatened with I’m going to get you

  • Philip Jones says:

    100% behind Malcom. Using Starmer’s technique you have downed the hollow man the straw man. Brilliant.

  • Gabrielle Hector says:

    This seems a very clear and comprehensive Document. I would like to see the reply some time soon after Mr Starmer sends you a reply

  • Janette GARDNER says:

    He won’t listen Sir. He has lost so many Labour voter already and so many are threatening to leave. People DO NOT LIKE him or his arrogance. He is just a TORY in red. The quicker we get rid of him the better !

  • judith Perera says:

    Thankyou Dr Segall for your lucid analysis. Unfortunately I seriously doubt that Starmer will acknowledge its validity. He has a whole other agenda.

  • Ziad Alsayed says:

    Well said Malcolm,as a Palestinian Labour member, I could not have said it better, but don’t you know that sir Kier already knows all that? He does, he knew it but he wanted to please the mainstream media and capitalist system politics , sadly he will not change his stance , he’s already sold JC and sold the Palestinian people, he’s there to win regardless of price or cost

  • Sean O'Kane says:

    Brilliant I concur with every word and sentiment.

  • Valerie Speed says:

    A brilliant summation and one with which I wholeheartedly concurr.

  • Mohammad says:

    I have never ever read an article word for word I don’t even who Malcolm is but I sure will read to know more about him. He spot is on I have been waiting for someone to the real truth. Well said, Malcolm, I salute you Sir, but I can’t think for one second The opposition Leader will take any Notice. Thank you for such beautiful letter written and someone who is dsylexic to understand everything you have written just amazing.

  • Darrall Cozens says:

    This Open Letter resonated with me. I was suspended on March 9th 2016 on allegations of “intimidating and threatening behaviour”. The Disputes Team still refuses to tell me when, where, what and to whom these allegations occurred and who made the allegations. On March 9th 2020 I launched a public petition seeking justice from the LP. Nine days later the Disputes Team hit me with allegations of racism and anti-Semitism! I refuted all the charges in a 139-page Dossier and I stated much of what the Open Letter states. They still found me guilty of the charges. My punishment? My suspension was lifted and a Reminder of Conduct was to lay on my file for a year! They charged me with breaking the law and then slapped me on the wrist. After almost 56 years as an active LP member, I am glad to have my suspension lifted but am still trying to find out why I was suspended in the first place! Incidentally, one of the six pieces of “evidence” used against me was a re-posting without comment on FB of a JVL statement!! Kafka lives.

  • DR SAM LEWIS says:

    Perfectly reasonable letter, stating Malcolm’s political views.

    Nowt wrong with that. Lots of Labour members hold much the same attitudes to Israel, and its colonising expansionist policy.

    Where he is mistaken is to impute so many “sins” to Starmer. I don’t think Sir Keir believes any of them. He has simply stated the Labour Party position. his own ten pledges, and his agreement to fostering good relations with British Jews…

    If Rebecca had stuck to her own promise to do exactly the same, and deleted her retweet, as the originator did.. she would still be in the Shadow Cabinet.

  • Mia Bellamy says:

    I cannot remember the date, but last year I was bombarded by Rabbi Sachs with sermons on Jeremy Corbyn and his antisemitic views. I could not get the endless posts off my account for some hours. I messaged some other party members and said I felt imtimidated by this and was advised to ignore it as all LP members had received these and it was probably some troll trying to get some damaging replies. I have heard nothing about this since. I am so disgusted by Starmer settling out of court that I have left the LP and am paying my dues to the JC fighting fund. The LP I support no longer exists.

  • Michelle Smith says:

    Superbly put! It is so uplifting to see such articulate challenge to politicians prepared to sacrifice good and succumb to political bullying.

  • Brian Pullan says:

    Well argued and completely logical

  • Judy Thurlow says:

    He has lost all honesty and decency. He gave up all that to those doners, the Israeli lobby group, who bought him. Sadly he’s sold his soul to the Tory party. He’s in the history books as a Labour traitor to the Palestinians and the Labour Party. Never shall he be forgiven.

  • Martin Wilks says:

    A wonderful well written piece explaining why my angry outbursts at Israel s injustices have never offended my Jewish friends who are reasonably well educated and know wrong from right. I hope you have the response your letter deserves oh the virus ends in sept 2021 worse in the west next year stay safe,

  • Jean Feldberg says:

    Excellent letter Malcolm! Exactly my thoughts. It will be interesting to read his response which surely must be in the post 🤣

  • Brian Preece says:

    Very well argued, Malcolm. I also voted for Starmer on the basis that he would keep the policies so well developed by the previous leadership and I too am bitterly disappointed by his stance since. I will continue with my activism within the LP, because for all its faults, it’s the only game in town to bring more fairness to society, but I do so with a heavy heart

  • Peter says:

    Wow what a clear and powerful statement. I’ve been confused over the anti Semitic label levelled on the party and on mr Corbyn. How do you criticise such blatant racist colonialism and not be anti Semitic. Thankyou so much.

  • Allan Howard says:

    As Ziad said, Keir Starmer is well aware that everything Malcolm says in his letter is true, and has done all along. Great letter though, never-the-less. As for the IHRA definition, you can be 100 percent certain that Starmer is aware of all the criticisms made about it, including by the person who drafted it.

  • John Butler says:

    I agree Israel is racist. But is it quite true to say Israeli Palestinians have no political rights if they can vote? And Rebecca did not sadly withdraw her tweet immediately she realised her mistake. I don’t think we need worry. Keir opposes Israeli occupation and expansion (see Lisa Nandy’s statements). So it’s not true Keir is conflating antisemitism with any telling criticism of Israel. That’s the main thing.

  • T Baig says:

    A common sense letter dispelling the crafty use of the term ‘antisemitic’ whenever bullies are shown up.
    I just feel sad that the Labour Party has lost its roots.

  • Jude Kelman says:

    I agree with every word. Thank you for putting it so elegantly.

  • Rosemary Nash says:

    Please convey my huge thanks to Professor Segall for his wise, clear, carefully argued open letter to Keir Starmer.

    I wonder whether KS will reply and whether his reply will be made public.

  • Harry Law says:

    John Butler, “And Rebecca did not sadly withdraw her tweet immediately she realised her mistake.
    The offending article referred to the Israeli state, in particular a branch of that state – the security services, Ms Peake’s comments are patently not anti-Semitic since she did not mention Jews, Israel is neither a Jew nor the representative of the Jewish people collectively wherever they may reside
    It is Keir Starmer who is in breach of the IHRA example 11, “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” Starmer has conflated this criticism i.e. actions by the state of Israel with Jews wherever they may live or think, a conflation condemned as anti Semitic by the IHRA.
    Maxine Peake, a Labour party member in RL Bailey’s constituency is now branded an Anti-Semite, a very serious allegation. In fact the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory is also completely without foundation, it is not a conspiracy because the Israeli state has been training US police forces in the US for very many years including the Minneapolis Police force and vice versa these are well documented facts and both parties are very proud and do not seek to hide these exchanges .

  • Harry Law says:

    Strangely enough RLBailey was also in breach of the IHRA examples when R Peston put this question to her at the JLM/ Labour party hustings just before the General election.
    Peston “Do you regard it as Anti-Semitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist because of their discriminatory impact, is that an Anti-Semitic statement.
    RL Bailey. Yes.
    So the forensic Lawyer and DPP for 5 years Keir Starmer and RLB a solicitor don’t know they have both conflated criticism of Israel with Jews contrary to the IHRA [example 11]. If both these legal minds don’t know what they are saying, how do they expect the membership to know?

  • Peri Hankey says:

    The IHRA definition is strongly recommended by the movers & shakers of that successful campaign against the Labour Party as it was under Jeremy Corbyn. Their enthusiasm is in fact damaging to their own cause.

    Apply example 7 “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” to the ‘Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People’: the effect of that Basic Law is to describe Israel as a racist endeavour. So it is an antisemitic utterance in terms of IHRA Example 7.

    Example 11 says that “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” is antisemitic. That’s precisely what Keir Starmer & many others have often done when they treat criticism of what Israel does as antisemitic.

    The campaign during 2018 to impose the IHRA definition on the Labour Party did immense damage to Jeremy Corbyn and to the Party itself. Those who approve of what was done then can be caught in the logic of traps they intended for others.

  • Wendy Clarke says:

    Thanks for this forensic explanation. I have been doubting my own intelligence in finding these accusations against the Labour party inexplicable.

  • Harry Law says:

    Just when you thought it could get no worse….
    Former Shadow Defence Secretary wants those who support RL Bailey to leave the party.
    Rebecca Long-Bailey defenders ‘guilty of anti-Semitism’ says Griffith
    When pressed on whether members who have sent messages of support from the left for Mrs Long-Bailey were guilty of anti-Semitism, Ms Griffith said: “Well I think they are and I think they’re also in danger of going backwards and going back over old arguments and old mistakes because what we need now is clear, decisive action to make sure that we root out anti-Semitism in the party.
    The Welsh Labour Grassroots group put out a statement following Thursday’s events, which said criticism of the Israeli Government was not tantamount to anti-Semitism.
    “It is sad to see someone like Nia, who was once a member of Welsh Labour Grassroots herself, saying that those of us who have defended Rebecca Long-Bailey are ourselves guilty of anti-Semitism. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-53212785

  • gwanwyn thomas says:

    the man is so right

  • Ann Lewis says:

    I totally agree with Malcom Segall and ,like him, I voted for Keir. I do not want to see Labour being torn apart and I do not want to resign . My position ,and that of many other Labour Party members is becoming very difficult. Please consider all this very carefully, Keir.

  • Adam Hurst. JVL Sheffield says:

    I support the above

  • FranHart says:

    Well said – Malcolm we pretty much all feel the same!

  • Margaret Chorley says:

    Keir Starmer, you are proving yourself to be unfit to lead a socialist party… You need to redeem yourself

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