Asa Winstanley, great supporter of Palestinian rights, suspended

Asa Winstanley. Photo: Eectronic Intifada

JVL Introduction

On 8th March, the Jewish Chronicle reported that Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada, had been suspended.  Winstanley first learnt of his suspension from a tweet by Jewish Chronicle reproter, Rosa Doherty.

In this article in the Electronic Intifada today, editor Ali Abunimah gives full details.

He says: “If the Labour Party investigation is an attempt to retaliate against Winstanley – and by extension The Electronic Intifada – for reporting on the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis and the activities of Israel lobby groups, it would not be the first one.”

Labour Party investigates Electronic Intifada journalist

Labour has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Asa Winstanley, a reporter with The Electronic Intifada who is also a member of the UK’s main opposition party.

The first person to report on this publicly was a journalist from the Jewish Chronicle, a right-wing newspaper with a stridently anti-Palestinian record.

Winstanley wasn’t aware of this until seeing the Tweet.

He then checked his email account and saw a letter from the Labour Party informing him of an “investigation” into several of his tweets critical of Israel and its official ideology, Zionism.

The paper published an article which contained Winstanley’s personal information.

Winstanley has lodged a formal complaint with the Labour Party for a serious data protection breach and is considering referring the matter to the police.

Because a journalist was informed of Winstanley’s private matters, the Labour Party may be in breach of its legal obligations to protect a member’s sensitive data.

Leaking such personal data may be a criminal offense under the UK’s Data Protection Act of 2018.

Since the Jewish Chronicle published the private information apparently provided by the Labour Party, Winstanley has received online abuse.

While Labour’s investigation is ongoing, it is unclear whether Winstanley’s press pass to the party’s annual conference in September will be issued.

If a press pass were not issued then the investigation into Winstanley would in effect be a form of censorship of a journalist with a long record of meticulously accurate and widely read reporting on the party.

Winstanley reported from inside the conference in 2016 and 2018.

Investigations of many Labour members have taken years.

Black and Jewish anti-Zionist Labour member Jackie Walker, for example, only last month received a hearing date for allegations relating to her comments at the Labour Party conference in September 2016.

While at a Jewish Labour Movement training session, Walker was one of several to disagree with the pro-Israel group’s definition of anti-Semitism.

As Winstanley reported at the time, the only definition used was one which includes describing Israel as a racist endeavor – something that would bar Palestinians from speaking about their lived reality and history.

Since 2015, Winstanley has reported in depth on the witch hunt against Labour Party members who are on the left, and who support Palestinian rights.

Since Jeremy Corbyn – a veteran campaigner for Palestinian rights – was elected party leader, a rash of often-fabricated allegations of anti-Semitism have plagued the party.

In one notorious case, an allegation was fabricated by lawmaker Joan Ryan, the chair of Labour Friends of Israel. Last month, Ryan was among a handful of MPs to resign from the party in part over claims about anti-Semitism.

This week’s action by Labour against Winstanley is an example of a wider problem.

For the past three years, Labour Party members have habitually learned of investigations, suspensions and expulsions via the press or have faced similar injustices.

After the election of Jennie Formby last year – a new, left-wing general secretary who is pro-Corbyn – many members expressed hope for change.

But this latest action, as well as several recent alleged suspensions and investigations of other members, indicate that the Labour Party may be in breach of legal obligations to protect members’ private data.

Left-winger Chris Williamson, who was the only MP to speak openly against the witch hunt, was suspended at the end of February.

If the Labour Party investigation is an attempt to retaliate against Winstanley – and by extension The Electronic Intifada – for reporting on the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis and the activities of Israel lobby groups, it would not be the first one.

In 2017, lawyers for the Jewish Labour Movement, a party-affiliated group with close ties to the Israeli embassy, wrote Winstanley in an apparent attempt to intimidate him from his reporting work.


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