On Labour’s purge, particularly of Jewish socialists

Diana Neslen: ‘The Labour party has no idea in my opinion of what antisemitism is.’

JVL Introduction

We are very pleased to publish a Guardian report on the ongoing purge in the Labour Party.

This story focuses on the harassment of Diana Neslen, an 82-year-old Jewish woman, and member of Jewish Voice for Labour, currently under investigation by the Labour Party for the third time for alleged antisemitism.

It puts her harassment in context, reporting that we in JVL know of 42 Jewish members of the Labour party, who have faced or are facing disciplinary charges relating to allegations of antisemitism.

Two of whom have since died while under investigation, without having their names cleared of the false and vexatious claims against them.

We hope that this report represents the beginnings of a breach in the MSM wall of silence on Starmer’s purge of socialists, particularly left-wing Jewish members.

This article was originally published by the Guardian on Mon 20 Dec 2021. Read the original here.

Jewish woman accused of antisemitism by Labour threatens to sue

Exclusive: Diana Neslen, 82, claims party has discriminated against her based on her belief in anti-Zionism

An 82-year-old Jewish woman, who is being investigated by Labour for alleged antisemitism for the third time in less than three years, is threatening legal action against the party, claiming it has unlawfully discriminated against her based on her belief in anti-Zionism.

Diana Neslen, who lives in east London, regularly attends her local synagogue and keeps a kosher home but has been accused of antisemitism for tweets she has posted about Israel and Zionism.

In a pre-action letter to Labour, her lawyers, Bindmans, say the party’s investigation is totally unjustified and disproportionate as it rests on a single tweet from 2017, which said “the existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour and I am an antiracist Jew”.

They claim anti-Zionism is a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act and Neslen has been “subjected by the party to discrimination and harassment related to her protected philosophical belief”.

Neslen, who said she was a “committed Zionist” before she visited Israel, told the Guardian: “I remember thinking at the end of the war, ‘Why didn’t the Germans do anything?’ When there’s injustice done in your name you cannot close your eyes to it. That’s why I feel very strongly.

“The Labour party has no idea in my opinion of what antisemitism is. My son was attacked by a luminary of the BNP [British National party] who was jailed for three years. I remember picking up the phone and being subjected to death threats from the BNP. People who have never experienced antisemitism have no idea what it means, what it means for a Jew to be found guilty of antisemitism.”

Neslen, who grew up in South Africa, said she had spent her life fighting apartheid and racism. In 2018, while mourning the death of her husband of 51 years and having recently been diagnosed with cancer, she was sent a “reminder of conduct” accusing her of antisemitic comments on social media.

In February this year, she was given a “formal NEC warning relating to your conduct”. Bindmans said all bar one of the tweets cited in the latest investigation, of which she was notified in August, were excluded under party rules either because they were before she rejoined the party in 2015 or were considered in the previous investigation.

In 2018, Labour, beset by antisemitism allegations, adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which 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.”

Neslen is a member of Jewish Voice for Labour, which says it knows of 42 Jewish members of the Labour party, two of whom have since died, who have faced or are facing disciplinary charges relating to allegations of antisemitism. The group estimates that Jewish Labour party members are at least five times more likely to have faced actioned complaints of antisemitism than non-Jewish members.

The letter from Bindmans quotes the judge who, in the case of Maya Forstater earlier this year, determined that gender-critical views were a protected philosophical belief, saying “only if the belief involves a very grave violation of the rights of others, tantamount to the destruction of those rights, would it be one that was not worthy of respect in a democratic society”.

Neslen is threatening to sue Labour if it does not apologise and undertake not to pursue further investigations against her in respect of her beliefs.

Labour has not replied to letters from her lawyers and did not respond to a request for comment from the Guardian.

Comments (24)

  • Paul Smith says:

    Not before time!

  • Linda says:

    Innocuous posts commenting on this article don’t get past the “Guardian” moderators …

    Am wondering whether JVL could assist in creating a list of media organisations that are prepared to publish polite, fact-based, checkable readers’ posts on verboten items like allegations of antisemitism in today’s Labour party; the Forde Inquiry; the electability of Starmer’s Labour party: and similar subjects?

    If there’s a list of small and large media outlets in which we can discuss these matters – and we make good use of it – at some stage the “Guardian” may realise censorship doesn’t work … and doesn’t fit well with the raison d’etre of the “Guardian’ either. In making this point, I’m thinking back to the “Spycatcher” censorship – when a judge decided there was no point in upholding censorship of the story in the UK media because the “confidential material” had already been splashed across the pages of foreign media.

    Does anyone know how the David Miller case is going please?

  • Margaret West says:

    Thank goodness for the Guardian – and not before time as
    stated above !

    Starmer has over stepped the mark now – he has as
    much clue about public opinion as he has about
    winning elections – surely this will be picked up
    by others in the MSM?

  • The Guardian Margaret was more responsible than any for the Antisemitism allegations and it has also kept quiet until now about the disproportionate suspensions/expulsions of Jewish members.

    Still better late than never.

    Perhaps they might consider speaking up about Assange now and retracting their false article from Luke Harding alleging that Assange was visited by Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager

  • Jon Kurta says:

    Good to see this but don’t trust the Guardian, they were as bad as the Daily Mail in perpetuating smeers about Corbyn, Joanthan Freedland in particular

  • I have a high regard for Diana Neslen, but this article raises a question. Does one need to be an 82-year-old Jewish lady for the Guardian to make an exception in its crusade against “antisemitism”? This reminds me of the phone hacking scandal where the Murdoch’s group (News UK) claimed there was “just one bad apple” when there were in fact many thousands of people had been hacked, while the Met was hiding the evidence. Ten to fifteen years ago, the Guardian was on the side of angels, fighting a tenacious battle against News UK and a range of allied elements, but of late the self-same Guardian has had its own clutch of bad apples conniving in a national smear campaign that has damaged the lives of thousands of innocent people. Back in May, I tried to understand the Guardian’s transformation into a force force for evil, and wrote about it in this blog: https://www.campain.org/post/great-event-on-the-guardian-but-misses-vital-punch-line.

  • Gene Feder says:

    Re: David Miller’s appeal
    The decision won’t be announced until after January 4th

  • Allan Howard says:

    Linda, I’m not sure what you mean, as there is no Comments section for the article (and very rarely is when it comes to A/S and the left!).

    Anyway, I hope – and assume – that the article was in the actual newspaper as well (and not just on the Guardian’s website)??

    As for what you said in respect of media organisations Linda, well, THAT has always been the problem for the left – ie that the MSM (and Jewish newspapers) have been hostile to the left for decades, and of course went into overdrive after Jeremy was elected leader, and ULTRA overdrive after the 2017 GE. And the other side of the coin is that to a large extent, the left-wing media is only read (and watched) by left-wingers. And just about everyone on the left has understood since a year or so into Jeremy’s tenure as leader that A/S was being weaponised against him, and the left in general.

    Any enlightening of the general public – ie the millions of people who have been deceived and mislead and manipulated by the A/S black op smear campaign – will be down to *US* at the grass-roots level, putting leaflets together exposing the lies and falsehoods and putting them through peoples doors. If, for example, there were a thousand people across the UK who – along with a few friends – put such a leaflet together and printed off 500 copies, they could potentially reach over a million people. And at the end of the leaflet it would say: PLEASE COPY AND SHARE WITH FRIENDS AND WORK COLLEAGUES ETC.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful to turn everyone onto the TRUTH and expose every single one of the people who spread their lies and falsehoods and fear and darkness and subvert democracy, and shine a bright light on them that they can never escape from. Roll on that day!

    When mankind is free of their malignance.

  • Allan Howard says:

    ‘Labour has not replied to letters from her lawyers and did not respond to a request for comment from the Guardian.’

    No, Starmer’s Labour never respond to anyone about anything! No doubt Keir and Co are too busy contemplating and contriving ways to expel even MORE left-wingers from the party on bogus, trumped-up charges!

  • John Burton says:

    At last! But we certainly shouldn’t trust The Guardian. This is likely to be a small concessionary piece, but it will take a good deal of consistent honest reporting to convince me that this most hypocritical of newspapers is committed to the truth. They’ll have to take back four years of lies. Just look at the Guardian-approved Labour Front Bench and you see a bunch of lying, conniving, self-interested poodles. No better than the Tories.

  • Graeme Atkinson says:

    Good on you, Diana.

    I salute your courageous and principled stand.

    Wishing you all the very best.

  • steve mitchell says:

    For the first time I can recall Private Eye carried an article criticizing the Labour Party for disciplinary actions taken against Jewish and other Left Wing members in the latest issue. Just a small step forward. However, the judiciary can not be trusted to give the Left justice. It has nearly always found against individuals who have Left wing views. No matter how strong the case judges are biased against them. We have seen this several times already this year. The Julian Assange case is proof of just how biased the judiciary can be . It is an international disgrace. The latest case came today with Rachel Riley being awarded £10,000 compensation against a Corbyn associate . Riley had referred to Jeremy as a Nazi. No ifs ,no buts. yet the judge found in her favour. Historically Left wing individuals have shied away from the courts because they know how difficult it is to obtain justice

  • Jasvinder says:

    What a decent person!

  • Stephen Richards says:

    ‘A protected philosophical belief ‘ under the Equality Act. Does this include Zionism & the recent genocide in Gaza?

  • Margaret West says:

    Yes I saw that Private Eye comment a couple of weeks ago – it referred to two cases – unjustly disciplined by the Labour Party. Pamela Fitzpatrick was one of them – a victim of retrospective application of a rule. The other was the secretary of a CLP who reported on the Chairs resignation.

    I was angry at Riley’s compensation – the report on it
    read very strangely – as if the Judge felt sympathy for Corbyn’s ex-aid who had to pay the compensation. The only thing I can say is when dealing with the Law Courts you need a long spoon.

  • ian duncan Kemp says:

    Fantastic Diana – have my full support. It is time that journalists like Freedland were confronted. The Guardian has gone downhill – its journalism at times has been very poor. Its campaign against Corbyn led by Freedland was a disgrace

  • Linda says:

    Allan, you’re right about there being very rarely a “Comments” section for “Guardian” articles on anything to do with A/S, Corbyn et al. However, it is often possible to place a carefully crafted comment under the Sparrow “Politics as it happens” features. And / or the political cartoons and John Crace.

    I love your idea of creating informational leaflets to put through the nation’s doors to counter what I think is malign propaganda. The material would need to show how the propaganda was harming British voters today – for example, if there hadn’t been such a vicious campaign against Corbyn we’d have been spared the Johnson premiership and all the harms he’s done. For safety’s sake, any leaflet put out would need pre-checking by a good lawyer!

  • rc says:

    A list of potentially neutral/objective media is a good idea – but it must NOT be a diversion from plastering the MainSewerMedia with reasoned, detailed and well-evidenced (indeed well-referenced) defending our position/s, and our members from unjustified allegations and McCarthyite persecution. We must continually advance into our DISCOMFORT zone – the pro-British state, pro-imperialist (and therefor dogmatically pro-Zionist) media.
    Btw, In understand that Inger Stoiberg, a former Danish Liberal Party Cabinet Minister, has been sentenced to 12 months in jail for her pursuit of unlawful discriminaton against refugees (and against the advice of her civil servants). CHANCE WOULD BE A FINE THING!.

  • SB says:

    Solidarity Diana. But you really shouldn’t have to do this at all.

    Although perhaps we should have read the runes when the all new, New Management Labour Party bureaucracy vetoed a rule change that would made vexatious complaints a disciplinary offence.

    After all, where would the Labour First mob be without them?

  • john ditchfield says:

    I don’t think too much should be read into the Guardian’s reporting of Diana Neslen’s action against the Labour Party.
    This is how the Guardian does it: on Monday, the report appears in the on-line edition (takes a bit of finding!). On Tuesday, a slightly shortened report (ie minus the reference to the JVL and the 42 members facing disciplinary charges) appears in the print edition. It appears above a report of Rachel Riley being awarded damages from former Corbyn aide Laura Marray – which is a more detailed report complete with triumphant photograph. (Was it held over knowing that a report of the Riley/Murray verdict would be available the next day?)
    This is reminiscent of the Guardian’s general reporting on Israel and Palestine which usually appears in the on-line version but less often – at least in any detail – in the print version. Similarly, letters from pro-Palestinian representatives (however distinguished they may be) are usually printed at the bottom of the letters page, if they are printed at all, whereas letters from the Israeli lobby are usually given prominence. In this way the Guardian can salve its conscience that it is reporting on at least some of these issues – but in a quiet and unobtrusive way. It is all rather cowardly.

  • Jill Azzouzi says:

    The absurdity of it is as a muslim, if i criticised saudi arabia would i be removed for islamophobia. I cant imagine harassing an 82 year old lady like that. Shame on them. I stand with you Diana. X

  • Kuhnberg says:

    Linda

    The Guardian won’t change so long as they are poloced by establishment forces determined to support Israel and stamp out socialism. The Guardian Editor, Katherine Viner, once wrote a play about the IDF’s killing of Rachel Corrie, an American protestor who got in the way of Israeli tanks, but since becoming editor, she has administered a policy of moderation below the line that effectively suppresses all anti-Zionist comment and any claim that Corbyn and Labour were smeared by weaponized charges of antisemitism. The policy above the line is effectively set by Jonathan Freedland, who is anti-Corbyn and pro-Israel. He occasionally acknowledges some of the problematic actions of Israel, like the nation-state law, but fails to offer any real solutions. Fantastic columnists like Jonathan Cook, Seamus Milne, Glen Greenwald and the late Dawn Porter have been driven out of the Guardian stables for supporting Progressive causes. A few years back the Guardian was happy to benefit from Assange’s leaks, but for some years it has joined the campaign to vilify Assange and ruthlessly suppressed any pro-Assange journalism. So don’t look to them for a platform for free speech on progressive causes. Twitter allows much criticism of Israel, but you sometimes get the sense that you are speaking almost exclusively to the converted. The same is true of leftist websites like The Canary and Squawkbox. JVL is a decent platform for comments critical of Israel so long as you don’t stray into antisemitism. I wish Ken Loach would make a film on the subject of Israel/Palestine, but I suspect he is hampered by unfair but persistant accusations of antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

  • Roy Dunnett says:

    Solidarity with Diana. Interesting to note nothing from the Labour Party so far.

  • Margaret West says:

    About the article on Riley’s compensation – ANYONE reading it would have wondered why she was allowed anything at all apart from an admonishment from the judge.

    Her comment about her tweet – she was being “sarcastic”.

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