Supporters of Palestine are being accused of racism

Targeted for showing solidarity: Gemma Bolton

JVL Introduction

On 15th November it was reported that Labour had accepted the Labour Muslim Network’s Islamophobia recommendations in full.

Skwawkbox, breaking the story, mused that David Evans will “have to suspend tons of Labour MPs as a result”.

But who is being targeted in the immediate aftermath of this announcement? Gemma Bolton, newly elected to the NEC , who happens to be of Moroccan origin.

She  is apparently being “investigated” for the crime of describing Israel as “an apartheid state”…

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Mon 16 Nov 2020. Read the original here.

Exclusive: days after accepting Islamophobia report in full, Labour targets new NEC member of Moroccan heritage for standing in solidarity with Palestinians

General secretary David Evans accepted ‘all’ Labour Muslim Network’s damning report on anti-Muslim racism among the Labour right – and its recommendations. But just days later, Labour is ‘investigating’ an NEC member for standing against the same anti-Palestinian bigotry Labour just promised to outlaw.

As the SKWAWKBOX showed earlier today, Labour is ‘investigating’ – the word used by the Jewish Chronicle’s Lee Harpin (author of ‘a litany of lies’ for which the paper paid out hefty compensation to a smeared Labour-supporting pensioner without even trying to argue its case in court), to whom the news was apparently leaked by someone in the party – newly-elected NEC member Gemma Bolton.

Her ‘crime’? Agreeing with the United Nations that Israel is an apartheid state and with Labour’s three biggest affiliated unions that the ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ (BDS) campaign against goods and services produced in illegally-seized Palestinian territories, is a an effective means of protest.

But in targeting Ms Bolton, the party has put itself in a cleft stick of its own making.

Late last week, the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) published a measured but no less damning report on Islamophobia in the Labour Party, a huge problem among the Labour right. The SKWAWKBOX exclusively revealed that Labour general secretary David Evans – he could hardly do otherwise after pledging to implement the whole EHRC report on antisemitism in the party – subsequently emailed party figures to announce that Labour would implement every recommendation in the LMN report, with leader Keir Starmer, deputy leader Angela Rayner and himself taking a lead to ensure it is done.

And one of the key recommendations of the report – and now a Labour commitment – is to adopt in full the working definition of Islamophobia created by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims.

And that definition, now Labour’s ‘bible’ on the subject of Islamophobia, is this:

Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.

The report gives examples of such racist targeting – which include these:

– Denying Muslim populations the right to self-determination…
– Calling for, aiding, instigating or justifying the killing or harming of Muslims in the name of a racist/ fascist ideology, or an extremist view of religion.

BDS is a campaign led by Palestinians in an attempt to resist the continuing annexation of their territory by an ultra-right Israeli government – it is a textbook case of an attempt to secure self-determination for the Palestinian population against a country that only last year was condemned by the United Nations for killing and maiming unarmed Palestinians, including children:

Click to play

And in targeting Gemma Bolton for standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against their persecution and often murder, Labour has opened itself and its hierarchy to charges of gross Islamophobia – even more so because Gemma Bolton is of Moroccan Muslim heritage.

Gemma Bolton was born Gemma Phaytan-Bolton, to a Moroccan Arab father and English mother. She adopted her mother’s surname a few years ago, but is very proud of her Arab roots and acutely aware of the racism experienced by Palestinians and other Arab people. Labour is targeting her for standing in solidarity with Palestinian Arabs against the racism perpetrated against them – as do many Muslims and non-Muslims – in direct contravention of the LMN report the party has just said it will implement in full.

Solidarity with other Muslims is very much an ‘expression of Muslimness’ – just as much as solidarity with the oppressed is a core feature of genuine socialism.

Ronnie Kasrils, the Jewish former Mandela ally, ANC government minister and anti-apartheid campaigner, said in 2007 of his own experience of visiting occupied Palestine:

Travelling into Palestine’s West Bank and Gaza Strip, which I visited recently, is like a surreal trip back into an apartheid state of emergency.

It is chilling to pass through the myriad checkpoints — more than 500 in the West Bank. They are controlled by heavily armed soldiers, youthful but grim, tensely watching every movement, fingers on the trigger…

The West Bank, once 22% of historic Palestine, has shrunk to perhaps 10% to 12% of living space for its inhabitants, and is split into several fragments, including the fertile Jordan Valley, which is a security preserve for Jewish settlers and the Israeli Defence Force. Like the Gaza Strip, the West Bank is effectively a hermetically sealed prison.

It is shocking to discover that certain roads are barred to Palestinians and reserved for Jewish settlers. I try in vain to recall anything quite as obscene in apartheid South Africa.

For standing against this and daring to call it apartheid, the Labour right have set their sights on an Arab woman, perhaps not realising her heritage and the trap they were setting for themselves because of her now-English surname.

And shortly after promising to stamp out any such racism in the party, Labour is ‘investigating’ her – and leaking the information to a right-wing paper with a track record of lies and distortions against the left:

If Labour fails to reverse its action and instead act against those who targeted Gemma Bolton for agreeing with the UN, Labour’s biggest unions and many others – and the staffer who leaked the news to a right-wing rag – its position on Islamophobia is a sham and one that certainly merits statutory investigation.

Labour’s complaints department can be reached here.

Comments (8)

  • steve mitchell says:

    On tonight’s Newsnight progamme the BBC quoted JLM when discussing Jeremy. Viewers are not told there are other Jewish groups who support Corbyn. I quote Miriam Margolyes ” Jeremy Corbyn is a man of principle” It is excellent news he is back in the Party but the Right will continue this witch hunt The decision to harass this young lady for calling out Israel is rank hypocrisy.

  • I voted for Gemma. Thanks for highlighting this.

  • RC says:

    It would be wrong to ‘act against’ those who ‘targeted’ Ms Phaytan-Bolton, other than by political opposition. They are of course outright racists – like Luke Akehurst, to whom the same argument applies. They must all be opposed by political argument, agitation and propaganda, conducted by and among the broader party membership and the broader masses – not by secret inquisitions, which reserve the power and intensify the bureaucratic monopoly of action in the important area of racism and anti-racism.
    Even arms-dealers who morph seamlessly into propagandists for IDF murder must be defeated by democratic, not by bureaucratic methods.
    I do except from this immunity the staffer who leaked the suspension to the right-wing press; such leaks, which are systematic and plainly sanctioned, if not directed, by the GS’s office, are almost always directed against the left, and expose the hypocritical claims that the GLU and NCC must preserve ‘confidentiality’ (sc secrecy and immunity from members’ knowledge). Just another sectarian and racist power-grab by the bureaucracy.
    S/he is not fit to work for the LP – nor indeed to receive a pay-slip from any employer at all – saving perhaps a criminal gang – except after thorough rehabilitation…
    Democratize the party at all levels: subject the bureaucracy to thorough political oversight – and regularly circulate the staff between managerial and operative positions. No more than a three-year term for the GS; let him (or her!) stuff envelopes and emails until they have been re-educated into routine labour, and can then apply for management positions..

  • Harry Law says:

    Gemma Bolton nor anyone in the Labour should have their right to free speech curtailed, the Labour party is becoming an intolerant party, trawling social media posts going back years, someone sharing a tweet, Corbyn suspended for telling the truth , where is it going to end? Fortunately Gemma has the law morality on her side here are some examples…
    The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) recent report on the British Labour party said “Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights ECHR] will protect Labour Party members who, for example, make legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government, or express their opinions on internal party matters, such as the scale of anti semitism within the party.”
    “We [the EHRC] note the approach of the Home Affairs Select Committee, namely that it is not anti Semitic to hold the Israeli government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, to criticise the Israeli government, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest anti Semitic intent.”
    A Labour party spokesperson said: “The NEC has today adopted all of the IHRA examples of anti Semitism, in addition to the IHRA definition which Labour adopted in 2016, alongside a statement which ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.”

  • John Bowley says:

    Our democratic socialist movement is being shifted to a top-down autocracy (ie: rule by a few or by a dictatorial leader) in which hypocrisy is prominent. Indeed hypocrisy and disingenuousness are an essential part of the process.

  • rc says:

    ( Denying Muslim populations the right to self-determination…
    – Calling for, aiding, instigating or justifying the killing or harming of Muslims in the name of a racist/ fascist ideology, or an extremist view of religion.)Copied from the IHRA.
    So it’s all right if you are careful to aid, instigate or justify these murders in the name of purportedly moderate (!!!!) ideologies. This would let Akehurst off the hook, as his posts in defence of the IDF steady murder of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were in the name of a professedly moderate ideology…
    Himmler was very careful to ensure that his SS murderers acted without passion, lat alone sadism….
    Damn’d clever, these imperialist murderers… no doubt these who ‘investigate ‘him will be moderates themselves. Helps make sure he is not faced with political opposition or critique…

  • Stephen Richards says:

    The EHRC claims that the IHRA definition allows criticism of the government of Israel, in the same way as any other state. Can I compare Israel with South Africa? Can I make observations about an apartheid state & declare the State of Israel to be self evidently, a racist endeavor in the same way that South Afrika was? Is Eugene Terrablanche now an acceptable role model?

  • DJ says:

    Supporters of Palestine are being accused of racism. Nothing new about this! The pro Israeli lobby in its many forms have been doing this for some time not only in the UK but all across Europe and North America. The so called antisemitism crisis in the UK is all about the state of Israel and the oppression of the Palestinians. We need to continue explaining this to members of the Labour Party and beyond with limited awareness of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. The apologists for Israel want to shut down debate on this conflict. The last thing they want to be faced with, is having to deal with questions about Palestinian oppression by the state of Israel.

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