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Faiza Shaheen dropped by Labour for liking pro-BDS, Corbyn and Green Party posts

Left-wing candidate deselected for 15 posts between 2014 and 2024 on issues from Islamophobia to Israeli lobbying, MEE has been informed
Faiza Shaheen with the then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in September 2019 (AFP)

The UK's Labour Party deselected Faiza Shaheen as a candidate for the marginal London seat of Chingford and Woodford Green over a series of social media posts which expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), praised former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and backed candidates running for the Green Party, among other issues, Middle East Eye has been told.

In a social media post on Thursday, Shaheen, who was due to take on former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith at next month's general election, said: "I'm in such shock, but I'm a fighter.

"As you can imagine, I'm a little overwhelmed right now, so will use this morning to meet with my campaign and legal teams to discuss my next steps, as well as have some hugs with my baby," she said.

On Wednesday, the 41-year-old was told that she was not being selected by Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) after she liked social media posts that reportedly downplayed antisemitism accusations.

In a heartfelt interview, she told the BBC's Newsnight programme that she received an email from the NEC an hour before appearing on the show, in which she was told that she would be barred from standing for the party - despite having previously contested the same seat in the 2019 election - because her running would "frustrate Labour's purpose".

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The programme heard she was called to a meeting with a panel of NEC members on Tuesday in which they highlighted posts made on X, formerly known as Twitter, which raised questions about her suitability as a candidate.

MEE was told by an informed source that a total of 15 social media posts were raised with the NEC, some of which were made more than a decade ago when the London School of Economics academic was not even a member of the Labour Party. MEE has seen all 15 of the tweets that were raised with the NEC.

2014 war 

According to the earliest post, a now-deleted tweet from 25 March 2014, Shaheen liked an announcement from environmental economist Griffin Carpenter that he was deciding to stand as a Green Party candidate for Hackney Council.

A second was from 3 August 2014, during Israel's six-week war on the Gaza Strip, where an X user calling himself Rod Dixon shared a message in support of boycotting Israeli goods, and argued that the tactic worked against apartheid South Africa.

At least 2,310 Palestinians were killed during those six weeks of fighting, with more than 70 percent of the fatalities civilians. According to Israeli media, 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians, including one Thai national, were killed in Israel during the same period.

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During that and subsequent wars on the enclave, pro-Palestine advocates have argued for boycotting Israeli products made in Israel or on territory that the Palestinians envision as part of their future state.

These campaigns usually stem from supporters of the BDS movement, which is a nonviolent initiative that seeks to challenge Israel's occupation and abuses of Palestinian human rights through economic, cultural and academic boycotts similar to the successful campaigns against apartheid South Africa.

Another social media post that was flagged by the NEC was Shaheen liking an announcement by Magid Magid on 27 January 2020 that it was his final week at the European Parliament as Green Party MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber. This account has since gone private.

Another social media post that caught the ire of the NEC was a video from UK broadcaster Channel 4's news programme on 7 May 2021, where Corbyn, who was then suspended by the Labour Party over his reaction to a highly critical report on antisemitism, said it was up to Keir Starmer to decide whether he should resign following the party's humiliating by-election defeat in Hartlepool.

Residents of the "red wall" town elected North Yorkshire farmer Jill Mortimer as their first Conservative MP in 62 years during that year's vote.

Another post that was presented to the NEC was from 4 December 2020, where Labour MP John McDonnell defended Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, the co-founder of Jewish Voice for Labour and a former vice chair of the Chingford and Woodford Green constituency Labour Party, over her suspension by Labour.

Wimborne-Idrissi was suspended for comments she made in a meeting in which she said she was "uncomfortable" with seeing fellow members suspended over accusations of antisemitism.

The tweet was accompanied by a video from the left-leaning Double Down News.

Jon Stewart skit

One of the more recent posts she liked, and which was flagged by the NEC, was from 12 May 2024, where Philip Lemoine, a PhD candidate and writer at the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology (CSPI), said: "Every time you say something even mildly critical of Israel, you're immediately assailed by scores of hysterical people who explain to you why you're completely wrong, how you’re biased against Israel.

"Moreover, you can't easily ignore them because those are not just random people. They tend to be friends or people who move in the same circles as you. Those people are mobilised by professional organisations."

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The tweet was accompanied by a 2014 skit by Jon Stewart, in which he made light of the difficulties in criticising Israel's behaviour as a Jew.

In the clip, Stewart could be seen being swarmed by four of the Comedy Central show's correspondents, and was rebuked as a "self-hating Jew" for daring to question the country's actions.

Speaking to Newsnight, Shaheen said: "I know what's wrong with it, of course, the line that’s there about ‘they're in professional organisations', it plays into a trope and I absolutely don't agree with that and I’m sorry about that.

"And I expressed that I was sorry in that meeting yesterday over my crying baby, but that’s one tweet.

"I've organised an interfaith vigil with a local Rabbi after the attacks, Hamas's attack."

Following Labour's announcement, Stewart lashed out at the decision, calling it "the dumbest thing The UK has done since electing Boris Johnson… what the actual fuck".

'We'd much rather get this news out the way now so it doesn't distract next week. Let this week be the controversial impositions - it's happened under every leader'

- Labour source talking to Politico

Among the 15 posts that were flagged was a now-deleted tweet by Shaheen where she quote tweeted a Daily Telegraph article and wrote: "Have you never been affected by domestic policy?! Also, I have been active on Palestine for 20 years, & will be so if I make it into gov. I'm doing the best thing I can do to support, otherwise there will be another MP who will say nothing or worse."

The remarks accompanied a Telegraph article which was headlined: "Labour candidate called Israel an apartheid state", and had a picture of Shaheen having her hand raised by Corbyn.

Since the decision was announced, the Labour Muslim Network criticised the party's decision as "unacceptable" and said: "To use her tweets accounting personal experience of Islamophobia as evidence for deselection is utterly outrageous."

Many people also took to social media to defend Shaheen, including the SNP candidate for Glasgow South, Stewart McDonald, who said: “I’ve never met @faizashaheen, but know her to be a doughty campaigner.

"Barring her from being a candidate because she liked some tweets from friends in the Green Party, and talking about her experience of Islamophobia, is the worst political tribalism from Labour."

An unnamed Labour official told Politico on Thursday: "We'd much rather get this news out the way now so it doesn't distract next week. Let this week be the controversial impositions - it's happened under every leader."

MEE reached out to Labour for comment but did not receive a response by time of publication.

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