UK Labour Party accused of discrimination over expulsion of Jewish members
Jewish members of the UK's Labour Party are almost 13 times more likely to be expelled for supporting proscribed left-wing groups than non-Jewish members, an organisation representing hundreds of Jewish Labour members has said.
In a letter of complaint sent to Labour's General Secretary David Evans, Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) also said that Jewish members of the party are six times more likely to come under investigation for antisemitism than non-Jews.
"We invite you to acknowledge that the Party is in breach of the Equality Act 2010 by discriminating unlawfully against its Jewish members and unlawfully harassing them," the letter sent to Evans on 22 August and shared with Middle East Eye on Friday says.
Approached by MEE, the Labour Party did not respond to JVL's claims.
JVL was founded in 2017 to represent Jews who supported Jeremy Corbyn. It claims to have some 350 Jewish Labour members, along with some 800 non-Jewish "solidarity" members. The letter was also sent to The Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
The Labour Party proscribed seven left-wing organisations between 2021 and 2022, and has since expelled members for supporting those organisations even if they did so before the ruling came into effect.
In comments earlier this year, Martin Forde KC, who was commissioned by Labour leader Keir Starmer to conduct an investigation into bullying and racism in the Labour Party, described this "retrospective application" as "concerning".
JVL says that at least 24 of the 363 party members who have been "auto-excluded" under these rules were Jewish. Most were expelled for supporting Labour Against the Witch Hunt, a proscribed organisation set up to combat what its supporters felt were unjust investigations for antisemitism.
It stresses its calculations are based on those who "voluntarily notified" their cases to JVL and are "probably a significant under-estimate."
The Labour Party does not record the ethnicity of its members. For the purposes of its calculations, JVL assumed the party to have 2,500 Jewish members.
It says, in all, it is aware of 67 Jewish members of the Labour Party who have either come under investigation in connection with antisemitism or been subject to auto-exclusion. A number have been subject to multiple investigations.
Failed disciplinary process
In the letter, JVL told the Labour Party that Jews were regularly investigated "for speech which is not antisemitic but merely a legitimate expression of views criticising Israel or for commentary on the Party's handling of and statements on allegations of antisemitism."
It went on to say that "the disciplinary process fails to consider the Jewish identity of those investigated as a relevant matter which puts their statements in context... and has the effect of creating a hostile environment for Jewish members."
It cited the example of Andrew Feinstein, who has been under investigation since November 2021 after he described Israel as "a brutal, rogue, apartheid state just like my home, South Africa, was."
Feinstein is a former African National Congress MP and the son of a Holocaust survivor. He has lectured on genocide prevention at Auschwitz.
In its letter, JVL pointed out: "Leading Israeli and other international human rights organisations have argued that Israel operates an apartheid system.
"Mr Feinstein sent the Party a comprehensive response to its draft charges in December 2021. Nearly two years later, he is yet to hear back."
On Thursday a group called Labour Activists 4 Justice, which is linked to JVL, put out a crowdfunder appeal to help cover the costs of legal advice. It has so far raised more than £130,000.