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Jewish Labour Movement publishes bitter attack on Jewish critics of Israel

May 13, 2016 at 11:27 am

Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), a leading voice in recent claims that the Labour Party has a problem with antisemitism, has published an extraordinary attack on Jewish critics of Israel, seemingly suggesting that those dissenting from support for Zionism are not actually Jewish.

In a post that appeared on JLM’s website earlier this week (reproduced at The Huffington Post), The Guardian is criticised for not publishing a letter submitted by youth and student members of JLM, in response to letters by British Jews who critiqued attempts to conflate antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

The post then states, referring to those dissenters: “It appears that some of those signatories only identify as Jews for purposes of taking such contrary positions.”

This sentence was subsequently deleted from the post (but can be viewed here and also here).

The post was written by Liron Velleman, who according to his Twitter profile is Youth and Students Officer at JLM, and also Youth Officer at Chipping Barnet Constituency Labour Party. Velleman is also the Campaigns Officer-elect of Union of Jewish Students.

Velleman’s bitter attack on Jewish critics of Israel, suggesting that they are not even ‘real’ Jews, is far from unprecedented.

The Times columnist David Aaronovitch last week maligned Jewish critics of Israel who, he said, “wear their Jewishness very lightly considering how often they bring it out for rhetorical use.” Baroness Ruth Deech, meanwhile, recently described Israeli historians, and well-known supporters of Palestinian human rights, Ilan Pappe and Avi Shlaim as “renegade Jews.”

In a May 9 article for Ha’aretz, a campus activist for U.S.-based Jewish Voice for Peace described how the stories of Jewish students who support Palestinian rights and are active in the campaign to boycott and divest from Israel “are often painful stories of exclusion from the Jewish community.”

In 2014, an Orthodox Jewish man and his family were forced to leave their home in the Greater Manchester area due to violent attacks by pro-Israel Jewish local residents. The man had spoken out against Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip. Police treated the incidents as hate crimes.

JLM is affiliated to the Zionist Federation of the UK, and “organise[s] within the World Zionist Organisation”, an institution which plays a key role in the Israeli state’s colonisation of Palestinian land. It is currently seeking to change Labour Party rules so as to define Zionism simply as “the basic expression of the national identity of the Jewish people.”