A Jewish anti-Zionist activist has been expelled from the Labour Party for alleged anti-Semitic remarks.
Labour’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC) took the decision to expel one of the party’s activists, Tony Greenstein, over his use of the word “Zio”, which Greenstein used repeatedly in social media while referring to supporters of Israel.
Greenstein had been suspended in 2016, but a disciplinary hearing over allegations that he was anti-Semitic was delayed until January.
A Labour spokesperson confirmed yesterday that the NCC had found Greenstein guilty on three counts of breaching its rulebook. “The NCC of the Labour Party has today found that all three charges of a breach of the Labour Party’s rule 2.1.8 by Tony Greenstein have been found proved,” the spokesperson said.
“The NCC consequently determined that the sanction for the breach of Labour Party rules will be expelled from membership,” continued the spokesperson, while adding that “the Labour Party will make no further comment on this matter.”
According to the Skeleton argument against Greenstein, seen by MEMO, the Labour activist was guilty of “offensive comments online, including [using] the word ‘Zio’”; “offensive posts” and an “email in which he mocked the phrase ‘final solution’”.
The Skeleton Argument acknowledged that the NCC was not adjudicating on wheatear Greenstein’s conduct was anti-Sematic but to judge if his use of the word “Zio” was anti-Semitic. It also admitted that the case wasn’t over Greenstein’s right to hold “anti-Zionist views”.
National Executive Committee barristers cited examples from social media where Greenstein had used the word “Zio” as a “term of derision” and a term of “anti-Sematic abuse”. Examples listed centred around an internal Labour inquiry into anti-Semitism within the Labour Party by Shami Chakrabarti which concluded that “Zio” was a racist epithet.
Greenstein has repeatedly objected to this claim insisting that “Zio” was a short hand referring to Zionism, which is a political ideology, supported by Jews and non-Jews and therefore could not be described in racist terms. He has also claimed that the “whole question of Zios is a deliberate Zionist talking point, part of the invention of a synthetic ‘anti-Semitism’.”
While Greenstein maintains that “Zio” is used to describe Israeli apartheid and colonisation the applicants argued that the term “is widely acknowledged to be a modern day racist epithet”.
In his blog, Greenstein said that “the allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party have nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with opposition to the racist creed of Zionism and support for the Palestinians.”
According to Greenstein the NEC’s barrister had admitted that all the charges related to events that took place after he had been suspended. This admission, Greenstein concludes, means that he was suspended without a just cause.
Pro-Israeli activists have welcomed the decision describing the NCC’s stance as an indication that it was ready to confront anti-Semitism within Labour Party in a serious manner. Others have questioned the merit of the decision.
— George Galloway (@georgegalloway) February 19, 2018