The Labour Party in Britain has been accused of purging its pro-Palestinian supporters following the suspension of a number its members over alleged anti-Semitism. University of Bristol academic David Miller is the latest member to fall out with the UK’s main opposition party, in the ongoing row over Labour’s position on Israel and Palestine.
Professor Miller, an expert on lobbying and propaganda, told The Electronic Intifada that he had quit the party on Monday. He explained that he objects to the “Islamophobic ideology and anti-Black and anti-Palestinian racism” of many Labour MPs.
In his full resignation statement, Miller spoke about his suspension by Labour, which appears to have prompted his decision to quit. The suspension, he said, was one of many designed to target those who understand that Zionism is “founded on and sustained by ethnic cleansing and racial supremacy.” He also described the response from the Labour leadership to the Black Lives Matter protests as “appalling”.
Miller’s troubles with the Labour Party began following remarks he made after it was discovered that a multimillionaire pro-Israel lobbyist donated £50,000 to new leader Keir Starmer MP. According to the official register of MPs’ financial interests, Trevor Chinn donated the sum to support Starmer’s campaign to be Labour leader.
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Chinn has in the past funded two leading pro-Israel groups in Westminster, Labour Friends of Israel and Conservative Friends of Israel. He is also believed to be a leading player in the Israel lobby groups BICOM and the Jewish Leadership Council.
“I support Zionism without qualification,” said Starmer during the leadership campaign. That was the signal, say critics, that as leader he would purge pro-Palestine voices within the party.
Prof. Miller’s crime appears to be his claim that Starmer was “in receipt of money from the Zionist movement.” His academic work exposing the influence of power and money on western democracies has made him a target of pro-Israel groups.
Several members of the Labour Party who have been critical of Israel were expelled recently. Becky Massey, a Palestine solidarity activist in Brighton, was thrown out earlier this month. Like Miller, her crime was to draw attention to the pro-Israel lobby and its political influence in Westminster.
Four senior officers of Wavertree Constituency Labour Party on Merseyside have also been suspended. Jewish Voice for Labour described their suspensions as being “part of a much bigger picture – a campaign unfolding around the country to investigate, suspend and expel socialists and left-wing activists, often using anti-Semitism related charges.”