A Jewish woman has threatened legal action against Britain’s Labour Party after being put under investigation for a third time over allegations of “anti-Semitism”, the Guardian has reported.
Diana Neslen holds anti-Zionist views and is one of at least 42 Jewish members of the party being pursued because of their critical views about the Zionist state of Israel.
Neslen was sent a third warning about her “anti-Semitism” by Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
The 82-year-old attends synagogue regularly and adheres to a kosher lifestyle. Having posted anti-Zionist views online, she says that she is being pursued in a “disproportionate and unjustified manner by the party.”
In a pre-action letter sent by her lawyers, which Labour has thus far ignored, it is claimed that Neslen is being pursued by the NEC on the basis of one tweet, which said: “The existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour and I am an antiracist Jew.” She apparently also criticised the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
The lawyers said that the party had discriminated against Neslen and harassed her because of her views. Anti-Zionism, they pointed out, is a “protected philosophy” under the Equality Act.
Neslen described herself as a “committed Zionist” before a visit to Israel changed her mind.
She told the Guardian: “The Labour party has no idea in my opinion of what anti-Semitism is. My son was attacked by a luminary of the BNP [British National party] who was jailed for three years. I remember picking up the phone and being subjected to death threats from the BNP.”
“People who have never experienced anti-Semitism have no idea what it means, what it means for a Jew to be found guilty of anti-Semitism.”
Neslen grew up in South Africa and explains that she spent her life fighting racism and apartheid. The NEC notified her three times about her conduct, once in February 2017, again in August and once more in 2018.
She says that all tweets cited as evidence, except one, were written before she re-joined the Labour Party in 2015, and therefore, according to party rules, are excluded from any disciplinary processes.
The Labour Party in recent times has cracked down on critics of Israel, including Jews who have expressed anti-Zionist views. Jewish Voice for Labour, of which Neslen is a member, says that Jewish people are being targeted disproportionately for Israel-critical views, estimating that five times more Jews are being pursued over anti-Semitism allegations than non-Jews in the party.
The Labour leadership recently jumped to the defence of Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely after pro-Palestine activists demonstrated outside an event that she spoke at in London.
The party called the incident “anti-Semitic”. Hotovely is an extreme right-wing Zionist who has referred to the Nakba (the Catastrophe of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine from 1948 onwards) as an “Arab lie”. She believes in the annexation of Palestinian land and has spoken out publicly against mixed marriages between Jews and non-Jews.
Labour leader Keir Starmer spoke at a Labour Friends of Israel event recently where he condemned the entirely peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. His party apparently did not respond for comment when asked by the Guardian.