Britain's Labour Party has been asked to carry out an investigation into its treatment of anti-Zionist Jewish woman Diana Neslen. In December, the 82-year old threatened legal action against the party after being put under investigation herself for a third time over allegations of "anti-Semitism".
Labour's investigation was dropped in February but Neslen's lawyers, Bindmans, are seeking answers about why she was investigated in the first place. They have written to the party demanding that it carry out an independent investigation into what it alleges was a campaign of discrimination against Neslen. They insist that her anti-Zionism is a protected characteristic under the UK's Equality Act.
A new letter has now been sent to Labour by Bindmans, according to Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), of which Neslen is a member. The letter accuses Labour's governance and legal unit (GLU) of having "failed/refused to properly investigate and/or address our client's complaints under the party's own policies on bullying and harassment."
Furthermore, the lawyers argue that anti-Zionist (and, indeed, Zionist) beliefs that are strong enough to justify protection under the Equality Act 2010 are most likely to be held by those of Jewish or Palestinian background, given that they are more likely to be affected by such beliefs. Accordingly, say Bindmans, harassment based on anti-Zionist beliefs equates to harassment based on ethnicity, and it is therefore submitted that the party has subjected Neslen to harassment on the basis of ethnicity.
JVL says that it knows of 52 Jewish Labour members, two of whom have since died, who have faced or are facing disciplinary charges relating to allegations of anti-Semitism.
Neslen attends her local synagogue regularly and keeps a kosher home. She was being investigated by the party for the third time in less than three years for tweets she posted about Israel and Zionism. "The existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour and I am an anti-racist Jew," she has said.
Neslen described herself as a "committed Zionist" before a visit to Israel changed her views about the apartheid state. "I want the conversation to continue, I want Jewish people to be able to be as free talking about anti-Zionism as they are about Zionism," she explained. "You shouldn't silence people who you disagree with, and although Zionism is for many Jews a sense of identity, [it's] not for all and we all have a right to our views."
Neslen's trouble with Labour began in 2018, following the party's adoption of the highly controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. Seven of the 11 examples cited in the definition conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Jewish racism. Critics, including the IHRA's initial drafter Kenneth Stern, have warned about the weaponisation of the definition to silence Israel's critics and of its chilling effect on free speech.
In the four years since, a consensus has emerged amongst leading human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, about a system of apartheid imposed by Israel on the people of occupied Palestine.