Creating new perspectives since 2009

Anti-racist Jews critical of Israel expelled by UK Labour during Hanukkah

December 23, 2022 at 12:50 pm

A Labour Party logo during the Labour Party conference in Brighton [Hollie Adams/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

Three Jewish anti-racism activists critical of the state of Israel were reportedly expelled from the UK Labour Party over the past week, which under the leadership of Keir Starmer has been accused of a relentless crackdown of pro-Palestine Jews and left-wing activists.

Heather Mendick, who has been publicly speaking out against the weaponisation of anti-Semitism to silence critics of Israel, is the latest member to be thrown out by the Labour Party. Mendick is left-wing anti-racism campaigner from Hackney London. She has released a video widely shared on social media about her expulsion.

A letter issued by Labour with a list of complaints shared by Mendick accused her of “undermin[ing] the Party’s ability to campaign against racism.” The list of allegations includes the claim that Mendics’s writing and public remarks “may reasonably be seen to involve antisemitic actions, stereotypes and sentiments.”

Mendick’s expulsion brings the total number of pro-Palestine Jews kicked out by Labour over the past week to three including Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. In what seemed like the final act in the bitter row between Labour and Wimborne-Idrissi, the 70-year-old was expelled during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. A video about the anti-Semitic abuse she has suffered has received 2.1 million views on social media.

Jewish anti-racism activists expressed their solidarity with the expelled members. “Welcome to the rather fast growing club of Jews expelled to make sure that Jews feel comfortable in the Labour Party,” said the Co-Chair of Jewish Voice for Labour, Leah Levane. “That is at least 3 Jewish activists expelled around 6 days ago”.

Read: Attack on anti-Zionist Jewish leader exposes scale of UK Labour’s anti-Palestine problem

In her response to Levane, Mendick who got the news about her expulsion on Monday evening as a “Chanukah gift,” revealed that her branch used to have “lots of active Jewish members”. All were “lefties” but just one of them is still a member.

Andrew Feinstein, a Jewish anti-apartheid activists and former politician in South Africa who served under the late Nelson Mandela, also took to Twitter to express his solidarity with fellow members expelled from Labour.

“The Labour Party is expelling Jews to combat antisemitism!!! That’s the equivalent of expelling people of colour to combat apartheid in South Africa,” said Feinstein. “History will judge the Labour Party & others harshly for their slavish support of apartheid in Israel!”

Feinstein revealed that he too is under investigation and is awaiting a response from Labour. “When the Labour Party sent me a Notice of Investigation for ‘undermining the party’s ability to fight racism & antisemitism’ 13 months ago I asked whether they want me to ditch the antiracism I learned from Mandela & Tutu for Keir Starmer’s hierarchy of racism. I await a response,” said Feinstein commenting on revelations in the Forde report which amongst others things found that in the name of combatting anti-Semitism, Labour ignored Islamophobia and established a “hierarchy of racism” that privileged Jewish concerns over other minority groups.

Earlier in the week Feinstein slammed Labour’s expulsion of Wimborne-Idrissi on Twitter. “The Labour Party continues to expel antiracist Jews in order to ‘combat antisemitism’!? Oxymoronic doesnt begin to describe it,” he said. “Starmers hierarchy of racism is indefensible:u r either an antiracist or u r part of the racism problem. Solidarity with @Naomi4LabNEC a true antiracist.”

Labour has adopted the highly controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. Seven of the 13 examples within the IHRA conflate anti-Jewish racism with criticism of Israel. Israel and supporters of the Apartheid State have been vigorously campaigning for its adoption including in the UN.