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11 March 2020 - 10:53
News ID: 449545
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British journalist and pro-Palestine activist Robert Carter explains what led to his decision to walk from the UK Labour Party.

RNA - I’ve done it; I’ve quit the Labour Party. 

A sentence I never expected to write after joining the movement with great enthusiasm in 2015. 

I was part of the wave of fresh young members who signed up just before the leadership contest, which saw socialist and life-long anti-racism campaigner Jeremy Corbyn surge to power.

We were all hopeful back then and with good reason - Labour had elected the first anti-imperialist old school socialist to captain the largest British opposition party. 

However, under his leadership the party spiraled into a civil war for the soul of the party with the Labour right-wing spearheading a political inquisition with the ambition of stopping people reporting, or even talking about, Israel’s crimes.

But the so-called “witch hunt” wasn’t enough to force me to walk. 

What pushed me over the edge was the day I witnessed all the leadership candidates to replace the hounded socialist leader publicly declared themselves Zionists or supporters of Zionism.

This shocking announcement made clear to me that the party is not a genuine pro-Palestine movement and is willing to compromise its morality to appease a racist political ideology.

Labour investigation

Before quitting, I was being investigated by the party following an incident in September 2015. I attended, filmed and leaked footage of a local Labour meeting in my North London constituency of Enfield North.

The MP whose reputation was on the line was the pro-war anti-Corbyn rebel lawmaker Joan Ryan. She had served under the Tony Blair government, voted for the Iraq war and was the chair of the Labour Friends of Israel advocacy group. 

And Ryan became considerably unpopular in Enfield after she began a campaign of undermining the Corbyn leadership. 

Of course, she lost the vote of confidence in Enfield North that night but not before she made a cringe-worthy attempt to appeal to the disgruntled membership. She even had the gall to quote “her hero” Nelson Mandela, despite the fact he was a legendary anti-racism leader who defended Palestine on countless occasions.

The footage was shared on Press TV UK’s Twitter feed and went viral, deeply embarrassing the former Labour MP who blamed her loss on “Trots, Stalinists and communists.”

I was suspended not long after. 

Ever since I have been trying to deal with the same disciplinary procedure which has overseen the “witch hunt” of the membership amid the ongoing anti-Semitism crisis.

Throughout this process, I have been routinely ignored. The faceless bureaucrats handling my case submitted questions without answering any of my own. I have never been given a timeline of the process, and no one from the party has ever spoken to me verbally.

Yet I have been threatened with permanent expulsion if I ever try to attend any Labour meetings and am barred from voting in any Labour votes. However, the party has not stopped charging me the monthly membership fee! Seems like my money is welcomed, but my pro-Palestine views are not.

I have expressed my frustration, stress and complaints about a potential data leak, but each time I am ignored. 

I have never been dishonest in my answers, and have been clear that the reason I chose to expose Joan Ryan was that she was hostile to the party. And I was proven right, with Ryan’s endless articles attacking her own party to the press and her decision to abandon the party in February 2019. 

The purge

Corbyn was known for many admirable things, such as his stance against the bloody war on Iraq. But it was his tireless support for Palestine, coupled with his fearless criticism of Israel, which led many, including myself, to sign up and fight for equality, social justice and Palestinian freedom.

Sadly, under his leadership, this didn’t happen. Many pro-Palestine activists have been suspended or investigated, many of whom have been branded “anti-Semitic” in the process. 

Anyone who dares speak out against Israeli Apartheid or the links between several British pro-Israel lawmakers and notorious pro-Israel advocacy groups’ activities is kicked out.

The fear of being purged ensures the ongoing silence and complicity of pro Palestine leaders and the membership concerning Israel’s illegal or immoral activities. 

Left with no choice

It is totally unacceptable for any political party to gag criticism of any oppressive regime, be it at home or abroad. 

The situation is so bad that even Corbyn’s so-called successor, Rebecca Long-Bailey, has declared herself a Zionist. To make matters worse, the chairwoman of the Labour Friends of Palestine group, Lisa Nandy, who is also running for leader, is also a proud Zionist. 

It is madness to call yourself a “friend of Palestine” while also supporting the racist political force of Zionism. Just as it would equally be illogical to declare, “I support Nelson Mandela” but also have no issue with South African Apartheid. 

The Palestine issue is one of the greatest injustices in modern human history. Genocide is taking place against the native Arab peoples. It is a moral issue which cannot be compromised on. 

Of course, anti-Semitism too is a vile form of racism and must be condemned and combated at every turn, inside and outside of the Labour Party. However, criticism of Israel is not racism. 

Some may argue that pro-Palestine activists should stay and fight. However, I believe that a more effective strategy would be to boycott Labour over its support for anti-Palestine racism. Hound them out of the British Muslim, Palestine, and left-wing communities; withdraw our votes in protest until they change their stance.

That would force the leadership to change to survive. But until Labour reforms, I can no longer associate myself with a party which censors condemnation of Israel and anti-Palestine Apartheid.

Robert Carter/Press TV

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