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Defend Moshe Machover – rescind his expulsion!

7th October 2017

Defend Moshe Machover
– rescind his expulsion!

LRC Statement

Professor Emeritus Moshe Machover has been expelled from the Labour Party. Machover is Jewish and Israeli, the co-founder of Matzpen, the socialist organisation which from the ‘60s to the ‘80s brought together Arab and Jewish opposition to the illegal occupation of Palestine.

The Head of Disputes has accused Machover of writing an “apparently anti-Semitic article” according to the - extremely contentious -  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition (which conflates all criticism of Israeli policies with antisemitism); he further accused him of “membership or support for another political party, or a political organisation with incompatible aims to the Labour Party”, because he has, on occasion, written for the Weekly Worker.

His principal ‘crime’ is the accusation of antisemitism. Anyone who looks objectively at the evidence will see that what he is ‘guilty’ of is putting the record straight on historical links between some German Zionists and the Nazis. Clearly uncomfortable historical facts should be banned. One report on the issue said it was outrageous that he had quoted “the author of the holocaust”, and went on to quote the same Nazi!

It is significant that the Compliance Unit has cited the IHRA definition of antisemitism, confirming the fears expressed by many, including the new organisation Jewish Voice for Labour, that the new rule on antisemitism passed at Labour Party conference could be used in this way.

By throwing in that Machover has written articles for the newspaper Weekly Worker and spoken at events organised by them, the Compliance Unit claims this automatically makes him ineligible for membership of the Labour Party under the rule which states “A member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour Group or unit of the Party or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member,  subject to the provisions of part 6.I.2 of the disciplinary rules”.

Thus is the catch-all which has also been used to exclude supporters of Socialist Appeal and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. In theory, it could be used to exclude supporters of this organisation, the Labour Representation Committee, Momentum or even Progress, and has to go. Members should have the right to organise within the Party (though obviously not to support candidates against it).

The expulsion of Machover comes after calls for action against alleged antisemitism by leaders of the Jewish Labour Movement. This follows support given by delegates at Party conference to speakers who argued that many allegations of antisemitism are spurious. This, together with Jeremy Corbyn’s call in his speech for justice for the Palestinians, clearly spurred the Compliance Unit to lash out in response.. Leaders of the JLM are encouraging the use of disciplinary methods rather than engage in political debate. Association with the Weekly Worker is the least of their concerns.

The Chakrabarti Inquiry found that the Party’s “ complaints and disciplinary procedures . . . lacked sufficient transparency, uniformity and expertise . . .” and called for “the vital legal principles of due process (or natural justice) and proportionality”. Machover, who denies the accusations, has not been given the opportunity to challenge either the accusation of antisemitism nor his alleged support for another party or organisation.

The Labour Representation Committee supports all calls for Machover’s expulsion to be immediately rescinded and for due process to take place so that he is given the opportunity to challenge the claims of the Head of Disputes. Labour Party and union organisations should pass resolutions along these lines and submit them to the NEC for urgent response.

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