Labour purges veteran Israeli anti-Zionist Moshé Machover

Moshé Machover has been suspended by Labour for his solidarity with Palestinians (Bob Pitt)

Asa Winstanley 

The Electronic Intifada  /  December 3, 2020

Three years after he managed to reverse an unjust expulsion from the UK’s Labour Party, Moshé Machover has been purged again.

The veteran Israeli anti-Zionist and socialist revealed to The Electronic Intifada on Thursday that he has now been suspended.

Machover is refusing to engage with Labour’s disciplinary process, describing a 20-page letter from the party as a series of “inquisitorial questions,” “full of lies” and “full of shit.”

In the letter, emailed to him on Tuesday, party bureaucrats gave him less than a week to respond to what Machover calls an inquisition of his political views.

“I refuse to play this game,” Machover said in an email to his supporters on Thursday. “I literally have no case to answer.”

He also released the letter, most of which you can read below.

He told The Electronic Intifada on Thursday that party bureaucrats were conducting a “Stalinist purge of the Labour Party” and that he was asking supporters only for “condemnation and exposure” of the purge.

Criminalization of solidarity

The list of Labour’s “allegations” against Machover is long and convoluted. But it includes the fact that he attended a Palestine solidarity demonstration against an Israeli film festival in London last year.

Labour’s suspension letter implied that Machover’s attendance of this Palestine solidarity demonstration last year may have been “anti-Semitism.”

The festival has a whole series of open links to the Israeli government – including the indirect sponsorship of the Israeli culture ministry, via the Israeli government’s Israel Film Fund.

But one film shown there in particular last year was used to raise money for the Garin Tzabar organization, which says it provides financial and logistical support for “those who wish to join the IDF [Israeli army] as lone soldiers.”

The admission of the financial link to Garin Tzabar seem to have been removed from the festival’s website. But a screenshot has been preserved on pro-Israel activist Jonathan Hoffman’s blog.

Machover’s suspension is only the latest sign of the recent upsurge in the Labour Party’s war against supporters of Palestinian human rights.

Machover is an anti-Zionist Israeli, who was effectively exiled to London decades ago. The retired University of London professor helped to found the small dissident socialist group Matzpen, the first known anti-Zionist group led by Israeli Jews outside of the orthodox religious community.

Ongoing purge

Since right-wing leader Keir Starmer took over Labour in April, there has been a steady stream of suspensions, expulsions and investigations targeting party members.

Starmer has accepted donations from at least one key Israel lobby donor and has made appeasing the Israel lobby his top priority – on the pretext of ending an alleged “crisis” of anti-Semitism.

At a joint conference run by lobby groups Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement this past weekend, deputy leader Angela Rayner threatened to suspend “thousands and thousands” of members.

To add insult to injury, the one-day conference took place on 29 November – the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Former party leader Jeremy Corbyn did not respond to a request for comment on Machover’s suspension on Thursday.

Corbyn was briefly suspended from the party In October, before readmission after a revolt by the membership.

But on the orders of Starmer, he remains suspended from Labour’s group in the House of Commons. He is reportedly considering a legal challenge.

“I bang the door after me”

In October 2017, Machover was summarily expelled from the party after an anti-Semitism smear.

But party bureaucrats faced a membership backlash and an international outcry, and soon reversed their decision.

On Thursday he told The Electronic Intifada that he would no longer engage with Labour’s disciplinary process: “I don’t want to dignify it with a response! It doesn’t deserve a response,” he said.

Labour would have found some pretext to get rid of him anyway, he said: “I bang the door after me. But they should still be condemned.”

In the current climate of purge, he said, he had been “weighing the possibility of just leaving the Labour Party. But leaving, you know, slinking away, is not my style.”

Note on redactions: The redactions in black in the PDF below are applied by The Electronic Intifada to protect Machover’s email address. All other redactions were made by Machover himself to protect the private details of others.

He explains: “They are individuals with whom the inquisitors apparently wish to insinuate that I am associated, and guilty by virtue of this association. One of them, whose name is redacted as xxxx, is known to me as a political adversary, against whose views I have publicly polemicised. The other, whose name is redacted as yyyy, is totally unknown to me.”

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada; he lives in London