Monday, 14 May 2018

Suspend Labour Friends of Israel

This, from Emily Thornberry, is a powerful statement.
“We condemn unreservedly the Israeli government for their brutal, lethal and utterly unjustified actions on the Gaza border, and our thoughts are with all those Palestinians in Gaza whose loved ones have been killed or injured as a result.

“These actions are made all the worse because they come not as the result of a disproportionate over-reaction to one day’s protests, but as the culmination of six weeks of an apparently systemic and deliberate policy of killing and maiming unarmed protestors and bystanders who pose no threat to the forces at the Gaza border, many of them shot in the back, many of them shot hundreds of metres from the border, and many of them children.

“Throughout that six-week period, the UN’s Secretary General has been calling for an independent investigation into these incidents, one that should urgently determine whether international law has been broken, and hold the Netanyahu government to account for their actions. The UK should lead calls for the UN Security Council to order such an investigation today.

“These incidents must also be the catalyst for urgent and concerted international pressure on the Netanyahu government to lift the blockade on Gaza, and end Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories. No longer can Netanyahu act as a law unto himself, under the protection of the Trump administration, whose decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem today has further inflamed the situation.

“In the meantime, we urge the Israeli forces serving on the Gaza border to show some long-overdue responsibility to their fellow human beings, and stop this vicious and utterly avoidable slaughter of peaceful protesters demanding the right to return to their homes.”
 This, from Labour Friends of Israel, is disgusting:
Tragic events on the Gazan border; all civilian deaths are regrettable. Hamas must accept responsibility for these events. Their successful attempt to hijack peaceful protest as cover to attack Israeli border communities must be condemned by all who seek peace in the Middle East.
What a despicable bout of victim-blaming. Taking its line straight from the spin put out by Tel Aviv, it lays responsibility at the hands of Hamas and not the people giving the orders and firing the guns. Was it Hamas, for example, that shot Palestinian journalists from the Israeli side of the fence while they covered the protests of recent weeks? Is it Hamas who invited Israeli army snipers to take potshots at passersbys walking hundreds of feet away from the so-called IDF's positions? Was it Hamas who shot hundreds of fleeing demonstrators in the back? Our LFI "comrades" know full well this isn't the case, but are nevertheless happy to go along with the Netanyahu line. As far as they're concerned, Palestinians aren't full, conscious proper human beings like you and me. They are dangerous automatons manipulated by Hamas and Iran, and so meeting stones and burning tires with automatic weapons fire, armoured personnel carriers, and white phosphorous is no biggie.

Let us be clear, this is not routine behaviour, even when a democratic state - a term that should be used advisedly in Israel's case - is an occupying power and locked into a low intensity but long-running conflict. For all of its stupid brutalities, the British army did not routinely massacre dozens of protesters in Northern Ireland. Even now, despite the crimes committed by India in Kashmir, including soldiers firing on civilians, nothing there in recent times approaches the deaths Israel have inflicted today and over the course of the last month. Funnily enough, they are exceeded only by the death factory Syria has become under Assad, and the Britain-backed bombing of Yemen by Saudi Arabia, both of which are full blooded and exceedingly bloody conflicts.

Clearly, Netanyahu and his gang, officers of the IDF and the soldiers pulling the triggers are committing appalling crimes and deserve to be tried. For their part, in soft soaping this criminal action LFI are beyond the pale and bring the Labour Party into disrepute. Their denial of basic humanity to today's victims, their slandering of the dozens dead, and the alibiing of a massacre calls for the immediate suspension of the organisation and its office holders.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Should we read this as your calling for Thornberrys resignation as either shadow Foreign Secretary or from LFI?

john boy said...

I fully support this proposal.The LFI are condoning the killing of unarmed protestors.This must be a reason for immediate suspension.Their comments are as bad as those made by Mr Livingston and should be subject to the same sanctions.

Anonymous said...

Actually it's not just thornberry. Will you expel Nick Brown, Liam Byrne, Barry Gardiner, Nia Griffith, Andrew Gywnne, Emily Thornberry, Tom Watson? Certainly they should be intensely pressured to resign from LFI.

Dialectician1 said...

Well written. I totally agree. LFI are a malevolent body within the Labour Party. They make up a lot of the anti-Corbin rump.

Andy Platt said...

I see LFI as nothing short of a racist hate group. The fact that any political party tpolerates their ilk within their ranks is an affront

Anonymous said...

Can we have a petition, and model resolutions to go to CLPs?

Phil said...

I certainly agree people should be pressured to resign in protest from LFI. But it is quite clear, when it comes to suspension LFI as an affiliate should be suspended along with its officers. The latter are, ultimately, responsible for its conduct.

ejh said...

A contrary opinion: a fight with LFI would be a distraction that's a good deal more trouble than it's worth.

Paul Dennett said...

Looks like the tweet has been deleted now.

Anonymous said...

Are LFI affiliated to the Labour party? My understanding is that they operate within the party as an autonomous group and are therefore not bound by party rules (for what they are worth now).

In the 1980s Militant were operating in a similar way and they were eventually proscribed by the then General Secretary, making membership of Militant and the Labour party untenable. Most Militant members left the party. It's now time for Labour's new GS to make a similar stance.

Phil said...

Yes, it seems like an anomaly under the party's constitution. It is not an affiliate but a Parliamentary Group of Labour MPs. It does not have membership as such outside of these MPs. You can sign up for a mailing list and make donations, but that's it. This is unlike Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East where you can sign up as a supporter and get involved.

The fact LFI is an outfit comprised of Parliamentary elites makes no difference IMO. If it can't be suspended under present rules the NEC should censure it and introduce a rule change so that it can be disciplined.

Boffy said...

The same approach should be taken as was taken with Naz Shah and others in relation to anti-Semitism charges. That is those MP's, Councillors, MEP's and so on who are members of LFI should be asked to disown the LFI statement. After all Corbyn and others have been criticised just for simply being in social media groups where someone else has posted anti-Semitic comments! If the members of LFI do not disown this comment they should be suspended from the PLP etc.

After all they have continually told us that the charges of Anti-Semitism brought against other party members have nothing to do with members having the right to criticise the Israeli state and government. Actually, it becomes increasingly clear besides as a means of undermining Corbyn what the Anti-Semitism witchhunt built up over recent months was actually about, as the Trumpists alliance with Netanyahu and other global Bonapartists means that these kinds of acts will become more frequent.

Its a means of silencing opposition, in the same way that calling people racist or Islamophobic was used to stop criticism in the other direction in the past, for example in relation to grooming and so on. In both cases it acts to undermine the real fight against racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia etc.

Oceanborn 1962 said...

They should all resign from LFI. No foreign power should have influence over UK MPs!

Darren said...

I agree with your post 100% Phil, the action of the Israeli Government is utterly undefensible and the LFI statement was appalling. I cannot see how Emily Thornberry can continue with her membership of LFI having made the statement reported above. Similarly the other Shadow Cabinet members who remain LFI members; Tom Watson, Barry Gardiner, Nia Griffith, Nick Brown and Andrew Gwynne (are there others?) at the very least need to make statements explaining why they do so. It doesn't stop there though two of the three North Staffs Labour MPs are LFI supporters, I wonder what Ruth Smeeth and Gareth Snell have to say about it. If I were a constituent of theirs I'd be asking.

john howley said...

Just shows you what all expenses paid luxury jollies to Israel can achieve.

Chuka Umunna said...

It's strange that nobody in the PLP or party machine has called for individual condemnation of the JLM announcement. Even Corbyn outrider-at-large, Chris Williamson, has been totally silent.

Fear of open and total civil war, or capitulation on all things Israel related by Team Corbyn?

Andy Platt said...

There is an Andy Platt who comments on here who is not from Stoke-onTrent

Jim Denham said...

Rather than calling for the suspension of LFI a much better approach would be to demand that MPs and other supporters of LFI condemn the statement and hold those who wrote it to account.

I note, by the way, that even Stephen Pollard of the Jewish Chronicle has condemned the killings and the role of the IDF.