30/04/2019 by socialistfight
Socialist Fight, having been expelled from Labour Against the Witchhunt on 6 January 2018 in a very similar way to the experiences outlined by Peter Gregson here, have no hesitation in giving him our full support.
Again, we have the outrageous and risible situation that the organisation whose purpose is to oppose witchhunts is itself a witchhunter to those on its left.
Tony Greenstein and Jack Conrad can take pride in this achievement; politically third campist who balance between reformist and revolutionary politics, when confronted by consistent revolutionary socialists and their political stances on Israel, for example, they absolute lose it and determinately set out to prove that they really do not want to overthrow capitalism internationally.
They really do not wish for the destruction of the state of Israel by denying the strength or even the existence of the Jewish/Zionist component of global imperialism today. Hence their outrage at the correct observations of Norman Finkelstein on just this point.
Edinburgh, SCT, United Kingdom
28 APR 2019 —
Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) aims to expel me
The steering committee are proposing to carry out my expulsion at their all-member meeting (AMM) on Saturday 4th May. As far as I know, those on the steering committee are Jackie Walker, Tina Werkman, Stan Keable and Steve Price. Tony Greenstein too, possibly (he keeps resigning/being removed/ reinstated)- it is hard to know. I think the proposal is Tony’s, but the rest appear to back it. To be fair to Stan and Tina, the others were all set for a summary execution; those two argued it needed to go to the membership.
The five motions to the meeting, including two from me (one on setting up LAZIR and one on twinning UK cities with Palestine ones), can be found here. The committee have put my two last, but set their motion about me third on the agenda, so I guess they hope to shorten the meeting considerably by expelling me early doors and avoiding having to support my two initiatives.
So what is the crime I am to stand trial on? Here is the motion:
3) Proposal to expel Pete Gregson from LAW
Moved by LAW steering committee
Labour Against the Witchhunt was set up explicitly to fight the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party. As the witch-hunt has centred on the campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, LAW needs to confront any hint or trace of genuine anti-Semitism in our own ranks. That is why supporters of Socialist Fight were expelled.
Members of LAW – and in particular Tony Greenstein – have spent considerable time and effort trying to patiently discuss and explain to Peter Gregson why some of his formulations are, in our view problematic; for example in his petition on the IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism (which LAW never supported). The last straw for us was Peter Gregson’s refusal to distance himself from the holocaust denier Nick Kollerstrom.
We do not wish to be associated and tainted with holocaust denial and therefore believe that Peter Gregson can no longer remain a member of Labour Against the Witchhunt.
We do not believe that Peter Gregson should be expelled from either the GMB union or the Labour Party. These are broad organisations of the working class that contain many different viewpoints.
The encounter that this is based on took place by email; I mentioned it in the last update, here it is again here: www.kidsnotsuits.com/tony-greenstein-and-john-porter-the-spat. It arose because in an earlier update I sent out a link to a Herzl article by Ian Fantom. In his article, Ian outlines his group’s interest in the IHRA Definition and makes passing reference to a Nick Kollerstom piece about Auschwtiz. Kollerstom is a self-declared Holocaust sceptic, who does not deny the Nazis murdered many, many Jews. He disputed evidence around the use of Zyklon B.
The motion is inaccurate in many respects: no-one who has ever met or heard Greenstein would describe him as one who is able to patiently discuss anything. He would fall out with his own shadow, if he could. What is true is that LAW unanimously refused to support, at its last AMM in December, my request they support the petition you’ve all signed. They regard it as “clumsy” and “problematic”.
The motion is also wrong where it claims I refused to distance myself from Kollerstrom (who is not a denier, anyway). If anybody reads the on-line account, they will see clearly that I refute Kollerstrom’s claims. I also pointed out that Fantom had no opinion either way on Kollestrom. When Tony first read my update, he immediately issued the threat of LAW expulsion to force me to remove the Fantom article from the update I sent you all on 22nd March (see it here) I refused, because I don’t like being threatened and because I thought what Fantom said about Herzl, the father of Zionism and Israel’s greatest hero, was important to hear. Many consider Herzl an extremely anti-Semitic individual; he certainly would have been on JLM’s hit-list for his utterances.
In summary, the LAW steering committee are utterly wrong in their statements. Their support for Tony’s anger and arrogance is part of the problem. For what Tony says is, they appear to think, always correct.
Nobody could deny the devotion Greenstein has made to the cause. But his style is hectoring and this is not the first time he has sought to cause grief. He repeatedly claims I do not know the difference between Jews and Zionists. He calls me a loose cannon. In October he took against something I said in an email and decided to completely undermine this petition. He wrote to Wendy Nichols, NEC chair; Cath Speight of the GMB and Ian Murray of the FBU on the 30th October last year announcing:
“I agree with everything Xxxxx has written and more. People often, because of the way that supporters of Israel deliberately confuse anti-semitism and anti-Zionism , themselves confuse Jews and Zionists. This is not done with any deliberate intent and is not anti-semitic.
However when someone says that the ‘Jews use the holocaust’ and refuses to accept a correction and then goes on to say that he has never met a non-Jewish Zionist I have to question their bona fides.
Labour Against the Witchhunt will be making a statement in due course dissociating themselves from Peter Gregson’s actions and words.”
Again, he misquotes me. I did not say ‘Jews use the holocaust’. I said that all Jews had leverage because of our Holocaust guilt. I said “all Jews” because all suffered equally on account of the way we treated them for the first half of last century, most particularly from 1933 to 1945; thus all have the leverage of guilt. But I have always made clear that only Zionists use that leverage. I had made the comments in the context of an article reflecting upon why most of the UK has raced to adopt the fraudulent and politicised definition of anti-Semitism that the IHRA presents. I pointed out that not just Jews have “guilt leverage”; Scots have leverage over the English because of the racism we suffered for centuries, which is why Westminster gives Scotland an extra billion pounds a year through the Barnett Formula. In fact, I have a public sector job because of this largesse, so the guilt leverage works for me too..
I did say I had never met a non-Jewish Zionist. That is true.
But Tony’s efforts to destroy my credibility and to negate this petition did not last long. He declared LAW would disassociate me back then (- they never did). Around four weeks later, he changed his tune so much he was presenting support statements for my GMB hearing. And then on March 5th he attended my GMB appeal and spoke in defence of my freedom of speech. He says he now regrets this.
So what is going on with LAW?
It feels to me that LAW, being essentially a defensive body, is unable to cope with mass disobedience. They consider we put all ourselves at risk by openly defying the NEC. None have signed this petition. Their banner reads “Defend Free Speech”. But do they? What kind of free speech do they defend? Is there some speech that is free and some that can never be free? Just as one should be free to criticise Israel, should one not be free to call someone ”a fucking anti-Semite” if one feels like it? However, if by so doing, you, as an elected representative widely associated with the Labour Party, falsely attack the leader of the Party, then clearly the matter of “bringing the Party into disrepute” must be addressed. But I am not closely associated with LAW and I have never levelled false accusations against any LAW officer.
Thus, I don’t see why my ongoing membership of LAW is now under question. I am not heavily identified with LAW (unlike Stan, Jackie, Tony, etc) so why should an update to my petition (which none of them like anyway) cause them so much grief that they must disavow me?
Jackie herself, freshly expelled from Labour, after charges against her free speech were levelled, would, of all people, be expected to be sensitive to bogus charges. But she prefers to go along with Tony (and presumably her partner Graham Bash of Labour Briefing, who has also declared against publishing anything I say and do) and condemn me.
The hypocrisy of these people is the concern here. It feels to me that the steering group reject outsiders from their cosy London-focussed cabal and see those who set out to challenge authority, in any way other than whinging, as nutters. It seems Tony is bored with Netanyahu and now seeks victims closer to hand over whom he might claim victory. Even as he loses his libel action against those who declared him an anti-Semite (to which I have now made two donations), he, like a dinosaur tired of chasing an elusive foe, lifts his head to see if there is easier prey nearby. And as the hunted becomes the hunter, he settles his beady eye upon me. He will devour my carcass if I am expelled. And so those who are against witch-hunts start hunting new witches of their own.
The steering group say in their invitation to the 4th May meeting that “We want to discuss how we can move the campaign forward: What can we do to stop the witch-hunt? How can we engage with the emerging efforts to unite the Labour left?” The irony of doing this by carrying out a witch-burning should not be lost on any of us. A few lines further down they propose my expulsion, presumably believing the campaign can be progressed by expelling and condemning an activist who has brought over 2,150 Labour activists together to challenge bogus anti-Semitism. They don’t want to unite the left, they want to split it even more.
Whilst LAW claim to stand for free speech, Tony went to so far as to declare in this flyer to promote the video against my GMB expulsion that it was “Essential viewing for those who believe in freedom of speech”. But that was in March and it is now April, so plenty of time to reverse position once again.
Supporting me is an action he now clearly regrets, preferring the simpler solution of a blanket ban on all I say and do. He wants the world to “shun” me, in essence, as my words are too toxic for the rarefied air he breathes. I threaten his kingship. Well, for all his activism- he is a very good writer, it’s true- but he has not achieved much, so he’s not much of a king, really.
My boss recently told me I was a “trouble-maker”. The dictionary definition of this is one who “takes action against people in power”. Though I have never taken action against LAW Steering Group, I certainly seemed to have annoyed them so much they want me expelled from their club. I reckon Ihave been expelled, almost expelled, or sacked from 10 bodies since I was 17, starting with my school (not wearing uniform), and including Unison (for arguing with the NHS Lothian branch chair over better whistleblowing facilitiesand accusing the Campaign manager of having no backbone in fighting for worker’s safety), and Edinburgh Council, where I was fired after criticising the Council for suspending me for four months with no reason given (they didn’t like me campaigning in my spare time). Recently I was expelled from the Scottish PSC by the organiser after I disagreed with him about Christian Zionism. And then last month, the Revolutionary Community Group in Glasgow expelled me from the Zionist is Racism coalition over the Greenstein + Porter spat, at the insistence of Glaswegian Porter, who is part of this dwindling coalition, slowly expiring due to the kiss of death of my expulsion. Members left in disgust at my treatment. And so the left continues to eat itself as it purges and purges, just like in Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian” – with the “Judean People’s Front” arguing with the “People’s Front of Judea”; splitting and splitting. The Right – the Tories and the Zionists sail on, untouched, safe and quivering with power- they never expel anybody, after all.
It is pretty sad really. The LAW Steering Group have declared that no emails from LAW members voting in my favour will be accepted, so if you want to see me safe, you’ll need to sign up to the meeting in Central London on the 4th, starting at 1pm. Details on the venue will be sent out nearer the date.
One thing I want to ask of any of you who will be joining me is if you can clandestinely record the meeting, as I will need a good account of it afterwards. And I hope you will leak it to the press, for I imagine they will enjoy the irony of a body, set up to defend those lefties punished for exercising freedom of speech by summary unnatural justice, doing the same to its own members. This I think is a gift to the mainstream media and the Zionist press.
The LAW Constitution states of those likely to be expelled from the Labour Party that “An accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. Legal representation costs to be paid by the party.” I asked the committee if LAW will do the same for me? My request was ignored.
Indeed, there is nothing in the LAW constitution permitting expulsion on matters of free speech; there is no rule that they can say I have broken. I actually think what the Steering Group are proposing is unconstitutional. If you value LAW at all, please come along to the meeting on the 4th May and help defend me. Join if you are not a member; it only costs £10. Go here to join.
Your Invite to the Launch of LAZIR
The plan was always to get the aims and policies of our new group Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR) discussed at the LAW meeting on the 4th May and to launch it afterwards, whether they supported it or not. The last time I sought LAW support for a project of mine was when I asked them to support this petition in December. One of the reasons they refused was because they said I did not seek their comment before floating the petition, and so it was too late to change it. Therefore, I decided to get comment and explore modifications from LAW members BEFORE I sought their approval, by submitting a draft text. (Read it here) Either way, by 5th May I shall have LAZIR policies in a shape that LAW might be most likely to support. And so, I want to invite all of you to the LAZIR launch event. I shall display the banner in the photo above outside Labour HQ’s offices at Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QT on Sunday 5th May at 12 noon. Please come along and hear the launch and help me take photos to send to the press that has more than just me in them. Your support will be much appreciated; email me at email@example.com if you can make it
Twin to Palestine Everywhere
I also have a motion to LAW trying to get every member to push for their home town to twin with a Palestinian one, the better to protect them against Zionist abuse. See the motion advocating this here and try the same in your town if you can.
If any of you are still reading by this point, I invite you to glutton on more of my words in this article I published on the Medium website “Why 2,123 Labour members & I will tell the truth about Israel even if it means party expulsion”. Give it a clap?
National Day for Palestine
The Friends of Al Aqsa (who have declared in favour of my “Twin Edinburgh with Gaza” petition) are having a demo on the 11th May in London- Assemble 12 Noon Portland Place, March to Whitehall from 12:00-16:00. More info here. As the website says, “the Palestinian people need our solidarity more than ever, and are calling for global protests to protect their collective rights. As Israel continues to flout international law and violate human rights, there is a responsibility on the global community to hold it to account and push for an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people.” Come if you can (I’m afraid I’ll be at home doing childcare).
Pete Gregson, Edinburgh