Open Letter from 96 members/supporters of the Labour Party to the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson MP

Open Letter from 96 members/supporters of the Labour Party to the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson MP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Post-Blog

 Labour Members ask Watson why he has no criticism of Israel’s racist Occupation of Palestine


Accompanying Letter

Dear Mr Watson

I attach a letter signed by 88 members/supporters of the Labour Party, Jewish and non-Jewish, in respect of your speech to Labour Friends of Israel last month.
Not once in your speech did you utter any criticism or condemnation of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the daily killing of unarmed Palestinian civilians, the horrific levels of racism in Israel itself towards its own Palestinian citizens, the routine use of torture, the abuse and imprisonment of Palestinian children or the Apartheid situation that pertains in the Occupied Territories themselves.

The fact that you campaigned so vociferously against the abuse of British children yet you have nothing to say about the imprisonment and shackling of Palestinian children, the use of violence and torture against them speaks volumes about your racist outlook. 
Yours sincerely,

Tony Greenstein
  

To:          Tom Watson MP [email protected]
                Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
   House of Commons
   London SW1 1AA

Dear Tom Watson, 

We write as
both Jewish and non-Jewish members/supporters of the Labour Party.

We read with
interest your speech
to guests at the Labour Friends of Israel luncheon recently and watched the video
of you singing ‘Am Yisrael Chai’. 
Perhaps you are not aware that this is the favourite chant of West Bank
settlers and the fascist/neo-Nazi Jewish Defence League when attacking
Palestinians and those they disagree with?

You began
your speech by saying that you supported Israel because ‘our consciences dictate it’.  If
you had a conscience you would not have spoken of your ‘special pleasure’ at the presence of Mark Regev, Israel’s
Ambassador who, as-Chief Spokesman for Benjamin Netanyahu, defended Operation
Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014 when 2,251 Palestinians were
killed
, including 551 children.

You said that
you were ‘ashamed’ at the ‘anti-Semitism in our midst’.  Let us reassure you that although you have much
to be ashamed of, anti-Semitism is not one of Labour’s sins.  Anti-Semitism does not exist as a political
force in the Labour Party.  It never has
and never will.  Those who have been
suspended for ‘anti-Semitism’, in particular Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, and
Tony Greenstein, have been suspended for supporting the Palestinians, not
because of anti-Semitism.  It is no
coincidence that both the latter two are Jewish anti-Zionists.

You mentioned
your recent, expenses paid trip to Israel recently, where you met the Chairman
of the Israeli Labour Party Isaac Herzog. You spoke of his ‘determination to continue to push the path
of peace’
.  Is this the same Herzog
who, Ha’aretz
reports, pushed for ‘Separation From
Palestinians as (the) Party Platform’?
 
In other words an apartheid solution with a Palestinian Bantustan?

We find it
difficult to understand, in view of your purported opposition to anti-Jewish
racism, why you turn a blind eye to Herzog’s virulent anti-Arab racism?  Herzog recently spoke of
his fear of waking up to a Palestinian Prime Minister in
Israel.  He said:

‘I want to separate from the Palestinians. I want
to keep a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. I don’t want 61 Palestinian MKs in Israel’s Knesset. I don’t want a
Palestinian prime minister in Israel.’ 

The Jerusalem Post reported how Herzog had spoken about
dispelling the false impression that the ILP were ‘Arab Lovers’

If a member of our Labour Party had spoken about their
nightmare of a Jewish Prime Minister or had talked about ‘Jew lovers’ then you
would certainly have had cause to complain of anti-Semitism.

You quoted Yehuda Bauer: “thou shalt not be a
bystander.”
 
Unfortunately you then went on to demonstrate just how lightly the
lessons of the Holocaust weigh upon your conscience.  You stated that Israel was ‘A
vibrant democracy… a state which strives for equality between … Jew and Arab
.’

Perhaps
you would care to explain how this is compatible with the pending demolition of
Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin village in the Negev, in order to make way for a Jewish
town? Or why half the Arab villages in Israel are ‘unrecognised’ and therefore
liable to demolition at a moment’s notice? 

According to Defence for
Children International
between 500 and 700 Palestinian children a year, as
young as 12, are arrested, interrogated and beaten without any right to see a parent
or lawyer.  Held indefinitely, they are
deprived of sleep, shackled and charged in a language they don’t understand.

Because there
are two separate legal systems on the West Bank, this cannot happen to Jewish
children.  Perhaps you could explain how
this is compatible with a ‘vibrant
democracy’
and why this is not an apartheid society?

Israel is a
Jewish state, i.e. a state in which Jews have privileges over and above
non-Jews.  This manifests itself on
Jerusalem Day in mobs chanting ‘Death to the Arabs’ as they march through the
Arab quarter.  Fascist groups like
Lehava, which campaign against sexual relations between Arabs and Jews are state-funded.  Today in Jerusalem, without interference from
the police, gangs of Jewish fascists go around attacking
Arabs under the pretext of ‘protecting’ Jewish women. 

Because
Israel is a Jewish state opposition to African asylum seekers has taken the
form of pogroms and lynchings.  According
to Netanyahu, illegal
African immigrants threaten identity of Jewish state
In the words
of Culture Minister Miri Regev the Sudanese are a cancer in our body.”  Later she apologised to cancer victims for
having compared them to asylum seekers!  Your
good friend Herzog has been part of this racist consensus, attacking
Eritrean refugees as bogus asylum seekers.

Apologists
for Zionism always refer to Israel’s Arabs having the vote.  This is of course true but Israel is a state
of its Jewish citizens and democracy doesn’t simply mean having a vote every few
years but civic and political equality regardless of ethnicity or
religion.  When you are treated as an alien
in your own country that is not democracy but ethnocracy.  A state where torture is legal, censorship is
routine and detention without trial for one ethnic group is routine (Arabs) is
not a democracy.

It is therefore
no surprise that in Israel’s ‘vibrant
democracy’
a plurality of Jewish Israelis (48%-46%) [Pew Research Centre Survey,
Israel’s
Religiously Divided Society
], favour the physical expulsion of Israel’s
Arabs and no less than 79% believe that Jews are entitled to preferential
treatment. 

You refer to
your and LFI’s support for 2 States.  After
50 years of occupation and settlement, a Palestinian state is not possible.  2 states is a smokescreen for the continued
military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and a pretext for Israeli
Apartheid.  At no time have either you or
LFI ever called for an end to the military occupation of Palestinian
territories.

You
condemn Boycott Divestment and Sanctions but the Boycott of repressive and
racist regimes has a long pedigree.  From
the Boycott of slave grown sugar in the West Indies to the Boycott of Nazi
Germany (which the Zionist movement broke) to the Boycott of South African
Apartheid, BDS has always been the most moral of movements.  Just as Thatcher and Reagan opposed the
Boycott of Apartheid South Africa yesterday, so you and LFI oppose the Boycott
of Zionist Apartheid today. 

Perhaps
you have forgotten that it was Israeli Labour governments who supplied weapons
to South Africa in breach of the UN Arms Embargo?  That it was an Israeli Labour government
which invited John Vorster, the South Africa Premier, who had been interned
during the war for Nazi sympathies, on a state visit to Israel? [Brothers in arms – Israel’s
secret pact with Pretoria
]

If you
were at all sincere in your support for a Palestinian state, then you would support
pressure upon Israel via a Boycott.  The
fact that you, the Israeli Ambassador and Labour Friends of Israel, an
uncritical Israeli support group, oppose Boycott demonstrates your insincerity
and hypocrisy. 

You
said Let’s have
no more parallels drawn between today’s tragic conflict in Israel-Palestine and
the bloodlands of central and Eastern Europe.’
 
You appear to forget that it is the advocates of Zionism who make such
comparisons.  From Menachem Begin
equating Yassir Arafat in the siege of Beirut to Hitler in his bunker to
Netanyahu’s comparison of Iran
with Nazi Germany orDeputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai promising the Palestinians
of Gaza a ‘bigger Shoah’

Zionism has
always equated the Palestinians with the Nazis. 
When the Israeli Right marches to the drumbeat of ‘Death to the Arabs’
it is difficult not to recall similar marches in Europe when the chant was
‘Death to the Jews’. 

Despite your
attempts to equate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism it is clear from what is happening
in the United States that anti-Semites are the most fervent supporters of
Israel.  Donald Trump, whom Herzog has welcomed to power,
has appointed open anti-Semites like Steve Bannon of the alt-Right as his
advisors.  This does not appear to
trouble you or Labour Friends of Israel for some reason.

When you say
that ‘The BDS movement is morally wrong’ you betray you real
concern is to support the US’s watchdog in the region.  BDS is an entirely moral response to
Israel’s immoral Occupation.

Yours
sincerely,

Tony
Greenstein                          Brighton & Hove DLP
Barry Ackerman                          Enfield &
Southgate CLP
Mo Akram                                  Newcastle East
CLP
Jackie Alsaid                               Fareham CLP
Mo Aziz                                      Dulwich
and West Norwood CLP
Claude Baesens                           Warwick and Leamington
Spa CLP
Graham Bash                              South Thanet CLP
Labina Basit                                Uxbridge and
South Ruislip CLP
Mary Beaman                              Wimbeldon CLP
Lisa Bell                                      Forest of
Dean CLP
Karent Bett                                  Eastwood CLP
Tas Bhatti                                    Nottingham
CLP
Simon Brace                                Gedling CLP
Haim Bresheeth                           Hornsey and Wood
Green
Karen Brett                                  New Forest East
CLP
Tarin Brokenshire
                      Cambridge CLP
Neil Cameron                              Sheffield Central CLP, Unite and
Sheffield Momentum
Marilu Cavaliere                          Luton South CLP
Trevor Challenger
                      Taunton Deane CLP
Carl Clarke                                  Richmond
CLP/Unite
Mike Craig                                  Mid-Ulster
Branch Northern Ireland
John Davies                                Liverpool
Riverside TULO/Liverpool Momentum
Helen Dickson                            Liverpool Riverside
CLP
Ajay Domun                               Pimlico CLP/Westminster
Momentum
Clare N. Ayton-Edwards            Kenilworth & Southam
Mark Elf                                      Barking
CLP
James Ellis                                  Brighton &
Hove DLP/Secretary B&H Momentum/Unite/Unison
Yousuf Farooq                            Rushcliffe CLP
Pete Firmin                                  Hampstead
& Kilburn CLP
Jenny Flintoft                              Meon Valley CLP
Michael Foulkes                          Brighton & Hove
DLP
Philip Foxe                                  Enfield South
gate CLP/Enfield Momentum 
Kathlyn Gadd                              Stoke North CLP
Terry Gallogly                             York CLP
Yvonne Gibbins                          Grantham and Stafford
CLP
Lynda Gilbert                              Milton Keynes
North CLP
Stephanie Grant                           Basingstoke CLP
Sue Grant                                    Exeter CLP
James Hall                                   South
Cambridgeshire CLP
Jenny Hardacre                           South Cambs CLP
Abe Hayeem-                              Harrow East CLP
Rosamine Hayeem-                     Harrow East CLP
Rosemary Hedges                       Calder Valley CLP
Deana Heywood                         Ealing and Central Acton
CLP
Dave Hill                                     Brighton
and Hove Momentum
Carl Hodgson                              Delyn CLP
Doug Holton                               Hackney North and
Stoke Newington CLP
Ian Hunter                                   Gaston and
Halewood CLP
Zaed Hussein                              Hyndburn CLP
Cliff Jones                                   Sefton Central
CLP
Markus Keany                             Luton South CLP
Martin Kemp                               Lewisham West and
Penge CLP 
Fee Khan                                     Brandwood
CLP
Chris Knight                                Streatham CLP
Beverley Krell                             Stockport CLP
Geoff Lee                                    Holborn and
St Pancras CLP
Leah Levane                                Hastings and Rye
CLP
Rachel Lever                               Hastings &
Rye CLP
Debbie Litchfield
                        Don Valley CLP
Jo Manning                                 Leeds NE CLP
Patrick Mansfield
                       Bristol South CLP
Miriam Margolyes                      Clapham CLP
Helen Marks                               Riverside CLP
Becky Massey                             Hove and Portslade
CLP
Suzanne McCallum                     Dumbarton CLP
Faye McCardle                            North Herefordshire
CLP
Jane Mills                                    Brecon and
Radnorshire CLP
Anne Mitchell                             Hove and Portslade
CLP
Brendan Morgan                         County Down CLP
Elizabeth Morley                         Ceredigion CLP/Member
of Wales Grassroots/Momentum
Kevin Neil                                   Plymouth
Sutton and Devonport CLP, Momentum National Committee
Tony O’Neill                               Northern Ireland
Labour Party
Caroline O’Reilly                        Brighton & Hove DLP
Pam Page                                    Brighton and
Hove DLP
Susan Pashkoff                           Unite/Redbridge
Trades Council
Allan Pearson                              South Ribble CLP
Jonathan Pullman                        Edinburgh North and
Leith CLP
Mike Rahr                                   Camberwell CLP
Roland Rance                              Unite; former
secretary Waltham Forest Trades Council
Elaine Rigby                                Bury South CLP
Leon Rosselson                           Brent Momentum
Ali Samhan                                 Penarth CLP
Matt Scott                                    Islington
South CLP
Mark Sedgway                            Ilford North CLP
David Selzer                                Chester CLP
Ali Sendall                                  Birkenhead CLP
Sam Semoff                                Riverside CLP
Reverend Dr
Philip Stephens      Swansea West CLP
Stephanie Sykes                          Woking CLP
Pauline Thomas                           Momentum South
Birmingham
Andrew Todd                              Hexham CLP
John Tymon;                               Hampstead &
Kilburn CLP
Jackie Walker                              Thanet CLP
Adam Waterhouse                       Southampton and Ramsey
Labour Party
Stewart Whitehead                      Arundel and South
Downs CLP
Nola Wolley                                North Somerset
CLP

 

 

 

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