We are dismayed at the suspension of Tony Greenstein by the Labour Party
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Re: Our Concerns about Suspension of Tony Greenstein
We are Jewish members of the Labour Party who oppose all forms of racism equally. Some of us have been members for many years. We are committed to Labour ideals and principles, and have been working to ensure that Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for the transformation of society gains support. We want a progressive Labour government.
We were dismayed to discover that Tony Greenstein has been suspended from the Party, without even being told the grounds for this suspension. We were further dismayed that the grounds for Tony’s suspension had been leaked to a right-wing newspaper: the Daily Telegraph claimed on April 1st that the suspension is related to allegations of anti-Semitism.
Tony Greenstein is not an anti-Semite. However, in common with a growing number of other Jews, he is opposed to Zionism, and to the actions of the Israeli state with regard to the Palestinians. Such a stance is emphatically not anti-Semitic; it is important that the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is clearly understood.
Tony Greenstein has long campaigned against both the constitutional inequalities of the Israeli state and its continuing attacks on the Palestinian people. His writings can be forthright and angry, in the best traditions of many polemicists, but it is a slur to characterise them as anti-Semitic.
Like many Jews opposing Israel’s actions, Tony has endured insults from some who claim to represent the Jewish community, who have no interest in protecting the Labour Party from anything. We note, for example, that the current President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, is on record recently as saying that Jews cannot trust Labour. We would be concerned if the serious issue of anti-Semitism was being exploited in order to damage the Labour Party. Some of us faced similar insults last summer because we set up the Facebook group “Jews for Jeremy”. If Tony Greenstein can be accused of anti-Semitism, we fear that other Jews, who have been critics of Israeli policy and actions, may soon be faced with similar charges.
Tony has been an active opponent of racism, fascism and anti-Semitism. It would do damage to the Labour Party to expel him. We ask that the NEC intervene in this case to ensure that his suspension is lifted forthwith, and the charge of anti-Semitism dropped. If there are other serious charges against him that have not yet been disclosed, they should be made public, and Tony should be given an opportunity to answer them.