2 June 2023

Gary Smith and the Jewish Labour Movement Attack Free Speech in the GMB as former International Officer Bert Schouwenburg is Suspended for Proposing Severing Relations with the JLM

Whilst the GMB Claims to Support the Palestinians in practice it is a Supporter of Israeli Apartheid

Bert Schouwenburg

On January 26 the Walthamstow branch of the GMB unanimously passed a motion which stated that

the decision to work with the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) runs contrary to GMB’s support for Palestine, has brought the union into disrepute

and that the JLM

is effectively the UK wing of the Israeli Labour Party, a racist organisation that governed Israel from 1948 to 1977 and was directly responsible for the massacre or the expulsion of three quarters of a million Palestinians

The motion noted that the ‘JLM conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism’ and that by continuing to support the JLM the ‘GMB is leaving itself open to accusations that it is supporting the racist treatment of Palestinian people.’ It therefore called on Congress to ‘instruct(s) the General Secretary and the CEC to sever all ties with JLM forthwith.’

It is a perfectly reasonable motion. There is nothing in the slightest anti-Semitic about it. Proposer, Bert Schouwenburg, was an organiser for the GMB’s London Region before taking up the post of International Officer until he retired in 2018 after Tim Roache, the General Secretary, who was alleged to have raped and molested female members of the GMB, took over. Roache was forced to resign and was in turn succeeded by Gary Smith, who is both a Starmer supporter and a racist Zionist.

Smith is such an ardent supporter of the Israeli state that even the far-right Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, praised him. The CAA, an Israeli state proxy, was set up specifically to counter solidarity with the Palestinians with accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’. It is so far to the Zionist right that even Margaret Hodge, the parliamentary representative of the JLM, attacked the CAA as being more interested in attacking the Labour Party than opposing anti-Semitism.

As Skwawkbox noted Smith

was a key participant in the campaign against Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard. He also led a campaign against Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the same issue.

The CAA’s Chairperson, Gideon Falter, is Vice Chair of the Jewish National Fund UK. The JNF funds the building of settlements in the Occupied West Bank. The JNF only allows Jews to rent or lease its property and it owns or control 93% of Israeli land. The JNF has consistently fought the idea that Jews and non-Jews should have equal access to its land. Faltiel is also a supporter of Hindutva, Hindu Supremacy as espoused by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi (who is also an ardent admirer of Zionism).

Gary Smith is praised by the CAA, whose Chair Gideon Falter is Vice-Chair of the JNF which refuses to lease land to Arab citizens of Israel

Hardeep Matharu wrote about how

In 2018, the Hindu Forum of Britain arranged a private meeting with Gideon Falter, CEO of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA). The chair – none other than Conservative MP Bob Blackman, who has a history of hosting Islamophobes – declared that there was a need to “learn from the way the CAA had got the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism passed in the Labour Party” with regards to supposed anti-Hindu sentiment.

A year later, two weeks before the 2019 General Election, a spokesperson for the Hindu Council UK supported Rabbi Mirvis’ claim that the Labour Party is antisemitic and added that it is anti-Hindu too because a conference resolution had criticised Modi’s policies in Kashmir. 

Amrit Wilson described how Falter assured the meeting that he and his supporters

would do all they could to help eradicate the ‘duty’ on the government to make Caste an aspect of race in the Equality Act of 2010.

In other words the CAA supports discrimination against Untouchables or Dalits. This is where the campaign against ‘anti-Semitism’ has ended up.

The far-right misnamed Campaign Against Antisemitism loves Gary Smith because they recognise a fellow racist

The same CAA described some of Gary Smith’s notable achievements noting that

he has spoken out against Richard Leonard, the former Scottish Labour leader, for failing to support the International Definition of Antisemitism.

The International Definition (the IHRA) has one purpose. Conflating support for the Palestinians and anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. The GMB has also adopted the IHRA. As Stephen Sedley, a Jewish former Court of Appeal judge observed the 500+ word IHRA ‘fails the first test of any definition: it is indefinite.’

The CAA recalled how, in March 2019, during the fake anti-Semitism campaign against the Labour left and Jeremy Corbyn, Smith

‘labelled the Labour Party’s handling of antisemitism “disgraceful” and revealed that he even thought about leaving the Party himself.

In a private email, Bert described how

‘for reasons I have never fully understood, there has long been a reluctance to fully embrace the Palestinian cause [in the GMB] despite numerous resolutions.’

On 28 April 2023 Schouwenburg received a letter from London Region Secretary Warren Kenny suspending his GMB membership because of the motion on the JLM. As Schouwenburg noted

I do not think that he [Warren] is capable of sufficient independent thought to have made the decision to suspend me himself though I can only speculate as to why it was considered necessary to shut me down

Speculating that ‘I needed to be made an example of pour encourager les autres.’ In other words anyone who decides that in order to support the Palestinians one needs to oppose Zionism, the Jewish Supremacist ideology that has led to the Palestinians dispossession, needs to be aware that they will be expelled.

In his barely literate letter, Kenny alleged that the motion ‘contained several factual inaccuracies. The motion also contains serious, potentially legally actionable, and antisemitic allegations.’

However there was nothing in Warren’s letter explaining what these inaccuracies were or why the motion was deemed anti-Semitic. Nor did Warren explain what was ‘potentially legally actionable.’

The reason why Warren’s assertions were unsupported was because they were false. Bert was immediately suspended from benefit, banned from holding any GMB office and banned from taking part in any GMB business and affairs.

The motion passed by the branch contained not a hint of anti-Semitism nor was it inaccurate. It read:

Congress accepts that the decision to work with the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) runs contrary to GMB’s support for Palestine, has brought the union into disrepute and should never have been countenanced.

Congress notes that the JLM is effectively the UK wing of the Israeli Labour Party, a racist organisation that governed Israel from 1948 to 1977 and was directly responsible for the massacre or the expulsion of three quarters of a million Palestinians. Today, some of their Knesset members support the most right-wing Israeli regime in history.

JLM conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism and by dint of its support, GMB is leaving itself open to accusations that it is supporting the racist treatment of Palestinian people.  Therefore, Congress instructs the General Secretary and the CEC to sever all ties with JLM forthwith.

In an article on Schouwenburg’s suspension Skwawkbox noted that the GMB officially supports the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ movement, which the JLM opposes and in both 2011 and 2013 passed resolutions not to allow its members to travel to Israel on delegations organised by ‘Trade Union Friends of Israel’.

There is very little on the GMB website concerning Palestine and no mention at all of BDS. Under the heading GMB Policy on Palestine we learn that the GMB is a long-standing supporter of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Western Sahara Campaign and supports the statement below.’

The statement mainly opposes the Abraham Accords and for some reason includes GMB policy on the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara. The policy condemns Israel’s ‘continuing to flout international law through its ongoing occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land’, the expansion of settlements and the denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination. The policy states that:

global civil society must redouble its efforts to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian and the Sahrawi people until freedom, justice and equality are realised.’

Yet when Schouwenburg proposed a motion putting some teeth into this policy he was suspended which suggests that the GMB’s policy on Palestine is merely declaratory. 

Were there any ‘mistakes’ in the Walhamstow motion and why was it anti-Semitic?

The motion from Walthamstow branch noted that ‘the JLM is effectively the UK wing of the Israeli Labour Party’ [ILP]. If you go to the JLM website it states explicitly that the ILP is its ‘sister party.’ The motion described the ILP as

‘a racist organisation that governed Israel from 1948 to 1977 and was directly responsible for the massacre or the expulsion of three quarters of a million Palestinians.’

This too is a fact? The motion could have said that it was the ILP which kept Palestinians who weren’t expelled in 1948 under military rule from 1948 till 1966 and that it confiscated most of their land too.

The motion stated that the JLM

conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism and by dint of its support, GMB is leaving itself open to accusations that it is supporting the racist treatment of Palestinian people. 

This too is a fact. Anyone doubting this should read Asa Winstanley’s new book ‘Weaponising Anti-Semitism – How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn’.

The JLM were refounded in 2015 solely in order to spearhead the attack on Corbyn using anti-Semitism as its weapon. The JLM joined the CAA in making a complaint to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission about the Labour Party.

The unspoken assumption running through Kenny’s letter is that the JLM is the Jewish section of the Labour Party but this is not true. One of the JLM’s Values is

To promote the centrality of Israel in Jewish life and its development on the basis of freedom, social justice and equality for all its citizens.

Promoting the centrality of Israel among Jews is a Zionist not a Jewish principle. The JLM is a Zionist group which no Jewish person who is not a Zionist would join. The JLM is affiliated to the UK Zionist Federation and the World Zionist Organisation.

The hypocrisy of the JLM is proven in their assertion that they support equality for all Israel’s citizens but that they also support a Jewish state. An ethno-nationalist state based on the religion of only some of its citizens cannot, by definition, be a state where all its citizens are equal.

When Israeli actor Rotem Sala posted on Instagram:

When will anyone in this government tell the public that this is a country of all its citizens, and all people are born equal. “Arabs are also human beings. And also the Druze, and the gays, and the lesbians and… gasp… leftists.

the reaction of Prime Minister Netanyahu was swift. He stated that:

Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.

The ILP did not contradict him. That is why ‘Jewish Settlement’ is one of the ‘values’ outlined in the racist Jewish Nation State Law, a principle that the Israeli Labor Party adheres too.

Kenny also doesn’t explain why Schouwenburg has been suspended and not all those present at the branch meeting where the motion was passed unanimously. When a motion is passed it is the property of the meeting not one individual. Why was Schouwenburg singled out?

The GMB’s defence of a Zionist group which supports a state which has been condemned as committing the crime of apartheid suggests that under Gary Smith the GMB is supporting Israeli Apartheid.

That Israel is an apartheid state is not a matter of dispute. Every major human rights organisation – Israel’s B’tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have condemned Israel as an apartheid state.

The only conclusion that can be draw from Bert Schouwenburg’s proposed expulsion is, in his own words, that the

GMB are trying to shut down any voices that dissent from their newly-found enthusiasm for Israel’s apartheid regime. Under Gary Smith, a union that once backed the call for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) is now supporting the most vicious, right-wing government in Israel’s history.

It is not Bert Schouwenburg who should be suspended pending investigation but Gary Smith and his poodle, Warren Kenny.

Smith was instrumental in having Black rapper Lowkey banned from the Tolpuddle Festival at the behest of various Zionist organisations. See my blog of January 1 2023 detailing how Gary Smith acted as a messenger boy for the Apartheid State’s lobby groups.

Gary Smith's love affair with Zelensky, a Jewish fascist who has no problem with a national holiday for a mass murderer of Jews during  WW2

Smith’s opposition to ‘anti-Semitism’ doesn’t prevent him from being an ardent supporter of Zelensky who has banned Ukraine’s leftwing parties and has also abolished the right to strike, using the war as a pretext. Zelensky is a fervent Zionist and supported Israel’s attacks on Gaza. His support for self-determination doesn’t include the Palestinians. Yet the GMB is fundraising to buy a vehicle for the Ukraine military and London Region has, I understand, handed them a donation of £5,000, as if the billions from Joe Biden and Boris Johnson/Sunak weren’t sufficient.

Stepan Bandera's Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUP) played an integral part in the massacre of 33,000 Jews at Babi Yar in 1941. He is a national hero in Ukraine & the Zionists say nothing

Zelensky may be Jewish but he is also a Zionist and that explains why it is that he has formed alliances with Ukraine’s neo-Nazi militias. He has done and said nothing about the fact that Stepan Bandera is the only Nazi collaborator in the world to have a national holiday in his honour. Bandera’s Ukraine Insurgent Army murdered some 200,000 Jews as well as 100,000 Poles.

The GMB is affiliated to Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The silence of PSC in the face of Smith’s support for Israel and the Zionists, in blatant contradiction of his own union’s policy on Palestine, should have been called out. Instead PSC has remained silent as Smith and the JLM target Palestinian supporters like Bert Schouwenburg.

Members of PSC should be asking what is the purpose of a union’s affiliation if that union acts as an extension of the apartheid regime? I know that Barbara Plant, the GMB’s President is a genuine supporter of the Palestinians. PSC should be working with her to confront Smith and his Zionist sycophants like Warren Kenny.

Even past General Secretary Tim Roache, put his name to an advertisement in the Guardian in 2017 calling on the British government to apologise for the Balfour Declaration.

The British Brothers League was set up to campaign for anti-alienist legislation which Arthur Balfour, the Zionist hero, introduced in 1905. William Evans Gordon MP was a friend of Zionist Organisation President Chaim Weizmann and a supporter of the Zionist movement

Arthur Balfour was a dedicated anti-Semite who proposed the first immigration laws, the Aliens Act, against Jewish refugees in 1905. Weizmann, srael’s first President, described a conversation he had had with Balfour, who told him that he had met with Cosima Wagner, the anti-Semitic widow of Richard Wagner. Balfour explained that ‘he shared many of her anti-Semitic postulates.’ One suspects that Smith and Balfour would have got on quite well.

Tony Greenstein


  1. Tony, as you well know, I was expelled from the GMB as shop steward for breaching the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism back in 2019- because i said "Israel was a racist endeavour" and that "Israel exaggerated the Holocaust for political ends". Both you and Rabbi Ahron Cohen spoke in my defence. At the time, Gary Smith, who was the GMB Scottish Secretary had expelled me (at the behest of GMB Scottish Regional Organiser and Momentum/JLM activist Rhea Wolfson) from the union and I had appealed to the GMB Executive. The Exec chose to back Gary Smith and I became the first (and possibly only?) shop steward to be expelled for criticising Israel. I was keen to expose the GMB over its support for Israel so made this 20-minute video www.tinyurl.com/gmbihra
    Thanks for exposing again just how sickening and hypocritical the current GMB leadership are in its ongoing support for Israel

  2. To avoid the continually repeated semantic trap whichm plays to nationalist ideology I think (it seems a good example) you should have said: "Bandera’s Ukraine Insurgent Army murdered some 200,000 as Jews as well as 100,000 indetyified as Poles." Some of the "poles" may well have been Jewish

  3. Good grief. Another Zionist cabal attacking socialism within the wider Labour movement, but Labour and certainly the GMB have always been racist

  4. Bobbie Carnegie4 June 2023 at 11:51

    As always in these and related issues one wants to share other relevances we might have read or viewed on other platforms that can expand wider understanding. A live streamed panel discussion aired on YouTube recently is of interest I would venture to suggest ~ Thanks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tvXBcNgmbo


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