The Big Ride for Palestine and the Labour party

Tower Hamlets council’s decision to ban a fundfaising event for Palestine highlights the Labour party’s role as a tool of British imperial policy.

Lalkar writers

Subscribe to our channel

In 2019, emails now reveal that the Labour council in Tower Hamlets, London, banned a fundraising event aimed at relieving human suffering in Palestine on grounds of ‘antisemitism’. Now two more Labour party branches in London have been banned from even raising the matter.

Lalkar writers

Subscribe to our channel

Quite apart from the high-profile members of the Labour party who have been expelled or had their membership put on hold while they are examined for antisemitism, another ludicrous affair within that party has recently come to the light of public attention.

In 2019, following a freedom of information request (FOI), the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), received copies of email correspondence between council officers in Tower Hamlets. The correspondence showed that officials had refused permission for the ‘Big Ride for Palestine’ to use any council properties or to use any of the streets in the area to promote or carry out their event, citing the highly controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘working definition’ of antisemitism.

The Big Ride for Palestine was organised to highlight the crimes against humanity suffered by Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli occupation of that country and to raise both public awareness and money to give direct aid to the suffering Palestinians by:

(a) providing food, medicine, medical supplies, clothes, books, toys and school supplies to children;

(b) helping to supply clean, safe water for all, but especially children, by building and installing water purification units in schools and pre-schools throughout Gaza;

(c) helping to fund clinics, kindergartens, counselling centres, libraries, parks and playgrounds, sports teams, arts and media programmes;

(d) getting scholarships to talented high school graduates in the West Bank and Gaza to obtain degrees and the skills to make important contributions to their communities and their country.

Bicycle riders in the Big Ride for Palestine completed either 44 miles – the total length of the military fence isolating Gaza from Israel and Egypt, or 36 miles – the section of the military fence within Israel alone. Constituency Labour party branches in London that tried to condemn the Tower Hamlets council action last year and to support the Big Ride this year found that propositions that they had tabled for discussion at their own branch meetings had been ruled ‘out of order’ by the Labour party and could not be discussed. Once again, the reason was possible contravention of the IHRA’s ‘working definition on antisemitism!’

When the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) gave the world its ‘working definition’ some years ago now, it was recognised by all thinking people as being just one more means for defending the outrageous and barbaric occupation of Palestine by the zionist state of Israel. Every war crime committed by the zionist settlers and soldiery was to be defended simply by accusing anyone who mentioned or criticised these practices as ‘antisemitic’.

The IHRA definition is quite short: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward jewish or non-jewish individuals and/or their property, toward jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The definition, however, carries 11 ‘clarifications’ that the IHRA insists must be adopted alongside the definition itself. These are:

1. Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

2. Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about jews as such or the power of jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world jewish conspiracy or of jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

3. Accusing jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-jews.

4. Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (eg, gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the holocaust).

5. Accusing the jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the holocaust.

6. Accusing jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

7. Denying the jewish people their right to self-determination, eg, by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour.

8. Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

9. Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (eg, claims of jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis.

10. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

11. Holding jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

This definition and list is so wide-ranging and purposely vague that only gullible fools or those who knowingly support the bloody stranglehold that the zionist Israeli occupation has on the state of Palestine and its people would even consider accepting it in its entirety.

In September 2018, the Labour party’s National Executive Committee decided to add all 11 IHRA examples (unamended) along with the IHRA definition of antisemitism to the party’s rulebook. A few days later the parliamentary Labour party (PLP) voted by a majority of 205 to adopt the unamended definition into their standing orders.

So, who are the Semites? “A member of any of the peoples who speak or spoke a Semitic language, including in particular the Jews and Arabs” says the definition in the ‘Oxford Languages’. While the Encyclopaedia Britannica says that a Semite is a “member of a people speaking any of a group of related languages presumably derived from a common language, Semitic … The term came to include Arabs, Akkadians, Canaanites, Hebrews, some Ethiopians, and Aramaean tribes.”

That some of these people founded/adopted the jewish religion or follow it is without doubt, but it does not follow that all Semites are jewish or even that all jews are Semites. The fact that jewish religious texts are written, and spoken religious ceremonies are conducted, in a semitic language does not make jews semitic any more than catholic bibles and ceremonies in the Latin language make all the catholics worldwide one race or Latin!

Judaism is a religion. Like any other religion, it can be joined by those who are able to convince the appropriate authority that they sincerely accept all the beliefs and practices of the religion.

The Merriam Webster Thesaurus defines Judaism as: “A religion developed among the ancient Hebrews and characterised by belief in one transcendent God who has revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew prophets, and by a religious life in accordance with scriptures and rabbinic traditions.”

Since not all jews are Semites and not all Semites are jews, Judaism is not a race. This leaves us with the conclusion that anti-jewish statements, although unpleasant, are no different in theory to anti-islamic statements (the zionist occupation of Palestine is always releasing anti-islamic statements and, worse, the settler state habitually and purposely commits murder, theft and other atrocities against local followers of Islaam, many of whom actually are Semites).

The IHRA and its ‘working definition of antisemitism’ promotes a very warped version of ‘opposing antisemitism’, which in practice is very much in favour of antisemitism as long as the Semites in question are the vast majority of Semites – ie, the (mainly Arab) muslims, christians or atheists who happen to occupy the land that Israel wants to colonise.

The only antisemitism that must be opposed, according to the IHRA, is that where the Semite in question is associated with a community that identifies with the jewish faith and its traditions (even though many of its members may be atheists or agnostics). This opposition to and protection from ‘antisemitism’ extends to any member of such a community, no matter where they originate or whatever language they speak.

We do acknowledge that members of such communities were murdered in Nazi death camps in numbers that can only be described as a holocaust. We also acknowledge that alongside that holocaust in the fascist death camps there took place holocausts of gypsies, people of other religions, mentally disabled people, and a vast number of Soviet people, many of whom were atheists.

We recognise also that the world has seen many holocausts throughout human history, not least those of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. And we acknowledge the ongoing persecution of the Palestinian people by the zionist occupation of Palestine – a holocaust designed to remove those non-jewish Semitic peoples from their land by mass murder and eviction at the point of bayonets.

The Tower Hamlets incident, in which raising funds to provide basic humanitarian aid to people persecuted by Israel was equated to antisemitism, only serves to highlight the true nature of the Labour party; its utter degeneration into a tool of British imperialism in both its domestic and international policies.