Sunday, 29 September 2019

Prominent Green Party Member Accuses Other Member of Antisemitism


A complaint has been made through the Green Party’s internal complaints procedure about Shahrar Ali, a former deputy leader of the party, accusing him of antisemitism. A statement has been issued by supporters of Ali in the party, reproduced in full here below, with permission, about the allegations. 

London Green Left Blog has learnt that the complainant member, is a very prominent member indeed, but we are not at liberty now to reveal their identity. When the original external complaint was made by Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) in August last year, I wrote a piece on this blog criticising the Left Foot Forward, for twisting the story. I also raised the question of the motivation of the writer.

Well, I have to question the motivation of the complainant member is in this instance as well. Would it be normal for a member, especially such a prominent member, to point the CAA in the direction of the party's external communications procedure, rather than initiate the complaint for them? Why use the members procedure, personally, yourself? I won't speculate further than this, at this stage.

Members of the Green Party of England and Wales can add their support to the statement, by following the instructions at the end. By Sunday night 71 members had signed the statement, including myself.

Statement   

SUPPORT SHAHRAR ALI AGAINST GREEN PARTY INVESTIGATION INTO IHRA-FRAMED CAA ANTISEMITISM
   
We, the undersigned, are deeply troubled to learn of the Green Party’s complicity in targeting Shahrar Ali for allegations of antisemitism. A prominent Party member has now chosen to facilitate a complaint against Ali on behalf of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and the Party’s own Disciplinary Committee has decided to launch an investigation.

CAA is a campaign which systematically makes accusations of antisemitism against pro-Palestine activists (esp. Jewish ones). To take up this complaint would be to collude in an anti-Palestinian agenda that would also discredit the Green Party. It is astonishing that the Party could fall for such a tactic, unwittingly or through lack of political courage.

CAA continue to make unfounded allegations about Ali’s 2009 speech – in which he spoke out against Israel’s onslaught of the Gaza children – and now they choose to criticise his 2018 speech to Autumn conference, in which he spoke against the Party’s adoption of the IHRA definition (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R0KpG36w8A).

Conference voted to refer back the pro-IHRA motion, despite initial support from prominent GP politicians. Ali, alongside concerned Jewish Greens and others, spoke against its adoption and the associated contentious examples. The outcome was widely reported (https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/green-party-fails-to-adopt-ihra-antisemitism-definition-at-conference-1.470718).

The IHRA definition poses a serious threat to academic freedom and freedom of expression by conflating opposition to Israeli policies with antisemitism and threatening to undermine many years of practical solidarity with the Palestinian people, including BDS in the face of decades of dispossession and occupation.

A complaint which now exploits the definition, without the backing of conference, in order to frame allegations against a member is itself evidence of this threat. For the Green Party to sponsor a politically motivated external campaign against one of its own spokespersons is an affront on the following grounds:

1.       It would undermine the members’ complaints process, which is for members only, and thereby breach the constitution.

2.       It would enable those who have lost a conference debate to collaborate or conspire with external groups to interfere with our internal democracy and policy-making.

One wouldn’t expect a Party member to stoop so low, but it’s happening now.

Following the 2018 leadership elections, and negative campaign against Ali, GPRC confirmed that Ali was not under investigation for his 2009 speech and ruled “the matter closed” (29 Aug). In Jan 2019, the Green Party condemned the way in which its statements “were used to fuel further stories and negative comment” towards Ali: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-party-clarification-regarding-shahrar-ali-and-allegations-of-antisemitism.html. Given that Ali received full sign off for the 2009 speech, a complaint against him would be a complaint against the Party itself.

The Party has since suspended a member for their role in the antisemitism smear campaign, and subsequent harassment of Ali. It is completely untenable now for the Green Party to bring a complaint against Ali on similar, now discredited, grounds.

It is vitally important that Greens are able to continue to speak out to challenge Israel’s history of racism towards the Palestinians without fear of being labelled as antisemitic. In 2014, Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, told a news conference that Israeli policies bore, “unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing”.

We call upon the Green Party to withdraw this politically motivated and internally damaging complaint and to work alongside Shahrar Ali to respond, as appropriate, to politically motivated attacks in the best tradition of the Party.

The Green Party must instead investigate the misuse and abuse of process which risks engendering a hostile environment internally.

In order to support this petition please email GPEWAAS@gmail.com with your name and affiliation and please say if you do not wish to receive updates on the progress of this petition.

Delegates to the forthcoming Party conference should also be alive to motions and amendments that would have the effect of further weaponising the Party’s complaints process – and vote accordingly.

5 comments:

  1. It is disgraceful Shahrar is confronted with this just for sticking up for Palestinian rights... and in a way consistent with Green Party policy! The Green Party has NOT adopted the IHRA definition and its distorted examples of supposed anti-semitism are the only possible basis for the accusation against Shahrar. He does NOT hate or insult Jews. And many of his supporters on this issue ARE Jewish. And incidentally, since Netanyahu's latest threats to annex even more of the West Bank, how can anyone maintain that criticism of Israel is unfair or applies different standards to those we apply to say Russia (re Ukraine) or Burma (re the Rohingya) or India (re Kashmir) or historical colonialism ?

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  2. If still a GP member I would sign in support of Shahrar. Hope others who are members will stand up for him. It is disgraceful he is confronted with this.

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  3. It would be very helpful if a link to the petition was added to this article.

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  4. As far as I am aware Alan, this is the only place on line that you can read the petition. To sign email the email address quoted.

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  5. If you know who the person is, approach them for comment as this is in Green Party members interest.

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