Jewish Women condemn Labour’s tolerance of JLM threats

Thirteen Jewish female members of the Labour Party have called for a review of a decision by general secretary Iain McNicol on a complaint brought against former Israeli Embassy employee Ella Rose, who now heads a pro-Israel lobby group affiliated to the Labour Party, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).

They say Ella Rose’s abusive and threatening behaviour, caught on camera in a documentary film, The Lobby, is intimidating to them as campaigners for Palestinian rights and critics of the state of Israel.

The swift, discrete and sympathetic handling of Rose’s case contrasts markedly with treatment meted out to many party members who have been unjustly charged with antisemitism, suspended from membership and subjected to months’ long investigations, often in the full glare of publicity, through processes with scant regard for principles of natural justice.
McNicol said that in Ella Rose’s case the matter was closed after she “expressed regret” for some of her actions.

Dear Mr McNicol,

Sent 20 February 2017

In response to your judgement in the case of Ella Rose, we cannot accept the contrast with other disciplinary cases where you have given considerable weight to testimony from complainants stating that they were upset or offended by an individual’s words or actions.

JLM Director Ella Rose boasts how she can 'take' Jackie Walker
JLM Director Ella Rose boasts how she can ‘take’ Jackie Walker

We wish to put on record that we, Labour Jewish women, have been not only offended and upset but also intimidated by the behaviour of Ella Rose. (You will see that this letter is signed by a larger group than the one that made the original complaint.)

We believe that the influence of Ella Rose, and others working with the Israeli Embassy (as exposed by Al Jazeera in The Lobby), should be fully investigated and this should start with a proper investigation of the incidents in which Ella Rose was involved.

Several of us attended the JLM training session at Liverpool conference, in which Ella Rose participated as director of the Jewish Labour Movement. This was the session at which Jackie Walker was filmed without her knowledge, footage released to the media, her words selectively quoted and her views misrepresented and used to suspend her from the party for a second time.

Having seen the film evidence of Ella Rose’s complicity in the persecution of Jackie Walker, we are all fearful of being subjected to similar intimidation, since we are also active campaigners for Palestinian rights and critics of the state of Israel.

To have a person who claims to represent Jews in the Labour Party abuse and threaten a fellow Jewish, female member does not inspire confidence. It is all very well for you to say that Ella Rose has expressed regret. What have you done to rectify the extreme distress caused by her behaviour, both to Jackie Walker and to many others who, like us, are potential victims of the attitudes Ella Rose has exhibited?

We regard as entirely unsatisfactory the decision to declare the matter closed after perfunctory discussions only with the person against whom the complaint was made.

We do not believe you and your team have demonstrated the impartiality that members of the party have the right to expect and we will therefore be contacting members of the National Executive Committee and the National Constitutional Committee to ask for a review of your inadequate investigation.

Sincerely,

Jo Bird, Northern Ireland CLP

Li Doran, Tottenham CLP

Rosamine Hayeem, Harrow East CLP

Beverley Krell, Cheadle CLP

Leah Levane, Hastings and Rye CLP

Susanne Levin, Cities of London & Westminster CLP

Kay Manasseh, Streatham CLP

Jenny Salaman Manson, Finchley and Golders Green CLP

Angie Mindel, Nottingham East CLP

Diana Neslen, Ilford South CLP

Amanda Sebestyen, Holborn and St Pancras CLP

Vanessa Stilwell, Dulwich and West Norwood CLP

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Chingford and Woodford Green CLP

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Iain McNicol’s judgement

Received 14 February 2017

I am writing to you following your complaint about the conduct of Ms Ella Rose broadcast in the Al Jazeera documentary “The Lobby”. The Labour Party has concluded an investigation into the allegations which you made.

Some of the language which Ms Rose is filmed using does fall below the standards expected of Labour Party members – a point which Ms Rose has acknowledged and expressed regret for. In the course of that investigation, Ms Rose made clear that she was not a violent person and had no intent to cause any person any harm. The context of how, when and where the specific offending comments were made confirm the view that Ms Rose’s comments did not constitute a threat. However, the context of how those comments were made, both her emotional state at the point the offending comments were made and who she was making the comments to, must be taken into account. Ms Rose was engaged in a private conversation with someone she considered to be a friend, and was unaware she was being secretly filmed. At no point did Ms Rose direct any terms of abuse at an individual in their presence and at no point has Ms Rose used any terms of abuse in any public forum (such as on social media or at a Party meeting).

Ms Rose has been reminded of the conduct expected of Party members but, for the reasons outlined above, we do not believe that Ms Rose is in clear breach of rule 2.I.8. As such, the Labour Party considers this matter closed.

Regards

Iain McNicol

General Secretary

The Labour Party,

Iain_McNicol@labour.org.uk

020 7783 1279

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The original complaint

Sent 5 February 2017

Dear Iain McNicol,

We have been shocked, as we are sure you are, by revelations in an investigation by Al-Jazeera of a concerted campaign, supported by the Israeli Embassy, to discredit and intimidate members of the Labour Party who support justice for Palestine.

Many victims of this anti-democratic campaign have been women, foremost among them black, Jewish anti-fascist campaigner Jackie Walker, who appears in the Al-Jazeera film. Another woman of colour, NUS president Malia Bouattia, has also been targeted for vilification. Palestinian students have issued a statement in her defence.

Alarmingly a female Labour Party member, Ella Rose, a former Israeli Embassy employee who is now director of the Jewish Labour Movement, is one of the key figures implicated by Al-Jazeera’s investigation. She is filmed threatening to attack Jackie Walker and insulting her in language that is entirely inappropriate for one Labour Party member to use about another.

As female members of the party who happen to be Jewish and supporters of Palestinian rights, we wish to make a formal complaint against Ms Rose for the statements and behaviour shown in the film.

We do not approve of the summary suspensions meted out to Jackie Walker and others against whom flimsy and often unsubstantiated charges have been made. Such punishment ahead of proper investigations flies in the face of natural justice and has been rightly criticised in the Chakrabarti Report. But we do insist that the party must be seen to deal with Ms Rose’s actions and language that are offensive and disturbing to us and which clearly bring the party into disrepute.

We therefore call on you to instigate appropriate proceedings in the case of Ella Rose, taking evidence from us as complainants and keeping us informed of the disciplinary process.

We maintain that her behaviour calls into question her suitability as head of an affiliated Labour Party grouping (the JLM), and as a member of the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme. In our view, her continued presence as part of the programme would discredit both it and the Labour Party at a time when we need to demonstrate that we are building a democratic, accessible party based on equality and mutual respect.

We look forward to your prompt reply.

Yours faithfully,

Rosamine Hayeem, Harrow East CLP

Beverley Krell, Cheadle CLP

Leah Levane, Hastings and Rye CLP

Diana Neslen, Ilford South CLP

Amanda Sebestyen, Holborn and St Pancras CLP

Vanessa Stilwell, Dulwich and West Norwood CLP

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Chingford and Woodford Green CLP

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One thought on “Jewish Women condemn Labour’s tolerance of JLM threats”

  1. While they are about it, the complainants should also request that the National Executive Committee investigate the possibility of dismissing McNicol for his failure to perform his duties as General Secretary to their satisfaction.

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