David Watson, Labour Party fundraising coordinator for the Walthamstow constituency in northeast London, was suspended last week for unspecified “breaches of party rules.” The Jewish Chronicle – a Zionist weekly newspaper which has been a main cheerleader for the campaign branding Labour a hotbed of Jew-hatred – gave an “Exclusive” tag to its May 6 report alleging that Watson had been suspended because of antisemitic Facebook posts.
Both the JC and the local Waltham Forest Guardian newspaper quoted Labour MP Stella Creasy saying that “bigotry” is inconsistent with membership of “a party campaigning for social justice,” implying that this was relevant to Watson’s case.
Word in local Labour circles says it was the MP’s father Philip Creasy, Constituency Party secretary, who notified Watson of his suspension on May 9, three days after he was asked about it by a journalist from the Jewish Chronicle. How did they know?
Who has an interest in pillorying a secondary school teacher of modern languages with a long history of working with Greenpeace and the Campaign Against Arms Trade? David Watson is a man who prides himself on combating antisemitism among kids he teaches, getting them involved in projects run by organisations such as the Anne Frank Trust and Amnesty International. Might his friendship with Jewish anti-Zionists have played a role? Or his past visits to Israel and Palestine and association with Israeli and Palestinian anti-Occupation activists? Or was it merely the fact that when he was elected Walthamstow party fundraiser, he replaced Stella Creasy’s mother in the role? Witnesses present at the relevant Annual General Meeting say that the honourable member made no attempt to hide her displeasure at Watson’s election.
Some suspect the Conservatives may have had a hand in his victimisation, since pictures of Watson with Sadiq Khan, at that time vying with Tory Zac Goldsmith for election as London’s mayor, featured in the JC and alongside charges of antisemitism posted by the so-called Campaign Against Antisemitism on May 3. Allegations had also appeared on the notorious Zionist blog, Harry’s Place.
Let’s have a look at Stella Creasy’s idea of what constitutes bigotry, remembering that this is taking place against the background of an ongoing witch hunt in the Labour Party – gleefully stoked by Conservatives joining hands with Labour opponents of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership making allegations of antisemitism, mostly distorted or even fabricated, against opponents of Israel’s colonial settlement of Palestine.
The CAA alleged that Watson believed “Israel is secretly behind ISIS.”
Reality: He had posted a picture of Israeli shells allegedly found in an ISIS camp and written over it “Mmmm”
He was charged with suggesting links between Israel and the Nazis.
Reality: He had posted a link to a Daily Mirror report, which was also carried in many other newspapers, about an SS officer who had been employed by the Israeli secret service to kill former Nazis working in Arab countries after the war. Watson wrote: “A moral army with a fine moral foundation.”
Other alleged crimes include calling Zionism a racist ideology and expressing sympathy for Palestinian “guerrillas”.
There is no hint of animosity towards Jews in any of these posts. Many Jews would agree that Zionism is a racist ideology, discriminating again Palestinians and stereotyping Jews as congenitally incapable of living alongside non-Jews in diverse societies. Many – including former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak – also empathise with Palestinians resisting the occupation of their land.
These are subjects which we should be free to debate without being hounded out of any democratic political organisation – above all one that claims, as Stella Creasy says, to be “campaigning for social justice.