ER Editor: The Canary also picked up the story a few days ago in A British journalist is facing censorship for criticising Apartheid Israel.
Labour Party revokes Electronic Intifada press pass
Last month, the Labour Party approved a press pass for The Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley (see featured meme) to cover its annual conference next month.
But last week the UK opposition party’s press team claimed in an email to Winstanley that “Your application has not been approved.”
This amounts to a revocation of an approved press pass without cause, and an undemocratic attack on media freedom.
The move came just days after an influential Israel lobby group conceded that The Electronic Intifada has been “the single most popular website” for reporting on the Labour anti-Semitism witch hunt against supporters of Palestinian rights.
The terse 15 August email claiming Winstanley’s pass had not been approved flatly contradicts an email he received from Labour Party Conference Services on 22 July.
The July email to Winstanley states:
“I can confirm that your application has been successful. Your pass will be dispatched in early September.”
The revocation of Winstanley’s press access appears to be part of an ongoing effort by factions within the party’s bureaucracy to silence critics of how it has handled largely bogus accusations of anti-Semitism targeting the left, supporters of Palestinian rights and prominent Black and Jewish members.
That campaign has been in full swing ever since left-wing lawmaker and lifelong Palestine solidarity campaigner Jeremy Corbyn won the party leadership in 2015.
The Electronic Intifada “most popular website”
In March, Labour launched a disciplinary investigation into Winstanley, a party member.
Winstanley first learned about the investigation from information leaked to the Jewish Chronicle, a right-wing, pro-Israel publication that has fueled the campaign of false allegations that Labour is rife with anti-Semitism.
At the time, Winstanley lodged a formal complaint for violations of his rights under the UK’s Data Protection Act.
The Information Commissioner’s Office is currently investigating the leaking of his data as a potentially criminal act.
Winstanley has a long record of meticulously accurate and widely read reporting on the Labour Party.
The broad impact of The Electronic Intifada’s reporting was confirmed this month by the Community Security Trust, an Israel lobby group with close ties to the British government.
The CST published a report purporting to expose the “the online networks behind the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis.”
The report states that “the single most popular website for article shares about the subject of anti-Semitism, the Labour Party and Israel/Palestine was [The] Electronic Intifada.”
The Electronic Intifada’s reporting, the Israel lobby group states, “generated nearly four times the online engagement than The Guardian did for content about this specific area of discussion.”
While the CST report cites many of Winstanley’s articles for The Electronic Intifada, it does not point to any factual inaccuracies.
Rather, the report attempts to spin incontestable and highly relevant facts, including the close ties between the Jewish Labour Movement, a pro-Israel lobby group within the party, and the Israeli embassy.
Winstanley was the first to expose that the Jewish Labour Movement’s sometime executive director, Ella Rose, had previously worked at the Israeli embassy.
He also revealed how Rose, as director of the Jewish Labour Movement, worked closely with Shai Masot (pictured), the Israeli embassy spy expelled from the UK after his activities were exposed.
Winstanley’s work has often cited Al Jazeera’s documentary The Lobby, which exposed how the Israeli embassy, working with British Israel lobby operatives, tried to covertly create a fake grassroots organization called Young Labour Friends of Israel.
The documentary also exposes how Joan Ryan (pictured), then chair of Labour Friends of Israel, fabricated an allegation of anti-Semitism against a party member.
The secret coordination between groups including the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel, on the one hand, and the Israeli government, on the other, has taken place against the background of Israel’s global covert war to sabotage and silence supporters of Palestinian rights.
This campaign has included inciting death threats against human rights defenders.
Despite being unable to point to errors in Winstanley’s articles, the Community Security Trust smears his reporting on the role of the Jewish Labour Movement in fueling the bogus anti-Semitism crisis as “a classic ‘dual loyalty’ trope, by which Jews (and other minorities) are often accused of not being fully loyal to the country of their birth.”
Needless to say, Winstanley has made no such allegation, and this spin by the CST is an effort to defame him and to misrepresent and discredit his reporting.
The CST, notably, has influence with the British security establishment.
In 2011, British authorities ordered prominent Palestinian political figure Raed Salah deported based on bogus allegations of anti-Semitism contained in a report sent to the government by the CST.
After a 10-month legal battle, Salah was completely vindicated as a court upheld his appeal against the deportation “on all grounds.”
The Electronic Intifada has written to the Labour Party to ask that Winstanley’s press pass be immediately reinstated. Winstanley has also taken the matter up with the National Union of Journalists, of which he is a member.
Labour’s poor excuses for revoking Asa Winstanley’s press pass
Britain’s opposition Labour Party is offering excuses for its arbitrary revocation of the press pass approved for The Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley to cover its upcoming annual conference.
Its explanations fail to justify a blatantly undemocratic act.
The party is telling reporters that Winstanley is currently suspended from Labour, which means he cannot attend any meetings, including the annual conference.
But its timeline, and much else, does not add up.
Labour bureaucrats began a disciplinary investigation into Winstanley in March – part of a witch hunt against members who question the party’s crackdown on Palestinian rights supporters and the left based on routinely bogus accusations of anti-Semitism.
But it was in July – months after the investigation began – that the party informed Winstanley that his press pass for the conference had been approved.
Then in August, the party reversed course and claimed his application had never been approved in the first place.
Why was the press pass approved in July if Winstanley ceased being eligible to attend meetings in March?
A more plausible explanation is that party bureaucrats were intimidated by the report from the Community Security Trust accusing Winstanley of trading in an anti-Semitic “trope” because of his record of accurate reporting on the destructive role of Israel lobby groups within the party.
Chaired by convicted fraudster Gerald Ronson, the CST is an Israel lobby group and Jewish communal organization funded with more than $16 million from the British government each year.
The CST report smearing Winstanley came out just days before the party informed him that the approval they had sent him in July had never actually happened.
The CST also conceded that “the single most popular website for article shares about the subject of anti-Semitism, the Labour Party and Israel/Palestine was [The] Electronic Intifada.”
The incoherent timeline is not the only problem with Labour’s excuses.
A core issue is that while the party may suspend Winstanley as a member, it cannot suspend him from doing his job as a journalist.
Winstanley is a member in good standing of the National Union of Journalists – with which he has also taken up this matter.
If party bureaucrats have the power to block journalists from covering Labour conferences or meetings merely by placing them under investigation, then they have the power to silence and censor large segments of the media – especially since Labour has the largest membership of any party in Europe.
It is even worse if they are doing so under pressure from right-wing lobby groups.
Experience shows that Labour disciplinary investigations can drag on for months or years, which means party bureaucrats can effectively silence people for as long as they like.
Journalists of all political stripes, including from the right-wing press, will undoubtedly be covering the Labour conference.
But by revoking Winstanley’s press pass, Labour is specifically putting left-wing journalists who may be party members on notice that they had better watch their words: Who will be next?
There are two ways journalists can protect themselves from this arbitrary power. They can resign from the Labour Party, in the hope of putting themselves beyond the reach of its unaccountable bureaucracy.
Or, the Labour Party can do what it must: restore Winstanley’s press pass and promise to stop using membership suspension in an attempt to silence and intimidate journalists.
Regardless of what happens, readers can be assured that The Electronic Intifada will continue to cover and expose the role of Israel lobby groups in the years-long campaign to oust Jeremy Corbyn and purge supporters of Palestinian rights and the left.
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