A student behind false claims of anti-Semitism at Oxford University will be expelled from the UK’s main opposition Labour Party, The Electronic Intifada can reveal.
David Klemperer was suspended from the party for nominating an opposing candidate for Oxford council in this month’s local elections.
Labour’s Compliance Unit wrote to Klemperer on Monday giving notice he would have 14 days to appeal before his membership is revoked.
In an email obtained by The Electronic Intifada, Klemperer was described by a top Labour manager as one of “two who instigated the anti-Semitism row” at Oxford University Labour Club.
The second named in the email is Alex Chalmers, the former Israel lobby intern whose resignation as club co-chair in February kicked off the whole scandal.
Chalmers had claimed that the club’s endorsement of a Palestine solidarity education week was anti-Semitic.
Public records show that both Klemperer and Chalmers nominated Liberal Democrat candidates as local councillors. The Notice of Poll document proving this was available to download from Oxford council’s website on Saturday, but has since been removed – a redacted extract from the document is appended below.
Under Labour Party rules, this is grounds for expulsion.
A Labour Party spokesperson told The Electronic Intifada on Tuesday that Chalmers had quit the party “a few days after he resigned” as club co-chair.
Klemperer did not reply to an email requesting comment.
On Tuesday, Labour published part of an inquiry into Chalmers’ allegations about Labour students at Oxford.
Jan Royall, Labour’s leader in the unelected House of Lords, concluded that there was no evidence of “institutional anti-Semitism within” Oxford Union Labour Club.
However, she recommended that leaders “examine the culture of their club” and said “difficulties” must be addressed “to ensure a safe space for all Labour students to debate.”
The executive summary and recommendations of the report were released to the press, but Labour’s National Executive Committee decided to keep the full report confidential.
The Electronic Intifada understands that while the full report does not contain names, the context of specific cases could clearly implicate students whose names have already been leaked to the press.
Royall’s report states that “there was at least one case of serious false allegations of anti-Semitism which was reported to the police.”
This may be a reference to Rachel Bradshaw of Stirling University Labour society in Scotland. In March, Bradshaw was briefly suspended from the party. But hours later, she was reinstated, after evidence was submitted showing she had been the victim of a malicious hoax.
Bradshaw told Buzzfeed News that someone had posted anti-Semitic statements in her name using a fake social media account.
But Royall may be obliquely referring to cases in England too.
As The Electronic Intifada has previously reported, Chalmers has been accused of disseminating false allegations of anti-Semitism among the student left at Oxford.
Students at Oxford have alleged to The Electronic Intifada that Klemperer and Chalmers may have been behind the dissemination of a “dossier” of false claims of anti-Semitism at the club.
Chalmers in April failed to respond to an email requesting comment on these allegations. Klemperer failed to respond to a similar request on Thursday.
Klemperer had issued a public Facebook statement in support of Chalmers two days after he quit as co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club in February.
The Royall inquiry appears to refer to this when it says that “no form of anti-Semitism or racism is acceptable, including being used as a factional political tool.”
Chalmers and Klemperer both seem to have been close to the right-wing Labour faction Progress.
Jewish Labour movement?
Another recommendation of the Royall inquiry was that Labour’s student wing should start doing trainings on anti-Semitism for student officers alongside the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).
Jewish members of Labour who are critical of the Israeli government have raised concerns about the JLM, saying it is not genuinely representative of Jewish diversity of opinion on Israel.
Implementation of Royall’s recommendation would mean that Labour training “in spotting anti-Semitism will be provided by an organization that has repeatedly conflated anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism,” Ian Saville told The Electronic Intifada.
Saville is a founder of Jews For Jeremy – a left-wing support group for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
JLM’s stated values include promoting “the centrality of Israel in Jewish life,” a position which Saville rejects.
The JLM is also dedicated to the Jerusalem Program of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), including promoting emigration of Jews “to Israel from all countries and the effective integration of all [Jewish] immigrants into Israeli society” – something Saville does not support.
The UN has reported that the WZO pumps millions into the foundation of new Israeli settlements, including on Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
Saville also said it was “extraordinary” that Royall wrote on the JLM blog this week of her “disappointment and frustration” that there was “no institutional anti-Semitism in Oxford University Labour Club.”
“Surely, that should be something to rejoice about,” Saville wrote in response.
JLM’s national chair Jeremy Newmark responded that his organization “is not a foreign policy group nor is it an Israel advocacy organization.”
He said JLM is focused mainly on domestic issues but is “affiliated to the World Labour Zionist Organization, which is in turn organized as a ‘faction’ inside the WZO.”
“JLM is representative of its own membership base,” he said in a statement emailed to The Electronic Intifada.
Newmark himself has long been a leading part of the organized Israel lobby in the UK.
During his time as head of the Jewish Leadership Council, he participated in an ill-fated lawsuit against the University and College Union for “institutional anti-Semitism,” after members had proposed discussing the academic boycott of Israel.
A tribunal judge in 2013 threw out the suit on every count, singling Newmark out personally for giving “untrue” and “preposterous” evidence, as well as a “disturbing” attempt to suppress free speech.
Inquiries and polls
Labour is currently conducting a wider inquiry into the allegations of anti-Semitism in the party. It is being led by noted lawyer and civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti.
She announced on Monday that she would report by the end of June.
She encouraged submissions of evidence via email, the Labour party website or post, giving a deadline of 10 June.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a new poll of party members indicated that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity has risen to new highs, despite the scandal.
A YouGov poll of Labour party members for The Times showed that 64 percent of respondents said they would vote for Corbyn should fresh party leadership elections be triggered – 14 percentage points higher than the 50 percent of full members who voted for him as leader last summer.
And 72 percent of members polled said they now thought Corbyn was doing a good job as Labour leader. This is up from 66 percent in November.
The figures seem to indicate that the Labour membership is extremely skeptical of the attempt by the right-wing press and the Israel lobby to paint the party as anti-Semitic.
Only five percent of members polled agreed that anti-Semitism is a bigger problem in Labour than in other parties. The largest group – 47 percent – said that it was a problem “but it is no worse than in other parties.”
The witch hunt against critics of Israel in the Labour Party seems to have failed in convincing or cowing most ordinary members.
- Labour Party
- Jeremy Corbyn
- Oxford University Labour Club
- David Klemperer
- Alex Chalmers
- Israeli Apartheid Week
- Liberal Democrats
- Janet Royall
- Rachel Bradshaw
- Stirling University
- Progress (UK Labour faction)
- Jewish Labour Movement
- World Zionist Organization
- Ian Saville
- Jews For Jeremy
- Jerusalem Program
- Jeremy Newmark
- Jewish Leadership Council
- Israel Lobby
- Shami Chakrabarti