Labour expels controversial Jewish anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein

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Labour expels controversial Jewish anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein

Party kicks out notorious activist over offensive comments online, including one which mocked the phrase 'final solution'

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Tony Greenstein
Tony Greenstein

One of the most notorious Jewish anti-Zionists, Tony Greenstein, has finally been expelled from the Labour Party for three breaches of the party’s regulations. These were “offensive comments online; offensive posts and comments on his blog; and an email in which he mocked the phrase ‘final solution’”.

The ruling from Labour’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC) came after an all-day hearing in Greenstein’s home city of Brighton. The news was welcomed by the lobby group Labour Against Antisemitism, which issued a statement saying that he had “over many years made his abhorrent views widely known via public speeches, social media and on his personal blog. Anyone who has witnessed them will know that these views have often been antisemitic, highly offensive and entirely incompatible with Labour’s anti-racist ethos. Mr Greenstein has also personally targeted some Labour Party members for bullying. None of this is acceptable within a party that prides itself on diversity and whose catchphrase is “a kinder, gentler politics”.

A Labour Party spokesman confirmed: “The NCC of the Labour Party has today found that all three charges of a breach of the Labour Party’s rule 2.1.8 by Tony Greenstein have been found proved”.

As a result, Greenstein, who was first suspended in 2016, was expelled from the party. One of the charges against him related to the repeated use of the term “Zio”, ruled by Baroness Chakrabati in her controversial report on antisemitism in the Labour Party to be an abusive term.

The NCC made it clear that it was “not a case about Mr Greenstein’s right to hold his ‘anti-Zionist’ views, or about whether Mr Greenstein is an antisemite. The NEC’s (National Executive Committee’s) case is that Greenstein’s use of the term ‘Zio’ is antisemitic, but the NEC does not otherwise allege that Mr Greenstein’s conduct was antisemitic”.

Nevertheless, Greenstein was charged with “repeated use of the antisemitic and abusive term “Zio”, including in relation to Louise Ellman MP, Jeremy Newmark, and the Jewish Labour Movement”. Comments such as “Gay Zionists make me want to puke” or his description of Owen Jones as a “Janus-faced whore” were also cited in evidence against him.

He is the founder of an activist group called Labour Against the WitchHunt, which campaigns against the suspension and expulsion of many members of Labour who have been accused of antisemitic behaviour, often relating to on-line posts.

A spokesperson for the Jewish Labour Movement said: “We welcome the decision by the Labour Party to expel Tony Greenstein.

“His continued membership is at complete odds with our collective values of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

“Deliberately harassing, intimidatory and hateful language of the kind Tony Greenstein has continually used has no place inside the Labour movement.

“Despite the unacceptably long time it has taken to reach this conclusion, we are heartened that the party has sent out a clear message on this today.

“We will continue to press the party to deal firmly and swiftly with antisemitism including the high number of cases that are still waiting to be resolved.”

The expulsion was also welcomed by the Board of Deputies. President Jonathan Arkush said: “This had to be the right decision. Tony Greenstein’s long record of noxious behaviour makes him an unsuitable member for any respectable political party. It is to be hoped that significant outstanding Labour Party disciplinary cases will follow swiftly and yield the same result. The Jewish community has waited long enough for the Labour Party to show that it is serious about zero tolerance of antisemitism. This result is a step in the right direction, but there is a way to travel yet.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The National Constitutional Committee (NCC) of the Labour Party has today found that all three charges of a breach of the Labour Party’s rule 2.1.8 by Tony Greenstein have been found proved. The NCC consequently determined that the sanction for the breach of Labour Party rules will be expelled from membership. The Labour Party will make no further comment on this matter.”

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