Antisemitism in Political Parties

Alana Bates

2019: Labour parliamentary candidate, St Ives, Cornwall

2018-present: Councillor, East ward, Penzance

Incidents

  1. On 31st March 2018, Alana Bates was reported to have written on Facebook: “Any friends in London please go along to support this – being in favour of Palestinian rights does not make you anti-semetic [sic] and we need to stand up for Jeremy against these manipulative smears.” The context indicates that Ms Bates was referring to an event that took place a few days previously, on Monday 26th March, when Jewish groups had organised a protest in Parliament Square against antisemitism in the Labour Party. A counter-demonstration, organised by the antisemitism denial group, Jewish Voice for Labour, had also taken place.

    The account which had highlighted her post a few days later commented: “‘Manipulative smears’ — nice way for a Labour councillor to describe protests about anti-semitism [sic].” In the discussion thread which followed — in which what was described as her attempt “to link the plight of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories to anti-semitism [sic] in the hard left” was described as “shameful” — Ms Bates defended her position and suggested that an attempt was being made to “intimidate” her.

  1. On 11th November 2019, it was reported that a video (originally posted in 2015) had been discovered, showing Ms Bates playing in a band (The Tribunes) which was performing a song called “From the River to the Sea”. The song included the lyrics:  “With no justice, there’s no peace / troops out of the Middle East / with no justice, there’s no peace / get out of the Middle East / Justice should not have to wait / Israel’s an apartheid state / Justice should not have to wait / Israel is a racist state / Justice should not have to wait / Palestine should be one state! / From the River to the Sea / Palestine will be free.”

    The phrase “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea, Palestine will be free” has come to be described as “calling for an end to the State of Israel”, and has been quoted by leaders of the proscribed terror group Hamas, as well as being included in its stated aims.

Analysis

Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis is that Ms Bates’ actions and statements amount to breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism and qualify as antisemitic discourse according to our methodology.

By characterising complaints of antisemitism against the Labour Party — embodied by a protest organised by mainstream Jewish community groups and largely attended by ordinary British Jews — as “manipulative smears” which were being politically directed against “Jeremy” Corbyn and those who wished to “support the rights of Palestinians against brutal occupation” [1], Ms Bates was deploying the so-called Livingstone Formulation, by accusing Jews who cite evidence of antisemitism of lying, conspiring or having deceitful motives in doing so in cases where there is clear evidence that there have been breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism. In so doing, she was “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews…”

We note that on 24th April 2018, in an article published in the Evening Standard, Mr Corbyn stated: “We must strive to understand why anti-Semitism [sic] has surfaced in our party…” and “when members of Jewish communities express genuine anxieties we must recognise them as we would those of any other community. Their concerns are not ‘smears’.”

By performing a song in which the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — generally interpreted as a call for the destruction of Israel — is employed [2], she was “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination”.

Outcome

On 11th November 2019, when the video in [2] emerged, it was reported that the former leader of the Labour group in Cornwall, Councillor Tim Dwelly, who resigned from the Labour Party in February 2018, had called for Ms Bates to be expelled by the Party and had labelled the song as “repulsive racism”.

However, Ms Bates accused Cllr Dwelly of pursuing a political “vendetta” and added: “I obviously support Israel’s right to exist and Labour’s policy is to have a two-state solution to the Palestinian Israel problem and I support that as a member of the Labour Party.”

Ms Bates was further reported to have denied that the song was antisemitic, saying that it was written by the group out of support for Palestinians. She reportedly said: “I obviously support Israel’s right to exist. The song says that Israel is a racist state. I would personally say that the government policies of Israel are racist.” She also reportedly confirmed that the Labour Party had ordered her to remove it from her social media.

We do not know whether disciplinary action has been taken by the Labour Party against Ms Bates, and at the time of writing, on 25th November 2019, we have no record of any. However, the circumstances and outcomes of any such action would remain unknown, owing to the conditions of secrecy imposed by Baroness Chakrabarti’s report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.

In November 2019, Campaign Against Antisemitism put this matter to Ms Bates, but did not receive a response.

Rating

Campaign Against Antisemitism has rated the Party’s handling of this matter as “bad”. Our rating system is explained in our methodology. This case was last updated on 4th December 2019.

Justice, justice, you shall pursue - צדק צדק תרדף
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