British-Palestinian academic Kamel Hawwash says he can no longer be part of the Labour Party given Keir Starmer’s unequivocal support for Israel and dismissal of Palestinian concerns.
Dear Sir Keir
I am a British-Palestinian academic who has been a member of the Labour Party for a number of years.
I am convinced the country needs a change of government to a Labour Government for the benefit of all Brits but I have major problems with the direction it has taken on Palestine and Israel under your leadership.
I have followed the party’s position on Palestine and Israel with dismay. You yourself have aligned yourself with blind support for Israel whatever it does and have literally thrown the Palestinians under the bus or, as in Gaza now, the bombs.
During the party leadership election, you agreed that you are a Zionist, which implies you support the creation of Israel in the Palestinian people’s homeland through terror and against their will. Palestine was not a land without a people, for a people without a land.
At a Labour Friends of Israel lunch in 2021, you lauded Israel “for making the desert bloom.” A truly racist statement. It is the Palestinians that had already made Palestine a significant economic and trading nation. Watch Palestine 1920 on Aljazeera to see for yourself what it was like decades before Israel was created.
You have accepted pro-Israel groups’ conflation of anti-Zionism and antisemitism. That is completely wrong and dangerous. As you should be aware, not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews.
The party has been suspending and expelling members, especially Jewish members, essentially for voicing support for Palestinians instead of supporting the party’s biased position on Israel.
You have denied that Israeli policies against the Palestinians meet the definition of Apartheid according to the Rome Statute. As a human rights lawyer who should work from evidence, you dismissed the painstakingly-made reports by highly respected human rights organisations, including the Israeli human rights organisation BTSELEM, that concluded that Israel’s policies meet that definition.
You have refused to meet the Palestinian community in Britain despite repeated requests to do so, while meeting pro-Israel organisations on a regular basis.
I was at the Labour Conference in 2021 when a motion on Palestine and Israel was passed overwhelmingly, but the leadership quickly rejected it despite it being the will of the membership through the conference.
You have rowed back on recognition of a Palestinian state immediately after taking power to kick it into the long grass of “when it is helpful.”
However, it is your most recent position on the siege Israel has imposed on the civilian population of 2.3 million in Gaza that I, and many Labour members, found outrageous and wrong.
Your answer on LBC has been widely shared and confirms that Israel has a right to cut water, electricity, food and medical supplies to the civilians in Gaza, over 50% of whom are children. Your attempt to explain this was seen for what it was an attempt to say what you didn’t say. Your position angered so many Labour members and as a result, councillors resigned or threatened to resign.
The leadership has been threatening CLPs not to discuss the current war by Israel, not on Hamas but the Palestinian people, both in Gaza and the West Bank.
Word on the street is that your office has been “in complete meltdown” because of the backlash against your position. That is not surprising considering your appalling position.
Palestine, contrary to how your advisors are characterising it to you, is not just a Muslim issue from an electoral perspective. It is an issue of justice, politics and human rights. The Palestinians have every right to attain the rights that all other people enjoy. Those of justice, freedom and equality in our historic homeland.
The Palestinian refugees are still languishing in refugee camps 75 years after their expulsion by Zionist terrorist gangs, following numerous massacres in which they savagely killed men, women and children. They have a right to return to their homes, in accordance with international law.
I salute the Labour councillors for saying enough is enough and resigning and I hope that more will reflect and come to the same conclusion that Palestinian lives are no less valuable than other lives, and that the party’s line on Palestine under your leadership is shameful and wrong.
There should be no reason for not calling for an unconditional ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian factions to save lives on both sides. How many more deaths are needed to convince you that this is the correct call now?
Yesterday I was proud to speak at the largest pro-peace and Palestinian rights demonstration in history in London. I spoke in my capacity as the Chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the largest Palestinian solidarity group in Europe.
In a personal capacity, I announced to 300,000 demonstrators that as a Palestinian and human rights activist, I could no longer be a member of the Labour Party whose policies and positions, led by you, stand with an Apartheid illegal occupier that is a serial breacher of international law, which has not implemented a single General Assembly or Security Council resolution since its creation.
My mother, who was born in Jerusalem before Israel was created and now lives in Birmingham has no right to return to her home city, but a Jewish woman from Birmingham with no connection to the holy land has a “right to return” to a place she does not come from, Israel. That is the injustice.
Peace will come to the holy land when my mother can return to Jerusalem to live in peace with those who live there between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
I am resigning from the Labour Party with effect from the 21st of October but still hope you will end your blind support for Israel, value Palestinian lives as much as other lives and work for a just peace. Stand on the right side of history.
I will make this letter public.
Professor Kamel Hawwash.