LONDON: The UK’s Labour Party has dropped an investigation against an 82-year-old Jewish woman for alleged antisemitism after she threatened to sue it for unlawfully discriminating against her on the basis of her anti-Zionist beliefs, The Guardian reported on Monday.
Diana Neslen, a practicing Jew, was investigated by the party for the third time in just three years for tweets she posted about Israel and Zionism.
Her lawyers told the party that its investigation was unjustified and disproportionate, given that it rested on a single 2017 tweet in which Neslen said “the existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour and I am an antiracist Jew.”
The letter added that if the party did not back down, Neslen would bring a lawsuit against it for discrimination and harassment, claiming that anti-Zionism is a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act.
Neslen described Labour’s backing down as “a big victory,” saying: “I’m pleased that they dropped it because it exposes the fact that they shouldn’t have done anything in the first place.
“But I also feel that I would have liked the issue of protected belief to have been addressed because I believe there are a lot of people who also, like me, are anti-Zionist, believe that it’s a perfectly legitimate belief, and they have no recourse.”
The party’s case against her had rumbled on since 2018, when it was under intense pressure to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which includes “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
Neslen was sent a “reminder of conduct” in 2018, and was given a formal warning by the party in 2020, again relating to her social media activity.
Her lawyers said the second warning came despite none of her other tweets being written while she was a Labour member, and some having already been considered in a separate investigation.
Neslen said the party has refused to apologize to her. She added that she was a “committed Zionist” before she visited Israel, and pledged never to back down from her views.
“I want the conversation to continue, I want Jewish people to be able to be as free talking about anti-Zionism as they are about Zionism,” she said.
“You shouldn’t silence people who you disagree with, and although Zionism is for many Jews a sense of identity, (it’s) not for all and we all have a right to our views.”
She called on Labour to drop cases against other party members facing similar investigations.
Jewish Voices for Labour, of which Neslen is a member, says it knows of 46 Jewish Labour members who have faced or are facing disciplinary charges relating to allegations of antisemitism.
“To say that we are insulting Jews is wrong,” said Neslen. “We are acting in accord with what we regard as Jewish values and Jewish ethics, and I’m not going to change that.”