Palestine Solidarity Campaign Executive Tears Up PSC Constitution

In the light of the previous chronicling of my case, as in yesterday’s article about the blatant conflict of interest involving an official of the openly pro-Zionist Labour leadership excluding anti-Zionist activists from PSC, and my original appeal itself, the latest letter from Ben Soffa on behalf of the PSC Executive blatantly tears up the PSC Constitution and all pretence that PSC is any sense a democratic organisation.

Reply by Ian Donovan to Ben Soffa, 18th April

Dear Ben Soffa,

Thank you for your email. But you already have my appeal. It was submitted on 7th March, long before any deadline or procedure that you artificially set to try to provide a flimsy pretext for this kind of malpractice on your part. It is up to you whether you rule it out of order in the same corrupt way you ruled out my motion asserting Peter Gregson’s right to appeal. In doing that you tore up article 16 on the right of the conference to ratify constitutional disputes.

Now you are tearing up the right to appeal in Clause 4, sub-clauses 5 and 6 of the Constitution. There is nothing in that clause about the right of the Executive to decide what the AGM is allowed to consider regarding the content and evidence contained within appeals. 

This is a matter of principle and cannot be ducked. The constitution says that the AGM ratifies such matters and hears appeals, i.e., makes the decision on them obviously according to the rules of natural justice. If the Executive is allowed to veto evidence because there is ‘too much’ such evidence against it provided in an appeal, or to veto its content because it is objectionable to the executive, then it is the executive which is making the decision not the AGM and the right to an appeal that is not rigged, like the 2020 AGM was rigged, has been abolished.

I note that you do not specify what is ‘defamatory’ in my appeal, or who is being ‘defamed’. Is it the allegation that there is a conflict of interest between your employment by Keir Starmer’s Labour leadership as ‘Head of Digital Organising’, and being a PSC lay official, given Starmer’s widely publicised statement that he supports Zionism, the political force that dispossessed the Palestinians, ‘without qualification’? That is obviously true. Or it the allegation that Starmer himself is an enemy of the Palestinian people, given his support for Zionism ‘without qualification’? That is also true. Is it the allegation that Louise Regan is a member of Socialist Action, as are you, and that this whole purge is a factional act decided by Socialist Action in pursuit of its own interests and nothing to do with solidarity with the Palestinian people? This is also true. Or is it the allegation that the Palestinian members of the Executive are generally supporters of the Palestinian authority, which tortures Palestinian dissidents on Israel’s behalf and which the late Edward W. Said compared with the Nazi-collaborationist WWII French Vichy regime in its collaboration with Zionism? This is also true. Nothing here is defamatory. It is all true. You just find it objectionable for these criticisms to be made.

The only defamatory element in this affair is your smear that our politics represent hostility to Jewish people in general. Our views on Zionism are demonstrably based on the theories and work of Karl Marx and Abram Leon on the Jewish Question. Both for being Jewish, and for his Marxist views, Leon was murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz.

The idea that abolishing democracy in PSC is somehow in the interest of the Palestinian people is fatuous. The Palestinian people like all oppressed people have an interest in democracy, not in political corruption and anti-democratic behaviour within the solidarity movement and the left. The rights that exist in a properly constituted bourgeois court should be the minimum standard within the left and the workers movement, not something to be done away with on the pretence that this is in the interests of solidarity with the Palestinian people. If you did not want to take up the time of the AGM with this then you should not have broken the PSC Constitution in the first place!

Also, since you seem to be trying to put an ‘interpretation’ on the constitutional right to appeal that is novel, to say the least, I would point out that any dispute about the interpretation of what the Constitution says about such matters has to be ratified by the AGM according to clause 16. That means the AGM has the right to hear all evidence relating to this to decide under clause 16. So once again, you are in breach of clause 16 of the constitution in seeking to deny the right of the AGM to make an informed ratification of these matters, which means that the AGM must have access to all the evidence submitted. Since the Executive is one of the parties in the dispute, it is again contrary to the principled of natural justice for you to decide what can or cannot be given in evidence either in an appeal under sub-clauses 4.5 and 4.6, or clause 16.

This is clearly not being done in the interest of the Palestinian people. It is being done in the interests of the Zionist leadership of the Labour Party, the opportunist interest of the secretive Socialist Action group which I am informed you and Louise Regan are both members of, and that of the supporters on the Executive of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, which maintains friendly relations with the Zionists while supressing and torturing dissidents on their behalf. The Exec obviously wants similar relations with Zionist New Labour here and you are the link man as not only a member of this secretive group, but also a Labour Party official.

So, you have torn up Clause 4 of the PSC Constitution as well as Clause 16. You have torn up the PSC Constitution itself. And you have done it in full public view. The only defamation is of me, by yourselves and this will be publicised widely as will your tearing up of the PSC Constitution.

You are not even smart tactically. If you distribute a statement of your own dismissing my appeal, but not my appeal itself, it will be obvious to everyone in the conference that you are breaking the Constitution and denying the right to appeal. Because your statement is a response to an appeal that you are not allowing the AGM to consider. You will expose yourself in front of the PSC members and delegates splendidly and it will be all your doing.

As a Marxist, I am loyal to the historic interests of the working class, not any particular grouping that claims to be for solidarity with the Palestinians, or any political group or formation. If your group betrays the movement and its interests by subservience to the enemies of the Palestinian people, by acting as enemy agents (as you are) or by attacking labour movement democracy, then it needs to be exposed and replaced with something better.

I will not compromise on the issues of principle in this case; workers democracy is a core principle. My appeal is already online and has been widely circulated and read both on the web in general and in Facebook groups of the Labour left and Palestinian activists.

Your letter will also be online shortly with this reply. So I am quite happy for you to be seen clearly by the socialist public rigging the 2021 PSC AGM. You are exposing yourself as the anti-democratic Zionist stooges you are, and that exposure is progressive.

Communist Greetings

Ian Donovan

Ben Soffa response (17 April) to Ian Donovan’s Earlier Letter (16 April)

Dear Ian,

thank you for your email, the contents of which have been noted by the Executive Committee. 

Whilst you are entitled to your views, I must stress that all significant decisions, including that to terminate your membership, are taken by the full Executive Committee of PSC and not by me personally. We are not dealing with a complaint made against me, with which I would have no dealings, but with your appeal against the decision of the Executive which stems from your published statements.

As you are aware, PSC’s constitution provides that the AGM of the campaign shall consider such appeals. Whilst you state “the text of my appeal is of reasonable length by legal standards”, the AGM is not a court convened for the purpose of considering a submission of a length of your choosing, but a gathering of members to take forward the campaign for Palestinian rights, with this being one item of many on the agenda.

In common with much AGM business, there is either a word or time limit. This allows each item to be reasonably engaged with by the hundreds of activists who take part in the AGM. I would strongly suggest many more members will be able to engage with a submission of up to 400 words than will do so with your current proposed 15 page submission which runs to many thousands of words.

We wish to properly facilitate your appeal and unless withdrawn by you, the item will be considered by the AGM this coming Saturday. Under the agreed rules, the Executive Committee will be submitting up to 400 words arguing that our decision be upheld. We wish this to sit alongside up to 400 words from you in support of your appeal. However, if you fail to make a submission under the rules of the process, regrettably the statement of the Executive will stand alone and will be the sole basis on which members will be asked to vote on your appeal. This is a situation we would much rather avoid, but as confirmed by today’s Executive Committee meeting, we will hear the item in any case.

As noted, given PSC will be distributing these documents to hundreds of people in a permanent form, these submissions must not contain defamatory statements.

I therefore would like to ask once again that you submit up to 400 words by noon on Monday. This will allow the two statements to be distributed to members in good time for them to absorb the arguments ahead on Saturday’s AGM.

Yours,

Ben Soffa

Secretary, Palestine Solidarity Campaign

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