Reinstate Paul Johnson! Suspended for Palestine Solidarity
We fully support Paul Jonson, who has been suspended by Dudley Council for allegedly breaking the 'working definition on anti-Semitism', published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and adopted by Dudley Council. This is clearly an outrage and we ask all Labour Against the Witch Hunt supporters and members to protest.
Statement by Paul Jonson
I have been an employee of DUDLEY COUNCIL for 30 years, working as an Housing Officer, Homeless Project Manager and currently in the Community Safety Team.
On 6 July 2018 the local Dudley Palestine Solidarity Group called a lobby of Dudley North MP Ian Austin’s surgery because of a tweet he sent out – then deleted – stating “Hamas and the Palestinians were responsible for the deaths of 18 Gazans ” during the Great Return March in May 2018.
At this lobby Austin twice asked “Are you Paul Jonson who works for Dudley Council?” My response – ”My day job is irrelevant so please don’t try and intimidate me. I’m not here in any capacity regarding DMBC”.
On 5th October 2018 I posted on Facebook “Stand with Palestine – State of Israel is racist endeavour” – support the lobby at Buffery Park Dudley 6th October 2018 at 11 am.
On the 18th October 2018 I was called to an urgent meeting with DMBC’s Human Resources and a Senior Manager stating they had received a complaint via the Campaign Against Antisemitism. I was asked 22 questions relating to the IHRA. I was instructed to refrain from attending work until the Council had received further legal advice on the matter.
On Wednesday 31st October 2018 I was called to a 2nd meeting – my UNISON rep was present – and advised I was suspended until further notice whilst further “legal advice” was sought. The matter is with UNISON Regional Office.
Apparently DMBC adopted the IHRA 12 months ago -Staff were not advised or any briefings/training undertaken.
To date some 130 local authorities have adopted the non-legal IHRA definition of antisemitism. This is a document which only 31 have adopted out of 195 countries, and only 7 with the controversial examples. Over 40 Jewish Groups have voiced their opposition to the examples, particularly – is criticism of Israel tantamount to antisemitism? The author of the IHRA definition Kenneth Stern has also withdrew his support stating, ”It was not his intention for the IHRA to be used as a political tool to close down debate on Israel/Palestine’ but an educative document regarding the Holocaust and to collect data on antisemitism.
To cite Palestinian Solidarity action for Human Rights and Justice and Equality to be in conflict with Employment Rights and to be antisemitic in ìntent is both unacceptable and an insult to the memory of all Holocaust victims.
FOR THE IHRA TO BE USED IN THIS WAY MUST BE RESISTED!
Model Motion: Reinstate Paul Johnson!
Model Motion for Trade Union / Labour Party branches
This (union / branch / organization etc):
Strongly condemns the suspension of Paul Jonson by his employer, Dudley Council. Paul is a longstanding anti-racist activist and campaigner against fascism and antisemitism.
Paul’s suspension For a facebook post stating “Stand up for Palestine – Israel is a racist endeavour” constitutes an overt attack on trade unionists right to engage in political campaigning outside work and the right to free expression of political views.
His suspension constitutes an attack on trade unionists’ right to campaign over Palestinian rights. There is nothing antisemitic about the posting cited in the complaints about Paul.
We note that the IHRA definition of antisemitism and its illustrative examples cited in complaints against Paul, is highly controversial and according to the IHRA itself constitutes simply a “working definition” with no legal standing.
We believe Paul’s suspension poses a threat to every trade unionist right to campaign over human rights in general and Palestinian rights in particular.
We demand the lifting of Paul Johnson’s suspension and his immediate reinstatement.
We resolve to forward this resolution to:
· Chief Executive, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Council House, Priory Road, Dudley, DY1 1HF. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
· Qadar Zada, Council Leader, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Council House, Priory Road, Dudley, DY1 1HF. Email Cllr.Qadar.Zada@dudleymbc.org.uk
· [cc: own Union National Executive etc as appropriate]
· PLEASE SEND COPY OF RESOLUTION & MESSAGES OF SUPPORT TO: email@example.com
Press Release from Labour Against the Witch Hunt