Political Religion: The York Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and its Advocates

This is cross posted at Quidnunc

It is shocking when one encounters idealistic hate. It is yet more shocking when a University, an institution founded upon the very concepts of tolerance, does little to stem this hate. But it is absolutely terrifyingly when a representative of the university acts on behalf of such hate.

In 2009, Andrew Collingwood, a University of York staff member and laughably also a ‘harassment advisor’, published photos of a protest with which he was involved, including one of a placard (below) that was deemed deeply offensive by Jewish groups, anti-racism organisations and media outlets. By publishing this photo alongside other protests of the rally, it was the opinion of many people that Collingwood was publishing a de facto endorsement of the placard’s disgusting message.

The placard implies that anti-Semitism is a made up concept, which Jewish politicians – also note the witch’s hat, part of another ancient libel – invoke to justify their actions in the Arab-Israeli conflict; in other words, the victim mentality a duplicitous shield to hide their black magic.

The University has recently forced the student newspaper that originally reported Collingwood’s actions to take the article offline. Rather luckily, there happens to be a copy of that article right here.

In response, Collingwood, a well-known member of the infamous York branch of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, stated:

“The image was clearly found by an individual searching for a reason to label me an anti-Semite. I regard this as the latest move in a campaign to harass me at work because of my connection to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.”

So according to Collingwood, anti-Semitism is political chicanery. This rather sounds like the very message of the placard for which he claims to apologise, does it not? The University, abandoning its duty of care, decided to join in with this message, announced that, “The University does not take a position on political issues.”

Quidnunc believes that most people would argue that racial hatred is not really a political issue, but rather a matter of moral turpitude – a point that several Jewish organisations noted at the time.

Two years later, earlier this week, a student at the University received an email from Lois Gregory, the senior ‘equality and diversity’ advisor at the University.  A blog post on a website (with which the student was involved) had stated that Collingwood was holding the placard rather than taking photos of his protest. This inadvertent inaccuracy was immediately revised, although it does little to vindicate Collingwood. Rather disgustingly however, Gregory also wrote:

“I would ask you to consider the following; in what way do you feel that the misrepresentation of someone else’s actions helps your own cause?”

This implication that the writer of the post had deliberately lied to suit his or her agenda is rather shocking.

The same University that chose to label anti-Semitism as a ‘political’ issue has now taken it upon themselves to act on behalf of Collingwood. Not only that, Gregory, like Collingwood, is a person who is supposed to fight prejudice. Instead, with no explanation given, Gregory is acting on behalf of Collingwood’s bigotry. What possible role could she be playing? There was no reply to the student’s email questioning Gregory’s motives.

Collingwood and the York PSC has managed to get away with quite a bit more than a simple placard.  Collingwood has written on several occasions (some examples hereherehere and here) to aljazeerah.info (nothing to do with the Qatar-based satellite station), a website labelled as anti-Semitic, and which has frequently made statements in support of various terrorist organisations.

The York Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has often appeared to have no qualms about expressing anti-Jewish sentiments. The Chairman of the branch, Terry Gallogly, encouraged members of his mailing list to distort a poll about the English Defence League in order to paint British Jews as racists.


Gallogly, also a member of the national executive of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, was part responsible for the visit of the infamous Aharon Cohen of the extremist sect Neturei Karta in 2007. The previous year, Cohen had stated that the Holocaust victims “deserved it”.

Furthermore, the previous chair, Stephen Leah, helped produce a report calling for the banning of goods from the World’s only Jewish state. His same report promoted the writings of the Christian Far Right author Stephen Sizer, who has many known links to Holocaust-deniers.

In 2004, a vigil at Clifford’s Tower, to commemorate the terribly massacre of Jews in 1190, was gatecrashed by PSC activists, who saw fit to exploit the massacre of more than 110 Jews with their own political agitprop.

When anti-Semitism does rear its ugly head, many fail to see it. The anti-semitism is not the overt and purposive hatred it once was, but now it is rather the organisation of politics against the Jews. The consequence of such efforts have been so successful and pervasive that the denial of the very existence of such bigotry is a problem that is ubiquitous in public institutions – most particularly in our universities. While anti-Semitism is fast becoming the epidemic bigotry in the UK, it is a terrifying state of affairs that the ‘harassment’ and ‘diversity and equality’ officers allow such hatred to flourish.

There do exist some critics of Israel who are genuinely pro-peace, but Collingwood and his PSC branch are certainly not such persons.

I leave you with a simply chilling video that demonstrates the kind of person of the PSC can attract. This video was taken at a National PSC Christmas meeting.




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