Written by David Collier
The Guardian recently published an article about the Government’s upcoming Boycotts, divestment and sanctions bill.
It is a bill that sets out to stop activists damaging community cohesion and subverting the UK’s foreign policy positions, by forcing through local level boycotts. As always the principal target for boycott is the only Jewish state in the world. Supporters of the bill claim that taxpayer funded bodies should not be abused this way. Those who oppose it (wrongly) argue it is a free speech issue – and they do not seem to be able to articulate exactly why they think that a few antisemitic councillors should be able to drive their own foreign policy.
The Guardian article was written by Haroon Siddique and Peter Walker – it is built around 60 ‘civil society’ groups that have come together to oppose the bill. The journalists make several unforgivable mistakes. Most importantly – how is it possible that the journalists didn’t tell the readers that many of those ‘civil society’ groups that signed the letter have a history of standing with anti-Semites?
Nailing the journalists
Journalists frequently slant the articles that they write. For example, Haroon Siddique never seems able to mention the Government’s counter-terrorism programme ‘PREVENT’, without immediately telling readers it has been ‘dogged by claims of being a cover to spy on Muslim communities’. In this example he slips it in right at the start of the piece:
This isn’t a one-off, when Siddique mentions PREVENT, he uses *exactly* the same phrase about ‘spying on Muslim communities’ here, here and here. We get it – Haroon Siddique is not a fan of PREVENT and wants to let his readers know this whenever he reports on it.
Another method is to add negativity to someone’s character through association. This example from an article co-authored by Peter Walker last week ties JD Vance to Trump, and Rod Dreher to Orban, as a means of toxifying them to readers:
Both of these examples help the journalist guide the reader down an ideological path, and towards an opinion that the article lays out for them. I have included them here to show that both Siddique and Walker utilise these tools when it suits their politics.
Which brings us to the inexcusable Guardian article that Siddique and Walker penned.
The smear through association
The article comes out fighting against the bill. In the introduction the journalists immediately try to smear it through association. They tie it to the decision to arrest some of those protesting the Coronation:
The individual choice to protest in the streets has nothing at all to do with a BDS bill that addresses poisonous activity by local councillors abusing tax-payers money. The insertion is deliberate, cheap, and tacky – so as to dirty the BDS bill in the mind of the reader.
Lying through the quotes
Journalists can only push things so far, so a well-worn strategy is to get others to say what they’d be embarrassed to write themselves. It isn’t difficult to understand that BDS is an obsession driven by antisemitism. As the world burns in turmoil from China to Central America, and human rights abuses, including the trafficking of children and modern slavery, occur in dozens of nations – only a single boycott initiative persistently exists in council discussions – and it is the one against the only democracy in the entire MENA region – the world’s only Jewish state. Unlike other straightforward cases for boycott – BDS needs to invent stuff, lie, and demonise Israel – just to try and justify itself. Outside of a paradigm of antisemitism, the anti-Israel BDS movement makes absolutely no sense at all.
The initiative to oppose the bill called ‘ the Right to Boycott’ was even put together by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – an organisation that is often fuelled by the motivations of its antisemitic activist members. The Guardian gave Ben Jamal – the PSC Chair, the platform to pretend that this is about deforestation, the environment and the exploitation of children. Jamal even brazenly claimed that the initiative was supported by ‘a wide range of groups’ (evidence will shortly be presented to show this is a lie):
Ben Jamal’s quote contains utter hogwash. Most of the groups affiliated with the protest have no interest in anything other than making up lies about – and then boycotting, Israel.
A key error – lying by omission
Remember that Haroon Siddique never talks about PREVENT without mentioning that it is ‘dogged by claims of being a cover to spy on Muslim communities’? Yet the only criticism of BDS in the entire piece was a claim from Michael Gove:
“Michael Gove, has claimed the Israel-targeting BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) movement is fuelling antisemitism.”
Anyone who simply googles BDS and antisemitism will find 1000s of articles claiming that BDS fuels antisemitism. It would be extremely fair to say that BDS has been ‘dogged by claims of antisemitism’ since its foundation. Even the UN – no friend of Israel – has produced a report noting the claims that BDS is ‘fundamentally antisemitic‘.
For the article to rely only on the words of Michael Gove ( a character who would be unpopular with most Guardian readers) – is to mislead Guardian readers through a blatant omission of the facts.
But that was all just the start – the main thrust of the article – and what follows – is unforgivable.
The shameless promotion of antisemites
The Guardian article claims there are 60 ‘civil society groups’ under the right to boycott umbrella – and links to the campaign page. This allows us to look at the ‘civil society’ groups that the Guardian has relied upon:
The first name on the list:
1. the Amos Trust. The Chair is Robert Cohen – a staunch anti-Zionist and supporter of Jewish Voice for Labour. He promoted those like Jackie Walker, shares posts from Asa Winstanley at Electronic Intifada, and came out fighting strongly about how the Labour antisemitism crisis was a smear campaign.
This should have automatically set off alarm bells for any serious journalist writing an article on the group.
There are many other familiar names on the list:
- 2. Free Speech on Israel – which is led by Naomi Wimborne Idrissi
- 3. BRICUP – Jonathan Rosenhead is the Chair
- 4. Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JJP) – which was co-founded by Richard Kuper
These are three of the people on the Executive Committee of Jewish Voice for Labour. They founded JVL to defend antisemites – and they were the headline act for those defending Labour from accusations of Antisemitism (the party was eventually found guilty of ‘unlawful acts’ by the EHRC).
Which means the inclusion of:
5. Jewish Voice for Labour is just deceptive duplication. JVL’s only reason for existence was to dismiss accusations of antisemitism as part of the Corbyn project. They effectively signed the statement four times.
6. Stop the War Coalition – part of the Corbyn project, and has platformed those like David Miller. SwC events have seen crowds call for Hamas to bomb an Israeli city.
7. War on Want – as toxic as they come. PayPal even stopped working with them because of suspected ties to terrorist organisations.
8. Friends of Al Aqsa – An Islamist group led by Ismail Patel. Extremist who supports the ‘resistance’, and like the others fought the corner for the antisemites in the Labour Party:
9. Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Key anti-Israel group that has often given a home to antisemites. Run by Ben Jamal. He strongly fought Corbyn’s corner over antisemitism, and has defended the indefensible – including David Miller:
10. Artists for Palestine UK – a rancid group of antisemitic nobodies. Have made scores of tweets ridiculing the accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. Appear happy to promote any old antisemite, even Tony Greenstein:
11. Brismes Campaigns. This is a group of anti-Zionist academic activists, and Brismes has a long history of anti-Israel activity and promoting antisemitism. Brismes Campaigns (a subsidiary) has Mezna Qato as a Director. She is also a Director of Friends of Berziet University (so it is a bit naughty they appear on this list as well). Qato signed a Corbyn support letter just before the 2019 election. Another Director John Chalcraft (who was supporting boycotts of Israel almost twenty years ago) signed a petition opposing the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism by the Labour Party.
12. International Centre of Justice for Palestinians. This is a relatively new group that began operating in 2021 and is run by Tayab Ali, a lawyer for Friends of Al Aqsa, CAGE and Raed Salah. Selma Dabbagh the Head of Strategy and Partnerships didn’t just oppose the IHRA – she retweeted a claim that all of Israel is occupied territory.
14. Friends of Berzeit University. Another veteran anti-Israel NGO full of life long anti-Zionist activists. Trustee Sandra Carter Hamrouni attacked the Chief Rabbi, demanding he should ‘apologise’ to Jeremy Corbyn for the ‘smear campaign’:
15. Labour and Palestine – an initiative started in 2018 by Mick Whelan as part of the Corbyn support mechanism. In 2021 Whelan voted against the rule changes set in place following the EHRC findings on Labour Antisemitism.
16. Makan. Another NGO churning out misinformation about Israel under the mask of ‘educational material’, and the third name on the list with Mezna Qato on the Board. It was founded by Tamara Ben Halim and Tareq Baconi – who are both part of the Al Shabaka network – a major force in the BDS campaign. The Co-Director of Makan is Chair of the British Palestinian Committee, so it appears we have the same faces signing more than once.
17. British Palestinian Committee (BPC). Complained to the NUS over its investigation into antisemitism– and gave support to Shaima Dallali who had been suspended over antisemitic and extremist posts, that included support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Zaher Birawi the Chair of the EuroPal Forum is on the Executive Committee. Birawi has been pictured alongside Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
18. Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB). The PFB are another group that condemned the sacking of Shaima Dallali. Zahir Birawi, who is part of the BPC, is the Chair. The PFB held an event at which the antisemitic Islamist extremist, Raed Salah, was a guest speaker.
19. Europal Forum. Yet another group led by Zahir Birawi. The Europal Forum co-published a newsletter that promoted the antisemitic Khazar myth.
20. European Legal Support Centre. A lawfare group defending anti-Israel activist groups. Contributed to a documentary about the ‘weaponisation of antisemitism’:
21. Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. This is run by Mick Napier, who speaks annually at the Khomeini driven al-Quds event that visibly supported Hezbollah. The SPSC is a movement overrunning with antisemites. Napier even tried to promote a fake Jew (a non-Jewish Polish woman) as the voice of Scottish Jews. Here he is proudly reading Asa Winstanley’s book on ‘weaponising antisemitism’:
22 Sabeel-Kairos UK – a supersessionist Christian group and the UK based support group of the ‘Kairos Palestine’ document which sought to rally church groups to support BDS. Stephen Sizer was a trustee and the group came out in strong support for him.
23. Institute of Race Relations. A group obsessed with Islamophobia and far-right racism. The Executive director is Liz Fekete who called JVL’s approach to antisemitism ‘brilliant’:
24. The Muslim Association of Britain – an Islamist movement with strong links to the Muslim Brotherhood. It is led by Anas Altikriti who the Telegraph claimed was ‘the key spokesman and lobbyist for the Brotherhood in Britain’. Altikriti also dismissed ‘the whole charge’ of antisemitism against the Labour Party:
25. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and
26. Netpol – Emily Apple is a Director of CAAT and works as their media coordinator and she is Communications Coordinator at Netpol – so it is another example of people signing more than once. Apple was also Senior Editor at the Canary – the hard-left, pro Corbyn media outlet. Few media outlets did more to defend antisemites in the UK – than the Canary.
27. Movement for the Abolition of War, led by Paul Rogers – still promoting Corbyn even now.
28. CND – Jeremy Corbyn is Vice President.
29. Quaker Roots and
30. Quakers in Britain – presents another duplication as Quaker Roots are just an activist arm of the Quakers in Britain. The Quakers lean into supersessionist Christian ideologies – which drive their anti-Israel positions. The Quaker – Jewish relationship has ended. Throughout the Labour Antisemitism crisis, the Quakers consistently provided platforms for the UK’s antisemites.
31. United Reformed Church, another Christian supremacist body with an obsession over attacking the Jewish state.
32. Methodist Church in Britain – because of its size, the Methodist Church has been an instrumental part of the regrowth of antisemitism in Christian circles. Consistently votes in favour of boycotting Israel. Churches host toxic events (examples 1,2), and until recently promoted Stephen Sizer as a key voice to listen to.
Then there are the unions. It is a given that most of these were also part of Corbyn’s key support network throughout the antisemitism crisis:
- 34. Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) – leader promoted antisemitic conspiracy.
- 35. Unite – Rabbis quit union over ‘Len McCluskey’s stance on antisemitism’ (see 1, 2, 3)
- 36. TSSA – voted against the EHRC changes in the Labour Party.
- 37. RMT – executive Steve Hedley has history of crossing the line on antisemitism (1, 2 )
- 38. Fire Brigades Union – voted against EHRC changes, union chief Matt Wrack promoted JVL
- 39. ASLEF – voted against the EHRC changes over antisemitism
- 40. Communication Workers Union (CWU)- voted against the EHRC changes over antisemitism
- 41. National Education Union – long history of hostility (see 1,2,3,4,5)
- 42. Public and Commercial Services Union, chief peddled antisemitic conspiracy
- 43. University and College Union (UCU) BDS, Corbyn, Antisemitism – its all there
- 44. Artists Union for England. – Submitted the boycott Israel motion at the TUC
45. Global Justice Now. Director is Nick Deardon. His Twitter background image is a Palestinian flag.
Posted several tweets and shared articles on the ‘weaponisation of antisemitism’ against Corbyn’s Labour:
46. Na’amod. Na’amod was formed by those who said prayers of mourning for dead Hamas terrorists. They protested against Jewish book week. Last year they helped the Holocaust denying antisemite Pete Gregson to arrange a tour that included extremist speakers. Na’amod leaders even appeared in Corbyn campaign videos. So it is no surprise to see them alongside the several Muslim Brotherhood support groups that appear here.
47. ‘London Mining Network’. This is an umbrella group and three of the members signed separately (War on Want, ACTSA, and Global Justice Now) – so this is just artificially inflating numbers.
48. Western Sahara Campaign. The only reason this is probably held afloat is to offset the accusation of exceptionalism against the campaigns that target Israel. The last newsletter was in August 2022. Video footage of an anniversary demo appears to show an attendance of about 20. The WSC has not tweeted or posted in 6 months. Two names appear associated with the group – Natalie Sharples and Alex Heslop.
49. Cuba Solidarity Campaign. A union driven Marxist Cuban support group. Ryan Smith is the campaign manager.
50. SOS-UK – a group of students working on sustainability issues. Except they have ‘expanded’ their campaigns ‘across issues of justice‘. Their ‘liberation’ page on ‘Palestine’ is shaped around links to the US anti-Zionist organisation JVP, the anti-Zionist US media outlet Mondoweiss, the propaganda site ‘visualising Palestine’, and Al-Haq, which has been proscribed by Israel because of ties to the PFLP.
51. People and Planet – another student network. Part of the decolonise movement that has promoted BDS on campus.
52. Anti-Apartheid Movement Archives Committee and
53. Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA). Another blatant attempt to puff up the numbers as these two are connected as an umbilical cord connects the mother to the baby. Those like Suresh Kamath (treasurer) sit on both:
Kamath is an anti-Israel activist and has been a speaker at Palestine Solidarity Campaign events. Their inclusion is a travesty that belittles the memory of the real horrors of Apartheid, but anti-Israel obsessives cannot help themselves. And he is not alone. Zita Holbourne (ACTSA) was behind the 2019 anti-Israel boycott motion at the TUC and David Kenvyn (ACTSA), defended Corbyn on antisemitism:
Christabel Gurney (Archives Committee) has also spoken at PSC events and Brian Filling (Archives Committee) calls IHRA discredited and supports BDS:
54. Friends of the Earth (Scotland), where Mary Church, ‘Head of Campaigns’, signs open letters endorsing the BDS movement and calling for sanctions on Israel. The obsessive Scottish FoE group has been active over an ‘environmental Nakba‘ for over a decade and campaigned with the PSC against the Jewish National Fund.
55. Friends of the Earth (England, Wales, NI) – another FotE group that spreads raw anti-Israel propaganda on their website. At the height of the antisemitism crisis, Sotez Chowdhury, their Director of Communities and Networks was happily campaigning for Corbyn to be PM:
So this is no surprise:
The Guardian deliberately hides this extremism
This means that 55 of the 60 (92%) openly spread anti-Israel propaganda, support BDS and / or stood on the wrong side of Labour’s antisemitism crisis..
How is this not relevant to the article? Why is the Guardian shielding these obsessives and pretending this group is something it is not?
If these groups had defended far-right racists – or had platformed those being racist towards black people – there is no way on earth the Guardian wouldn’t have mentioned it, and it is unlikely they would ever have felt their words worthy of column inches. Jews and antisemitism just do not count.
What we are left with is an unforgivable defence of antisemitism and a promotion of the ideology of antisemites – hidden deliberately behind a veneer of progressive doublespeak. Haroon Siddique and Peter Walker should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.