Nazim Ali hearing: Days 4 and 5

While you were no doubt celebrating the long awaited EHRC Report and the long overdue suspension of Corbyn, important things were happening  at the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) in Canary Wharf.   Thursday and Friday were Days Four and Five of the Nazim Ali hearing. The Fitness to Practise Committee must decide whether Ali’s ‘fitness to practise’ is ‘impaired’ by his antisemitic tirade when leading the pro-Hizbolla Iran-sponsored Al Quds march on 18 June 2017.

Caveat: My hearing reports are necessarily rough and incomplete because they are from notes and the sound quality in the room is poor.

The two days were almost entirely taken up with the attempt by Ali’s barrister, David Gottlieb, to halt the case (‘Stay for Abuse of Process‘) because it supposedly infringed Ali’s human rights. No surprise then that on Thursday Gottlieb told the tribunal that he had read the EHRC report to see if there were lessons for the hearing – but (he said) there weren’t.

He was wrong:

Page 26 of the EHRC Report (ECHR is the European Convention on Human Rights)

In other words Gottlieb’s attempt to stop the hearing is a complete red herring and the past two days have been a total waste of the committee’s time. As is the weekend and Monday, because the committee has to come to a decision and give written reasons. And on day 5 (Friday) Gottlieb said ‘IHRA has no justification in terms of regulatory function’. So how come it was the yardstick used by the House of Lords Standards Commissioner for the investigation into Jenny Tonge? Is Gottlieb seriously saying it’s right for Parliament but wrong for the GPhC?

But it’s even worse than that……. Ali admits that what he said was offensive but refuses to admit it was antisemitic.  In his shameful attempt to halt the hearing, Gottlieb himself sailed very close to the Corbynite wind of antisemitism. Look at this statement for example:

To use antisemitism as a means to attack a man’s convictions is quite vindictive

As the EHRC report (p28) says, the suggestion that complaints of antisemitism are fake or smears is unlawful harassment under the Equality Act 2010.

And Gottlieb produced this disgraceful analogy to Ali being investigated for antisemitism:

What’s the position of a young black pharmacist if he walks past a neo-Nazi demonstration and loses his temper?”

Quite apart from the moral inversion here (Jewish counter-demonstraters (full disclosure: including me) against the pro-Hezbollah Al Quds marchers being compared to neo-Nazis!!!), this completely ignores that fact that much of Ali’s antisemitic diatribe comes BEFORE the counter-demonstraters stopped the march!

Gottlieb said that the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s (CAA’s) private prosecution of Ali was ‘purely political’ and that the GPhC ‘has lost all sense of proportion’. Here is what he absurdly said about Andrew Colman’s suggestion that the hearing should continue – and not be terminated as he wants:

You’re on the 10:05 train to Plymouth. There is an explosion ahead of you and a huge crater opens up in front of the train. It’s like the Inspector who insists that the train continues in order to get to Plymouth by 10:05”.

Gottlieb of course has a history of absurd legal arguments in defence of the indefensible.

Gottlieb said that the IHRA definition of antisemitism is ‘controversial’. It’s only ‘controversial’ because the Israel haters and antisemites don’t like it. He claimed that the Home Affairs Select Committee had reservations about it. Not true. It said ‘We broadly accept the IHRA definition.’ One of its reservations was unnecessary, the other didn’t make sense. (I would add to my blog that this (‘….or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent’) is also a nonsense. Applying double standards as between Israel and other democratic countries is by definition antisemitic – no additional evidence is needed!

And then there were the character references. Guess who came first? “Rabbi” Aharon Cohen.  Andrew Coleman, the GPhC’s barrister, was quick to point out that he’s Neturei Karta.  The fact that Ali and Gottlieb think a testimonial from Cohen is an ASSET speaks volumes. This is the man  who went to Iran for a Conference on Holocaust Denial, expenses paid by the Mullahs. This is the man who thinks that the victims of the Holocaust deserved it.  This is the man who goes to meetings with Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis. And he backed Pete Gregson. Cohen styles himself ‘Rabbi’ but it stops there. No Jewish group outside the tiny Neturei Karta would recognise him as a Rabbi.

Jewish News

With friends like that ….!!

Who were the other character referees? At least one was from Ali’s health business. You’re hardly going to give a bad reference to your employer are you? Another was Massoud Shadjareh of the pro-Iran IHRC which organises Al Quds Day. And funny how many of the references said Ali was ‘not racist or antisemitic’ … Just like Corbyn, who can never condemn antisemitism without adding ‘and other racisms’.  You could be forgiven for wondering if the referees had been given a template. Gottlieb emphasised that the referees had appended the GPhC’s charges yet still gave glowing references. Mr Coleman pointed out that the GPhC encourages referees to append the charges. At this point the tribunal chair, Alistair Cannon, began to lose patience with Gottlieb: “Is there anything different is what you are going to read?” he asked.

Gottlieb noted that the witnesses (David Collier and myself) had not complained about the ‘alleged Jews’ comment, thus proving that Ali had not said anything antisemitic.  This is ridiculous – there were lots of offensive quotes we didn’t include!

Gottlieb constantly argued that the test of whether a statement is antisemitic should not be ‘could’ a reasonable person think so, but the tougher ‘would’. Several times he said that the hearing had ‘gone off the rails’ and he asked if the hearing was becoming ‘a tool for one side’. He complained that the GPhC had not published ‘guidance’ on the IHRA definition of antisemitism! My response: It’s really simple. It doesn’t need ‘guidance’.

Gottlieb twisted the fact that I found an Israeli product in Ali’s pharmacy. He suggested it was a sign that Ali’s animus against Israel did not affect his professional competence. No. The fact is that pharmacists who serve NHS patients HAVE TO stock all NHS medicines – including those developed in Israel. They have no choice.

I scribbled down these Gottlieb-Balls classics:

  • If a pharmacist wants to be an activist, what should they do: Dress like Gerry Adams in black?
  • It’s not our business to say that it is or isn’t antisemitic. We’re not word arbiters.
  • Moral issues are not for this Committee.
  • The reason why people think that antisemitism needs to be tackled is because at the heart of the Jewish religion is the desire for Justice.
  • Referring to Ali’s antisemitic tirade … “It was a political speech”.

Oh right … these are just ‘political’ comments ….:

Zionists were responsible for the Grenfell tragedy.
Zionists give money to the Tory Party to kill people in high rise blocks.
Be careful of the Rabbis in the Board of Deputies, they have blood on their hands, don’t let them enter your mosques.
The BBC never reports the death of Palestinian civilians; the Zionists have dinner with the Chairman of the BBC in order to ensure that Zionist terrorism goes unreported.
The State of Israel must go.
Judaism yes. Zionism no.
Israel and ISIS are the same.
Zionists don’t know what justice is.
Zionists are occupying Regent Street, it’s in their genes – European alleged Jews.
Zionists are not Jews.
The true Rabbis are Neturei Karta and they are with us.

Most Jews would consider these statements profoundly antisemitic. Both Counsel have agreed that the appropriate test for antisemitism is what a ‘reasonable man’ thinks. In the case of racism, it’s the views of the victims that should be paramount. If most Jews feel that a statement is antisemitic then the ‘reasonable man’ surely must take them at their word.

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Nazim Ali does standup comedy as a sideline. Maybe David Gottlieb should join him in a double act. Britain’s Got Talent here they come. How about a trio, to include a fake Rabbi? I’ve even got a website for them, to give them a flying start ………

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