Dear Mrs Bonnet, Mr Cannon and Mr Parekh
As you know last Monday I appeared as a Witness for your hearing regarding Nazim Ali’s amplified statements as leader of the 2017 Al Quds march (18 June) .
I told you in my Witness Statement that I am Jewish and that the Al Quds march is the worst event of the year in London as regards open antisemitism. Here is more of my Statement:
As the protestors were assembling I heard the registrant say, ‘many innocents were murdered by Theresa May’s cronies, many of whom are supporters of the Zionist ideologies’; he then said, ‘some of the biggest corporations who are supporting the conservative party are Zionists, they are responsible for the murder in Grenfell, the Zionist supporters of the Tory Party’. Before the march started I heard the registrant say ‘Zionists give money to the Tory Party to kill people in high rise blocks, the Zionists are known to go for dinner with the heads of the BBC to make sure that there is no unnecessary exposure, on the innocent victims of the Zionist terrorism’.
When the march was on the way I heard the registrant say the following, ‘we are fed up of the Zionists, we are fed up of their Rabbis, we are fed up of their synagogues, we are fed up of their supporters’. ‘Judaism Yes, Zionism no, the state of Israel must go’. I heard the registrant say, ‘their supporters give money to the Tory Party, Zionists who give money to the Tory Party, to kill people in high rise blocks’. I also heard the registrant say, ‘Zionism is a fascist evil ideology’. I heard him say ‘everyone knows that Zionist Israel and ISIS are the same, they are brothers in arms’. He also said ‘IDF (Israel Defence Forces) is a terrorist organisation that murdered Palestinians, Jews and British soldiers’.
I told you in my Statement that Ali’s comments were antisemitic; that I would not wish to have any professional dealings with Ali; and that hearing those words made me very angry and sad. I told you that when Ali said that Zionists were responsible for the Grenfell murders (which happened just four days before the march) the inescapable meaning is that Jews are responsible – exchanging the two words is a well known device of antisemites. I told you that to say ‘Zionists’ instead of ‘Jews’ in no way weakens the charge of antisemitism.
WITHOUT INFORMING ME you selected just four of Ali’s statements, even though many more were also antisemitic. When I took the stand I was thus unable to explain WHY the four statements were antisemitic, as I was not aware that you had chosen them!
You selected these:
#1 It’s in their genes. The Zionists are here to occupy Regent Street. It’s in their genes, it’s in their genetic code.
#2 European alleged Jews. Remember brothers and sisters, Zionists are not Jews.
#3 Any Zionist, any Jew coming into your centre supporting Israel, any Jew coming into your centre who is a member of the Board of Deputies, is not a Rabbi, he’s an imposter.
#4 They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, the Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.
After I agreed to be a Witness I offered you education in antisemitism, necessary because this hatred can take many different forms, some of which need explaining to a professional having to assess it for the first time. I understand that an expert organisation made the same offer. Here is the email I sent you:
This case is very important for the Jewish Community. It may turn on whether it is offensive to use the word ‘Zionist’ in place of the word ‘Jew’. The Crown Prosecution Service ruled that it was NOT offensive, see my blog.
In my view and the view of many other Jews, that was the wrong decision. Would it be in order for an official body of the Jewish Community – the Community Security Trust – to submit a paper to the hearing on this question? Or even to appear as a Witness?
I can argue the case as a Witness but it will carry more weight if it comes from an ‘official’ body.
Many thanks, regards
Thank you for your emails. They have been reviewed by the lawyer presenting the case and he is confident that the witness statements and exhibits already obtained will be enough for a Fitness to Practise Committee to understand the case and decide on whether or not Mr Ali has breached his professional duties as a pharmacist, and if so what action is needed.
And when I appeared before you as a Witness you (and the GPhC’s barrister Andrew Colman) failed to ask me ANYTHING about Ali’s statements, eg why I regarded them as antisemitic. The same applies to David Collier’s oral testimony.
Each of those four statements is antisemitic as follows:
#1. This (IHRA) is a mendacious and stereotypical allegation about Jews. With maybe one exception the counter-demonstraters were Jews. The statement suggests that Israeli Jews are genetically programmed to ‘occupy’. A vile statement. Ali’s defence was that ‘in their genes’ was just a figure of speech, like saying of a footballer ‘scoring goals is in his genes’. Obviously that spurious ex-post justification was dreamed up on the advice of Ali’s barrister David Gottlieb.
#2. Ali said ‘European alleged Jews’ was something he picked up from Ahron Cohen, the self-styled ‘Rabbi’ from Neturei Karta. And that he didn’t understand what it meant.
You never had the decency to ask a Jewish authority what it means, did you?
It refers to the ‘Khazar Myth’ beloved of antisemites. For the most part Jews divide into two groups. Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of Yiddish-speaking Jews. Sephardi Jews descend from those in Spain, Portugal, the Middle East and North Africa. Khazaria was a Kingdom in the 9th Century in the Caucasus Mountains between the Caspian and Black Seas. Some senior members of the Khazar Court did convert to Judaism. Part of the motivation is thought to have been to establish political neutrality for the Khazar kingdom, which faced potential threats from the powers of both Christendom and Islam. The ‘Khazar Myth’ holds that modern day Ashkenazim, and especially the European leadership of the Zionist movement, are not Jews at all in the racial sense, but rather descendents from non-Jewish Khazars; therefore, the Khazar “theorists” claim, Zionists and Israelis have no legitimate claims to the Land of Israel. The Encyclopedia of Judaism (1989) states,”The notion that Ashkenazi Jewry is descended from the Khazars has absolutely no basis in fact.”
Nazim Ali claimed that ‘European Alleged Jews’ was a phrase he heard Aron Cohen say. But there is no indication that Cohen or Neturei Karta believe the Khazar Myth. Their opposition to Israel is based on theology, not on the Myth. Ali can only have picked it up from an antisemite or an antisemitic website or publication.
The statement ‘Zionists are not Jews’ is also antisemitic. Zionism is the establishment and maintenance of the country called Israel which is grounded in Judaism. To seek to deny the Jewish character of Israel is tantamount to denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (IHRA).
#3. Again, this seeks to deny the Jewish character of Israel and is therefore antisemitic.
#4. This is blatantly antisemitic (‘mendacious allegations’ – IHRA). Not only is it an antisemitic lie, it is also redolent of the ‘Jewish control and power’ trope.
Appallingly in your determination (which will be on your website within a week) you stated that NONE of these four statements is antisemitic. And even more appalling was the fact that you dismissed the insistence of two Jews that all in all, Ali’s statements WERE antisemitic.
Who were those two Jews?
Jonathan Hoffman and David Collier. You stated in your determination that we were ‘not entirely impartial’ because my Witness statement said I was Jewish and David told you in oral evidence that he had just returned from Israel visiting his daughter.
‘Not entirely impartial’ – You do not get how insulting and hurtful that is, do you?
Try this: “Trevor Phillips, we do not trust your judgment on racism towards blacks because – being black – you are not entirely impartial”
It is the fundamental right of a race (and the law considers Jews a race) (a) to say what offends it and (b) to decide what is and is not racist. Not the responsibility of your ridiculous ‘reasonable man’ (not Jewish, you said) who (you said) would not understand the ‘alleged Jews’ remark (your reason for ruling it not antisemitic!!).
If the case was about racism towards Blacks or Muslims I bet you would have taken them at their word, not denied their oppression with the ludicrous non-existent ‘reasonable man’ (who is not black and not Muslim) artefact.
And in any case your ‘reasonable man’ – though not Jewish – would respect the opinion of mainstream Jews (I do not include the tiny fringe Neturei Karta) regarding what is and is not antisemitic. Wouldn’t he? Even if he did not understand the antisemitic references in the four statements, he would trust his Jewish friends. Wouldn’t he? I can name you hundreds of such ‘reasonable (not Jewish) men’ whom I know.
In finding those statements offensive but not antisemitic and – as a result – in imposing the mildest of sanctions (a mere warning) on Nazim Ali, you have done a huge disservice to Jews in the UK. And in failing to accept the offer of expert advice and suggesting that my testimony on antisemitism is worthless because as a Jew I am ‘not entirely impartial’, you have simply demonstrated your disinterest, crass ignorance and lack of comprehension. If you had bothered to ask me (or to read my blogs) you would know that I also call out false cases of antisemitism – see here and here – how much more ‘impartial’ can I be?
You have been referred to the EHRC.
Shame on you.
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Addendum: The Committee’s determination should be on the GPhC’s website within a week. Here is what it will say (taken from my notes as it was read out so it should not be regarded as word-for-word accurate):
“Mr Collier and Mr Hoffman were genuine and credible witnesses. But Mr Collier said he had just returned from seeing his daughter in Israel so he is not totally reliable. Mr Hoffman said he is Jewish so he is not wholly impartial either. Ms Caplan is not totally reliable. There is no reason to doubt the witnesses but they cannot be said to be “reasonable people”. “
NB The phrase ‘reasonable man’ is obviously sexist, anyone who uses it should say ‘reasonable person’.