It is almost impossible to overstate how far the Guardian has fallen. Once the voice of the liberal left – the paper has turned into a ‘Palestine’ obsessed rag that consistently promotes voices that are attacking British Jews. Just this week we were given yet another example – Haroon Siddique wrote an article about a report attacking the use of the IHRA definition of antisemitism on campus grounds.
Two organisations are behind the report – ‘BRISMES’ and ‘ELSC ‘ (I will deal with both later in this piece) and at no point does Siddique mention the fact that these anti-Israel organisations – and many of the names attached to them – have spent the last few years promoting and defending antisemites.
Why give their rancid report legitimacy? It is so blatant in its flawed methodology that none of the other mainstream outlets appear to have gone anywhere near it. It was promoted in Middle East Eye – a Qatari state mouthpiece. Also in Mondoweiss, a US based anti-Zionist conspiracy rag. As it stands – these are the Guardian’s ideological bedfellows.
The Journalist, Haroon Siddique is a habitual offender. Just a few months ago, in a post attacking the government’s anti-BDS bill, he tried to pass off a bunch of extremists, antisemites and Muslim Brotherhood figures as UK ‘civil society’. He has also consistently attacked the Government’s counter-extremism policy ‘PREVENT’.
I searched his Twitter account for use of the word ‘antisemitism’. I found ten tweets:
- Report attacking the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
- Dropping of lawsuit against Labour over antisemitism.
- To attack EHRC commissioner, who led Labour party antisemitism inquiry.
- Support for JVL’s Diana Neslen – against the IHRA and in support of anti-Zionist belief.
- On Telegraph apology for false description of Laura Murray as ‘anti-Jewish racist’.
- On Charity Commission opening case against the CAA (Campaign against Antisemitism).
- On Toby Young apologising to Philip Hammond over accusation of antisemitism.
That’s it – all ten. A one-way narrative. On the Guardian website I also found these articles – all authored by Siddique:
- Council worker sacked for comments about Zionism wins back job
- Tracy-Ann Oberman pays ‘substantial damages’ for antisemitism claims
- New NUS president accuses media of printing falsehoods
On the subject of antisemitism during the Corbyn years – including the period covering the EHRC investigation which found the Labour Party had committed ‘unlawful acts of discrimination and harassment’ – Haroon Siddique used his social media feed to push the idea of a ‘smear campaign’.
To check for balance, I switched up the search. Siddique has been pushing a different narrative – for a very long time – when it comes to ‘Islamophobia’:
The bias here is obvious. He presents ‘Islamophobia’ as a problem that must be urgently addressed, while antisemitism is mostly shown as a smear campaign.
We have every right to question Siddique’s motivations.
The latest article
Haroon Siddique has once again given legitimacy to a bunch of nasties. He neglects to do any investigating or proper journalism. He *chooses* to give non-critical, undeserved legitimacy to a toxic report. How could ANY JOURNALIST write this piece, without apparently doing even the most basic background research?
This is a report about anti-Jewish racism on university grounds. The most basic questions:
- What is the history of the authors when it comes to antisemitism?
- Are these groups qualified to be held up as experts on the subject?
As Haroon Siddique failed to do the basic job of a journalist and check these organisations (or the report) out before promoting them – I have done the work for him.
On their website the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) claims the aim is ‘to promote interest and study of the Middle Eastern cultural region’ – but much of their firepower appears to be pointed directly towards Israel. They even set up a separate company ‘BRISMES Campaigns’ to focus exclusively on boycotting Israel. This is a group of activist academics who hate Israel.
Until recently BRISMES was run by Nicola Pratt (no stranger to readers of this website) and based at the University of Warwick. These days it is headed by Neve Gordon and uses one of those ‘fake’ paid-for office addresses in Central London. There is only one resolution posted on the main website – a call for the academic boycott of Israel.
There are 14 people in the BRISMES Committee on Academic Freedom. SEVEN of these ‘academic freedom fighters’ actually signed a letter to Pressure “academic institutions and organizations to respect the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel.” It seems these BRISMES hypocrites are not about ‘academic freedom’ at all – and seek to silence voices when it suits them.
BRISMES and the Jane Jackman article
But what is important here is antisemitism. It was BRISMES that first gave the platform in 2016 to the antisemitic conspiracy paper by Jane Jackman at their annual conference. I exposed the depth of the problem in the paper – it was so bad that Glasgow University even apologised for placing the substandard conspiracy junk in a journal:
“This article does not meet those standards of scholarship. In particular, this article employs some discursive strategies, including a biased selection of sources as well as the misrepresentation of data, which promote what some would regard as an unfounded theory regarding the State of Israel and its activity in the United Kingdom.”
But even that didn’t stop BRISMES. Even though the paper is absolute antisemitic conspiracy junk (and I openly challenge ANY of the BRISMES academics to a public debate on the substance of that paper) – they chose to ATTACK Glasgow University, trying – but failing – to get the university to remove the criticism.
Defending the indefensible
It wasn’t just the blatant antisemitism of Jane Jackman that BRISMES tried to defend. BRISMES defended the disgraced academic David Miller too. Neve Gordon, the head of BRISMES, is a supporter of a world without a Jewish state (one state solution), he writes for the Qatari mouthpiece Al Jazeera, and pushes the Apartheid smear. He has worked closely with the Yevsektsiya group ‘JVL’, promoted Jackie Walker’s film ‘Witchhunt’, and defended Chris Williamson. Shahd Abusalama too. Many of the other figures involved with BRISMES are long-time anti-Israel campaigners such as Nicola Pratt and John Chalcraft,
No experts on antisemitism to be seen – just a bunch of anti-Israel propagandists.
The focus of the European Legal Support Center is not academic freedom at all – but rather it is a hard-core Palestinian propaganda NGO, set up to empower anti-Israel activism in Europe through ‘lawfare’.
The ELSC do not care about antisemitism – and even came out to defend the disgraced NUS ex-President Shaima Dallali:
And in the ELSC Twitter feed – we learn that the origins of this report are with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – an organisation riddled with antisemites itself:
No experts on antisemitism to be seen here either.
The junk report
The report deals with just 40 cases, spread over five years. Almost all (by their own admission) didn’t amount to anything. To put it in perspective – in December 2017, in just one month, I logged 187 anti-Israel events taking place across the country – most on campus. From within this ongoing obsession the report presents just 40 cases. There is no room to talk about ‘stifling voices’ at all.
Digging into the report quickly exposes it is little more than a propaganda exercise. The report is full of lies about what the IHRA definition is, says and does.
One of their case studies, 17SOC1 (row 46) is about an Apartheid Week event at Exeter in 2017. It was one of those events that sets up a fake checkpoint on campus and dresses some students up as Israeli soldiers – no doubt to be cruel, rude and offensive to other students. The university did not give permission for this particular event (they let others go ahead). The event was cancelled over ‘safety and security concerns’ given that even the organisers recognised that it was being held on ‘a busy part of campus, potentially posing an impact on students and staff’. Exeter did not even adopt the IHRA definition until 2019 and the inclusion of this case in the report appears completely bogus.
This is taken from the Guardian’s own report at the time:
Perhaps someone at the Guardian should teach Haroon Siddique how to use the newspaper’s archive.
Other examples are just bizarre. Case ’18S1′ (row 40) from 2018 lists a complaint about a social media post that the university did not even investigate. If the university did use IHRA to decide against investigation – then it suggests the opposite of what BRISMES and co are arguing. The inclusion of this case in the report is completely bogus.
But it gets worse. My expose on the Jane Jackman article was written in December 2020 – so it is included in their timeline for their study. The BRISMES / ELSC report lists the Glasgow University case (anonymously) in ‘appendix 1′ as case ’20S1′ (row 39). We can test the honesty and accuracy of the BRISMES study and here we run into a MAJOR problem.
This is how they describe the incident:
The ‘smears’ description sounds like the words of a Corbynite antisemite more than it does academic opinion. My report was an accurate 17-page rebuttal of a paper that should never have been published by any university. Using extracts from the original article, and relying on dozens of references from quality sources – my report clearly shows that the Jackman paper relies on an antisemitic conspiracy – woven through a argument full of errors and unsupported accusations.
My complaint was upheld – the university accepted that the article was full of errors and unfounded accusations – and placed a preface to the article laying out these concerns. Yet the report claims (p18) that ‘for all 40 cases analysed, except two ongoing cases, the accusations of antisemitism have been rejected’. From the Jackson case we know this statement in their report is just not true. Not all the accusations were rejected.
To drive their errors home further; Nowhere in my own report in the paper do I even mention the IHRA. The entire case has been misrepresented and misused in the BISMES report.
Which means the line in Siddique’s Guardian article where he states:
“meaning that none of the allegations – all based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition – have been substantiated,”
Is a blatant lie.
We can add to this mess the case of David Miller. His case was deliberately excluded from the report. How many other cases involving antisemitism have been left out of their study? What about the antisemitism and extremism of Shaima Dallali. Isn’t that included?
The Guardian helps to spread antisemitism
Make no mistake – the Guardian has journalists who are actively helping to spread antisemitism. When a report like this is given legitimacy, it is used by antisemites as a weapon with which to attack Jews. It is worth remembering – this is not about Israel – it is about trying to protect British Jewish students on campus in an increasingly hostile environment. It should be clear to everyone – when it comes to the battle between the antisemite and the Jew – the Guardian appears to have taken the side of the former.
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