Home / Analysis / Friends of Israel for Sale: The Times, Tories and Think Tanks

Friends of Israel for Sale: The Times, Tories and Think Tanks

The Times newspaper has published an article on two of the groups involved in the gender segregation issue. Recently Muslim students awoke to the reality that the right wing Henry Jackson Society’s project, “Student Rights,” is seeking to curtail the rights of Muslims to enjoy listening to the Islamic scholars they choose, as well as their freedom of religious expression including the wish to have some gender separation at Islamic events on campus. However this attack does not only concern Muslim students, as behind the Islamophobia lies an obvious agenda to curtail Palestinian rights activism on campuses, including the growing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement which is not dominated by Muslim voices at all.  An initiative called “Real Student Rights” has been set up by real students and their unions to take action by passing a motion and signing a petition.

In the final two paragraphs of a recent Times article[1] Rupert Sutton seeks to give Student Rights legitimacy by linking its existence to the neoconservative “think tank” The Henry Jackson Society and to David Willets the universities and science minister.

“Mr Sutton added that the group’s advisory board included both Labour and Conservative politicians and that it worked with students “across the political divide”.

“Regarding the Henry Jackson Society—to whose principles David Willetts, the universities and science minister, is a signatory—he said that Student Rights was “a project of” the think tank and shared an office with it, but it raised funding independently.”

In fact Student Rights director Raheem Kassam has been asked repeatedly by journalists on Twitter to reveal where they receive their funding from but he has so far declined to do so. We do see from the above statement by Rupert Sutton that Student Rights shares an office with the Henry Jackson Society and was founded as a Henry Jackson Society project. It would be opportune here to advise fellow Muslims not to be misled by the Muslim name of Raheem Kassam. In fact when pressed, the most Raheem Kassam has managed to do to verify his Muslim credentials is to say he was raised in a Muslim family. In reality the very pro-Israel Raheem Kassam is often found to tweet about pubs and drinking alcohol, much of which as well as some background information with photographic evidence is readily available online[2].

So we know who Student Rights is a project of, now let us look at the Henry Jackson Society, some of their signatories and their links to the Tory party and Times newspaper. Although the HJS statement of principles does not mention Israel at all, it was claimed by Sameh Libdeh, a Jordanian journalist, that they receive funding from the Israeli far-right Likud party[3]. Although the HJS dislike the neoconservative label they do have rather a lot of security hawks amongst their supporters. HJS is a registered charity and, according to the Charity Commission’s guidelines[4], ‘a charity cannot exist for a political purpose, which is any purpose directed at furthering the interests of any political party, or securing or opposing a change in the law, policy or decisions either in this country or abroad.” Although there are a couple of Labour party signatories to the HJS, Alan Mendoza the Executive Director is a Conservative party member. I have previously written about Mendoza’s speech to the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC where his agenda seemed to be to raise fear about Muslims emigrating to Europe[3].

William Shawcross, another Conservative party member, former journalist at the Sunday Times newspaper, member of the advisory council to the BBC World service, board member of the Anglo-Israel Association, and unrepentant Iraq war enthusiast[5], resigned from the HJS when he was given the job of leader of the UK Charity Commission, under controversial circumstances. Liberal Democrat MP, Greg Mulholland, said at the time: “Mr Shawcross is a well-respected but controversial journalist and has written articles, all on his website, defending Rupert Murdoch and Guantanamo Bay and expressing his support for the Iraq war as well as attacking the previous government,” concluding, “He is, of course, entitled to express all those views as a journalist, but to then seek to also be the chair of the Charity Commission is just not tenable[6].

The Shawcross appointment according to posters and commentators on the Islamophobia award winning, pro-Israel, neoconservative blog, Harrys Place, has been so far hugely disappointing, at least insofar as fulfilling their expectations that Shawcross would hasten to close down many Muslim charities, particularly those who aid Palestinians like Interpal. Perhaps Shawcross should be investigating the HJS and its obvious agenda to influence political direction.

David Willetts, signatory to the HJS and minister for universities and science is no stranger to working with Israelis or visiting Israel. In 2012 Willetts co-chaired the first annual general meeting for the UK Israel Tech Council. At the meeting, “The Council agreed on some key sectors for the two countries to focus on – sectors in which the UK and Israeli economies complement each other particularly well. These include digital, water tech, life sciences, creative industries and financial services[7].”

Does David Willetts or the British government then agree with Israel’s water policy of stealing Palestinians’ water to supply the illegal settlements, leaving them with merely a “trickle of water”?[8] I think he should be asked.

Let us examine some of the HJS signatories linked to the Times newspaper.

Firstly, Gerard Baker: previously assistant editor at the Times newspaper, now Deputy Editor in Chief at the Wall Street Journal. In 2005 on the anniversary of The Balfour Declaration and whilst being US editor for the Times of London, Baker said at a policy forum of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on the question of declining British support for Zionism: “One reason could be the ninety-year decline of modern British Christianity, a religious strand sympathetic to Zionism. Another possible reason is the slant of British media. The BBC, which plays an extraordinary role in shaping British elite and popular opinion, is profoundly anti-Zionist. At times, BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes the network appear to be an apologist for Palestinian suicide bombers.” That the BBC is profoundly anti-Zionist or in any way shape or form pro-Palestine is a joke for those who know better, like Hilary Aked of Real Student Rights writing about BBC bias back in December 2012[9]. After all, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy was founded by the most well-known Israel lobby group in the world, AIPAC.

Secondly, Stephen Pollard: editor of the Jewish Chronicle and a founding member of the HJS who has also written columns for the Times. Pollard was successfully sued by Islam Expo for a libelous article he wrote for the Spectator, and the Judge’s ruling can be read online[10]. As a result he was later forced to apologise: “Stephen Pollard and the Spectator apologise for the unintended and false suggestion in a blog published on 15 July 2008 that Islam Expo Limited is a fascist party dedicated to genocide which organised a conference with a racist and genocidal programme. We accept that Islam Expo’s purpose is to provide a neutral and broad-based platform for debate on issues relating to Muslims and Islam.”[11]

Thirdly, Irvin Stelzer: HJS signatory and US business and economic editor for the Times’ sister paper the Sunday Times. Stelzer is a Senior Director and Fellow of the Hudson Institute, a pro-Israel group in the US. According to the Institute for Policy Studies[12], “The Washington, D.C.-based Hudson Institute is part of a closely-knit group of neoconservative policy institutes that champion aggressive, Israel-centric US foreign policies.” It further notes, “Although the institute calls itself a “non-partisan” organization, its scholars and work tend to reflect a deep ideological affiliation with militaristic security policies, as well as an anti-Islamic and right-wing “pro-Israel” posture with respect to the Middle East. The Gatestone Institute[13], an “Islamophobic” advocacy group headed by Nina Rosenwald[14], began as a Hudson satellite office in New York.”

Finally, Michael Gove. Back in 2007 he was a trustee of HJS and also a signatory to their principles, but perhaps for reasons of pragmatism has been mysteriously removed! Perhaps it is because he is a possible contender to follow David Cameron, or as is the most likely scenario, enjoy influence and a seat near the top with Boris Johnson at the helm[15]. He is currently the Conservative party Minister for Education, a former editor and journalist for the Times and former chairman of Policy Exchange. Gove says he is a proud Zionist, and also a supporter for United Jewish Israel Appeal`s fundraising activities. In 2008 Gove wrote that the “liberation” of Iraq was a profound British foreign policy success, he has also been accused of being hostile towards Islam in his book Celsius 7/7. Gove denied this accusation saying that he is only opposed to “Islamism” calling it a totalitarian ideology. The charity Policy Exchange of which Gove was chairman was subject of a report named “The Cold War on British Muslims”[16] where its anti-Islam agenda was exposed along with its pro-Israel funders. I really advise people to read the whole report to understand who our oppressors are and who funds them. Policy Exchange’s most notorious report was called “The Hijacking of British Islam” which has now been deleted from their website and resulted in them having to apologise to the Al-Manaar mosque for allegations that they had distributed extremist literature[17].

In July of 2013 Gove said that Muslim leaders need to tackle anti-semitism, the evidence of which he declared to be Muslims’ lack of acceptance for the right of the state of Israel to exist. Surely, is it not more anti-semitic and indeed dangerous to conflate dislike of Israeli state policies, with anti-semitism?  Gove also praised Maajid Nawaz of the “anti-extremism” group Quilliam Foundation—one of the best-known “Islamophobia peddlers”[18] in the country—and said more must be done to help such groups in their efforts. Mr Gove went on to say that he is proud to call himself a Zionist because of Israel’s record on democracy and equal rights for women and Arab Israelis. My reply to Mr Gove is that those Arab Israelis are Palestinians and although it is difficult to deny that the state of Israel does exist – the land that it has imposed itself on is Palestine.

The above examples are just a sample of some of the names and think tanks behind the anti-Islam agenda so prevalent in the UK today. Again and again when we look under the surface at the backgrounds and agendas of the various people and think tanks involved in creating fear of Muslim immigration, curtailing free speech and religious expression for Muslims (be it the wearing of niqab or Muslims choosing to self-segregate at their own events), we find that although there are in some cases non-Jewish names driving this huge and well organised machine, the agenda and the funding leads us back to Jewish pro-Israel sources.

Creating fear that Muslims in the UK want to change the British way of life or values is one way to try and stop the increase of Muslims and Islam in Britain which may lead to Muslims being a cohesive and effective political force in the future. This is definitely something that would be to the detriment of Israeli policies of land theft and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, and that of other Arab countries around the Israeli state.

According to the documentary Dispatches, 80% of Conservative MPs are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel group. Dispatches described the CFI as “beyond doubt the most well-connected and probably the best funded of all Westminster lobbying groups[19].” That is not to say that the Labour party is any less pro-Israel, in fact pro-Israel supporters will fund whichever individuals they can who might be sympathetic towards Israel.

To understand who is agitating against Muslims and Islam always look into the background and particularly follow the money. In my experience all roads lead back to Israel.

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] The article is called “Students’ unions hit back at group monitoring campus extremism

[2] here

[3] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/5440-the-henry-jackson-society-and-scaremongering-with-aipac

[4] guidelines

[5] http://www.williamshawcross.com/index.php?page=bushblair

[6] http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/Governance/article/1148846/mps-criticise-nomination-william-shawcross-next-charity-commission-chair/

[7] http://www.matimop.org.il/uk_israel_tech.html

[8] http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/israel-rations-palestinians-trickle-water-20091027

[9] here

[10] http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2010/2011.html

[11] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/memo-news/1467-the-spectator-and-stephen-pollard-apologise-to-islam-expo-and-pay-damages

[12] http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/hudson_institute

[13] http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/gatestone_institute

[14] http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/rosenwald_nina

[15] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/07/23/boris-johnson-michael-gove_n_3639063.html

[16] http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/downloads/documents/the-cold-war-on-british-muslims.pdf

[17] http://www.iengage.org.uk/component/content/article/1-news/295-policy-exchange-removes-report-from-website-and-forced-to-apologise-for-shoddy-research-

[18] http://www.5pillarz.com/2013/04/30/usama-hasan-and-the-quillaim-foundation-exposed-again/

[19] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/nov/16/pro-israel-lobby-conservatives-channel4-dispatches

About Laura Stuart

Housewife, Human rights activist & revert to Islam

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