A determination made on Nov 5th 2020 by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) against Nazim Ali, a pharmacist, has been referred to the High Court for review. Ali was issued with a warning by the GPhC Fitness to Practice Committee after comments made at the Al Quds Day rally in 2017, were found to be “grossly offensive:”
“Some of the biggest corporations who are supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party. Free, Free, Palestine…It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory Party to kill people in high-rise blocks. Free, Free, Palestine. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
However, in a decision mired in controversy, these and other comments were deemed not to be antisemitic. Ali’s increasingly deranged rhetoric included abusive slogans such as:
“Any Zionist, any Jew coming into your centre supporting Israel, any Jew coming into your centre who is a Zionist, any Jew coming into your centre who is a member for the Board of Deputies, is not a rabbi, he’s an imposter.”
The rally, in reality a Hezbollah flag waving anti-Israel hate-fest which Ali helped organise was filmed by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA). The two week hearing leading up to the Determination has been covered extensively by Jonathan Hoffman and David Collier, two of the witnesses at the hearing and also by the CAA and UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI).
The High Court may now decide to quash the decision and the case may be re-opened. The move came after The Professional Standards Authority (PSA) expressed concerns about the flawed approach taken by the Committee towards the hearing and as a consequence it was impossible to know whether a different outcome might have resulted otherwise. It was a positive response to a letter submitted by UKLFI challenging the original decision.
One problem of the approach taken by the Committee is that the evidence provided by the two witnesses appears to have been dismissed on the grounds that they were “impartial” witnesses. A condition set forth by the Committee was that the profile of the ‘reasonable person’ ought to be one “would have no strong views on the Israel / Palestine question.” In the case of David Collier, his visit to Israel and his daughter having volunteered to serve in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) was an additional black mark. Why this should be so is not clear given that Israel is not classed as an enemy state nor is it illegal for British citizens to serve in the IDF.
But it gets worse. The Committee’s own legal adviser fails to meet this test of ‘impartiality’ creating a climate conducive to an abuse of power.
Another problem was that the Committee showed little understanding about the Muslim community. Some knowledge about the role replacement theology plays in fuelling anti-Zionist sentiment and how Islamists attempt to advance their agenda under the guise of ‘human rights’ would have helped. Islamists who seek the dissolution of the State of Israel couch their agenda in the guise of pro-Palestinian activism. In this world view the word “Zionist” is a code word for “Jew,” something that the Committee members were either ignorant of or wilfully disregarded.
Either way, the regulatory body appears to be cocooned in a world of its own far removed from the realities of the multicultural society we live in. Often, members of a certain minority may endure more hostility from another minority than they may do from the from the majority culture. Not all Muslims are antisemitic, but it is a fact that in Britain many in the Muslim community has a problem with Jews. As Mehdi Hassan writes:
There are thousands of Lord Ahmeds out there: mild-mannered and well-integrated British Muslims who nevertheless harbour deeply anti-Semitic views.
It pains me to have to admit this but antisemitism isn’t just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it’s routine and commonplace. Any Muslims reading this article – if they are honest with themselves – will know instantly what I am referring to. It’s our dirty little secret. You could call it the banality of Muslim antisemitism.
Hassan, a vehement critic of Israel, nevertheless acknowledges that:
The truth is that the virus of anti-Semitism has infected members of the British Muslim community, both young and old. No, the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict hasn’t helped matters. But this goes beyond the Middle East. How else to explain why British Pakistanis are so often the most ardent advocates of anti-Semitic conspiracies, even though there are so few Jews living in Pakistan?
Findings from a report (Muslim Anti-Semitism In Contemporary Great Britain) published by the Henry Jackson Society in March 2020 found that antisemitism is higher amongst Muslims who attend mosques and those who are university-educated. The uncomfortable truth is that antisemitism emanating from the Muslim minority is often downplayed or even ignored.
If regulatory bodies tasked with protecting the public adopt a one size fits all approach to cases involving minorities whose cultures they know little about they leave themselves ripe for exploitation and subversion of justice.