Ruling: Pro-Israel newspaper misled readers over Green Party ‘antisemitism’

Shahrar Ali

A press regulator has ruled that the pro-Israel newspaper The Jewish Chronicle misled its readers after it falsely claimed that the Green Party’s former deputy leader Shahrar Ali had compared Israel’s 2008-2009 war against Palestinians to the Holocaust on Holocaust Memorial Day.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) ruled that the claim had breached the first clause of their editors’ code of conduct – accuracy.

Not only had Ali not made such a comparison, his January 24 2009 speech had not taken place on Holocaust Memorial Day (which is on January 27).

“The publication had failed to take care over the accuracy of these statements,” which were “significantly misleading,” IPSO said in its ruling.

Ali said that he was “absolutely delighted” at the ruling. He said it was “good news for all those Green Party candidates and politicians who want to continue to speak up for the rights of Palestinians against their daily oppression by the state of Israel.”

As required by IPSO, the JC published a correction on its website on Thursday.

It said: “In an article headlined ‘Green Party urged to suspend candidates who breached IHRA definition of antisemitism,’ published on 6 December 2019, we reported as fact that Mr Shahrar Ali had breached the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition of antisemitism by comparing Israel’s 2009 offensive on Gaza to the Shoah on Holocaust Memorial Day.

“In fact, this was our characterisation of a speech by Dr Ali which had not been made on Holocaust Memorial Day, and he denies that he made any comparison between Israel’s 2009 offensive on Gaza to the Shoah. In the speech, he said that ‘just because you observe the niceties of Holocaust Memorial Day does not mean that you have learned the lessons of history. Just because you surround yourself with sycophants and propagandists does not mean that you will not face the war crimes tribunal.’

“The article also contained a quote from the Board of Deputies President, without its full context, which it suggested, erroneously, was aimed directly at Mr Ali.”

In his 2009 speech, Ali had addressed a demonstration in London against Israel’s war on Gaza. Israel killed more than 1,400 Palestinians during that offensive. Most were civilians; they included 313 children.

One of the arguments Ali made during the Green leadership contest was that the party should firmly reject the definition of antisemitism endorsed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Ali has described the IHRA definition as “intellectually bogus,” stating that it is “designed to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.”

The Green Party has so far refused to adopt the IHRA definition, which is being pushed by Israel and its network of lobbyists.

The JC article about Ali is the latest in a long line of misleading stories the paper has published about alleged antisemitism on the left and among the Palestine solidarity movement.

A number of activists in Britain’s Labour Party have sued the paper and won libel damages, the most recent being Nada al-Sanjari, an elected representative in Wokingham.

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