The pro-Palestine activist Nazim Ali is facing a battle to save his pharmaceutical career because of anti-Zionist comments he made at the Al Quds March in London in 2017.
A General Pharmaceutical Council (GPC) hearing into his case began in London on Monday and is due to last for several days.
It is alleged that Ali, who has been a pharmacist for 27 years, made antisemitic remarks at the rally which brought his profession into disrepute. He could be struck off as a pharmacist if the council rules against him.
Ali admitted that his remarks were offensive and could be construed as antisemitic by some, although he denies they were. He has already been cleared by the High Court over the allegations.
On Monday the hearing in Canary Wharf heard that at the 2017 Al Quds March Mr Ali had said, among other things, that:
- Zionists are not Jews
- Rabbis from the Board of Deputies of British Jews were imposters
- The Tory party and some of its Zionists supporters were responsible for the Grenfell Tower disaster
A video of the march, organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, was played to the hearing and Mr Ali was heard repeatedly saying that he respected Jews and that they were welcome at the march.
But he aimed several broadsides at Zionists, saying that they were responsible for murdering women and children and that they had stolen Palestinian land. He also called Zionists “thugs” and “oppressors.” “We are here for Muslims, Christians and Jews,” he said.
Mr Ali’s lawyer, David Gottlieb, said that his client had acknowledged that some of his comments may have offended people and that he had apologised for that. But it was not Mr Ali’s intention to be antisemitic, he added.
On the other hand, the prosecutor Andrew Colman urged the council’s panel to judge Mr Ali according to the IHRA definition of antisemitism which has been backed by many pro-Israel organisations. Critics say the definition conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism. The GPC has not adopted the definition as yet.
Two pro-Israel activists acted as witnesses against Mr Ali on the first day of the hearing.
Blogger David Collier, who has just returned from Israel and whose daughter has just joined the IDF, was present at the march and said he was upset by Mr Ali’s comments.
He said the fact that Mr Ali stood by a Hezbollah flag during the march proved he was antisemitic because the Lebanese movement has called for the annihilation of Jews, something which it has always denied.
Mr Collier said that Ali’s comments about “Zionists being responsible for the Grenfell disaster” played into “tropes about Jewish power” and money controlling everything.
Pro-Israel activist Jonathan Hoffman, who was previously convicted of harassment and threatening behaviour after intimidating Palestinian activists in 2018, was the second witness.
Mr Hoffman said he had visited Mr Ali’s pharmacy in Chelsea to see if he sold any Israeli medicine and had actually found one Israeli product there.
But he said that, as a Jew, he would not want to have any professional dealings with him with regards to medicinal matters.
Mr Ali is due to give his evidence on Tuesday. The hearing continues.