Pro-Palestine activist Nazim Ali is free to pursue his career as a pharmacist after a hearing in London found the accusation that he made antisemitic comments “not proven.”
However, a General Pharmaceutical Council (GPC) hearing yesterday found Ali guilty of misconduct for making what it called “appalling and offensive” comments at the Al Quds rally in 2017.
The GPC hearing into his case began almost two weeks ago and investigated if Ali, who has been a pharmacist for 27 years, made antisemitic remarks which brought his profession into disrepute.
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
- And the Tory party and some of its Zionist supporters were responsible for the Grenfell Tower disaster
During the hearing Ali admitted that his remarks were offensive and could be construed as antisemitic by some, although he denied they were. He had already been cleared by the High Court over the allegations.
Yesterday the panel in Canary Wharf, London, rejected that Ali be suspended from practicing as a pharmacist as “disproportionate.” But it said that his future behaviour must not undermine the profession.
The panel also found that witnesses against Mr Ali, including prominent pro-Israel activists Jonathan Hoffman and David Collier, were not impartial and were therefore not helpful in determining if Ali’s comments were antisemitic.
The committee described Mr Ali as truthful, honest, reliable and passionate in his views. It noted his good character and unblemished regulatory record and said that his apology for his offensive words was heartfelt.
The judgement said: “The committee noted the context of the Al Quds rally: It was a pro-Palestine, anti-Zionist rally at which there was a counter-demonstration by supporters of the state of Israel. The committee concluded that most reasonable people knowing this would not be surprised to hear the term ‘Zionists’ used on that day by the registrant. It would only be thought antisemitic by most reasonable people if they believe additionally that when using this term what actually was meant was ‘Jews.’
“However, the evidence was that the registrant had repeatedly during the rally used words to the effect that Zionists and Jews must not be conflated, not least because some Jews who are not Zionists were taking part in the Al Quds Day pro-Palestinian rally and this too was part of the context that day.”
Following the verdict the Islamic Human Rights Commission said the verdict was a victory for free speech.
“We are glad the GPC fitness to practice committee understood that Mr Ali’s comments, in their proper context, were not and could not be considered antisemitic by a reasonable person. Free speech on Palestine is critical, and we should not allow supporters of Israel to silence us.”
On the other hand, the pro-Israel Campaign Against Antisemitism, which brought the complaint against Mr Ali, said that Ali had been “let off with a warning,” and complained that they had not been allowed to present evidence on what constitutes Jew-hatred.
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “It is disappointing that the regulator showed so little understanding of the issues at the hearing and only requested that the tribunal issue Mr Ali with a warning, which it did. After more than three years, at least we have succeeded in ensuring that Mr Ali’s record has been publicly marked and his disgrace made official.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism previously sought a criminal prosecution of Mr Ali but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) refused to prosecute him.