Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Counter-Jihad: The Cold War on British Muslims

In late July I received the latest Spinwatch report written by Tom Mills, Tom Griffin and David Miller. The 70 page report examines the activities of the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange; two key right-wing think-tanks involved in the debate on Islam and multiculturalism which are thought to have influenced the UK Coalition Government’s counter subversion strategy.

The report, which was completed before the recent terrorist attacks in Norway, argues that right-wing think-tanks have understated the rise of Islamophobia on the far-right and in some cases condoned the rise of groups such as the English Defence League because of their own links to the 'counterjihad movement'.

The Cold War on British Muslims, shows how the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange have rejected counter-terrorism policies based on public safety and have instead sought to revive discredited counter-subversion policies from the Cold War era – policies which targeted a generation of trade union leaders and peace activists including future Labour Ministers.  The report warns that reviving such policies is likely to stigmatise and even criminalise politically active Muslims, as well as liberals and leftists, and risk undermining the traditional freedoms enjoyed by churches, schools, universities and public libraries.

The Cold War on British Muslims also reveals for the first time the network of individuals and foundations that are bankrolling both think-tanks.  Donors identified in the report include the neoconservative Rosenkranz Foundation in the United States, and hardline Zionists like Lord Kalms and the late Cyril Stein in the UK.  It reveals that both think-tanks share major donors with a number of controversial organisations including the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, the Israel-Diaspora Trust (an organisation founded by the late Rabbi Sidney Brichto, a passionate supporter of Israel and scourge of its critics inside and outside the UK Jewish community) and the Anglo-Israel Association (founded in 1949 by the Christian Zionist Sir Wyndham Deedes).

The report’s co-author, Professor David Miller of Strathclyde University, said: ‘The policies advocated by the Centre for Social Cohesion and Policy Exchange detailed in the report inevitably mean the curtailment of civil liberties and the narrowing of political debate.  The consequences for British Muslims though will be even more serious.’

He added: ‘The revelations about the think-tanks’ donors arguably calls into question their ability to produce fair and balanced research and certainly underlines the need for greater transparency over the funding of think-tanks.’
The report can be downloaded from the Spinwatch page on Scribd; or as a PDF here (786 kb).

Hanan Chehata comments on the report, Spinwatch exposes links between pro-Israeli groups and Islamophobic British think-tanks
There is no doubt that attempts to whip up Islamophobia are on the rise and there certainly seems to be an atmosphere of intolerance and racism gaining traction here in the UK. While it is easy to point the finger of blame at racist far-right groups such as the BNP and "the Zionist false flag operation" the EDL (as the BNP call them) (p32) as a major source for stirring up such unnecessary hatred, a new report published by Spinwatch attempts to trace the source of some of this Islamophobia to its more subversive roots, particularly to groups and agencies which purport to be moderate British think-tanks but which instead serve Israeli interests and promote a clearly Islamophobic agenda.
The Spinwatch report draws parallels between how left wing groups, peace activists and trade-unionists were targeted by anti-subversion agencies in the 1960's and 1970's and their seeming nostalgia for such an era of political subversion policies to return by calling for the targeting of politically engaged Muslims, liberals and leftists today.
 She concludes,

The agenda for groups that engage in the counter-jihad movement is clearly "a coalition in which US militarisms, the Christian right, European far-right nationalists and militant Zionists all play central roles, along with a variety of other sectarians." The British think-tanks named in this report are no different, and their anti-Islam and pro-Israel agenda may not have been directly stated by them but is clear from their words actions and from looking at those who not only work within their ranks but who ultimately fund and control them and their agenda.
See also the Center for American Progress Report on Islamophobia in the USA and Canada