Jewish anti-Zionist and veteran Palestine solidarity campaigner Tony Greenstein says he is going to sue pro-Israel charity the Campaign Against Antisemitism for defamation, after it called him a “notorious anti-Semite.”
Greenstein has launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover legal costs, and is aiming to raise about $34,000.
Libel cases in UK courts are notoriously expensive.
“I am not suing the [Campaign Against Antisemitism] on behalf of myself but on behalf of all those who have suffered from its libelous attacks. It’s not just my fight but yours too,” Greenstein wrote on his blog this week.
He told The Electronic Intifada on Tuesday that if he won it would be “an immense setback” for this smear used by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, and many other pro-Israel groups.
The Israeli government and its supporters around the world have a long record of misrepresenting concern for Palestinian human rights as anti-Semitism.
Greenstein told The Electronic Intifada that the organization had also been quoted in a 189-page dossier by the Labour Party bureaucrats who are currently trying to expel him from the party.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism represents the hard right of the UK’s Zionist movement. It specializes in compiling misleading online dossiers smearing Palestine campaigners as anti-Semites.
More than 4,500 people have signed a petition calling for it be disqualified from its registered charity status.
It often targets people who do not have their own resources to launch a libel case, such as students and activists.
A Palestinian student who moved to the UK from Gaza in order to study, Malaka became a strong presence in the UK’s student politics, particularly in the boycott, divestment and sanctions – or BDS – movement against Israel.
She told The Electronic Intifada Podcast in March that the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s smear campaign against her had sparked a barrage of threats and harassment by Israel supporters.
The organization called for her to be expelled, claiming she was a “terrorist-supporting anti-Semite.” But the University of Exeter Students’ Guild – where she had been running in a student election – formally dismissed all charges against her.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism was established in 2014, against a background of rising protest of Israel’s deadly war against the Gaza Strip that summer.
The assault killed 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians – among them 551 children – according to an independent UN inquiry.
As Greenstein wrote in an article for The Electronic Intifada in March this year, the new charity’s “purpose was to link the protests against the attack on Gaza to anti-Semitism.”
He explained that, “there had been a constituency within British Zionists who felt that establishment groups such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews were not active enough in defending Israel.”
As the article documented, the archives on the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s website reveal its anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian and right-wing agenda.
At the time of publication of Greenstein’s analysis, only two articles mentioned the UK’s three main fascist groups, while there were “77 articles attacking Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader and a veteran defender of Palestinian rights.”
The charity also seems to have a particular hatred of Jewish people active in the campaign for Palestinian rights.
As well as its smear campaign against Greenstein, last year it denounced a list of 110 prominent Jewish academics, activists and artists as “a fringe assortment of British Jews.”
What was their supposed crime? They had written a letter describing themselves as “Jews whose views are not represented by the chief rabbi, the Board of Deputies of British Jews or the pro-Israel lobbyists of the Campaign Against Antisemitism.”
The campaign’s chair predictably smeared the letter’s authors as “anti-Semitic.”