UK anti-boycott activist spoke at Islamophobic conference

The pro-Israel activist who sued his union for discussing the boycott of Israel spoke at an Islamophobic conference in June alongside at least one notorious homophobe, it has emerged.

Backed by the UK’s Israel lobby, Ronnie Fraser for years pursued a “lawfare” case against the University and College Union. But it spectacularly failed earlier this year.

An employment judge ruled in March that his claims of anti-Semitism in the union were “palpably groundless” and “an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means.”

Fraser was invited by the American Freedom Alliance to speak at a June conference in Los Angeles titled “Europe’s Last Stand.”

Called by The Electronic Intifada, Fraser refused to answer questions put to him, saying he was “not prepared to say any more” than what he told The Jewish Chronicle.

He told the paper earlier this month that he went to the conference “to talk about antisemitism in Britain and to reflect on my own personal experiences of it, and my recent tribunal case against the UCU.”

A Who’s Who of Islamophobia

But one of the conference’s main themes was “demography” – a reference to Muslims in Europe. In the conference’s program, this is described as one of the “Threats to European Survival.”

One of Fraser’s speaking appointments came immediately after a keynote speech by notorious Islamophobes Daniel Pipes and Bat Ye’or.

Pipes has called for razing entire Palestinian villages and other forms of collective punishment. Bat Ye’or is the author who popularized the Islamophobic “Eurabia” conspiracy theory, which states that Muslims are plotting to take over Europe. She once stated: “Palestinianism is a revival of Nazism.”

Asked by The Electronic Intifada if he agreed with Pipes’ call for collective punishment, Fraser refused to distance himself: “I’m not answering the question.”

Pipes and Ye’or were cited numerous times by the Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik in his Islamophobic manifesto, released shortly before his 2011 terrorist bombings and shootings that killed 77 people (most of them children and teenagers).

Ye’or and Pipes were the second and third most-quoted sources in Breivik’s twisted manifesto, with 59 and 18 quotes respectively.

But the top spot on this hideous list goes to Robert Spencer, and his “Jihad Watch” blog (cited 162 times). He too spoke at the conference, interviewing extreme-right Dutch Islamophobic politician Geert Wilders.

Wilders was banned from the UK in early 2009, but this was overturned by a a court later that year. Spencer, too, was banned from visiting the UK at the end of June for “extremism,” along with Pamela Geller – another virulently Islamophobic blogger and media personality (mysteriously absent from the LA conference).

(Spencer and Geller are currently asking for donations to fight the ban in the courts, and have so far raised almost $15,000, according to crowd-funding website Indiegogo.)

Fraser spoke with Christian fundamentalist

Speaking to The Jewish Chronicle, Fraser claimed: “While I have heard of him, I did not attend Robert Spencer’s talk, nor do I in any way align myself with or advocate his particular doctrine.”

He claimed he “would have perhaps taken a different view” on whether to attend the conference had he known the “level of controversy” surrounding Spencer.

In fact, Spencer is listed as a “Fellow” with the American Freedom Alliance.

The paper did not ask about the litany of other reactionary speakers at the event. These include one person whom Fraser spoke with in the same session.

This was Alan Craig, a Christian fundamentalist and former London councilor. Ex-leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance, Craig is best known for campaigning against mosques, promoting extreme homophobia and other reactionary causes.

In 2009 he wrote on his blog: “Muhammad was a warlord, a paedophile and a vindictive murderer.” He claimed this was to “assert my right to freedom of speech.”

For about the last six years he has been backing a campaign called “Mega Mosque: No Thanks” against a Muslim group’s mooted plan to expand an east London mosque.

In 2011, he caused outrage when wrote an article describing gay rights campaigners as the “Gaystapo:”

Their gay-rights stormtroopers take no prisoners as they annex our wider culture, and hotel owners, registrars, magistrates, doctors, counsellors, and foster parents … find themselves crushed under the pink jackboot … Following a plethora of equalities legislation, homosexuals are now protected and privileged by sexual orientation regulations and have achieved legal equality by way of civil partnerships. But it’s only 1938 and Nazi expansionist ambitions are far from sated.

At the conference, Craig spoke on platforms with Spencer, Pipes and Wilders, as well as Fraser.

Speaking to The Electronic Intifada, Fraser refused to answer questions about Craig.

American Freedom Alliance

As one of its main goals, the American Freedom Alliance lists activism against “The Islamic Penetration of Europe.” It says its vision is to create “a national alliance of people of faith.”

It has held similar conferences in the past. One was focused on climate scepticism, asking if the ecology movement was “the new tyranny” (answer: yes). And it even once planned to air a creationist film before the venue pulled the plug.

That Israel and its allies are virulent bigots is hardly a surprise. But questions hang over why The Jewish Chronicle brought attention to Fraser’s conference visit.

The paper’s chairman of the board is Anthony Julius, the same lawyer that represented Fraser throughout. That and the Likudnik Zionism of the paper under hard-right editor Stephen Pollard makes its uncritical cheer-leading for the case (until it failed) unsurprising.

So why cause embarrassment for Fraser like this now? Has he become fall-guy for a case that has caused deep mutual recriminations in Zionist circles?


Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).