Opinion: The Telegraph’s Islamophobic report conceals British public’s distrust of Israel

Is it anti-Semitic that one-third of Brits don’t trust Israel’s narratives?

Atif Rashid and Ataul Fatir Tahir, London

Trust The Telegraph to publish a Muslim-bashing article titled: Just one in four British Muslims believe Hamas committed murder and rape in Israel.

The article’s source? A recent poll commissioned by the infamous anti-Muslim think tank Henry Jackson Society and carried out by market research firm JL Partners.

Notably, The Telegraph left out key details from the survey concerning British public opinion about Israel and October 7, while highlighting those that would make for an outrageous Islamophobic hit-piece.

The Telegraph piece, published just as Israel loses global support after its killing of seven international aid workers in Gaza, is a distraction from the global attention and sympathy Palestinians are getting.

It is a clear Islamophobic hit-piece, designed to label British Muslims as Jew-hating extremists. There’s nothing groundbreaking to see here. The piece tries to make it seem that a majority of British Muslims hold anti-Semitic views and are intolerant. But if The Telegraph accuses Muslims of that based on this survey, the same could be said about the wider population.

What the article failed to mention, was the level of public distrust of Jewish leaders in the UK, the Israeli military, and of Israel itself during the current war.

Asked how much the general public trusted Jewish community leaders in the UK, 39% said “not very much,” while 17% said “not at all.” Distrust of Hamas and the IDF was closer than you’d think. While 83% of the general public said it doesn’t trust Hamas, 69% said it did not trust the IDF. And two-thirds of the general public don’t trust Israel in the current conflict.

What’s more – more than a third of the British public says it doesn’t trust Israel’s narratives about 7 October. Asked, “How much do you trust, if at all, the information Israel has published about Hamas’ attacks on October 7th?” 33% of respondents said “not very much,” while 14% said “not at all.”

The original The Telegraph article goes on tangents unrelated to the Israel-Hamas war. It talks about “Shariah law” and how many Muslims disagree with showing pictures of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Apart from an Islamophobic hit piece, what else could this article be?  

Another important question is why the public – or Muslims – should trust Israeli reports when they have been exposed as false propaganda by Israel’s government? Remember the “tunnel” networks and control centres under al-Shifa? The decapitated babies? All reports, proven to be false.

Much of the 7 October reporting has left questions of whether reports are true or false. This has led to The Oct7factcheck project, which has “published the results of independent investigations into a dozen or so of the most dramatic Israeli accusations and reports about the Hamas attack, which were uncritically repeated by most of the Western media, debunking most of them as untrue and lacking evidence,” wrote former senior fellow at the Middle East Initiative, Belfer Center, Rami G Khouri in Al Jazeera this year.

“They show, for example, that some of the evidence Israel submitted to the ICJ hearing – evidence republished by mainstream Western media without question – was false,” he said.

The Oct7factcheck project noted: “Over the last four months, claims about 7 October have influenced the public narrative… stories of atrocity, sometimes cobbled together from unreliable eyewitnesses, sometimes fabricated entirely, have made their way to heads of state and been used to justify Israel’s military violence.” (www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2024/2/9/watching-the-watchdogs-israels-legacy-of-media-deception-stumbles)

HJS shoots itself in the foot

The think tank that commissioned the report that was then cherry-picked by The Telegraph has been known to spread anti-Muslim narratives.

Its co-founder Matthew Jamison, who distanced himself from the think tank, said the following:

“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that the Henry Jackson Society, when it was founded, would become a far-right, deeply anti-Muslim racist organisation, run in the most dictatorial, corrupt and undemocratic fashion and utilized as a propaganda outfit to smear other cultures, religions and ethnic groups. […] The HJS for many years has relentlessly demonised Muslims and Islam. (www.linkedin.com/pulse/brendan-simms-racist-corrupt-henry-jackson-society-matthew/)

Even the funding of the HJS is shrouded in secrecy. Jamison said:

“Then there was the fact that despite campaigning for democracy, the HJS does not like to be democratic and transparent itself about how it operates and is funded, even though it is a registered “charity”. As a charity which campaigns for democratic good governance abroad, you would expect they would start at home by demonstrating a good example of democratic transparency regarding their funders. […]

“What does the Henry Jackson Society have to hide? The secrecy over its funders could be in part because other foreign governments are using it as front to conduct propaganda smear campaigns.” (www.linkedin.com/pulse/brendan-simms-racist-corrupt-henry-jackson-society-matthew/)

It’s telling that The Telegraph chose only to create a piece that would show Muslims as anti-Semitic but left out key details about what the report showed about the views of the wider British public.

Will the Henry Jackson Society now poll Jews in Britain and ask if they believe the IDF has sexually abused and raped Palestinian women who were in detention, as some UN experts believe?

They said: “We are particularly distressed by reports that Palestinian women and girls in detention, have also been subjected to multiple forms of sexual assault, such as being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers. At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped, while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence.” (www.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/22/claims-of-israeli-sexual-assault-of-palestinian-women-are-credible-un-panel-says)

Of course, HJS wouldn’t commission such a survey, nor would The Telegraph report on it, as it would undermine its narrative of demonising Muslims and showing unsolicited support for Israel.

As global support increases for Palestinians – who are being brutally bombed and killed by the IDF – anti-Muslim media coverage in Britain continues to keep the sinking ship of Israeli propaganda afloat.

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