FODIP and the British government's 'counter-extremism' strategy
Among its benefactors, FODIP is financed by the Home Office’s Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT) fund. This supposed "counter-extremism" initiative is used by the British state to target Muslim communities for surveillance, infiltration, and to stifle Muslim political activism.
The Forum for Discussion of "Israel" and Palestine (FODIP) was created by Zionists, as we saw in Part 1 of this article. But in recent years it has received the bulk of its funding from the British security establishment. This is not an aberration. In fact, FODIP exemplifies the penetration of British state counter extremism activities by Zionist assumptions about “extremism” and the practical entanglement of Zionist and “counter-extremism” groups.
The Counter extremism ruse
Among its benefactors, FODIP is financed by the Home Office’s Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT) fund. This supposed "counter extremism" initiative is used by the British state to target Muslim communities for surveillance, infiltration, and to stifle Muslim political activism. The BSBT programme is run by the Office for Counter Extremism in the Home Office. Though it is not openly an intelligence agency, the office is stuffed with staff who have previously been intelligence officers. Perhaps they still are?
Amongst the other Zionist or Zionist-influenced groups funded by BSBT are Faith Matters (which runs Tell Mama), the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, Mitzvah Day, Nisa-Nashim, and OneVoice Europe (which runs the normalising Solutions not Sides).
Another recipient of the BSBT programme is the Council of Christians and Jews, the pro-"Israel" group that helped to give birth to FODIP. The CCJ reportedly also “works closely with” the Ostro Fayre Share Foundation, run by the Zionist philanthropist Maurice Ostro. Ostro plays a key facilitating role in “faithwashing” by “partnering with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) from 2016 in rolling out a nationwide initiative called Strengthening Faith Institutions (SFI), which has provided training to over 800 religious institutions in England”. The Ministry has been generous to Ostro, channelling £5.036 million to his foundation between 2015 and 2021 for faithwashing work.
Zionist Collaboration - Maurice Ostro
In turn, Ostro’s foundation donates to the CCJ as well as a host of normalising “faithwashing” groups (including Faiths Forum for London, Nisa-Nashim and the Women’s Interfaith Network). It is instructive that for a time FODIP itself was based at (and had its registered office at) Ostro’s “Collaboration House” in central London, where faithwashing groups are given free office space.
For more than a decade, the Ministry (originally (from 2006) under the name of Department for Communities and Local Government, and since September 2021, named the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) has been funding community groups as part of the government’s community cohesion/extremism agenda. The head of community engagement at the Ministry between November 2018 and May 2022 was Pasha Shah. Shah has been with the Ministry since November 2015. He was promoted to Assistant Director at the Ministry in May 2022.
The curious case of Pasha Shah
Shah’s journey - and his connection to the story we are telling here - is perhaps emblematic of the descent of sections of the left and the Muslim community into the hegemony of neoconservative thinking on Islam and Palestine. Shah has visited Palestine many times both prior to and after working at the ministry and has expressed solidarity with the Palestinians in various ways, (including posting pictures of resistance murals in Palestine on his Facebook profile). He has been critical of Western Foreign Policy in Iraq and West Asia more generally. Before he joined the ministry (from 2004-2010) he was a director of an educational company called Peacemaker Oldham along with the anti-racist scholar Professor Virinder Kalra and the Muslim academic and writer Dr. Sadek Hamed, who is properly critical of the racist Prevent Counter Terrorism policy of the British government.
Five years later, he joined the Ministry and just over a decade later, in June 2021, Shah was awarded an OBE by the Queen. How did he get there? Pasha Shah gave this account of his journey in October 2020:
“I was the last person that I thought would be working in government. As I was very critical of the way in which - I had travelled all over the world, I had seen the way many foreign policy elements affect Muslim countries and I was very critical [of their policy]. … Then I thought to myself I made a choice… either I can stay on this side of the fence and continuously be critical of government and throw stones at government, or I can become part of the solution and try and bring about a change in thinking”.
In practice, from 2010 to the present, Shah has been party to the normalisation agenda which undermines the struggle of the Palestinians. It is notable, though, that Shah does not mention his role as one of the four founding directors of FODIP on his LinkedIn page. It seems that the choice he made was back in 2010 when he founded FODIP. He resigned as a director there on 19 November 2015, which would seem to be a couple of weeks after he became a civil servant, in November that year - a “senior policy adviser” as he calls it, with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. From November 2018, he moved to a new position in the ministry as Head of Community Engagement.
It is instructive to note that the fate of FODIP must during that period have lain in the balance. According to documents disclosed by the Charity Commission under the Freedom of Information Act, income went from £18,000 in 2011 to a high of almost £52,000 in 2014 before dropping precipitously to £11,000 in 2015 and £8,000 in 2016. It would have fallen further to around £4,000 if it had not been for a government grant of nearly £11,000 in 2017. The year after – 2018 – the charity hit its highest-ever income with a total of more than £91,000, for which more than £74,000 was from the ministry where Shah worked. According to disclosures by the ministry itself, FODIP received £62,000 in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 financial years. The latter figure is not accounted for in any FODIP accounts since (as we saw in part 1 of this article) none were produced in 2019 or 2020. Where did the money go?
No doubt Shah’s bosses at the ministry were fully apprised of any conflict of interest he may have had in relation to FODIP should the need have arisen. The conflict would have been first that Shah was a founder of the organisation and had remained involved - going on a FODIP trip to Palestine in late 2018, for example. The second conflict was that the programme director at FODIP, (Seemingly the only salaried staff member at the time) from October 2017 was Sadia Akram. She and Shah are reportedly married. They travelled together on a FODIP trip to Palestine in October 2018 three years after he joined the ministry and a month before, he took over as head of community engagement there.
How the British government bankrolls the Zionist movement
The Ministry for Levelling up, Housing and Communities (formerly the Ministry of Housing and Communities and before that the Department for Communities and Local Government) has long been involved in channelling funding to co-opt civil society groups as well as promoting a significant number of Zionist or Zionist linked groups, including:
· The Union of Jewish Students which co-ordinates closely with the Israeli embassy and is formally signed up to the Zionist movement.
· The Board of Deputies of British Jews, which boasts in its 2020 annual report of a “Close working relationship with the Embassy of 'Israel' in the UK, including with the Ambassador, diplomats, and professional staff, and strengthened links to the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and the IDF [IOF] Spokesperson Department”.
· The Community Security Trust, which has worked directly with Mossad on blurring the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism into the new concept of the “new antisemitism”. It was set up by convicted fraudster Gerald Ronson. Though its charitable objects include public education on “extremism”, Ronson has for four decades financially supported the extremist Chabad-Lubavitch sect.
· The Faith and Belief Forum, which as we saw in part 1 of this article, was set up by prominent Zionist Sigmund Sternberg;
· Faiths Forum for London, another faithwashing enterprise with whom the aforementioned Maurice Ostro is associated; as is Mudassar Ahmed who, as we saw in part 1 of this article, is also a trustee at FODIP and a US State Department/NATO asset.
· Mitzvah Day, run by Laura Marks, former Senior Vice-President of the Board of Deputies, and who has falsely claimed that investigations of interfaith groups and their connections to the Zionist movement are “bullying”, “aggressive” and “vicious”.
· Hope Not Hate, which emerged from a Zionist “anti-fascist” organisation called Searchlight which worked closely with Special Branch and maintained contacts with British, Israeli, French and (Apartheid era) South African intelligence agencies. Hope Not Hate is part of the Islamophobic “counter extremism” project Building a Stronger Britain Together and has platformed British intelligence assets like “women’s rights” group Inspire. Unsurprisingly, amongst its funders are Zionists such as the convicted fraudster Gerald Ronson (mentioned above) and Lord Sainsbury, a key financier of Labour Friends of "Israel".
Shah has visited Palestine on many occasions, including, since becoming a civil servant, with FODIP in 2018, giving every indication even in the years that he was a director at FODIP (2010-15) that he was a supporter of Palestinian rights. It’s not clear how such sentiments can co-exist with working in a group devoted to normalising the Zionist entity and then later working for a Ministry that funds multiple faithwashing and pro-Zionist groups, not to mention his acceptance of an OBE in June 2021.
Attacking Gaza, disciplining school students
On 19 May 2021, as bombs fell on Gaza, the Birmingham City Council shared on its website (archived file) “resources to support discussions about the Middle East” for schools in response to the current situation in "Israel" and Palestine. The update included a PREVENT presentation on "Israel" and Palestine, which endorses both FODIP and Solutions Not Sides the other key normalising group infiltrating schools.
The resources included a PowerPoint presentation produced by the PREVENT team "to assist schools when discussing the current conflict in the Middle East with pupils". On Palestine, the presentation asks "why are there protests?" and regarding Zionist Military aggression at Al-Aqsa during Ramadan explains:
Police say the measures were intended to help pedestrian flow into the Old City. Many people were injured in the violence. Palestinians then fired rockets into "Israel" and the Israeli army responded with air strikes on targets in Gaza.
Typically, Zionist responsibility is minimised, and Palestinian views excluded, in this passage. The presentation also has a slide on the alleged "upsurge" in "antisemitism". By contrast, there is no mention of the well-evidenced increase in Islamophobia, not least in the idea that Muslims are particularly prone to "antisemitism". Unsurprisingly, nor is there any mention of Zionism, colonisation, ethnic cleansing or apartheid.
The presentation then gives "advice for pupils if they are upset about the news" and states, "It's important to remember that upsetting stories are in the news because they are rare - they don't happen very often." This slide is followed by one which states "It’s normal to feel upset" and lists things to do that make you happy, encouraging students to "watch their favourite film, take your dog for a walk or read some of our favourite books." In reality, many young people are much more mature than this advice could allow and in May 2021, they led protests and fundraising attempts in schools all across the UK. These admirable, important and brave actions are taken in the teeth of opposition from the government’s Islamophobic Prevent policy and from supporters of normalisation like FODIP.
The author listed on the presentation file is Ayisha Ali, who works for Birmingham Local Authority Prevent, and is a trustee at Waverly Education Foundation Trust. In her bio for Waverly Education Foundation Trust, Ayisha is described as having worked at: National level with the Home Office and Department for Education, delivering training and workshops … about the dangers of radicalisation and extremism through education”. Ayisha “strongly believes in the rights of the child... She believes every child matters”. Given that she works as a Prevent officer to deliver a policy which allows police to interview children - as young as three years old - in the absence of their parents, this claim might be taken with a sack of salt.
Like Pasha Shah and the apparently well-intentioned people at FODIP, the twin-track steamroller of Zionist ideology and British government counter-extremism simply flatten good intentions in the service of state power in London and "Tel Aviv".
The evidence documented here and in part one of this article is that FODIP was created by Zionist activists to push the normalisation of Zionism in Muslim communities. The evidence also shows that British government money from the Islamophobic counter-extremism policy kept FODIP afloat in 2018 and 2019. To fight normalisation of Zionism we need to be clear that both racist government policies and the infrastructure of the Zionist movement must be dismantled.