Skip to Content


Trustees and trustworthiness

11 June 2011

6:44 PM

11 June 2011

6:44 PM

I have been accused this week of conducting a witchhunt against London Citizens/Citizens
UK, the “citizens organisers” and darlings of the political class. It seems some people are quite content that this liberal institution has a trustee who supports Hamas. They may also turn a blind eye to concerns raised by End Child Detention Now about the
organisation’s peculiar partnership with the UK Border Agency:

The shrill cry of witchhunt comes from Independent Jewish Voices, the organisation set up to provide an alternative liberal outlet for British

As it happens, my charity funds London Citizens via the Future Jobs Fund, so I would better be described as a “concerned stakeholder”, to use the fashionable jargon. Indeed as a
concerned citizen I worry when people are asking for an organisation to be given a free pass just because it says it does good work.

Here is Miri Weingarten on the IJV website earlier this week. I have a lot of time for Miri, who is the
Israeli director of JNews, a member of Physicians for Human Rights and a well-informed and considered voice on Israel-Palestine.

She argues that it should not be an issue to work with an organisation with a trustee who supports Hamas and then provides a rather eloquent set of reasons why is should be:

"It’s important to remember that Hamas as a de facto government is repressive, conservative and violent. It employs the death penalty, arbitrarily detains and tortures political
opponents (as does the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank), and employs terrorizing and bullying tactics to exert control over social behaviour (especially mixed gender

It is quite legitimate for anyone who believes in universal human rights to challenge an organisation with a trustee who supports that catalogue of horror.

But some on the left are determined to make common cause with religious authoritarians so it’s interesting to see the argument:

“In my opinion it is important to heed and strengthen the voices of Gaza-based human rights organisations and civil society, which are struggling to expose and counter the repression by
Hamas as a government, while at the same time upholding its legitimacy as a political entity and working against political fragmentation and for unity, in the hope of achieving a representative
government that works to fulfill individual human rights as well as the collective rights of Palestinians.”

I salute Miri Weingarten for her generosity of spirit. And look forward to the first Jewish left-wing woman to serve in a Hamas-led government.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments