UK councils link ‘empathy’ for Palestinians to terrorism threat

York council listed Palestinian activism among risks in local ‘counter-terror profile’, while another flagged up charity collections for Palestine

At least two councils in the UK have identified pro-Palestinian activism and “empathy” for the plight of Syrians and Palestinians as possible factors contributing to extremism in documents relating to their implementation of the government’s Prevent counter-extremism strategy.

One of the councils, City of York Council in northern England, listed “anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian activism” in a list of “key risks” identified in the area’s police-produced Counter Terrorism Local Profile in a Prevent document published in December 2015.

City of York Council has already faced criticism for including anti-fracking environmental campaigners in the same list. The Home Office has subsequently clarified that it does not consider support for either anti-fracking or Palestine to be “indicators of vulnerability” to extremism.

“The Counter Terrorism Local Profile for York and North Yorkshire highlights the key risks to York as evidence of activity relating to Syria, presence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), anti-Israeli/pro-Palestinian activity, hunt saboteurs, animal rights, anti-fracking and extreme right-wing activity,” the document said.

Another council, Calderdale in West Yorkshire, also considered local Palestinian activism including charity collections to be pertinent information in a document setting out what it described as the “Calderdale Context” for the local implementation of the Prevent.

A Prevent report presented to the council’s Communities Scrutiny Panel in March 2015 said:

“There continues to be empathy for the plight of individuals in Syria and Palestine and local charity collections/events continue to take place.”

However police officers told councillors in September 2015 that they spent more time working locally on far-right threats than anything else.

Calderdale was made a priority area for extra Prevent funding in 2015 and has also rolled out a scheme that makes counter-extremism training mandatory for local taxi drivers.

The scheme was deemed so successful that councillors also discussed extending it to bar and takeaway staff.

Full article by Simon Hooper in Middle East Eye
Tuesday 13 December 2016 13:52 UTC

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