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The Cordoba Foundation and the Public Interest Investigations have recently published ‘The Henry Jackson Society and the Degeneration of British Neoconservatism‘, sub-titled, ‘Liberal interventionism, Islamophobia and the ‘War on Terror’. Three of the four authors are associated with the University of Bath – Professor of Sociology David Miller, and doctoral candidates Tom Griffin and Hilary Aked – where the report was launched on 11th June 2015. The other author is researcher Dr Sarah Marusek.

Their hard-hitting analysis dissects the origins, intellectual geneology, internal squabbes and funding basis of HJS (Henry Jackson Society, named after a Democrat US senator  to the rght of the party,  and staunch supporter of  military interests)  in the US and Britain. It describes the movement’s launch in the UK in 2005, thanks mainly to support from ‘High Tory’ academics based at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, who shared the  neocon vision,’ that liberal democracy should be spread across the world; that as the world’s most powerful democracies, the United States and the European Union – under British leadership – must shape the world more actively by intervention and example; that such leadership requires political will, a commitment to universal human rights and the maintenance of a strong military with global expeditionary reach’. The report notes by 2008, ‘while the thinking of the founders of the HJS had been shaped by a number of conflicts, including Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland, support for Israel now became the dominant strand. The society’s support for the ‘War on Terror’, though still couched in the progressive language of liberal interventionism, brought it into closer alignment with distinctly illiberal anti-Muslim groups.’

The UK-based HJS worked hand-in-glove with  partisans  of Israel such as Just Journalism and Student Rights,  the latter obtaining  support of Quilliam’s Ghaffar Hussain to serve on its advisory board. The reoort  documents the emergence of Douglas Murray as an HJS leader, and his squabble with former Tory MP and former shadow Communities Minister Paul Goodman (now editor of ConservativeHome) :

The immediate issue was gay marriage, which Goodman opposed and Murray supported. ‘In opposing the government’s equal-marriage proposals’, Murray wrote of Goodman in The Spectator, ‘he cites among other things the importance of canvassing Muslim opinion in any plan for equality. To call this disingenuous is to state the situation too generously’.

Of particular interest to a Muslim readership is the report’s forensic analysis of  William Shawcross, author of an an article published in the  National Review Online in April 2010 stating, ‘the government has cosseted extremist Islamist preachers of hatred to a shocking degree’. The gentleman,  ‘ founder of the Friends of Israel Initiative, was appointed a member of the board of directors of the Henry Jackson Society on 19 October 2011’.  Shawcross is currently Chair of the Charity Commission – further details of his impact have been documented in the Claystone report Muslim Charities: A Suspect Sector, published in November 2014.

In pursuing its Muslim-hostile agenda, the HJS has ventured into women’s rights to find some of its opportunistic initiatives back-firing:

The tension between the society’s attempt to appeal to liberals over issues like women’s rights and its increasingly right-wing agenda also continued in January 2015. That month it published a report on ‘honour’-based violence against women in the UK, which it noted was predominantly a problem in minority South Asian communities. The report followed a screening hosted by HJS in summer 2014 of the film ‘Honour Diaries’, which was produced by the New York-based Islamophobic organisation the Clarion Project. Before this, HJS had never shown any substantive interest in women’s rights in the UK; it had never, for example, conducted any research previously on the far more widespread problem of domestic violence more broadly. But the society’s nascent interest in women’s rights is undermined by the fact that in the same month it hosted a talk by the Republican Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal. Known for being a staunch pro-lifer, in December 2014 he had become embroiled in a row due to his involvement in a prayer rally paid for by the ultra-conservative American Family Association, which is accused of linking natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina to the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage and abortion.

The report concludes with a detailed analysis of  the information on HJS’s funding that is available from public sources, noting, ‘an examination of this known funding leads to two main conclusions. Firstly, there has been a large overlap between funders of the HJS and other pro-Israel causes in recent years. Secondly, HJS’s largest-known donors include a number of prominent Conservative Party donors’. It is a travesty that such a partisan organisation is considered a bona-fide registered charity (registered in England and Wales under registered charity number 1140489). What public benefit requirement is it meeting?

 

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