‘Islamophobic’ Labour donor deleted his Twitter but forgot about screengrabs

David Abrahams deleted Twitter and Keir Starmer
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Labour Party donor David Abrahams has been at the centre of a storm over alleged Islamophobia. One organisation called tweets he sent “abhorrent”. Now, Abrahams has deleted his Twitter account. Sadly for him, screengrabs means the history books will remember what he said.

Meet David Abrahams

Abrahams is a property developer and business person. The Guardian noted that he:

has a long history with the Labour party, holding office as a councillor in the 80s and unsuccessfully running as Labour candidate for Richmond, North Yorkshire, in the 1992 general election.

Previously associated with Tony Blair, Abrahams reportedly gave hundreds of thousands to Labour. He ceased his donations in 2016 after remarks made by Naz Shah, the Labour MP, and the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, which were condemned as antisemitic.

What the Guardian forgot to say

The Guardian failed to mention a couple of things. Firstly, that Abrahams is a former treasurer of the lobby group Labour Friends of Israel. It was linked in 2017 to a scandal involving an Israeli diplomat and a plot to ‘take down’ UK politicians who support Palestine. Then secondly, the Guardian omitted that he was caught up in a donations scandal to Labour under Blair in around 2007. In 2009, the Crown Prosecution Service, at the time headed by Starmer, announced it had “insufficient evidence” to bring charges against Abrahams.

Since Jeremy Corbyn’s departure, Abrahams reportedly started donating to Labour again. The Times reported that Abrahams said:

When Keir came in I knew I was supporting somebody who was decent… I’m happy to start to donate to Labour and if I find that we’re committed to the right policies I’m happy to donate more.

Read on...

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“Abhorrent”

But now, tweets Abrahams posted over recent years have hit the headlines over their Islamophobic content. A spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) told the Guardian:

Abrahams’ abhorrent and deeply Islamophobic views that he has felt emboldened to publish in the past is yet more evidence of how prevalent and seemingly acceptable Islamophobia in British society is.

Just last week, the Labour Muslim Network (LMN) published a report exposing a culture of Islamophobia and discrimination within parts of the Labour Party which echo the unacceptable views Abrahams has voiced.

The Labour Party, in its work to address other forms of racism from within its ranks, must also stand firm against Islamophobia and take decisive action against this kind of hate.

So, just what did Abrahams say that has caused this storm? Sadly, he appears to have deleted his Twitter account. But thanks to the art of the screengrab, his tweets are still out there.

Sorry, what?

Ben Jolly tweeted a selection of them:

This Twitter user also found one that said:

Mosques should train Imams locally and not have to import them from countries such as Pakistan who don’t speak English. Ban on foreign Imams?

But this Islamophobia wasn’t just historic. Abrahams tweeted this in January:

The coward’s way out

Abrahams did not respond to the Guardian when it asked him for comment. The Canary‘s editor-at-large Kerry-Anne Mendoza summed up the situation well:

Aside from the racism, Abrahams has done himself no favours by deleting his Twitter account. Because it’s a direct failure to be accountable for his comments. Instead, he took the coward’s way out and hoped it would all go away. How wrong he was.

Featured image via Twitter screengrab and the BBC – YouTube

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  • Show Comments
      1. Unfortunately, it appears from your comment you didn’t read the third and most recent, which requires no explaination to any but a small child – It clearly and unquestionably labels the entire middle east barring Israel as terrorists.

        1. If he or anyone else had tweeted ‘Israel chose terror’ you would all be defending his right to free speech.

          Islam and Islamic theocracies, some of which are neighbours of Israel, are just as much political entities as Zionism and Israel. In fact his tweets lean more toward playing of Jewish stereotypes. Even Steve ‘Rothschilds’ Topple knows his case is piss-poor and puts ‘Islamophobic’ in inverted commas.

    1. I don’t think you should, for example, be writing about the collapse of Jewish publications in a perceivably satisfied tone, whatever the reasons for it are, or using the term ‘Zionist’ without quotes or scare quotes, because these both push buttons and invoke a baggage that I would hope is not intended. Potentially both can have a dog whistle aspect, depending on the reader and the flux of readers’ journeys.

      But there is an apparently growing sub-genre of memoir that is about people leaving the Hasidic tradition in particular, whether or not there is a homosexual or ‘queer’ identity behind the journey. These books are not – over all, in the meta-journalism – regarded as antisemitic, yet they criticise _aspects_ of a Jewish culture. No doubt the books have outraged many Jewish people, within and outside of the Hasidic tradition, but views drawn from that outrage have not been used in the same way as notions of antisemitism have been used against Corbyn’s Labour. We will have been hit several times with this charge of antisemitism, from the initial accusations, through the more than suspect ‘independent’ review to its consequences for Corbyn, his team and followers. This itself feels deliberate, a staggered series of assaults that are as likely to push many to quietism as to provoke. But it doesn’t feel that the best defence has been made – it has been weakened by clumsy language even where conceptually there is clarity in some over the difference between criticising the state of Israel and genuine antisemitism.

      We of leftist commitment are often traumatised people, often working class and grappling with language and thought in ways our assailants aren’t. It makes for flawed work, as often as not. Can we admit this now, while pursuing this latest opportunity to say what needs saying of Abrahams, be more conscious of previous failures, mindful, continually learn from what goes wrong and what is imperfectly expressed, and not out of an aggressive-defensivity keep turning scratchy argument into defeat?

      1. By the bowels of Satan….Zionism is a political movement, therefore Zionist is properly used without quote marks. Why one shouldn’t feel ‘satified’ at the failure of a Jewish publication is beyond me. I’d be very happy to hear the Jewish Chronicle has folded. It published many untruths desingned to harm Jeremy Corbyn didn’t it ? I think it’s a loathsome rag & I have every right to say so. My sentiment is mine & of no concern to anybody else.

      2. IDO1O471: An interesting comment. However I wonder if you could expand on “… even where conceptually there is clarity in some over the difference between criticising the state of Israel and genuine antisemitism.” Also, although I agree with some of your thoughts concerning ‘language and thought’, which is a consequence of bourgeois cultural norms, I am less convinced with the labels of trauma and even working-class as these too are bourgeois notions. Do I detect a sousent of pyscho-babbel to undermine valid criticism?

        1. When a bit younger I was having poems published in magazines, and often going to London to read them. I’d be baffled sometimes to hear well brought up middle class types, often from good Catholic and Jewish homes, using words like ‘chav’ and ‘pikey’ when I’d thought what we were in those rooms and magazines for was to show an uncommon care with language. If I had been inclined back then to write on antisemitism I would not push buttons in a poems’ lines by telegraphing a viewpoint into a word that is inevitably going to make many immediately think, Oh, here we go… What has happened to Labour, and very much therefore to the country’s potential, is heartbreaking and disgusting, and I really do feel the weight of it as if personally threatened – I would think anyone of any sensitivity actually is. But it will take subtlety of thought and language to regroup from the position we’re now in. If people tried to make punk happen again now, with the same lyrical crudeness, it would be laughable wouldn’t it? Even to someone like me, needing urgent change. (I would say I have PTSD from five years of fighting corrupt local police and local government without help.)

          Despite this, yes, ‘the state of Israel’ was a bit of s smudged phrase – I merely meant to refer to the military actions of its current leaders and am only referring to the same obvious but legitimate argument Labour and anyone sensible makes on the distinction between that corrupt face of Israel and people of Jewish and Israeli heritage.

          Regarding psychobabble – I have just posted a letter to the local mental health team over its clumsy handling of my situation, and in that I talk of the void between the conscientious written work that is at least in theory the foundation of the services and what draws some of us to engaging with therapists; and the catalogue of often shocking, abusive conduct once the material is wielded by people of suspect ethics and low levels of self-awareness. I owe my slow but sure recovery to material on Narcisssistic Persnoality Disorder, having survived the behaviour of two people who undoubtedly have ‘it’ or what the literature describes, if a construct/ enabling fiction is too much. The practitioners are often awful, but the best psychology literature is an invaluable part of anyone’s emancipation. People all too often judge them together and lose a lot that way. If I could have bought myself out of my situation, with a lawyer, I’d have missed so much. I’d hope I will have better material circumstances before long but I’m not going to dismiss ideas that seem worse than intangible to some when they’ve brought me infinitely more than better material conditions could.

          I’m saying this in a damp council bedsit, with fifteen quid in the bank, and I do hope that that provides some context for what I’m saying – I’m not speaking from anything like a place of comfort in Belsize Park. Unlike even good leftist Guardian journalists I’m not speaking theoretically at a distance from things. If I were not calling what I’ve fought beyond ‘trauma’ and if I did not identify as in fact a member of an underclass for the last twenty-five years I would be entirely at sea now. To me that would be a psychotic kind of denial. The labels are the footholds.

          1. Thank you for elaborating your personal situation. I can only wish you the best in the future, both spiritually and materially. Generally I think the equation involves that most of us are born into this world as ‘lumpen-proletarians’ and the process of becoming conscious of our place in the world, our ‘class consciousness’ in Marx’s analysis, probably involves issues that are similar to trauma. However, if becoming ‘proletarian’ gets fixated on a notion of ‘necessary’ trauma, which I thought was implied in your comments, it may become a believable ‘stick’ to be used against us by any ideological opponents. I was probably over-thinking.
            PS thanks for the mention of NPD it seems to define some significant people in my life and my recent theories about them and their behaviour.

    2. Starmer after Jeremy’s retinstatement;
      “I’m sorry, Mister Murdoch, very very sorry”
      “You have failed me, Starmer, ME! And you know the penalty for that!”
      “No, please, no Mister Murdoch, not the piranhas, not the piranhas, anything but the Piranhas!”
      “Don’t worry Starmer, I’ve got rid of the piranhas …” (presses button on desk)
      “No! No! Aaaaaaiiiiiieeee!” SPLASH!
      “I’ve got a 20-foot saltie (crocodile) Instead! The only thing it can’t digest is social workers and leather!”

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