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Monday, 30 January 2012

'Guardian' article published on Holocaust Memorial Day criticized government support for security at Jewish day schools.

The Guardian has apologized for the timing of an article that questioned government funding for security for Jewish schools, but has denied that the story was misleading.

The article on Friday attacked Education Minister Michael Gove for awarding a £2 million grant to the Community Security Trust (CST), a Jewish charity that he used to advise, to help pay for security at Jewish schools across the UK.

“CST is astonished that the Guardian chose to mark Holocaust Memorial Day by attacking the funding provided by the government to pay for security at Jewish state schools in England and Wales.

“This funding is provided to protect Jewish schools against terrorism. This is a real threat: Just this week, authorities in Azerbaijan announced that they had foiled a terrorist plot relating to a Jewish school in Baku,” CST said on Friday.

According to CST, the story was misleading because it suggested the Department for Education pays for CST to provide security at Jewish schools, when in fact the money is only administered by CST and distributed to schools that employ their own security guards.

It added that the Guardian did not come to the charity for comment ahead of the article’s publication.

CST said the overwhelming bulk of its funding comes from voluntary donations from the UK Jewish community, and not from the government. It added that it is grateful for the grant and proud of its role facilitating it.

“There is no allowance made for CST’s staff time in administering the funds to each school. In the end the project actually costs CST money, the exact opposite of the impression given by the Guardian.

“If the Guardian had contacted CST for comment before running the story, we could have explained all of this to them,” CST said.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Friday, the Guardian said that the story was not misleading, as it included “lengthy” comment from the Department of Education. It said CST was not contacted because the story did not claim that the charity had done anything improper.

“The story does not in any way suggest that the funding of security guards for Jewish schools was inappropriate, only that Mr. Gove should have stood aside from the grant giving process given his relationship with CST,” a spokesman said.

The Guardian said it regretted the timing of the article, saying it was entirely inadvertent.

“It was scheduled for publication on Thursday but pushed back because of the volume of news that day. We should have spotted the unfortunate timing and regret any offense caused,” the spokesman said.

After CST contacted the Guardian, the story was amended to say that the money is distributed to the schools, which then employ the security guards themselves.

“As the trust’s role is essentially administrative, none of the money is retained by the trust or pays for any of the trust’s work,” the paper added.

However, CST said the acknowledgment was not reflected in the headline or opening paragraph, “which has not been amended.”

Questions have also been asked about the source of the story, said David Miller, an academic from a pressure group called Spinwatch that calls for transparency in government.

Miller submitted a report against CST at a hearing for Sheikh Raed Salah – head of the Islamic Movement in Israel’s northern branch who is currently in the UK fighting deportation – questioning the charity’s credibility. His report concluded that CST has “a tendency to treat denunciation of Israel or Zionism as evidence of anti- Semitism.”

The Post has asked Miller for a copy of the report.

“The issue here is not really to do with CST but the conduct of the minister, and need for the government to overhaul its transparency rules and regulations,” Miller told the Post.

Popular London-based blog Harry’s Place accused a website run by Miller of lack of transparency after it reproduced material from a well known neo-Nazi in 2009.

Speaking to the Post, Miller said that after this was pointed out, he personally removed the material, acknowledged it was racist, and issued an apology.

However, Harry’s Place said that there has never been any transparency, asking why the author who used the racist material has not been named and if other postings by that author had been removed.

Author and Daily Telegraph blogger Toby Young said on Saturday that nobody was sacked from Miller’s project “for promoting neo-Nazi anti-Semitism.”

Young said the Guardian article “inadvertently highlights the two biggest weaknesses of Guardian journalists: their knee-jerk opposition to public service reform and their willingness to regurgitate anti-Semitic propaganda. Given that Gove is a conspicuous philo-Semite, I daresay he will continue to be targeted. Let’s hope next time the Guardian doesn’t rely on the likes of David Miller,” Young said.

Last year, Miller co-authored a report, titled the “Cold War on British Muslims”, which attacked the funding of two prominent London think tanks. Attending the launch of the report, blogger Richard Millett accused it of inflating the role of Jewish/Zionist funding of those organizations to imply that Zionists are behind Islamophobia in the UK.

jpost.com

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