Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding)
|In their own words||[T]o work for a British Middle East policy that promotes conflict resolution, human rights, and civil society in the Arab world through informed debate and mutual understanding.|
- In 2012, total income was £204,709, £59,144 of which came from donations; total expenses were £269,232 (latest available; accessed November 4, 2018).
- On its website, Caabu does not publish donor information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
- Caabu’s 2012 annual report states that “These delegations would not have been possible without the continued support of the Sir Joseph Hotung Foundation at SOAS.” According to Sir Joseph Hotung Charitable Settlement’s 2017 annual report, “The trustees agreed to provide £99,802 for the 3 years 2018 to 2020 to fund parliamentary delegations to Palestine.”
- Chris Doyle, Director of Caabu, and his wife Rim Turkmani, are trustees for the Damask Rose Trust, a registered UK charity. According to its 2010 financial report, Damask Rose Trust received “a significant core cost donation from Gulfsands Petroleum PLC that enables the Trust to progress its ongoing development.”
- Gulfsands Petroleum PLC is an “independent oil & gas exploration and production company, incorporated in the United Kingdom.” Rami Makhlouf, a relative of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, controlled 5.75% of Gulfsands and is on the US and EU sanctions list.
- In February 2012, Caabu announced an “emergency funding drive,” warning that, “if we do not raise substantial funds, Caabu will have to close its office at the end of May.”
- Through the support of the Asfari Foundation, Caabu created the Syrian Development Network to “support and synchronise efforts to provide humanitarian relief, reconstruction and development aid to Syria.”
- The Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) is a lobby group created “to address the lack of a clear voice in British politics that valued relations with the Arab world.” The organization furthers that it is “prepared to stand up for Arab and Palestinian rights.”
- Caabu’s website states that Caabu works to “counter the Israel lobby.”
- According to its website, Caabu is a “not-for-profit cross-party organisation whose mission is to work for a British Middle East policy that promotes conflict resolution, human rights and civil society in the Arab world through informed debate and mutual understanding… Caabu is one of the most active NGOs working on the Middle East in British parliament since its establishment in 1967.”
- Caabu “runs an active advocacy programme in the British parliament.” According to Caabu, “Our advocacy programme helps to ensure that parliamentarians are kept fully briefed on the latest developments in the Middle East.”
- Caabu organizes “fact-finding” visits to the West Bank, together with Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), to disseminate an anti-Israel narrative to British parliamentarians, journalists, and EU politicians. According to Caabu, “A major aspect of Caabu’s parliamentary work involves taking delegations of politicians out to the Middle East, in order for them to develop a better understanding of the region and its key issues.”
- According to Caabu Director Chris Doyle, “The overwhelming majority of delegates return energised by what they have seen and with a sense of duty to address the injustices they have witnessed. More than anything, there is a desperate need to find new ways to resolve this protracted conflict.”
- During one such visit in February 2018, the delegation met with highly politicized groups, including Human Rights Watch, Al-Haq, Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling, Breaking the Silence, Oxfam, Gisha, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (JLAC), Save the Children, Military Court Watch, and Youth Against Settlements.
- In February 2018, several of Caabu’s Parliamentary delegates participated in a debate on the military detention of Palestinian children by Israel. Many of the delegates made numerous false and misleading claims about the IDF and Israeli military courts. The delegates relied on an inaccurate March 2013 UNICEF report that alleged “widespread, systematic and institutionalized” ill-treatment of children within the system. Caabu omits that Israel established a military juvenile tribunal, which entitles minors to significantly better conditions than adults. The group also disregards the circumstances that may have led to such arrests, such as terror activity and violence. (Read NGO Monitor’s report “No Way to Represent a Child: Defense for Children International Palestine’s Distortions of the Israeli Justice System.”)
- On October 24, 2016, SNP MP Joanna Cherry who participated in the October 2016 delegation, raised the issue of Palestinian child detainees in Foreign Affairs Questions, stating, “Last week on a cross-party visit to the west bank I was deeply concerned by the human rights abuses being perpetrated by the Government of Israel.”
- On October 3, 2014, Caabu called for the public to lobby their Members of Parliament to “vote to recognize Palestine” as “Recognising Palestine is to recognise Palestinian right to self-determination. Palestine has acquired the attributes of a state and is ready for statehood. Its borders are subject to negotiation as are Israel’s. Israel should have zero right of veto over another people’s right to self-determination.”
- Caabu’s 2012 report discussed how it is “lobbying government to cut British and European financial ties to settlements.”
- In a 2013 blog posted on the Caabu website, a Caabu member who had returned from a trip claimed to have witnessed “what is undoubtedly Apartheid.”
- In 2010, following a trip organized for a delegation from the “Britain Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group,” Caabu published a report entitled, “The world’s largest prison camp: A report on access to Gaza (Autumn 2010),” erroneously claiming that Israel’s concerns that Hamas could use construction materials for weapons were ill founded.
- In February 2020, following the announcement of President Trump’s “Peace Plan,” Caabu aided in gathering signatories for a letter of former European leaders and foreign ministers, expressing concern to the plan as it “evoke[s] chilling association with South Africa’s bantustans…such an outcome has characteristics similar to apartheid.”
- In January 2020, Caabu Director Chris Doyle, Caabu Chair David Jones MP, and Caabu Board Member Alistair Carmichael MP were signatories on a statement calling for the UK to “address recognition of the state of Palestine,” as “British recognition is overdue. Such an act would help fulfill her promise of equal rights for peoples in two states.”
- In September 2019, Chris Doyle wrote an article titled “Europe lacks the backbone to challenge Israel annexation,” stating that “If the EU is prepared to take on a superpower like Russia, why not Israel too?…suspend or annul the EU-Israel Association Agreement and remove all preferential trade access to the massive EU market for Israeli products and services…[and] impose sanctions on Israeli individuals who have sponsored the illegal settlement enterprise.”
- In April 2018, during the violence on the Gaza border, Caabu released a statement that it was “deeply concerned that Britain is complicit in creating and fostering a culture of impunity regarding Israel and in failing its legal obligations to hold it accountable for the systematic violations of Palestinian human rights.” According to Caabu patron Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, “Disproportionate and excessive violence carried out by a key ally and friend Israel, including the use of live ammunition against unarmed persons should be both strongly condemned and acted upon.” Caabu ignored the violent nature of the protests, which included Molotov cocktails, arson, and attempts to breach the border fence with Israel.
- In July 2017, Caabu organized a briefing on “Jerusalem, 50 Years On: Unification or Occupation?” featuring Daniel Seidemann, founder of Terrestrial Jerusalem. At the event, Seidemann stated, “Israel has a choice…either it can have its united Jerusalem, or it can have international legitimacy. It cannot have both.” Seidemann furthered that “while it used to be a ‘benign’ occupation that existed,” it was now an “’unapologetic’ and ‘metastasizing’ occupation which exercises constant collective punishment” (emphasis added).
- On March 20, 2017, Caabu hosted Richard Falk’s book launch “Palestine’s Horizon: Toward a Just Peace.”
- Falk, the former “UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” is a fringe “9/11 conspiracy theorist” and has been widely denounced, including by the former Secretary-General of the UN, for vile comments blaming the Boston terrorist attack on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”
- In June 2015, Caabu hosted a talk by Dr. Mads Gilbert about the 2014 Gaza War. Gilbert repeatedly and falsely accuses Israel of deliberately targeting civilians and invents allegations of use of illegal weapons.
- In July 2014, Caabu published an article titled “What would you do if rockets were being fired at your cities and towns?” blaming Israel solely for the conflict, stating if Israel had not allowed the “Collective punishment of 1.8 million people in Gaza,” the “47 years of occupation,” and agreed to “recognise the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people; The right to an independent viable sovereign Palestinian state,” than “would we be where we are now?”
- In August 2014, Chris Doyle, Director of Caabu, published an article in Al Arabiya English titled “Israel and the language of genocide,” accusing Israel of “an unprecedented level of hate, bigotry and even genocidal language.” Doyle claimed that Israel is “stoking” incitement and hatred, and blamed Israel for the continuation of the conflict.
- In April 2014, Doyle wrote an op-ed condemning Israel for how it “takes land, resources, uses torture and overwhelming and indiscriminate force, implements collective punishment against civilian populations, demolishes homes and has denied freedom to millions of Palestinians for decades. Areas of historic Palestine have been ethnically cleansed with over 500 Palestinian villages simply destroyed” (emphasis added).
- On June 19, 2013, Caabu member Kirkland Newman Smulders called for people to lobby their representative, “asking for action on behalf of the Palestinians (e.g.: settlement freeze; implementation of international law; respect for human rights according to international law, etc…).”
- In November 2012, Caabu held an event with Amnesty-UK and Defence for Children International- Palestine to launch a report titled “Palestinian detainees: no security in injustice,” which alleged Israel’s “widespread use of detention without trial, rampant ill-treatment and ethnically-segregated systems of law entrench mistrust, increase tensions and ultimately exacerbate the conflict.”
- On April 18, 2011, Caabu hosted Dr Swee Ang, founding member of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
- Dr. Swee Ang was one of the main authors of the “Open Letter for the People of Gaza,” published in The Lancet medical journal (July 23, 2014), which accused Israel of “war crimes” and carrying out a propaganda campaign that “justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre.” The letter made numerous unsubstantiated allegations, including accusing Israel of utilizing illegal weaponry to deliberately kill civilians and engaging in a “military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists.” The letter also denies Israel’s right to self-defense and fails to mention Hamas rocket fire and terror tunnels from Gaza into Israeli territory.
- Swee Ang promoted a video made by American white supremacist David Duke, who was expelled from Italy for “allegedly trying to establish a pan-European neo-Nazi group.” The video is described on Duke’s YouTube page as “reveal[ing] how the Zionist Matrix of Power controls Media, Politics and Banking and how each Part of this Tribalist matrix supports and protects each other!”
- In 2010, Caabu published “One Year on from War: A Report on the Humanitarian and Political Situation in Gaza.” The report claims that Israel is primarily responsible for the humanitarian situation in Gaza and erases the smuggling through tunnels of weapons for Hamas and other terror groups.
- Accuses the British government of ignoring Israeli “land grabs, settlements, and home demolitions,” and that the country is in “explicit violations of international law.”
- In March 2018, Caabu hosted an event titled “100 years and counting: the contested past and uncertain future of the Palestine-Israel conflict.” At the event, Ian Black, a journalist, stated that “the banning of Israeli settlements products should be encouraged as an effort to exert pressure on the Israeli authorities and hold them accountable for its settlement policies against the Palestinians. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is completely correct to call for the boycott of Israeli settlements.”
- In February 2017, Participant on a delegation, Tommy Sheppard wrote an article about his experiences and called on the UK Government to “issue guidance to businesses making clear the difference between Israel itself and the occupied territories.”
- In December 2016, Chris Doyle, the Director of Caabu, stated that the “gap between Europe’s rhetoric on illegal settlement growth and our actions is widening. We have reached a nonsensical situation where we are economically and financially sustaining the very obstacles to peace we so often condemn.”
- In February 2016, Doyle wrote a letter to The Independent calling on the British Government to “End this illicit trade and stop selling arms to Israel and regimes with appalling human rights records,” stating that it is a “disgrace that the Government smears and criminalises those who decide through choice not to buy certain products but do nothing about those actually committing serious crimes, even war crimes. The Government has done nothing to stop trade in settlement goods which is trade in proceeds of crime, from land that belongs to another people, in a project designed to destroy any chances for peace.”
- In November 2015, supported the EU’s decision to label Israeli products from the West Bank and Golan Heights.
- In June 2015, Charlie Garnett, Advocacy and Research at Caabu, wrote an article about attempts to suspend Israel from FIFA stating, “Palestinian players suffer under the occupation, both physically and though [sic] the travel restrictions imposed. Teams from illegal settlements in the West Bank continue to play in official Israeli leagues unhindered. Racism continues to go unpunished. A glimmer of hope arises from football in Israel but the overriding outlook is one of despair.”
- On February 12, 2014, Chris Doyle wrote an op-ed titled “Forget boycotts, Israeli settlement goods should be banned,” stating that “An army of rabbits could feed off the carrots dangled in front of Israel to abandon its settlement enterprise but it has not. Action will happen. It will not be a question of whether we should be buying settlement goods but why can we? Settlement products should not have to be boycotted. They must be banned.”
- In November 2013, Caabu welcomed the UK Department Trade and Investment’s decision to stop “promoting trade in settlements,” and “Caabu is determined that the British government should have a zero tolerance policy towards these illegal settlements. They are illegal, immoral and an obstacle to peace, specifically the two-state solution. British businesses too should have no business with settlements. In that respect it is extremely disappointing that companies such as Tesco have still not stopped selling products from settlements.”
- In June 2013, Kirkland Newman Smulders, Caabu member, urged people to “Boycott all Israeli products, divest from any Israeli holdings, and encourage sanctions where possible. This is what really tipped the balance to end Apartheid in South Africa.”
- Was a signatory to the 2012 report “Trading Away Peace” that repeats the BDS agenda, calling on the EU and individual European governments to wage political warfare through various forms of economic sanctions against Israel.
- According to Caabu, “We believe that banning settlement products is a logical extension of UK government policy and we will continue to push on this in 2013.”
- In March 2011, signed on a letter to the British government to “halt immediately the sale of arms” to Israel, listing it as one of a few “regimes that engage in repression.” States on this list include Bahrain, Morocco, and Yemen.
- Caabu lists Rt. Hon. Lord David Steel of Aikwood, Dr. Hanan Ashwari, and Rt. Hon Peter Hain MP as “patrons.”
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