The Hamas Effect: How the Vast Hamas Network in London is Supporting Jeremy Corbyn
By Baruch Yedid/TPS • 11 December 2019
London-based Hamas official Zaher Birawi has been very busy in the run-up to the December 12 General Election. He runs from meeting to meeting in London. His packed schedule includes tireless activity at Europal, the European-Palestinian Media Forum, support conferences for Jeremy Corbyn and the UK’s Labour Party and endless media interviews. His most common talking point: the dangers of having Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and a full-throated defence of Corbyn from allegations that he is an anti-Semite.
Birawi has launched social media campaigns calling on Muslims in Britain to vote for Corbyn, and personally acted within the congregation at the mosque in Finsbury for this purpose. He spent many years there after leaving Gaza. He is very familiar with the mosques in London, Finsbury Park Mosque and Muslim Welfare, where he met Corbyn years ago.
Birawi and his colleagues in London are the core of the Hamas leadership and the Muslim Brotherhood in the Kingdom. Many of them are known to the Israeli security service and their institutions are outlawed.
Birawi’s busy pre-election agenda has engaged much of the intricate network Hamas has established in London. Its vigorous support for Corbyn is just the tip of the Hamas London iceberg. In Israel, Birawi is believed to be the unofficial representative and head of the “London Hamas group.”
Alongside him are Mohammed Zawallha, Azzam Tamimi, Ibrahim Hamami, Annas Tikriti, Kamal Hawash and Adnan Hamidan, all Hamas activists and the members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Two Zahers
A Palestinian Authority (PA) security official told TPS that while Zaher Jabarin is in charge of Hamas’ military activity in Turkey and Lebanon, Zahar Birawi is considered one of Hamas’ foreign ministry leaders.
A Gaza based official told TPS that Birawi is responsible for “holding the Corbyn file” in Hamas. Birawi does not hide his status and has been photographed on numerous occasions with Hamas’ top leadership in the Gaza Strip.
Birawi has a close relationship with Corbyn and initiated his meeting with the Hamas leadership in Qatar in 2012. At the conference, Corbyn met Hamas senior officials Khaled Mashaal, Muhammad Zawalha, Hussam Badran and Abed Aziz Amar.
Amar was the commander of a terrorist cell responsible for a suicide bombing at the Hillel Cafe in Jerusalem in September 2003 that killed seven people and wounded over 50. Badran was responsible for the attack on the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001 in which 15 people were killed and some 140 were injured. Both were released in the Shalit deal in 2011, shortly before they met Corbyn in Doha.
Birawi also initiated a conference at the London House of Lords on the rehabilitation of Gaza. The conference was attended by Lord John Montagu and Corbyn alongside Tamimi, and Zawalha, who fled Israel.
The Hamas group manages a series of institutions in London, one the most impact is the European-Palestinian Communication Forum. It defines itself as an independent organization dealing with European and Palestinian affairs, with the aim of promoting the Palestinian narrative and establishing foreign relations.
The organization, which also works to remove Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations in Europe, serves Birawi in his relations with Labour. Last April, Europal held a London-based workshop to train activists for “solidarity with Palestine” and to develop a staff of “diplomats” for Hamas. The workshop was also attended by Labour Party activists and members of the Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).
The workshop also addressed the need to redefine the concept of anti-Semitism in the West.
Europal regularly promotes the Labour’s agenda in a range of internal political issues, such as Brexit.
A similar conference, designed to protect Corbyn from accusations of anti-Semitism, was held by the Council on International Relations – Palestine (COIR) from Gaza. On one side stood Bassem Naim, one of the leaders in the Gaza Strip who is entrusted with the BDS portfolio in the organization. On the other side of the video conference was Birawi. The theme of the event was: “Anti-Semitism – Between Principle and Opportunism: Jeremy Corbyn as an example.”
COIR acts as Hamas’ de-facto foreign ministry in Europe. A PA source told TPS that the COIR is trying to replace the PLO’s foreign department. Another source in the Gaza Strip added that Naim is in charge of developing Hamas’ foreign relations and is considered the “foreign ministry’s director general.”
Europal, which replaced the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) after Israel outlawed it for its relations with Hamas, does not hide its activity for Hamas. It recently held a meeting in London to “get to know Hamas.” Labour representatives were also invited.
Last week, Europal held a conference in London, sponsored by the Memo Monitor news site, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The event, meant to support Corbyn, discussed the issue of anti-Semitism and its definitions, with Memo actively participating in the production of the event and writing about it extensively in their online and social media outlets.
The Arab 21 newspaper, which was closed by the PA because of its ties to Hamas, also provided particularly sympathetic coverage to Corbyn and the Labour Party.
Hamas Coddles Corbyn
Birawi, who also serves as the program director and the main host on Al Hiwar TV. It is an Arabic language TV channel operating in London and affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Here too you will hear vocal support of Labour, on behalf of Hamas. The channel collaborates with Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV in the fields of propaganda and publicity.
The activities of Islamic organizations and Labour support events are systematically reported on in the Memo Monitor media outlet and receive sympathetic coverage. The paper, headed by Daud Abdullah and Ibrahim Hewitt, demonstrates a clear Islamic editorial line.
Researchers in Israel consider the newspaper executives part of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in the UK. Hewitt has also been linked to Hamas charitable funds that were outlawed in Israel, most notably Interpal.
Despite being pulled in so many directions, Birwari also managed to join meetings with the International Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC). They announced their intention to launch another flotilla to the Gaza Strip this May. Birawi also heads this organization which also serves as a platform for Hamas-Labour cooperation. In recent years Birawi organized a flotilla for Gaza, with the help of a British nonprofit called Viva Palestina, with ties to Labour activists.
The Hamas system in London is out in full force in broad support campaign of the Corbyn election campaign. The Hamas websites lavish Corbyn with praise as “the friend of Palestine”. Another journalist wrote on the website Al Arab al-Jadeed in London that Corbyn is “the Palestinian president.”
In response to TPS’ report, Naim stated that Hamas has “no representatives in the UK, and accusations that Hamas is interfering in the election and that it supports opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn are unfounded.”
“Israeli media outlets and lobbying organizations in the UK are behind these charges,” he claimed.
“The reason for these claims is the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is fairer in his foreign policy and because he announced in his election campaign that he will recognize the Palestinian state if he wins,” Naim added.