A Jewish lawyer who was ordered to undergo ‘diversity training’ and pay a fine of £1,750 for calling an Anti-Israel group “scummy racists, bullies and cowards” has won his fight to have the decision overturned on appeal.
The demand that lawyer Matthew Berlow of Glaslow, Scotland, undergo diversity training followed a complaint made against him by a member of a pro-Palestinian activist group, known as the ‘Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign’ (SPSC) online.
Berlow had spoken out against the group after a local Jewish business owner was allegedly repeatedly harassed by them, the Jewish Chronicle reports.
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Mr Berlow spoke out to defend Nissan Ayalon, who ran the Jericho Skin Care stall in Glasgow before moving to Aberdeen. In both locations, he was targeted by the SPSC, it is claimed. The business owner said he’d been accused of mass murder and being a baby killer by the group and likened the harassment to a game of “chase the Jew”.
As well as calling the SPSC “scummy racists, bullies and cowards”, lawyer Berlow also said to the group that they had “simply found a soft Jewish target to aim your bile at”.
One campaigner, Dr Karolin Hijazi, a Dentist of Palestinian descent, took issue with Mr Below’s comments on Facebook. Mr Berlow described her as a “thin-skinned… wannabe social justice warrior”, a “snowflake” and said if she was offended by his posts she should “perhaps switch off her computer, avoid heated political debate and perhaps stick to pulling teeth”.
Hijazi contacted the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) who determined that Mr Berlow, himself married to a Muslim woman, would have to pay a fine of £1,750 for “intemperate language” and undergo diversity training.
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Mr Berlow appealed against the decision and tried to raise funds for his appeal through the ‘JustGiving’ website. However, members of the SPSC contacted the website and successfully had his page removed as they complained that it violated the website’s terms of service.
A London-based Queens Counsel (QC) subsequently agreed to take on Berlow’s case for free. Mr Berlow agreed to pay the fine but was not required to pay the substantial legal costs of his appeal, nor was he required to attend the diversity training. He described paying the fine as “the cost of defending Israel”.