War on Want's War on Israel

By richmillett
April 16, 2010

I recently visited War on Want’s offices after seeing this public announcement:

War on Want’s Supermarket Action – to stop the sale of settlement goods. When? 6pm sharp! Where? Meet at War on Want’s offices for a full briefing. Then head to a nearby supermarket. 56-64 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4LT. Nearest tube Old Street.

When I arrived at the building I was directed up to War on Want’s fourth floor offices where another briefing was about to start for those who had missed the first.

About 30 of us heard how we were going to be divided up into four groups. Some of us were to distribute anti-Israel leaflets outside the Barbican’s Waitrose while the others would actually go in and drop the Israeli produce into trolleys and bring the full trolleys to customer services where there would then be a sit-down protest.

Under our coats we would wear the green “Free Palestine” T-shirts handed out to us in the office.

“We are not expecting any kind of aggression towards us but there is always that possibility. If the police do show up we will leave automatically. We will stand up in an orderly fashion and walk out chanting ‘Free Free Palestine’ and we will continue the demonstration outside,” we were told.

We were also introduced to a cameraman and a photographer.

But by then fingers were pointing and I was outed as a “Zionist”.

As I made to leave I was followed down the four flights of stairs by said cameraman and questioned by John Hilary, I believe, WOW’s Chief Exective:

“Who are you from? Why have you come to this place, it wasn’t an open invitation. Just tell me who you are. Who are you?” he kept on while in hot pursuit.

I immediately went to the Waitrose store and told the manager of the imminent invasion. He was grateful but eventually unable to distinguish protesters from normal shoppers.

In the youtube video of the invasion John Hilary gives a speech and then presents the manager of Waitrose with a letter having been told that the police had been called.

Comments posted to youtube under this War On Want video include:

ShaktipatSeer: Stick it to those fascist jews!!

AetherWisp: Did that include all the food we pay a Jewish tax on?

WOW receives funding from the European Commission and the Department of International Development but in the last six years it has also received £1,687,918 from Comic Relief.

It is of no public concern what private donors give directly to a charity, as many do to War on Want, but it is of great concern when publicly donated funds, that people hope are going to help sick and starving children, are going to a charity that embraces immature supermarket games.

How much of Comic Relief’s money might be helping to finance the aforementioned T-shirts, office space, cameramen and photographers?

Are such student pranks really be an allowable objective for a charity like War on Want?

And why can valuable Metropolitan Police time be wasted so unnecessarily by a charity?

We have had the bankers and the politicians, maybe it’s about time the behaviour of our charities is also questioned and investigated.

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Fri, 04/16/2010 - 23:16

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Thanks for this Richard - I have written to the Charity Commission to ask about whether an organization engaged in such (possibly illegal) political campaigning can be called a "charity". I've also written to Comic Relief, who say none of the funds given go to War on Want's Middle East (hate of the Jewish state) campaign.

That's not really good enough, is it? What else can we do?


Sat, 04/17/2010 - 00:00

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I have also written to the Charities Commissioner, this overt political activity contravenes the regulations of a registered charity; they are therefore taking money from the public under false pretences and there charitable status must be rescinded.
I await the commissioners reply which I will post.
More people need to write, a concerted campaign is needed to expose the activities of WOW

Jonathan Hoffman

Sat, 04/17/2010 - 08:12

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The rules on political campaigning by Charities are very permissive. I can say a lot more but not on an open blog.


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