Meet Edward Isaacs, the student waging a campus war for Israel

Edward Isaacs and his predecessor Nina Freedman posing with Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Twitter)

Kit Klarenberg

The Electronic Intifada  /  December 16, 2021

In October The Electronic Intifada exposed how Bristol student turned right-wing journalist Sabrina Miller, a long-time Zionist operative, played a pivotal role in the removal of Professor David Miller from his Bristol university post in the UK.

Sabrina Miller waged a cynical, dishonest, determined campaign over several years to frame David Miller as an anti-Semite, for daring to expose the racist reality of the Israel lobby.

She was not alone.

There were several other Bristol students who served as highly effective foot soldiers of the apartheid state in its informational assault on academic freedom.

Among them was Edward Isaacs, head of the university’s Jewish society.

Reached by The Electronic Intifada via email, Bristol university Jewish Society declined to comment.

Like Sabrina Miller, his rise to the position of pro-Israel propagandist began while in his final years at high school. In Isaacs’ case this was Haberdashers’ Boys’ School, a prestigious private establishment whose fees amount to more than $28,000 per year.

It was then that he secured a place with the United Jewish Israel Appeal’s elite Israel Fast Track Program, which aims to create a “lifetime of connection” between British Jews and the Zionist state, starting in primary schools. This was the exact same program of indoctrination which Sabrina Miller attended as a school child.

The group pushes initiatives that make “Israel inspiring, relevant and accessible to young people,” while also encouraging children to “explore” Zionism and “experience the wonders and challenges of the Jewish state.”

Under the program, each year 20 British school students aged 16-18 are offered the opportunity to spend three months going “deeper into your understanding of Israel than ever before,” and are taught to “develop their own Zionist narrative” in order to make them “empowered to be leaders in the Israel conversation in the community, online and on campus.”

Isaacs graduated from the program in April 2019, with such flying colors that he became a literal poster boy for the initiative, with photos of him on the trip being used to promote it online. A survey of Isaacs’ cohort of Israel Fast Track fellows found that 100 percent of participants “agreed or strongly agreed that the program made them more aware of the challenges in modern Israeli society.”

Shortly after beginning the fellowship, Isaacs became co-chair of his school’s Jewish Society. Over the course of his tenure, the group hosted talks by a number of high-profile Zionist operatives, including Mark Regev who was then Israel’s ambassador to the UK, and Neil Lazarus, a motivational speaker responsible for “training spokespersons” for Israel, including Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the parastatal Jewish Agency for Israel.

The Jewish Agency is the World Zionist Organization’s operative branch, which facilitates Jewish settlement and colonization of Palestine.

In November 2018, the school’s Jewish Society held an event featuring representatives of StandWithUs, a pro-Israel lobby group with close ties to the highest levels of the Israeli government.

By the time he joined Bristol university, Isaacs was therefore a well-trained propagandist for Israel.

So it was that he began a degree in Politics and International Relations at Bristol in the autumn of 2020. By November he was chosen as president of the university’s Jewish Society.

At the start of February 2021, Isaacs took part in a livestream discussion with Bristol West Member of Parliament Thangham Debbonaire along with representatives from the Board of Deputies of British Jews – a pro-Israel lobby group. The topic was ostensible “concerns of Jewish students in Bristol.”

That month, the campaign against David Miller began to gear up significantly with the launch of a Change.org petition by Sabrina Miller to evict the academic from campus, promoted via highly misleading columns she authored for The Daily TelegraphThe Jewish Chronicle and in a blog post on the The Times of Israel’s website.

On 13 February, during an event organized by Labour Against the Witchhunt, David Miller said he had been “attacked and complained about” by the head of Bristol’s Jewish Society, among others.

He was speaking of the wider effort against him, which Sabrina Miller herself has stated had begun two years prior. This was well before Isaacs assumed the position of leader of Bristol’s Jewish Society, when it was held by Nina Freedman.

A leaked internal Bristol university report obtained by The Electronic Intifada suggests that Freedman was the only current student to make a formal complaint against the professor, despite not having attended any of his lectures or even speaking to anyone who had (and only after the promoting of an off-campus pro-Israel group).

Her objections were ruled by a leading British lawyer – who wrote the leaked report – to be “entirely without merit.” The document also revealed that “no complaints have been made against Professor Miller to the university by any of his students.”

Yet the academic’s statements at the Labour Against the Witchhunt event prompted Isaacs to repeatedly – and falsely – claim the academic was personally targeting him.

Isaacs claimed as much in podcasts and quotes given to The Jewish Chronicle while actively soliciting contact from students who’d had “any previous personal experience of David Miller’s classes or been made to feel uncomfortable as a result of his comments” in advance of a formal meeting with Bristol university representatives.

“Action must be taken”

On 19 February, Isaacs launched a #HateOffCampus campaign in conjunction with the Union of Jewish Students – a pro-Israel group that Bristol Jewish Society is affiliated to.

However in an accompanying video, published by Bristol Jewish Society, Isaacs made abundantly clear that the initiative was entirely targeted at David Miller.

It stated that the academic and “his views have no place on our campus,” for which “action must be taken,” with no reference to any other alleged purveyor of bigotry or racism.

Five days later, at an online #HateOffCampus rally, reading off a prepared statement, Isaacs falsely proclaimed that the academic had “brazenly and openly attacked Jewish students for being a part of Bristol Jewish Society,” accusing him of possessing “fanatical views” and believing “dangerous conspiracy theories.”

In a perverse irony, Isaacs’ speech was commended by retired army colonel Richard Kemp, a fundamentalist Christian Zionist who helped found the Friends of Israel Initiative, which notoriously harbors viciously Islamophobic views, and has consistently denied war crimes perpetrated in Gaza by Israeli occupation forces.

In February 2020, Kemp appeared alongside Yossi Kuperwasser – former research chief of the Israeli army’s military intelligence division – at an event convened by the Bristol University Conservative Association.

The Bristol Student Union Black and Minority Ethnic Network vigorously opposed Kemp’s appearance.

Isaacs however thanked Kemp for his endorsement, in a post signing off with #HateOffCampus.

Isaacs falsely claimed that Jewish students were “fearful” of David Miller “finding out they are Jewish” in an interview with The Times (a piece he proudly shared on Facebook). In the meantime, Isaacs had secured the United Jewish Israel Appeal’s support in organizing a Bristol Jewish Society event with Neil Wigan, the UK’s ambassador to Israel.

In April, Isaacs and AJ Solomon, his vice president, won the Union of Jewish Students’ Campaign of the Year award, alongside the Community Security Trust, a pro-Israel group with deep links to Israel, including even to its deadly Mossad spy agency.

Isaacs had been promoting the Community Security Trust’s work for some time by, for instance, endorsing its report about alleged anti-Semitism on UK campuses.

By the organization’s own reckoning, if levels of anti-Semitism in the UK rise (or perhaps are perceived to rise) the CST “will generally receive more support, including funding.”

In February 2021, Isaacs referred to “how incredible CST have been in supporting us” and asked his followers to contribute to their crowdfunding campaign – despite the millions in government funding the group has received.

“Tireless work”

In May 2021, the Union of Jewish Students’ chief executive Arieh Miller visited Bristol to meet with Isaacs, Sabrina Miller and Nina Freedman – the three students who led the campaign against David Miller.

Just as Sabrina Miller benefited significantly from her decisive contribution to the campaign against David Miller, Isaacs gives every appearance of having been rewarded for his efforts.

During the summer of 2021 Isaacs undertook a three-month internship with Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and a British-born Jewish supremacist.

Speaking to The New York Times in May, Hassan-Nahoum sought to justify the blatantly racist Israeli laws that allow them to evict Palestinians from their homes, while letting Jewish people “return,” such as the government has done in East Jerusalem neighborhoods like Sheikh Jarrah.

“This is a Jewish country. There’s only one,” she said. “There are laws that some people may consider as favoring Jews — it’s a Jewish state. It is here to protect the Jewish people.”

Isaacs seems to have first met Hassan-Nahoum thanks to his participation in the Israel Fast Track Fellowship.

Isaacs has said that Hassan-Nahoum’s “immense drive and determination” is “inspiring.” His posting with her was arranged by the Forum for Jewish Leadership, another pro-Israel group.

During his internship, Isaacs was a guest of honor at the Israeli government’s seventh “Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism” in Jerusalem on 13-15 July.

Isaacs was specifically selected to offer a “personal story” at the conference’s opening. In his brief speech, he referred to his presence there as his “greatest honor,” claiming that prior to being chosen as Bristol Jewish Society’s president, he had “never encountered any personal, direct anti-Semitism” and so “was expecting a year of chicken soup and student socials.”

Instead, he falsely charged, Miller had used his position at the university to “harass and intimidate Jewish students.” In a tweet sharing clips of his appearance, Isaacs hailed the “tireless work” of the Union of Jewish Students to remove the academic from his post.

Isaacs described himself in the speech as a “proud Zionist.” Zionism is Israel’s racist official ideology.

The deeply dishonest oratory was enthusiastically applauded by the audience.

At the event, Isaacs met with Michael Dickson, the leader of Israel lobby group StandWithUswho deemed the student “brave” and called Isaacs and Solomon “heroes.” A Facebook post shows the trio grinning broadly outside the headquarters of StandWithUs in occupied Jerusalem.

Isaacs and Solomon subsequently went on a tour of the ever-multiplying Gush Etzion settlement bloc – in the illegally occupied West Bank. All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered to be war crimes under international law.

Along the way, Isaacs was among a large group of Jewish students who spent a night “in the desert under the stars.” They were guided by Steve Gar, an Israeli army “counter-terror” trainer.

Quite where Isaacs will end up next is anyone’s guess. Clearly though, he is being groomed for great things indeed. At the end of November, he attended a 10 Downing Street reception alongside Nina Freedman, Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile, David Miller’s appeal against his dismissal by Bristol university is well underway.

One might think that two separate investigations having exonerated him of all charges of anti-Semitism, he should be immediately reinstated.

Should his efforts fail, questions must be asked about who or what influenced the outcome.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions