David Toube

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David Toube

David Stephen Toube (born 6 May 1968) is an associate at the London office of the international law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.[1] He blogs at Harry's Place using the pseudonym David T, and focuses on the left and what he calls Islamists, whose criticism of Israel he argues is motivated by their alleged anti-Semitism.[2]

In February 2009, Toube wrote in support of the Government's Contest 2 anti-extremism strategy, citing Dean Godson's criticisms of the previous approach. He attacked the "Cruickshank and Bergen thesis, which advocates championing the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups as a bulwark against Al Qaeda."[3]


Toube received a first class honours degree in law from Southampton University in 1990, and a BCL from Brasenose College, Oxford. [4]

Anti-zionist activist Tony Greenstein has claimed that Toube was himself anti-Zionist during his time at Southampton, and signed a statement opposing the Israeli law of return and supporting the Palestinian right of return.[5]

Toube was called to the Bar in 1993 and was a law lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London. [6] According to Conor Foley, Toube served as his Intern at the civil rights advocacy group Liberty 15 years ago. [7]

He was formerly a trainee and then an associate at the law firm Ashurst. He joined Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in 2007.[8]

According to The Guardian, Toube turned to blogging after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001:

In the days after September 11 2001, a Londoner in his 30s who prefers to be known only as David T made two grim discoveries. The first, and most upsetting, was that a close friend from school had died in the collapse of the World Trade Centre towers. The second discovery - in a way the more disorienting of the two - was what had happened to another former friend. In the years since the two had known each other well, he had become a spokesman for a prominent Islamic fundamentalist organisation, and now, in statements to the media, he was openly applauding the attacks. [9]

CASE STUDY: Toube's response to operation ‘Cast Lead’

Operation ‘Cast Lead’

On 27 December 2008, without warning, Israeli forces began a devastating bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip codenamed operation ‘Cast Lead’. The attack lasted 22 days, by which time an estimated 1,400 Palestinians including some 300 children and hundreds of other unarmed civilians had been killed. Large areas of Gaza had been razed to the ground, leaving many thousands homeless and the already dire economy in ruins. [10] The attack was later described by the UN inquiry as, ‘a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population’. [11] Although largely portrayed as a retaliatory strike, or an attempt to stop rocket fire from Gaza, the assault in fact followed the breaking of a six month cease fire by Israeli forces that November. [12]

Summary of Toube's response

A 'word cloud' from Toube's articles posted during Operation Cast Lead. The 'cloud' shows common words used in Toube's postings, with 'Hamas' being the most common (used 160 times). The ‘word cloud’ was created by imputing the text of all of Toube's postings during Operation Cast Lead into the online word cloud tool available at http://tagcrowd.com.

During the course of the conflict Toube made 35 postings on Harry’s Place, totalling 17,903 words. These postings contain no criticism of the Israeli assault and very little interest in or concern for its victims. The one passing reference to the suffering of Palestinian civilians places the blame squarely on Hamas, which is consistently demonised.

Whilst a large majority of the postings (25 of 35) related at least indirectly to the Gaza massacres, most of these largely ignored the conflict itself, focusing instead on the public reaction in Britain and attempting to undermine criticism of Israel. Toube attacked and smeared individuals and groups who spoke out against the Israeli assault, or who simply drew attention to the death and destruction in Gaza. He sought to portray anti-war protesters as violent, hateful and even racist, alleging the use of 'Nazi imagery'. [13]

Palestinian civilians

The word ‘civilian’ or ‘civilians’ appears only 14 times in the 17,903 word sample, and was used only once by Toube himself (as apposed to when quoting others). Toube’s one mention referred to Israeli civilians targeted by rocket fire from Gaza [14] (which resulting in the death of three Israeli civilians and one member of the security forces[15]). This reference appeared in a section of a post criticising the Guardian journalist Seamus Milne for what Toube called his defence of ‘the right of Hamas to “resist” by killing as many civilians as they can’. Toube smeared Milne in the post as a ‘Stalinist’. [16]

Another notable feature of the postings is a strong focus on Hamas (described as a ‘fascist terrorist group’) compared with the Palestinian population of Gaza more generally. The postings include 160 references to ‘Hamas’ and only 57 references to ‘Palestinian’ or ‘Palestinians’. Of those 57 references, only 27 actually referred to the population of Gaza as opposed to say forms of political representation such as ‘Palestinian Ambassador’ or ‘Palestinian Authority’, or abstractions such as ‘Palestinian society’ or ‘Palestinian resistance’. The most substantial reference to ‘Palestinians’ by Toube himself occurred in a post seeking to ridicule an anti-war protestor identifying herself as a ‘Queer Jew’. Although Toube suggests in the post that he is supportive of 'solidarity' with Palestinians, it is clear from the context that he is doing so only in an effort to drive a wedge between Hamas, the anti-war movement and what he calls 'genuine socialists and liberals'. The post illustrates Toube’s apparent concern throughout the period to deflect criticism of the massacre of Palestinians by demonising both Hamas and organised opposition to the assault in Britain and Ireland:

There is no reason why a Queer Jew should not be against a war that has killed many Palestinians: supporters and opponents of Hamas alike. Indeed, there is no reason why a Queer Jew should not be in favour of solidarity with ordinary Palestinians. Indeed, to refuse to support Palestinians because Hamas claims their leadership is, perversely, to accept the fascist terrorist group’s right to speak as the voice of all (Muslim) Palestinian people.

Solidarity with Palestinians is one thing. Solidarity with Hamas is quite another.

Queer Jews, and indeed genuine socialists and liberals, should certainly ask themselves whether they want to march on a demonstration co-organised with Hamas, at which solidarity – not with Palestinians, generally – but specifically with Hamas is openly proclaimed. Or where “Jews to the Gas” is chanted. [17]

There are only two further references to ‘Palestinians’ by Toube himself. The first is in reference to the ‘civil war’ in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah prior to the 2008/9 Israeli assault. Toube notes that ‘many Palestinians were killed’ during the conflict. What he fails to mention is that the conflict followed a planned coup by Fatah financed by the United States. [18] The second reference also refers to that conflict, and is the closest Toube comes during the whole period to expressing any concern or sympathy for the Palestinians:

Hamas … are dying, and after dying, they will stay dead forever.

Tragically, the very same thing is happening to innocent Palestinians in Gaza: those killed by Hamas missiles fallings short of their targets, those murdered by Gaza during their coup, and those who have died when Israeli bombs have blown up Hamas missile caches and installations. None of these people should have died.

None of them would have died, if Hamas and their supporters concentrated on building a functioning state, rather than encouraging and organising jihadi “martyrs”, with pathological fantasies … [19]

Toube’s implication that the civilian deaths in Gaza were the unintended result of the targeting of Hamas missile caches and installations was a common propaganda claim made by Israeli officials during the assault, but is not supported by the facts. According to Amnesty International:

Israeli government and army spokespeople have insisted that only Hamas command facilities, weapons stores, combat positions, and houses which contained tunnels or were boobytrapped were targeted, and that damage to civilian infrastructure was incidental or resulted from Hamas using the civilian population as a “human shield”.


However, in reality, the targeting of military objectives and incidental damage resulting from such attacks or from armed confrontations account for only some of the overall devastation. Much of the destruction was wanton and resulted from deliberate and unnecessary demolition of property, direct attacks on civilian objects and indiscriminate attacks that failed to distinguish between legitimate military targets and civilian objects. Such attacks violated fundamental provisions of international law, notably the prohibition on direct attacks on civilian objects, the prohibition on indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks, the prohibition of destruction of property not required by imperative military necessity, and the prohibition on collective punishment. [20]

Shooting the messengers

Some of the postings during operation ‘Cast Lead’ focused on apparent anti-Semitism in Britain. Toube claimed at one stage that, ‘Muslims are attacking Jews on the streets of London, and wherever they can find them.’ [21] Toube also posted a story from The Times describing a nine-year-old British school girl who was reportedly the victim of anti-Semitic bullying. [22] In contrast Toube showed no interest in the 300 Palestinian children who died during operation Cast Lead or the thousands who were traumatised by the attacks. [23]

More common in Toube's posting during this period are attacks and smears of individuals and groups who criticised the Israeli assault, or who simply drew attention to the death and destruction in Gaza. The two longest posts during the period are responses to the former diplomat Jeremy Greenstock, who made a number of media appearances during the massacres calling for political negotiations with Hamas. [24] Toube described Greenstock’s Comment is Free article as ‘advocacy for Hamas,’ dismissed his argument as being ‘surprising’ in ‘its crapness’ and added, ‘I really hope that when Sir Jeremy Greenstock’s client was the United Kingdom, he did his job with a little more skill.’[25]

Toube made three postings criticising the University and College Union (UCU) for proposing statements on Gaza rather than focusing on employments dispute. Mads Gilbert, one of two Norwegian physicians present in Gaza during the assault who became a source for the international media, was dismissed as a ‘Shill for Terrorism’. [26] The Socialist Workers Party, which plays a central part in the Stop the War Coalition, was labelled as ‘totalitarian and racist,’ [27] whilst a Socialist Workers Party and UCU activist who argued for supporting Hamas was targeted in the third longest post and described three times as a ‘fucking idiot’. [28]

Several months after the ceasefire, Toube re-posted an Israeli article which appeared in English translation in the neoconservative Commentary magazine. The article, which originally appeared in Ma’ariv, described Joe Stork, Deputy Director of Human Right Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, as a ‘fanatical supporter of the elimination of Israel,’ who, ‘supported the murder of Israeli athletes in Munich, [and] was an avid supporter of Saddam Hussein’. [29] Toube wrote: ‘Assuming that this is all correct, hiring a very extreme Communist, with simply horrendous views about Israel/Palestine to produce a report of this sort is akin hiring a man who was formerly active in the KKK to write about black people and crime.’ [30] Human Rights Watch had recently released a 63-page report documenting seven incidents where Israeli soldiers fired on civilians during the conflict. [31]

A subsequent statement by Stork read:

…instead of addressing our research, Mr. Yemini [the article's author] has launched a personal attack on me, which the Israeli government has dutifully translated and distributed. The quotes he attributes to me are more than 30 years old. Most of them I do not recognize, and they are contrary to the views I have expounded for decades now. For instance, selective excerpts about the Munich massacre come from an unsigned editorial that appeared 37 years ago where at the time I was one of seven volunteers that produced the publication. All my work since then shows that I would never support such an attack. [32]

During the conflict period Toube focused particularly on smearing anti-war protesters as violent, hateful or even racist. He posted two videos depicting violent incidents involving pro-Palestinian demonstrators. He even claimed that a protest on 10 January 2009 had, ‘more Nazi imagery on display … than you’d expect to see at a fascist rally.’ [33] Toube did not back up his claim about 'Nazi imagery' with any evidence. He sought to justify the claim with pictures of peace protesters holding placards comparing Israeli atrocities with those committed by the Nazis. Though these images appeared to be an appeal for peace through invoking the history of Jewish suffering and persecution, Toube implied that the protesters were expressing sympathy with Nazism. Referring to one placard invoking Nazi violence and displaying the slogan, 'History Seems To Be Repeating Itself', Toube wrote, 'And they can hardly wait to repeat it.' [34]

Toube himself attended a pro-Israeli demonstration in Trafalgar Square a day later. The Board of Deputies of British Jews which co-organised the rally said it was 'the culmination of five days of intensive advocacy for Israel'. It called the rally a 'communal show of solidarity with Israel and an appreciation of the intolerable situation faced by a significant proportion of Israel’s population in the face of years of relentless rocket attacks from Gaza.' [35] Though marketed as a 'rally' in 'solidarity with Israel' Toube described it as an 'event for peace in both Israel and Gaza'. In the same post he described the protest the previous day - marketed as 'Stop the Massacre : Israel Out of Gaza' [36] - as a 'Rally for Hamas'. [37] Toube gave the following account of the Trafalgar Square event on Harry's Place:

There couldn’t have been a clearer contrast between yesterday’s Rally for Hamas and today’s event for peace in both Israel and Gaza. In place of the racist posters, calibrated to taunt Jews with their mass murder at the hands of the Nazis, we had posters calling for Peace for the People of Israel and Gaza. Some people had made their own posters … And while the jihadists and communists chanted their message of hate at our demonstration, the crowd chanted back: “We Want Peace”. [38]

Attacks on leftwingers and 'Islamists'

<video type="dailymotion" size="tiny" height="220px" align="right" caption="David Toube disrupts a Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer event featuring Caged Prisoners and Human Rights lawyer Gareth Peirce" id="xbuio9" />

Caryl Churchill

Toube led the charge against Caryl Churchill for her acclaimed play Seven Jewish Children, written in response to Israel's assault on Gaza. He wrote a post (filed under 'antisemitism') in which he denounced the play, comparing it to Nazi propaganda, and chided the Guardian for staging it[39].

Dilpazier Aslam

Shortly after the July 2005 London bombings, the Guardian website carried an article by trainee journalist Dilpazier Aslam arguing that "[we] should not act shocked" if the bombers turned out to be British-born.[40] Blogger Scott Burgess noted that Aslam had written for the Islamist Khilafa.com website.[41] Toube picked up the story at Harry's Place, and noted that Khilafa.com was linked to Hizb’ut Tahrir.[42] The following day, Toube published a letter by Burgess asking the Guardian whether it would continue to employ Aslam.[43] The Guardian confirmed Aslam's Hizb'ut Tahrir membership in a statement to The Independent two days later.[44] on 22 July, The Guardian terminated its contract with Aslam, after he refused to repudiate Hizb'ut Tahrir.[45] On the same day, the Guardian Media website reported that Aslam had been targeted by "rightwing bloggers from the US", and that Scott Burgess had been an unsuccessful applicant for the trainee position which he held.[46]

Soraya Tehrani

In October 2008, The Guardian's Comment is Free website dropped Soraya Tehrani as a contributor after a complaint by Toube which noted that some of her previous comments on the site had been moderated for anti-semitism.[47]

Global Peace and Unity Event

In October 2008, Toube attacked the Islam Channel's Global Peace and Unity Event:

it is at events like the Global Peace and Unity Event that British Muslims are being inducted into political and religious extremism.
And, by permitting senior Labour politicians to attend this event, the Government is both encouraging and endorsing this politics.[48]

Sources cited in the article include Steve Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism.[49]

Yasir Qadhi

In November 2008, Toube called for Yasir Qadhi, a guest at the previous month's Global Peace and Unity Event, to be banned from the UK because of derogatory remarks about Shiites.[50]

In February 2009, in the wake of the Home Secretary's decision to ban Geert Wilders from the UK, Toube again called for Qadhi to be banned because of past remarks denying the holocaust.[51]

Owen Hatherley

In December 2008, Toube attacked the New Statesman for printing a review of Richard Seymour's The Liberal Defence of Murder by Owen Hatherley, who he described as the New Statesman's Dilpazier Aslam':

The New Statesman should have disclosed Owen Hatherley’s affiliation to the Socialist Workers’ Party when it published this review. It would not be generally know that Richard Seymour and Owen Hatherley are a member of the same party. That is a highly relevant fact because the SWP is not an ordinary political party. Rather, it is a tiny cult like organisation, which operates according to the principles of democratic centralism.[52]

In a subsequent addendum, Toube acknowledged that Hatherley was not a member of the SWP, but noted that he wrote for its paper Socialist Worker, adding: "How many people do you know who would write for the newspaper of a totalitarian and anti-democratic organisation, without being substantially aligned with its politics?" [53]


On the far right

If you are no longer capable of distinguishing between specific jihadist and Islamist parties - Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami - and ordinary Muslim citizens of your country, then you have crossed over the line. If you attend a conference organised by fascists, then you have also crossed over the line. You have become an anti-Muslim bigot.[54]

On Geert Wilders

I do think that Geert Wilders is an anti-Muslim bigot. I believe that it is possible to be strongly critical of the tenets of certain iterations of Islam, without inciting hatred. Were Geert Wilders to rule out an alliance with the barely crypto-fascist Vlaams Belang, and were he to oppose ‘encouraging’ Muslims to leave Holland, then I’d defend him gladly. But he has not done so.[55]



  1. David Toube, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, accessed 2 March 2009.
  2. David Toube, guardian.co.uk, accessed 2 March 2009.
  3. David Toube, Who is an extremist, Harry's Place, 4 March 2009.
  4. David Toube, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, accessed 2 December 2009.
  5. Tony Greenstein, Fancy That - David Toube Signs up to Return Statement!, Tony Greenstein's blog, 3 October 2008.
  6. David Toube, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, accessed 2 December 2009.
  7. Conor Foley's comment at CiF, 21 August 09, 9:46pm
  8. David Toube, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, accessed 2 December 2009.
  9. Oliver Burkeman, 'The new commentariat', Guardian, 17 November 2005
  10. Amnesty International, Israel/Gaza: Operation "Cast Lead": 22 days of death and destruction, 2 July 2009; p.1
  11. UN Human Rights Council, Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, 25 September 2009;p.408
  12. Henry Siegman, ‘Israel’s Lies’, London Review of Books, Vol. 31 No. 2, 29 January 2009; Sara Roy, ‘If Gaza falls...’, London Review of Books, Vol. 31 No. 1, 1 January 2009
  13. David Toube, ‘“Hey! Ho! Israel Has Gotta Go”', Harry’s Place, 10 January 2009
  14. David Toube, ‘Inayat Bunglawala: Let’s Hear from Hamas’, Harry’s Place, 31 December 2008
  15. B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem’s investigation of fatalities in Operation Cast Lead
  16. David T, ‘Inayat Bunglawala: Let’s Hear from Hamas’, Harry’s Place, 31 December 2008
  17. David Toube, ‘Transgendered Trots For Hamas’, Harry’s Place, 15 January 2009
  18. David Rose, ‘The Gaza Bombshell’, Vanity Fair, April 2009
  19. David T, ‘The Green Birds of Gaza’, Harry’s Place, 31 December 2008
  20. Amnesty International, Israel/Gaza: Operation "Cast Lead": 22 days of death and destruction, 2 July 2009; p.1
  21. David Toube, ‘A Jew’s Life in Britain’, Harry’s Place, 9 January 2009
  22. David Toube, ‘What Would You Do’, Harry’s Place, 9 January 2009
  23. Later in 2009 a Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) found that approximately 75 per cent of children in Gaza over the age of six were suffering from one or more symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. See Harriet Sherwood, ‘Childhood in ruins’, Guardian, 17 December 2009
  24. see for example Jeremy Greenstock, ‘Rebuilding burned bridges’, guardian.co.uk, 15 January 2009
  25. David Toube, ‘Sir Jeremy Greenstock: Ambassador for Hamas’, Harry’s Place, 17 January 2009
  26. David Toube, ‘Mads Gilbert – Doctor, Pundit, Shill for Terrorism’, Harry’s Place, 7 January 2009
  27. David Toube, ‘A Jew’s Life in Britain’, Harry’s Place, 9 January 2009
  28. David Toube, ‘Transgendered Trots For Hamas’, Harry’s Place, 15 January 2009
  29. David Toube, ‘Human Rights Watch and the Veteran Extremist’, Harry’s Place, 17 August 2009
  30. Ibid.
  31. Human Rights Watch, White Flag Deaths - Killings of Palestinian Civilians during Operation Cast Lead
  32. Joe Stork, ‘Joe Stork's response to Ben-Dror Yemini's article’, The Examiner, 18 August 2009
  33. David Toube, ‘“Hey! Ho! Israel Has Gotta Go”', Harry’s Place, 10 January 2009
  34. David Toube, ‘“Hey! Ho! Israel Has Gotta Go”', Harry’s Place, 10 January 2009
  35. Board of Deputies of British Jews, 'Community to show support for Israel at Trafalgar Square ally London', 7 January 2009
  36. Leaflet for 10 January 2009 Demonstration
  37. David Toube, ‘We Want Peace', Harry’s Place, 11 January 2009
  38. David Toube, ‘We Want Peace', Harry’s Place, 11 January 2009
  39. David T, [1], Harry's Place, 25 April 2009 (the post is filed under 'Antisemitism')
  40. Dilpazier Aslam, We rock the boat, guardian.co.uk, 13 July 2005.
  41. Scott Burgess, 'Sassy' Suicide Bombers, The Daily Ablution, 13 July 2005.
  42. David Toube, Why is the Guardian employing an extremist Islamist?, Harry's Place, 14 July 2005.
  43. David Toube, Mr Burgess writes to the Guardian, Harry's Place, 15 July 2005.
  44. Shiv Malik, 'Guardian' man revealed as hardline Islamist, The Independent, 17 July 2005.
  45. Steve Busfield, Dilpazier Aslam leaves Guardian, guardian.co.uk, 22 July 2005.
  46. 'A staff reporter', Aslam targeted by bloggers, guardian.co.uk, 22 July 2005.
  47. David Toube, The Guardian sacks racist blogger, Harry's Place, 3 October 2008.
  48. David Toube, The Global Peace and Unity Event: Extremists, Bigots, Supporters of Terrorism… and Senior Labour Politicians, Harry's Place, 10 October 2008.
  49. David Toube, The Global Peace and Unity Event: Extremists, Bigots, Supporters of Terrorism… and Senior Labour Politicians, Harry's Place, 10 October 2008.
  50. David Toube, Why Was This Man Allowed Into The United Kingdom?, Harry's Place, 16 November 2008.
  51. David Toube, Qadhi Must NOT Enter the United Kingdom, Harry's Place, 23 February 2008.
  52. David Toube, Owen Hatherley is the New Statesman’s Dilpazier Aslam (UPDATE: No, he isn’t really) Harry's Place, 13 December 2008.
  53. David Toube, Owen Hatherley is the New Statesman’s Dilpazier Aslam (UPDATE: No, he isn’t really) Harry's Place, 13 December 2008.
  54. David Toube, Pro Köln is a Fascist Organisation, Harry's Place, 25 April 2009.
  55. David Toube, Qadhi Must NOT Enter the United Kingdom, Harry's Place, 23 February 2009.