Jonathan Sacerdoti

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Jonathan Sacerdoti is a Director of the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy[1] based in the UK and is also registered as a director of a UK branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, alongside Marvin Hier - founder and dean of the orginal centre, based in the USA - and others.[2] He has also worked as Director of Public Affairs at the Zionist Federation[3] and is currently a member of the International Division of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Since August 2014, Sacerdoti has been the spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism UK.[4]


Sacerdoti studied English Language and Literature at Balliol College, Oxford University.[5]

Jonathan Sacerdoti, LinkedIn profile which fails to mention his roles at the Zionist Federation and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. It was removed just hours after an article mentioning these oversights was published. Screengrab taken 16 November 2012


In 4 May 2010 Sacerdoti reportedly spoke publicly about ‘ways to use Facebook, Twitter and other online resources to advocate for Israel’ at a Zionist Federation Israel advocacy event called 'Talk for Israel'.[6]

On 1 June 2010, the day after nine activists on the Mavi Marmara were killed by the Israeli military, Sacerdoti appeared on Sky News and Al Jazeera defending Israel's actions.[7][8]

On 6 July 2010 Sacerdoti met Israeli President Shimon Peres. He uploaded a picture of himself shaking hands with Peres, with the caption 'Jonathan Sacerdoti, of Her Majesty’s Secret Service’.[9]

On 30 November 2012 Sacerdoti collaborated with Gili Brenner of StandWithUs to make a video for what they called 'Buy Israeli Goods Day', intended to counter the boycott divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.[10]

On 24 February 2011 he met Ron Prosor, former Israeli ambassador to the UK. A picture of him with Prosor, Gili Brenner of StandWithUs and pro-Israel blogger Chas Newkey-Burden was posted on the latter's website.[11]

On 28 August 2011 Sacerdoti attended and spoke at a pro-Israel rally in Trafalgar Square organised by the British Israel Coalition and supported by StandWithUs.[12]

In July 2012, Sacerdoti was elected to the Board of Deputies of British Jews International Division.[13]

Defending Israel in the media

Appearances on the BBC during Operation 'Pillar of Cloud'

Jonathan Sacerdoti on Al Jazeera on 1 June 2010 defending Israel's attack on the flotilla for the Zionist Federation. He was opposed by another guest, Palestinian Ghada Karmi. Screengrab taken 15 November 2012
Jonathan Sacerdoti on BBC News on 14 November 2012 where as director of the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy he was given an unchallenged platform to defend Israel's 'Operation Pillar of Cloud'. Screengrab taken 15 November 2012

Sacerdoti appeared on BBC news programmes four times in two days between 14-15 November 2012 and was described as being from the Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy giving the impression that he was a neutral expert on the region. Each time he defended Israel's attacks on Gaza and each time no alternative perspective was given by the BBC.[14]

He subsequently tried to remove evidence of his pro-Israel advocacy from the internet[15]. The BBC eventually ruled that it had breached its own impartiality rules by presenting Sacerdoti as neutral[16].

Campaign Against Antisemitism

The Campaign Against Antisemitism was established in early August 2014 'by half-a-dozen activists and funded by private donations', presenting itself as a response to the higher levels of anti-Israel and allegedly anti-Jewish sentiment triggered by Israel's 'Operation Protective Edge' operation in Gaza.[17] Jonathan Sacerdoti is its spokesperson[4] and 'Director of Communications'.[18] On 31 August 2014 the group reportedly organised a march against antisemitism of 4,000 people in Central London, backed by the United Synagogue and the Office of the Chief Rabbi. Said Jonathan Sacerdoti of this backing: 'The establishment was very supportive; some might say they didn’t want to get left behind'.[17] On the day of the protest, he told a reporter,

It is great that the communal organisations who have been criticised for not doing enough have come on board and have supported us in organising an important day.[19]

As Sacerdoti's comment suggests, and as Ha'aretz reports, the Campaign Against Antisemitism is an intervention in Anglo-Jewish politics.[17] Its context appears to be one of increasing grassroots discontent among Jewish and pro-Israel activists with the performance of communal bodies on Israel and antisemitism. As one newspaper reported:

At the rally, there was audible booing when the representatives of the Board of Deputies – President Vivian Wineman and Senior Vice President Laura Marks – ascended the podium to speak. The Jewish Chronicle’s Marcus Dysch tweeted that people were shouting things like 'you need to do more', 'resign', and 'shame'.[20]

Sacerdoti was widely quoted in the media speaking about the 31 August rally. He urged a 'zero tolerance' approach to 'turn the tide' of antisemitism, and claimed British Jews 'feel overlooked and not protected enough'.[21]

Sacerdoti made several media appearances in the wake of the 9 January, 2015 killing by a lone gunman of four Jews in Paris kosher supermarket. BBC News introduced him as 'from the Campaign Against Antisemitism'; he presented the Paris killings in the context of a rising threat to freedom posed by 'extremist Islam' and urged a 'zero tolerance policy' to antisemitism.[22] To Sky News, which introduced him as 'Director of Communications at the Campaign Against Antisemitism', he opined, 'Jews in Europe don't feel safe', and urged 'leaders of the free world' to more assertively confront the threat posed by 'extremist Islam'.[23] To BBC Radio 5 Live, which introduced Sacerdoti as being 'from the Campaign Against Antisemitism',[24] he suggested that 'extremist Islam... stands against everything we in the West believe in', the latter of which, he added, is 'completely non-negotiable'. In no case was Sacerdoti's background as a pro-Israel lobbyist mentioned; yet, it might thought relevant given that in the wake of the French killings, the CAA met with Home Secretary Theresa May to advocate, among other things, 'Formally adopting a definition of antisemitism which includes antisemitism disguised as anti-Israel political discourse'.[25] Sacerdoti mentioned this meeting in both his BBC News and Sky News interviews.




  1. About Us, IMED, accessed 16 July 2012
  2. SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTRE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, Company Check, accessed 19 July 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 'Who we are',; accessed: 16 September, 2014.
  5. Jonathan Sacerdoti, Yatedo, accessed 16 November 2012
  6. How to advocate for Israel, Screengrab made 15 November 2012
  7. Jonathan Sacerdoti on Al Jazeera discussing the Gaza flotilla incident Youtube via MrJonSac, 1 June 2010, accessed 16 November 2012
  8. Jonathan Sacerdoti, live interview on Sky News regarding the flotilla incident, Youtube via MrJonSac, 1 June 2010, accessed 16 November 2012
  9. Sacerdoti meeting Peres, Flickr Screengrab made 15 November 2012
  10. Sacerdoti and Brenner video, Screengrab made 15 November 2012
  11. Sacerdoi with Prosor, Screengrab made 15 November 2012
  12. Sacerdoti at pro-Israel rally, Screengrab made 15 November 2012
  13. Results of Board Divisional Elections, Board of Deputies of British Jews, accessed 31 July 2012
  14. Who is Jonathan Sacerdoti, the BBC’s Go-To Man on Gaza?, New Left Project, 16 November 2012, accessed 17 November 2012
  15. Former Zionist Federation Official on the Run, New Left Project, 17 November 2012
  16. BBC finally admits bias over pro-Israel commentator, Electronic Intifada, 14 January 2015.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Daniella Peled, 'Shaken by post-Gaza war hostility, U.K. Jews push back', Ha'aretz (15 September, 2014).
  18. CAA, Annual Antisemitism Barometer: 2015 Full Report.
  19. Rosa Doherty, 'Thousands turn out for London rally against antisemitism', Jewish Chronicle (31 August, 2014).
  20. Liam Hoare, 'Thousands rally in London against rising anti-Semitism', Times of Israel (1 September, 2014).
  21. Anil Dawar, 'Police must do more to tackle the rise of anti-Semitism, campaigners say', Daily Express (28 August, 2014).
  22. CAA, 'CAA on BBC News: Terror attack on Jewish shop in Paris and antisemitism in UK', YouTube (uploaded 9 January, 2015), accessed: 14 January 2015, at 10.26am.
  23. CAA, 'CAA on Sky News: Terror attack on Jewish shop in Paris and antisemitism in UK', YouTube (uploaded on 11 January, 2015), accessed: 14 January 2015, at 10.31am.
  24. CAA, 'Jonathan Sacerdoti on BBC Radio 5 Live, discussing the Paris terror attacks and antisemitism', YouTube (uploaded on ); accessed: 14 January 2015, at 10.35am