The Spittoon

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The Spittoon is a blog with links to various neoconservative outfits which focuses on Islam. Its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is notable for a hardline rejectionist position which is to the right of the international consensus and even Israeli public opinion. Much of its content is reposted from other neoconservative, far right, or pro-Israel publications such as Harry's Place, Pajamas Media, Standpoint and the Weekly Standard. It is maintained by an editorial team that comprises of Centre for Social Cohesion researcher Houriya Ahmed, Faisal Gazi and four pseudonymous contributors. Oddly for a blog with a known editor, it employs the service to conceal the registrant of the domain.[1] The website was registered on 9 May 2009 [2] and its first article was posted the next day. [3] The registration of the website expired on 9 May 2015 and it went offline.[4]


The blog's editorial team has only two named individuals[5]:

Four others operate under pseudonyms: Bananabrain, Shikwa, Yossarian, Effendi and Zorro.

Known Contributors

Following is a list of Spittoon's current and former contributors:

The blog has also posted an interview with neoconservative Zeyno Baran of the Hudson Institute

Modus Operandi

Coordination with other Neoconservative Blogs

Harry's Place and The Spittoon often coordinate their campaigns:[8] they frequently crosspost each other's material (by 9 January nearly all of the posts published in 2010 are crossposted to or from Harry's Place). This includes reproducing and reinforcing attacks against adversaries as well as echoing each others memes. On 21 December 2009, based on a report in the Times, Harry's Place first portrayed the campaign to get Israeli leaders who are accused of war crimes arrested in the UK as a 'Hamas-inspired' activity.[9] The theme was picked up the next day by Alexander Hitchens at Standpoint magazine (reposted on Harry's Place)[10] and the same day the Spittoon referenced Hitchens, casting its net wider to also defame the long-running campaign to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund,[11] a quasi-governmental body which the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has described as Israel's main agency of ethnic cleansing. The website also uses the Israeli intelligence-connected Steve Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism as a source to discredit Muslim organizations.[12] It also crossposts material from the far-right Pajamas Media.

Misuse of Mainstream Sources

After quoting at length an interview with the antiwar Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya in a post, Houriya Ahmed concludes:

The deeply moving story of Malalai Joya highlights that the West should not only be fighting in Afghanistan to protect its citizens, but should help in implementing justice for the Afghan people; justice that they so desperately seek and deserve.[13]

Yet, if one reads the article itself, Joya refers to the Western occupation as an 'enemy', and tells the interviewer,

If she were president of Afghanistan...she would ask all foreign troops to leave immediately. She says that it is wrong to say Afghanistan will simply collapse into civil war if that happens. "What about the civil war now?...The longer the foreign troops stay in Afghanistan doing what they are doing, the worse the eventual civil war will be for the Afghan people."
The Afghan public, she adds, are on her side, pointing to a recent opinion poll showing 60 per cent of Afghans want an immediate Nato withdrawal.[14]

On 22 December 2009 it filed under 'anti-Semitism' a report on a protest outside the JNF conference organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Islamic Human Rights Commission. While it presented no argument as to why it considered the protest anti-Semitic, it tried to implicate the protesters through innuendo and omission instead. The post only mentions the IHRC and the PSC as the organizers of the protest, yet here is what it says in the Jewish Chronicle article it is based on:

Around 100 demonstrators from groups including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and the Islamic Human Rights Commission protested outside the hotel, disrupting delegates’ attempts to enter the conference.[15]

It also approvingly mentions that two protesters were ejected by the CST after causing disruption at the event, yet it carefully elides a key detail. The Jewish Chronicle again:

Anti-Israel protesters caused severe disruption at a major JNF conference on Sunday, with two Jewish demonstrators carried out of the hall after screaming insults at Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor.[16]


While the website claims it is mainly concerned with fighting 'religious supremacism and clerical fascism in all its various stripes and denominations', with what it calls 'Islamism' being its main focus, this is less obvious from many of the people and organizations its targets which have included:

  • Amnesty International[17]
  • Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  • The Palestine Telegraph
  • Palestinian Return Centre
  • City Circle
  • Cageprisoners[18]
  • Kafa
  • IHH

Political orientation

Analysis of output (May 2009)

A 'word cloud' from Spittoon articles posted in May 2009. The 'cloud' shows common words used in the postings, with 'Muslim' and 'Islam' being the most common. The ‘word cloud’ was created by imputing the text of all of the May 2009 Spittoon postings into the online word cloud tool available at

During May 2009 – its first month – The Spittoon published 45 posts. The very first post introducing the blog was made by ‘Faisal’ (Faisal Gazi), [19] who was the most prolific contributor during May 2009 authoring 14 posts. Ten posts were written by ‘Admin1’ (George Readings [20]), nine by ‘Shikwa’, seven by 'Houriya' (Houriya Ahmed) and five by four guest contributors ('Ibn Khaldun', 'Raziq', Edmund Standing and 'habibi'). Four posts were cross posted from Harry’s Place and one from Pro-British, Anti-Extremist.

The posts show an overwhelming preoccupation with Muslims and in particular focused on criticising those Muslims or Muslim groups deemed to be unacceptably ‘radical’ or ‘extremist’. The words ‘Islam’, ‘Islamic’, ‘Islamist’ and other variations appear 416 times in the posts. By way of comparison ‘Christian’ or ‘Christianity’ appear only 20 times, predominantly in one post concerning the alleged homophobia of George Hargreaves leader of the Christian Party. [21]

In the posts, several individuals and organisations are condemned because of their links to Hamas. Daud Abdullah is criticised for signing the Istanbul Declaration which is described as ‘a pro-Hamas document’. [22] The Federation of Student Islamic Societies is criticised because it ‘wants to invite people’ who support Hamas, along with people who ‘spread anti-Semitism, reject women’s rights, discourage Muslims from integrating with non-Muslims and support the Taleban’. [23] Another post (cross posted from Harry's Place) criticised the campaign by the Muslim Association of Britain and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign against tourism adverts in London depicting the West Bank as part of Israel. The post inexplicably called for the organisations to criticise ‘Interpal, a British charity linked to Hamas’ and ‘The Palestinian Return Centre, a pro-Hamas political group based in London’. [24] At no point do any of the posts in the sample criticise the actions of the Israeli Government. The fact of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank is only mentioned once in a quote provided as evidence of the speaker who ‘openly called for Jihad’. [25] Similarly the posts make no criticism of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by the British and US Governments. On the contrary one post, which also appeared on Harry's Place, cited an argument made by a Policy Exchange researcher in The Spectator that Iraq and Afghanistan could not have been relevant to the London bombings of 7 July 2007 because one of the bombers Mohammed Siddique Khan was under surveillance in January 2001. [26] [27]

Focus on Islam

As the analysis of its May 2009 output shows (see above), The Spittoon is overwhelmingly focused on Muslims and Islam, whilst occupation, violence and the threat of violence from Western governments barely features at all. Therefore, whilst its writings are often stylistically liberal - espousing values such as tolerance and freedom of thought and relgion - they operate within a framework in which Islam, Muslims (or certain Muslims or certain strains of Islam) are implictly portrayed as a political or cultural problem that need addressing.

The 'About Us' section on the website seeks to portray itself as fighting against racism and discrimination - including 'anti-Muslim bigotry', a description borrowed from Harry's Place[28] - and dismisses accusations of Islamophobia:

The Spittoon recognises the need to address rising levels of racism, antisemitism and anti-Muslim bigotry without resorting to unhelpful and trivialising accusations of “Islamophobia”. [29]

As of 9 August 2009, the blog has 19 posts archived under the category 'anti-Muslim bigotry', of which 12 address the problem while the rest relate to the subject in general, or are critical of those who address Islamophobia.[30]. In one of these posts Shiraz Maher of Standpoint's Focus on Islamism attacks Egyptian novelist Alaa al-Aswany for suggesting the West showed double standards over the Iranian elections.[31] After repeating the discredited claim that the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to 'wipe Israel off the map'[32], Maher extends the logic thus:

And, while Ahmadinejad threats to wipe Israel off the map today, why should we in Britain believe he intends anything but the same for us?

While the website claims to be after only those it describes as 'Islamists', from the choice of its targets this appears less obvious. On 19 June 2009 it published an attack on City Circle, an organization with a distinctly secular, modern orientation. The post questioned whether City Circle was indeed moderate (putting the word between quotation marks) or independent and accused it of having 'extremist connections'. The attack relied on a report produced by Steve Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism, a key Israel Lobby propaganda institution.[33] A month later the the website was on the defensive: 'The post was not a bitter attempt to blacken the name of people doing good work, rather it sought to point out to a moderate organisation that some of its allies were letting the side down'.[34] Though City Circle had now suddenly become 'our friends' it would be hard to get that impression from the tone or content of the earlier post. After noting that the British government was wooing the organization, the Spittoon attack ominously added: 'Have the British government’s counter-terrorism’s boffins done their due diligence on City Circle and its extremist connections?'.[35]

Zionist Orientation

Though The Spittoon tries to present a liberal image, this is not so clear from its attitude toward Israel-Palestine. As of 5 January 2010, it has 13 articles filed under "Israel/Palestine" and 29 under "Human Rights". None of them has anything to say about Palestinian rights; most of them attack people who support Palestinian rights. There is nothing on the website that shows whether it accepts the the international consensus on the conflict enshrined in International Law. Its co-editor Faisal Gazi also joined the Zionist right to allege that the activists murdered by Israeli forces on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla were 'linked to terrorism.'[36] Indeed, from its various posts on the conflict the implied position is closer to that of the Zionist right. While the website has on several occasions shown concern for the well-being of "innocent Israelis"[37][38][39], as of 6 January 2010 it has yet to make a single reference to "innocent Palestinians", the foremost victims of the conflict. The only times Palestinians are mentioned in the role of victims is in the context of a report on right-wing settler death threats against Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak.[40] The website has also channelled the rightwing of the Israel lobby in denouncing Caryl Churchill's acclaimed play Seven Jewish Children as 'dodgy' (with a link to Harry's Place).[41]

Greater Israel

The website seems to accept Israeli claims to all of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As mentioned above it published a post from Harry's Place criticizing the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Muslim Association of Britain for demanding that Israeli tourism ads in London not display the Occupied Palestinian Territories as belonging to Israel.[42] (These claims are maintained only by a right-wing fringe in Israel, and by the neocons). Likewise, the website also describes as 'bonkers' a petition (started by American Jewish activist Anna Baltzer) which calls on Facebook to prevent Israeli settlers living in the illegally occupied West Bank from choosing 'Israel' as the place of residence in their profiles. In other words, for demanding that the occupied territories be correctly identified as the occupied territories.[43]

The Antisemitism Card

On 22 December 2009 it attacked the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Islamic Human Rights Commission for holding a demonstration outside the JNF conference. It filed the entry under 'anti-Semitism' without actually reporting any incident or uttering that would merit the charge. The implication here is that protesting the JNF--an organization the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has described as "a colonialist agency of ethnic cleansing"[44]--is in itself anti-semitic. The bloggers compensate for the absence of evidence or argument with a string of abuse: the protesters they tell readers were 'menopausal cranks' and 'impressionable children'.

While beyond innuendo the post presents no argument as to why it considers the protest against the JNF anti-Semitic, two exclusions offer a useful insight into its methods. The post mentions the IHRC and the PSC as the organizers of the protest which it describes as 'Hamas-inspired'. Yet, here is from the same Jewish Chronicle report that it references:

Around 100 demonstrators from groups including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and the Islamic Human Rights Commission protested outside the hotel, disrupting delegates’ attempts to enter the conference.[45]

It also approvingly mentions that two protesters were ejected by the CST after causing disruption at the event, yet it carfully elides a key detail. The Jewicsh Chronicle again:

Anti-Israel protestors caused severe disruption at a major JNF conference on Sunday, with two Jewish demonstrators carried out of the hall after screaming insults at Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor.[46]

The website employs the standard conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism to smear critics of Israel and the Israel lobby. Its definition of anti-Semitism is so lax that in one instance it uses as its evidence a book review[47] in which the reviewer repeats the fact mentioned in the book and confirmed by the organization's website that the Save Darfur Coalition was established by the joint efforts of the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Jewish World Service. [48].

Disdain for International Law

The website also posted with approval an announcement by Palestinian-American comedian Ray Hanania claiming to be running for the president of the Palestinian authority on a platform that rejects UNGAR 194 guaranteeing the Palestinian refugees right of return; equates Palestinian resistance with Isareli settler violence (not with violence of the state); asks Hamas to surrender its weapons and thereby the right to resist military occupation guaranteed it in the Geneva Conventions; ignores UNSC 242 and 338, and the ICJ decision which declared all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories illegal; expresses its tolerance for the illegal separation wall; and implicitly equates the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians with the Jewish emigration from Arab states. Spittoon contributor bananarabian declares himself broadly sympathetic to all of the proposals, particularly one about compensating Jewish emigres from Arab lands in a manner similar to the Palestinians expelled from the occupied lands. Rightwing Zionists have long tried to draw parallels between the two situations to absolve Israel of its obligations under International law.[49] The website also equates support for Palestinian armed resistance (a right guaranteed to all occupied peoples under International Law) with advocating 'violent Jihad'. [50]

In response to Peter Oborne's Channel 4 documentary about the Israel Lobby, the blog posted a response which mostly excerpted a Community Security Trust (CST) blogpost.[51] In the documentary Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian publisher, had recounted being rebuked harshly by Gerald Ronson, the head of CST, for publishing an article critical of Israel.[52]


The blog's editorial team includes Houriya Ahmed, a researcher at the far-right Centre for Social Cohesion founded by the professed neoconservative Douglas Murray. Other links with the Centre for Social Cohesion include posts by Edmund Standing who has also worked for the think-tank. The blog also appears to have links to the Quilliam Foundation - for example through Lucy James a Research Fellow at the foundation who has contributed to The Spittoon. [54]

It cross-posts material from the neoconservative Standpoint magazine's Focus on Islamism blog and from Harry's Place with which it also coordinates attacks on critics. [55][56] The former is run by Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, who is also a researcher at the Centre for Social Cohesion. [57]

Online affiliations (August 2009)

Use of Google’s ‘link:’ syntax and Yahoo’s Site Explorer to analyse inlinks to the The Spittoon’s homepage and its entire website respectively, suggests that The Spittoon links most closely to a network of British secularist, anti-Islamist and pro-war commentators, who consider themselves liberal or centre-left. In particular the website is linked to Harry's Place, and a number of affiliated bloggers. More broadly the results suggest that The Spittoon appeals to an online audience which includes neoconservatives (Standpoint, the Centre for Social Cohesion) and the nationalist and Islamophobic right (e.g. Fox News, Free Republic, Right not Racist).

A Google search using the ‘link:’ syntax on 17 August 2009 found seven blogs linking to Spittoon’s homepage. These were Harry's Place, Media Watch Watch, frankowenspaintbrush,, (which uses the tagline ‘Pro-British Anti-Extremist’), and [58] With the exception of, all these blogs also link to the homepage of Harry's Place.

A search of Yahoo’s Site Explorer on 17 August 2009 returned 175 inlinks to The Spittoon’s website. Websites which were found to have multiple links to The Spittoon included Harry's Place, Picked Politics, Media Watch Watch, Bloggers4Labour, the Centre for Social Cohesion, Fox News, Free Republic, Islam is War, Media Watch Watch, Pajamas Media, Pro-British Anti-Extremist, Proud Zionist, Right not Racist, Standpoint and The Spectator.

Quilliam's Exit

On October 23 a public spat broke out between members of Quilliam and CSC following an article by the latter's Douglas Murray, who denounced Quilliam's Ed Husain for holding extremist views. Since then contributions from Quilliam have declined. Although Lucy James of Quilliam has published one blogpost after that. Unlike her previous posts, this one is introduced with: 'She writes in a personal capacity'.[59] (However, on 11 December a post by Quilliam's Ishtiaq Hussain appeared on both Spittoon and Harry's Place)[60]. This would suggest that the project is really a CSC front and Quilliam was involved in a subordinate role. This is also confirmed by the fact that the blog has now started publishing attacks on Quilliam.[61]



  1. A WhoIs search reveals that the domain is registered by the anonymizing services company Domains by Proxy, Inc., 15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260, USA (Phone:+1.4806242599; Fax:+1.4806242598)
  2. A WhoIs search reveals that the domain is registered by the anonymizing services company Domains by Proxy, Inc., 15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260, USA (Phone:+1.4806242599; Fax:+1.4806242598)
  3. Faisal, 'Welcome to the Spittoon', The Spittoon, 10 May 2009
  4. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 15 May 2015 on 15 June 2015.
  5. The Spittoon - Contact, accessed 7 August 2009
  6. It would appear from some of the comments on various blogs that Gazi formerly blogged under the handle 'Sid' at Pickled Politics (see for example this)
  7. Admin1 (George Readings archive)
  8. See for example: Abu Faris (pseudonym), Of Qadhi and Detroit 253, The Spittoon, 1 January 2010
  9. Gene, The Times: Hamas behind arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, Harry's Place, 21 December 2009
  10. Alexander Hitchens, Asymmetric Warfare: Hamas and the Livni Warrant, Harry's Place, 22 December 2009
  11. Mutazil, [ The same old geezers, again and again], The Spittoon, 22 December 2009
  12. Al-Qanaas al-Masri (pseudonym), The City Circle – Not So Moderate After All?, The Spittoon, 19 June 2009
  13. Houriya Ahmed, The Story of Malalai Joya, The Spittoon, 30 July 2009
  14. Johann Hari, Malalai Joya: The woman who will not be silenced, The Independent, 28 July 2009
  15. Marcus Dysch, [1], Jewish Chronicle, 17 December 2009
  16. Marcus Dysch, [2], Jewish Chronicle, 17 December 2009
  17. Faisal, Amnesty UK's blindspot, The Spittoon, 4 October 2009
  18. Faisal, Amnesty UK's blindspot, The Spittoon, 4 October 2009
  19. Faisal, 'Welcome to the Spittoon', The Spittoon, 10 May 2009
  20. Admin1, ‘FOSIS’s Annual Conference’, The Spittoon, 14 May 2009
  21. Faisal, ‘Less Racism, More Homophobia’, The Spittoon, 28 May 2009
  22. Faisal, ‘BBC make £30,000 payout to the MCB’, The Spittoon, 30 May 2009
  23. Admin1, ‘FOSIS’s Annual Conference’, The Spittoon, 14 May 2009
  24. Habibi, ‘Fun with Maps’, The Spittoon, 23 May 2009
  25. Shikwa, ‘Quilliam director attacked’, The Spittoon, 14 May 2009
  26. Shikwa, ‘So, was 7/7 a ‘revenge’ attack for Iraq?’, The Spittoon, 20 May 2009; Shikwa, ‘So, was 7/7 a ‘revenge’ attack for Iraq?’, Harry’s Place, 20 May 2009
  27. All the information in the previous paragraphs is based on material from the archive section of The Spittoon website as it appeared on 17 August 2009.
  28. Islamophobia Watch -- Dimwit Unlimited, The Spittoon, 3 August 2009. The post references with approval the following article from Harry's Place for the description as an alternative to 'Islamophobia' Anti-Muslim Bigotry, Harry's Place, 11 November 2008
  29. The Spittoon - About Us, accessed 1 August 2009
  30. See the anti-Muslim Bigotry section of the blog. In another post Alexander Hitchens of Focus on Islamism hints that the 'StWC, the MCB, and their cohorts' are to blame for the situation of the Muslims.(See Enough of 'Kafa', The Spittoon, 30 June 2009) Where it does address attacks on Muslims directly it is in places like China, which is used as an occasion for blaming other Muslims and Leftists for not showing enough outrage. See: (Silence on the Plight of Uighurs, The Spittoon, 8 July 2009; Sinophobia trumps Islamophobia, The Spittoon, 10 July 2009)
  31. Alaa al-Aswany is wrong to accuse the West of double standards, The Spittoon, 23 July 2009
  32. Jonathan Steele, Lost in Translation, The Guardian, 14 June 2006
  33. Al-Qanaas al-Masri (pseudonym), The City Circle – Not So Moderate After All?, The Spittoon, 19 June 2009
  34. Yossarian, Picking on Moderates, The Spittoon, 19 July 2009
  35. Al-Qanaas al-Masri (pseudonym), The City Circle – Not So Moderate After All?, The Spittoon, 19 June 2009
  36. Faisal's comment on 'The Other Muslims', The Spittoon, 15 July 2010 at 1:47 PM
  37. Bob à Jobbik, [ Palestinian Return Centre linked website turns on European fascist ally], The Spittoon, 6 January 2010
  38. Yossarian (pseudonym), Prizewinning Islamists, The Spittoon, 26 August 2009
  39. Yossarian (pseudonym), A Question of Priorities, The Spittoon, 23 August 2009
  40. Eyal (pseudonym), The Stuff of Jewish Terrorism, The Spittoon, 8 January 2010
  41. Admin1 (George Readings), Say it ain't so, Diane, The Spittoon, 17 June 2009
  42. Fun with Maps, The Spittoon, 23 May 2009
  43. We Are All Neocons Now!, The Spittoon, 10 August 2009
  44. ILAN PAPPE and JUSTIN PODUR, ZNet, 20 February 2005 Mechanisms of denial, last accessed June 16, 2007.
  45. Marcus Dysch, Screaming protesters disrupt JNF meeting, Jewish Chronicle, 17 December 2009
  46. Marcus Dysch, Screaming protesters disrupt JNF meeting, Jewish Chronicle, 17 December 2009
  47. Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The Darfur Deception, The Electronic Intifada, 8 June 2009 (a review of Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror by Mahmood Mamdani, Verso, 2009.)
  48. We Are All Neocons Now!, The Spittoon, 10 August 2009
  49. bananarabian, Are we really ready to start being reasonable?, The Spittoon, 24 November 2009
  50. Faisal Gazi, Political Islam and Civil Service Neutrality, The Spittoon, 4 July 2009
  51. Yossarian, The Israel Lobby?, The Spittoon, 17 November 2009
  52. Peter Oborne and James Jones, Pro Israel The pro-Israel lobby in Britain: full text, Open Democracy, 13 November 2009
  53. Thomas Joscelyn, Al Qaeda's Trojan Horse, The Spittoon, 1 January 2010
  54. Lucy James, What Muslim women want, The Spittoon, 17 July 2009
  55. We Are All Neocons Now!, The Spittoon, 10 August 2009
  56. Muhammed Idrees Ahmad, Harry's Place, 10 August 2009
  57. Centre for Social Cohesion, Who we are, accessed 19 August 2009
  58. Google Search: ‘’ conducted on 17 August 2009, at 10:52am GMT. A copy of the 67 webpages returned can be accessed here.
  59. Lucy James, [Symbols at EDL protests undermine their ‘non-racist’ claims], The Spittoon, 5 November 2009
  60. Ishtiaq Hussain, What is Islamism? A Muslim Replies, The Spittoon, 11 December 2009; Ishtiaq Hussain, What is Islamism?, Harry's Place, 11 December 2009
  61. Khalid Richards, Quilliam Foundation vs Craig Murray, The Spittoon, 13 November 2009