Tweets comparing Israel with Nazis land cricket boss in hot water

“Stepping aside”: Cricket club president who ‘liked’ antisemitic tweets says he is committed to an inclusive environment for all.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

The new chairman of a prominent British cricket club said he was “stepping aside” from his position last Friday, after the Jewish Chronicle published a report about his Twitter history of liking Tweets referencing Zionist control of the media and comparing Jews to Nazis.

A look at the Twitter account of Azeem Akhtar, whose appointment as the new head of the Essex County Cricket Club was announced last Monday, showed that he had repeatedly liked and reposted antisemitic and anti-Israel tweets.

The UK Jewish advocacy group Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) told JC that Akhtar’s behavior on Twitter was unacceptable, specifically saying his liking a tweet about the Zionist control of the media was “indefensible.”

“Several of the tweets ‘liked’ by Azeem Akhtar breach the International Definition of Antisemitism,” a CAA spokesperson said.

“Essex County Cricket Club must investigate Mr Akhtar’s social media activity immediately, lest cricket start to become a breeding ground for antisemitism denial.”

The tweets Akhtar liked included a May 2021 post made during Operation Guardian of the Walls, which stated “it is not offensive to say that the Pro–Israel and Zionist lobby have deep pockets and oversized influence/control over the media.”

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“Comparing Israel with Nazis is not antisemitic. In fact, many Jewish people have done so themselves,” read another.

Yet another stated that “Zionism has very little connection with Judaism but very close relationship with fascism and white supremacy.”

After publication of the report last Wednesday, Akhtar denied he was antisemitic and told the JC that he wanted “the Jewish community to feel they had the most Jewish friendly chairman of Essex County Cricket Club they’ve ever had.”

On Friday, Akhtar announced that he was “stepping aside” while the cricket club completes a probe into his Twitter behavior.

“I have made the decision to initiate this review because it is important that I as Chair and Essex County Cricket Club more widely hold ourselves to the highest standards of governance and accountability,” he said in a statement.

“By stepping aside, I want to show leadership and ensure the Club can focus on the ongoing challenges it is tackling.

“I am resolutely committed to ensuring that Essex County Cricket Club is an inclusive and welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds.”

Akhtar was the first ethnic minority to serve in the role. He was appointed after a previous racism scandal at the cricket club saw his long-serving predecessor ousted.