Posts Tagged ‘BICOM’

‘I’ Newspaper Smears Corbyn’s Labour as Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theorists: Part 2

March 10, 2019

Verber then goes on two deal with two more conspiracy theories, which are ‘Israel Is Undermining British Democracy’ and ‘Twisting or Denying the Facts of the Holocaust’. Throughout the article, Verber appears sweetly reasonable. For example, of the first conspiracy theory he writes

It is healthy in any democracy to question foreign states’ actions. You can question whether Israel’s engagement is good for Britain, just as you might our relationship with the EU or the US. But these questions need to be rational and built on evidence, not an instinctive feeling that something “shady” is going on, just because it is Israel.

Form modern racists, Israel, as the world’s only Jewish state, has become code for “Jews” in general, whether they live there or have any links with it or not. “Israel” and “Jews” are not synonymous.

Which is true enough, but not the whole truth. People believe that Israel is meddling in this country’s affairs not out of anti-Semitism, but because it is. It was revealed doing so in the al-Jazeera documentary ‘The Lobby’, where Shai Masot of the Israel embassy was recorded conspiring to have Alan Duncan removed from the cabinet. It was also revealed doing so in Channel 4’s 2009 documentary on the Israel lobby by Peter Oborne, which described how the Israel lobby gave funding to MPs in the two parties’ ‘Friends of Israel’ organisations, how the Board itself had tried to close down impartial reporting of atrocities committed by Israel and its allies with grotesque accusations of anti-Semitism, and how Mossad had tried to have independent Jewish organisations recording anti-Semitic incidents merged with those backed by Israel. If they couldn’t do this, then they tried to shut them down. And then there’s the wealth of evidence about the Israelis directing all this from their Ministry of Strategic Affairs and the various Israeli funded organisations designed to push the pro-Israel view, like BICOM. As for Israel and Jews not being synonymous, here Verber is trying to have it both ways. Now many of the verbal attacks on Jews are sloppily worded criticisms of Israel. But Netanyahu himself has stated that Israel and the Jews are one and the same, and that by attacking Israel you are attacking the Jews. And this was long before he passed his wretched law declaring that Israel was the nation state of the Jews.

Verber gives as an example of this conspiracy theories Ruth George’s accusation that the Independent Group was funded by Israel. After briefly describing George’s comments and her apology, where she said she had invoked a conspiracy theory, Verber writes

It is absolutely legitimate to ask “who is funding The Independent Group”. UK political parties are obliged to to record the donations they receive. (The Independent Group has said that it will do this once it is a registered party). However, it is not legitimate to suggest – with no evidence at all – that “Israel” is secretly funding a new group, simply because some of its members are Jewish, and one of them previously chaired a Friends of Israel Group.

But it is fair to ask if Israel is funding them, because Joan Ryan, one of the chairs of Labour Friends of Israel, was recorded by al-Jazeera in their documentary stating that she talked to conspirator Shai Masot nearly every day and had secured a million pounds worth of funding from the Israeli government. No-one is accusing the Group of being funded by Israel because it contains some Jews. They’re accusing them because many of their members – six of the original eight – were members of Labour Friends of Israel. As for the Independent Group opening up their accounts, the question is – when? Saying they will eventually is simply a promise, and one that may well prove empty.

Once again, Verber uses fine words to twist the facts subtly and try to make a reasonable question look terribly anti-Semitic.

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After the BDJ, It Should Be the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Who Need to Be Criticised and Investigated

May 19, 2018

If not broken up altogether, as the malign, libellous and morally corrupt organisation it really is. I’ve commented already on a post Mike put up on Thursday, reporting the barrage of criticism the Board of Deputies had called upon itself from outraged citizens up and down this country. They were enraged at the Board’s comments on the Gaza massacre, and the way they placed the blame, not on the Israeli squaddies, who murdered 60 people and wounded 200 more, but on the victims. Ah, it was all the fault of Hamas, who put all the 40,000 or so Palestinians massing at the fence, up to it. After all, 50 of those killed were members of Hamas.

It doesn’t matter if they were members of Hamas or not. They were unarmed. This makes their killings assassinations, which is the mark of a death squad. Which is Fascism.

Also, what about the 10 that weren’t members of Hamas? They didn’t deserve to die. Not least the baby that was killed when Israeli squaddies threw a tear gas grenade into a tent.

Liberal Judaism and Yachad wrote letters to the Board stating that the Board had grotesquely misrepresented their views. And ordinary, individual Jews were also incensed. One of them was the comic actor David Schneider, who said very plainly that the Board didn’t represent Jews like him.

Mike opened his article with the smug face of the Board’s president, Jonathan Arkush, who he said was soon to be ex-president of the Board.

Well, we live in hope.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/17/huge-backlash-against-supporters-of-israeli-government-over-gaza-massacre/

Arkush is a nasty piece of work, not least for the way he’s weaponised the anti-Semitism smears against the Labour party, and tried to make Corbyn the sole person responsible for it. It’s a lie, as he must surely know, as anti-Semitism has gone down in the Labour party under Corbyn. It’s now lower than in ordinary British society. And as Mike’s repeatedly pointed out, if you want to see real, baying racists and anti-Semites, with the vilest of views, you have to look at the Tory and Tory affiliated web-pages.

But when Arkush and the Board attack the Labour party for being anti-Semitic, this is only a cover for their real concern: to stifle criticism of Israel. And the Israel lobby has been using that smear since the 1980s. So much so that the American Jewish critic of Israel, Dr. Norman Finkelstein, has described it as a machine for manufacturing anti-Semites.

It’s a tactic shared and employed wholesale by the odious Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. And it was explicitly set up to stifle criticism of Israel caused by their treatment of Gaza. It’s founder, Gideon Falter, was left unnerved by the popular opposition to Israel aroused by the bombardment of Gaza in 2007 or so. He did what the Israel lobby always do in such circumstances, and defined criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. Oh yes, in debates the pro-Israel pundits and speakers will allow that Israel should rightly be the subject of criticism where it’s justified. But in practice, any support for the Palestinians is met with outrage, and claims of anti-Semitism. Especially if you call it an apartheid state, or point out just how similar it is to Fascism or the Nazi policies towards the Jews before they embarked on the horrors of the ‘Final Solution’ in 1942.

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism hasn’t said a peep about the Gaza massacre. They don’t represent British Jewry in the same way as the Board, and so there’s no call for them to. But you can bet they’ve been watching the wave of outrage against the Board for its vile comments, and been taking notes, if not names. The Israel lobby hates even the reporting of atrocities committed by Israel or its allies. They alleged that respected BBC foreign correspondents Jeremy Bowen and Orla Guerin were anti-Semites for their reports on the conflicts between Israel and its neighbours. They were particularly upset by Bowen’s report that the massacres of Muslim Palestinians by the Christian phalange in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon were committed by Israel’s allies. Alan Rusbridger, the editor of the Guardian, described in an interview with Peter Oborne in his Despatches programme on the Israel lobby how he was regularly placed under pressure by the Board demanding that he retract articles on Israeli crimes and human rights violations because they are anti-Semitic.

It isn’t just the Board that needs to be investigated and reformed because of their support for the shooting of unarmed civilians. It’s the entire Israel lobby, including the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Their patrons, as Mike and Tony Greenstein has pointed out, are largely Tories with a history of racism and Islamophobia. And they have been principally involved with the anti-Semitism smears against members of the Labour party, in conjunction with pro-Israel organs like the Labour Friends of Israel. There have been calls for the latter group to be expelled from the party, just as there has been an internet petition on Change.org to have the CAA deregistered with the Charity Commission for being a political organisation, not a charity.

It has been the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism that libelled Mike as an anti-Semite and holocaust denier just because he had the temerity to defend Ken Livingstone. Just like they’ve libelled and smeared so many other decent people, Jew and gentile, even those, who have spent their lives combating racism and anti-Semitism. Even those, who have suffered genuine anti-Semitic abuse and assault themselves.

And just as many British Jews were rightly angered by the Board’s comments about Gaza, so Jewish Brits have also been annoyed by the way the Campaign presumes to speak for them. Especially when its pronouncements are made by gentiles like Luke Akehurst or Stephen Pollard, who then go on to declare that all British Jews, as Jew, must support Israel. They are rightly incensed at being told what they must believe as Jews by those, who aren’t.

Criticism of the Israel lobby should not stop at the Board and its vile president. It has to go beyond, to organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, BICOM and others.

Arkush should be called on to resign for his comments. And so should Gideon Falter, and his wretched smear group be broken up for its similar tactics, libels and goals.

Review: Joe Sacco’s ‘Palestine’

May 12, 2018

(London: Jonathan Cape 2001)

This is one of the classics of the graphic novel. Joe Sacco is an American journalist. He spent two months with the Palestinians in late 1991 and early 1992 in Gaza and the West Bank during the time of the first Intifada. He wrote and drew Palestine after his return to the US, basing it on his notes, publishing it as a nine-part comic strip. These were later collected into a single volume to form the graphic novel. The book also has a kind of introduction, ‘Homage to Joe Sacco’, from Edward Said, the author of Orientalism, critic of western imperialism and attitudes to the Arabs, and himself a Palestinian.

This is precisely the type of book the Israel lobby does not want people to read. Not BICOM, not the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which was set up because Gideon Falter, its founder, was worried about British attitudes becoming more hostile to Israel after the blockade of Gaza, not the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion and the companion party to the Israeli Labor Party, not the various ‘Friends of Israel’ societies in the political parties, Tories and Labour, nor the Jewish Leadership Council and definitely not the Board of Deputies of British Jews. All of them shout ‘anti-Semitism’ at anyone who dares to publish anything critical of Israel, or show the barbarity with which it treats the Palestinians.

The book shows Sacco’s experiences as he goes around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, talking to both Palestinians and Israelis, meeting them, entering their homes, and listening to their stories. He starts the book in Cairo, the beginning of his journey to Israel, and to which he returns at his departure. During his time there, he visits the Vale of Kidron, the Arab quarter of Old Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza strip, as it then was, Balata, another refugee camp on the West Bank, Nablus, the town of Gaza itself, and finally Tel Aviv.

It’s not an easy read. This is an occupied country during deep unrest, and the threat of violence and arbitrary arrest and detention without trial is every where. There are patrols of soldiers, demonstrations, explosions and stone throwing. And he shows, with quotes, the contemptuous, lofty and hostile attitude the early Zionists and Lord Balfour had for the indigenous population. He quotes Balfour as saying

‘Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit this ancient land. We do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the inhabitants’.

Ben Gurion thought it would be simple to expel the Palestinians, because he felt they had no real attachment to their homeland. He wrote that the Palestinian ‘is equally at ease whether in Jordan, Lebanon or a variety of other places’. With the approach of war, he made it clear their expulsion was going to be through military force: ‘In each attack a decisive blow should be struck, resulting in the destruction of homes and the expulsion of the population.’ When that was done, ‘Palestinian Arabs have only one role – to flee’. He also quotes Golda Meir, who stated that a Palestinian people, defining itself as a Palestinian people, did not exist, and ‘we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They do not exist’. 400 Palestinian villages were razed in the war marking the birth of Israel. Meir’s lie – that the Palestinians don’t exist as a people – is still repeated by Republican and pro-Israel bloggers. Golda Meir was also concerned about the Palestinian population outstripping that of the Israelis, another issue that is still very alive today.

His hosts are polite, welcoming him into their homes, and plying him with tea. But occasionally there is an outburst from one of them, when he’s asked what the point of him being there, of them talking to him, is. Because other journalists have been there too, and they’ve talked to them, and nothing has happened, nothing has changed. They also talk to him about the other factions, and of the peace process. In a separate text at the beginning of the book, he states that, while the peace process set up the Palestinian authority and gave them a government, it changed nothing for ordinary Palestinians, and the occupation and theft of land by the Israelis still goes on.

He also reveals that the Israelis appropriate 2/3 of the land in the West Bank for their own us, which includes the establishment of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. And the governments gives Israelis plenty of incentives to move to them. They’re given a government grant if they do, lower interest rates on loan, the housing itself is cheaper than in Israel, and an income tax rate of 7 per cent. The settlers themselves can be extremely aggressive. Sacco’s hosts tell them about incidents where settlers have come into Palestinian villages, smashing windows and demanding that the owners come out. Of people shot by them, and the trivial sentences given to the settlers guilty of this. They’re given jail sentences of a few months. If they’re convicted in the first place. Palestinians who shoot and kill Israelis are jailed for years. Some lavish homes do exist in Palestine, occupied by Arabs, but most live in very bare houses, often with leaking roofs, which are vulnerable to storms.

His cartoons show what his Palestinian hosts tell him it’s like in prison camps like Ansar III, with crowds of prisoners crammed into small, bare rooms with no heat and poor ventilation. There are also few eating utensils, to the various political factions in the camp – Fateh, Hamas, Popular Front, organise meal times so that everyone gets a turn with the cup and plate to eat and drink. Several of the people he talks to were arrested simply on suspicion. Israeli law allowed them to be held without charge while evidence was compiled, with his captors returning to court over and over again to request a few more days more, until the judge finally listens to their lawyer, has the procedure stopped and the prisoner released. He also shows how the prisoners were tortured through beatings, being forced to stand for hours with bags over their heads, a process permitted under Israel law. A judge ruled that torture could not be used, but what methods were to replace them were kept secret. So many Palestinians have been incarcerated, that a green identity card showing a man has been in jail is a matter of pride. And not to have been to prison correspondingly is a mark of shame.

He talks about how the Israelis have a deliberate policy of not allowing the Palestinians to industrialise, so that they compete with the Israel. The State has also put obstacles in place to prevent Palestinian farmers competing with Israelis. They also deliberately uproot the olive trees many Palestinians grow to support themselves. The Israelis also appropriate most of the water, and dig deeper wells, so that the Palestinians have a much poorer water supply and their own wells are becoming increasingly saline. As a result, unemployment in Gaza was at 40 per cent. And Sacco himself was approached several times by Palestinians, hoping he could do something so that they could leave and go abroad to study or find work.

He describes a school, without electricity, as well as a school for the deaf, which is supported through volunteers and whose staff complain of their lack of training for dealing with people with disabilities. He also hears and illustrates the story of one Palestinian woman, whose son was shot by Israeli soldiers, but was prevented from taking him directly to hospital. Instead she was ordered to go hither and thither, where she was told a helicopter was waiting to take her and the boy. When she gets there, there is no helicopter. She eventually takes him to the hospital herself in a car, by which time it’s too late and the lad dies.

The book also shows the mass of roadblocks and the permit system which Palestinians have to go through to go to Israel. At the same time, Israelis are simply allowed to whiz through in their separate lanes.

Sacco also doesn’t shy away from showing the negative side of Palestine – the anti-Semitism, and particularly infamous murders, like the killing of Klinghoffer aboard the Achille Lauro, and the massacre of the Israeli Olympic team by the terrorist group Black September. This can turn into support for the murder of Israeli civilians. There’s also a chapter on the plight of Palestinian women, This is a society where women are still very much treated as inferiors and subordinates, where honour killings are carried out as the punishment for female adultery. It is also a society where collaborators are murdered, and those, who belong to the wrong faction may also be shot and killed.

The book was written 27 years ago, but nothing really seems to have changed since then. The illegal settlements are still there and expanding. Settlers are still seizing Palestinian homes and property, the apartheid separating Israelis from Palestinians is still in place, unemployment is still high, and Palestinians are still being treated as foreigners, refugees and second-class citizens on their own land.

However, some attitudes are changing. The Israeli liberals Sacco talks to only support the Palestinians up to a point. When pressed, some of them will say that Israel should keep the Occupied Territories, because they seized them in war. Or that they need to keep them for security reasons. But an increasing number of young Jews in America and elsewhere are appalled at the continuing maltreatment of the Palestinians and are becoming increasingly critical and hostile to Israel because of this. And there have also grown up major opposition groups like the human rights organisation B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence in Israel.

The Israeli state and its lobby and supporters in this country and others are increasingly scared. It’s why they’re trying to pass laws to criminalise the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in America, and to outlaw criticism of Israel in this country through tortuous definitions of anti-Semitism that are stretched to include it. It’s why they’re smearing, with the connivance of the right-wing media, the Blairites in the Labour party, and the Conservatives, decent people, who have fought racism and anti-Semitism, as anti-Semites.

Very long, detailed books have been written about Israel’s brutal treatment, dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Sacco’s Palestine presenting this as graphic novel, is an example of how comics can also be serious literature, tackling a difficult subject with both narrative and artistic skill and style. I’ve mentioned on this blog before the alternative comics that were also published from the ’60s to the 1980s/1990s on political topics, including the Israeli maltreatment of Palestinians in Pat Mills’ Crisis. Palestine is very much in that tradition, and in 1996 won the American Book Award.

Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ Documentary from 2009: Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby – Part

March 11, 2018

The documentary then moves on to January, 2009 and the invasion of Gaza, and allegations of Human Rights abuses by Israeli forces were still circulating months later. But Oborne points out that you wouldn’t know it from the contents of the News of the World and the Mirror. Both these rags ran stories instead about the threat to Israel from the surrounding Arab nations. The hacks behind these pieces had been given free trips to Israel by BICOM, one of the wealthiest lobby groups in Britain. Oborne then goes on to interview David Newman in his office in Jerusalem. Newman worked alongside BICOM in disseminating Israeli propaganda in British universities. Newman states that there is indeed a debate within Israel about the status of the settlements in Palestinian territory. Groups like BICOM close down this debate abroad, and instead demand absolute for Israel.

Plocha Zabludowicz, the head of BICOM, is the 18th richest person in Britain. And he is very definitely not part of traditional British Anglo-Jewish society, but came up through the Jewish Leadership Council, who are described as the lords of the big Jewish donors. Oborne then interviews the head of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, Rabbi Emeritus David Goldberg, and asks if he knows him. Goldberg states that his name doesn’t ring a bell. Zabludowicz is actually of Polish ancestry. He is a Finnish citizen with a house in north London. His father made a fortune peddling Israeli arms, as did Zabludowicz himself before moving into property and casinos. His company is registered in Lichtenstein. He is, in short, ‘a rank outsider’. He was also one of the guests at Madonna’s birthday party in Italy.

Zabludowicz generously bankrolls BICOM, to whom he gave £800,000, who wrote a clause into their accounts recognising his generosity. He had given them £1.3 million in the previous three years, and has business interests in the Middle East. These cast doubt on the possibility of reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Oborne then goes on to discuss the case of one of the illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestine, whose supermarket is owned by Zabludowicz. Newman states this indicates the direction in which BICOM is moving. Rabbi Goldberg states that it shows that Zabludowicz calculates that the settlement won’t be returning to the Palestinians, even under the most generous peace deal. As for Zabludowicz himself, he declined to meet the Dispatches team, but instead released a statement claiming that he was a major supporter of the creation of a separate Palestinian state, and that he understood that concessions would need to be made. Oborne was, however, successful in talking to Lorna Fitzsimons, BICOM’s chief executive. She claimed that BICOM was very open, that their donors do not influence policy. When asked about Zabludowicz, she claimed he was different from anyone else and she didn’t know about his business connections. All the organisation was doing was to make journos and people aware of the different strands of the debate on Israel.

Oborne moves on to the other groups involved in the Israel lobby – the Jewish Leadership Council, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Zionist Federation, and states that some members of these groups are very aggressive towards the TV and press. He then interviews Alan Rusbridger about his experiences of dealing with them. Rusbridger states that some TV editors warned him to stay away from them and the whole subject of Israel and the Palestinians. The Guardian was attacked for criticising Israel in a way that no other country does. There was a special meeting at the Israeli embassy between the ambassador, Zabludowicz, Grunewald of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the property magnate Gerald Reuben. They were unhappy about a Groaniad article comparing the Israeli’s occupation of Palestine with apartheid South Africa. So Grunewald and his mate, Roman Leidel, decided to pay Rusbridger a visit. Grunewald is a lawyer, claimed that the article was fomenting anti-Semitism, and would encourage people to attack Jews on the street, a risible accusation which Rusbridger denied. This was followed by complaints to the Press Complaints Commission about the article by the pro-Israel American group, CAMERA, or Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, which specialising in attacking journos critical of Israel. The Press Complaints Commission duly investigated the article, and found that only one fact was wrong. When asked about this, Rabbi Goldberg states that Israel is indeed an apartheid state. There are two road systems, one for use by Israelis and one for the Palestinians. There are two legal systems in operation. The Israelis are governed by Israeli law, while the Palestinians are governed by military law. When asked what will happen to him when his comments are broadcast, the good rabbi simply laughs and says that he’ll be attacked once against as being an ant-Semitic, self-hating Jew.

Many other Jews are also critical of Israel. Oborne goes on to talk to Tony Lerman, formerly of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and now a Groaniad journo. Lerman states that the Israel lobby don’t take into account the diversity of Jewish views on Israel. This is confirmed by Avi Shlaim, who says that there is a split in the Jewish community over Israel. The community’s leaders are largely pro-Israel with a narrow rightwing agenda that is not typical of Jewish Brits. And libelling Israel’s critics as ‘anti-Semitic’ is now common policy.

One example of this use of libel is a New York blogger, ‘Hawkeye’, who hunts through the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ column, claiming it is full of anti-Semitic bias. Rusbridger states that this is dangerous and disreputable. ‘Hawkeye’ attacked Lerman in particular as a nasty anti-Semite. Lerman states that this tactic has been adopted because it’s a useful defence of Israel. Rabbi Goldberg concedes that some people might be seriously anti-Semitic, others are just voicing genuine opinions, which should be respected. Michael Ancram, even, was accused of being anti-Semitic, which he said he takes with a pinch of salt.

But this leads into the whole question of whether the BBC has been corrupted by the influence of the Israel lobby. On record, BBC journos and spokespeople claim that the Corporation’s reporting of Israel is unbiased. Off-record, the stories different. News staff state that there is always pressure from top management for a pro-Israel slant. Oborne then interview Charlie Brebitt, an accountant at the LSE, who was formerly of Channel 4, who confirms that there is a very strong and active Israel lobby, and a sizable body of sympathy with Israel. The BBC has no choice but to respond. Honest Reporting, another pro-Israel media attack dog, and the other parts of the Israel lobby take advantage of this, alleging that there is an institutional bias at the Corporation against Israel.

In 2003 during the Iraq invasion the Beeb broadcast a hard-hitting documentary investigating Israel’s secret nuclear weapon’s programme, entitled ‘Israel’s Secret Weapon’ on the 16th March. The Israeli Press Office issued a statement comparing this to the worst of Nazi propaganda, and imposed restrictions on BBC staff in Israel. When Ariel Sharon, the Israeli leader, visited Downing Street, the only journos banned from covering the meeting were the Beeb. Honest Reporting UK complained that the programme was part of a campaign to vilify Israel. One member of the group, Nathan Sharansky, complained that the late Orla Guerin, here shown with two eyes, was anti-Semitic, and that she shared the goals of Palestinian terror groups.

Continued in Part 3.

Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ Documentary from 2009: Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby – Part Three

March 11, 2018

Honest Reporting claims to have 175,000 subscribers, and organises letter writing campaigns against the Beeb. The BBC Trust censured Jeremy Bowen for comments he made about the history of the conflict. His piece was withdrawn. But Bowen had published an article the week before in the Jewish Chronicle, using the same phrases that Honest Reporting found so objectionable, and which was still up at that rag’s website. CAMERA and the other parts of the Israel lobby complained, forcing the Beeb to investigate Bowen. This had a chilling effect on the other staff in the newsroom, who felt that they too were under attack. Jonathan Dimbleby thought the BBC had caved in under pressure from them. Which meant that he too came under investigation for anti-Semitism for making the above comments. The BBC Trust went to Oxford to interview Avi Shlaim about Bowen. Shlaim said that he couldn’t fault Bowen’s comments, concludes that some people in the Jewish community are too quick to criticise reporting. As for Honest Reporting, their office is not in Britain but Jerusalem. Their managing Director Simon Flosker is British, but worked for BICOM and the Israeli Army Press Office. Flosker declined to be interviewed, but issued a statement claiming that the BBC and the Guardian were biased against Israel, more so than other countries such as America.

And then there is the noxious incident, where these scum stopped the BBC raising an appeal for the victims of the Gaza invasion. The BBC has a long history of raising appeals for the victims of disasters. During Israel’s invasion 1,000 civilians in Gaza were killed. There was a move for the BBC to broadcast an appeal, but this was turned down by the Beeb’s Director-General, Mark Thompson. Ben Bradshaw, the Labour Minister for Media, was outraged. He stated that the Israel lobby was showing all the qualities of a bully. A BBC spokeswoman then explains to Oborne that the issue was too much trouble, and that it would cause people to lose confidence in the Corporation’s impartiality. She claims that the corporation took the advice of an independent committee. But Niam Alam, who was a member of the Committee, resigned over it. He said that the Committee never met to discuss the issue, and was never consulted. The appeal was eventually broadcast on Channel 4, where there were absolutely no complaints about its impartiality. Oborne’s documentary includes the appeal to show that it is, indeed, apolitical and impartial. The other members of the Committee refused to speak in public. When he tried to get them, and other charities and aid agencies, to talk about general humanitarian issues, they too declined. They included Oxfam, Christian Aid, Catholic Aid, and Cathod.

The Beeb’s decision not to broadcast the appeal is unusual, and breaks with the Corporation’s long tradition of making such broadcasts. In 1982 the Corporation broadcast an appeal for the victims of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, during which Palestinian men were butchered in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by the Christian Phalange, who were Israel’s allies during the invasion. Oborne states that the BBC is in danger of losing its reputation for impartiality around the world. The Israel Lobby has good access to politicos, and their loyalty is not to Britain, but to a mixture of interests, which may include Britain, but also the interests of another country. Oborne states that in making the documentary they have found nothing like a conspiracy, but a lack of transparency and the influence of the Israel lobby continues to be felt.

Of course, Oborne was accused of anti-Semitism for this piece, which he was successfully able to defend himself against. Looking at his denial of finding a conspiracy, you can see how he is attempting to fend off one of the accusations that has been levelled at Mike. He was accused of promoting Nazi-style conspiracy theories because he called the meeting between Shai Masot and the Tory Israel Lobby about arranging, who they wanted in the cabinet a conspiracy. This is what it is. It had nothing to do with stupid theories about international bankers financing communism to destroy the White race. it was a real conspiracy, just as there have always been real conspiracies of secretive groups meeting to pursue distinct political goals. Like the various CIA and British Secret Service intelligence operations run against Communism during the Cold War, and the various other lobbying groups now infesting parliament.

The picture that emerges of the Israel lobby is that it is a collection of very wealthy, very well-funded groups determined to suppress even mild criticism of Israel through ruthless bullying and intimidation. And it seems clear to me that Mike, and the others libelled as anti-Semites by the Sunday Times, the Mail, Express, Scum and Jerusalem Post, were the subjects of an organised campaign by the Tory Friends of Israel, possibly with the collusion of the Israeli embassy.

It also raises profound questions about Mike’s suspension from the Labour party. He was given no formal charges, and the identity of his accuser was never disclosed. How convenient. So who were they? Jonathan Mendelsohn, perhaps? One of the other high-ranking Blairites, scared that Mike was giving their former beloved leader a dam’ good, and very well deserved bashing? And behind them is their another pro-Israel donor, someone like Lord Levy, who will get into a ‘fearful bate’, as Molesworth would sa, and take his money elsewhere if the Labour party didn’t dance to his tune.

These groups are vicious, nasty, bullies, who libel and smear with impunity. It’s high time they were stopped in their tracks. Too many decent people, including self-respecting Jews, have been smeared as anti-Semites by these scoundrels. But from the comments of one of the Israel lobby’s leaders, Schanzer, it appears that they may be overreaching themselves. The claims of anti-Semitism have been overused. They’re not having the same effect. Well, soon I hope these accusations in this context will have no effect at all. And the time can’t come soon enough when that will happen, and when those who make those smears will have to face justice for their lies.

Here’s the video:

There’s a full transcript of it at Open Democracy Net.

Israel Lobbyists Smear Mike Again, Run Away When Refuted

March 7, 2018

Mike on Monday put up another piece, describing how he was smeared once again as an anti-Semite in an article, ‘Labour’s Anti-Semitism Problem’, by a couple of hacks called Kieron Monks and Gary Spedding. This was over what Mike had written about the belief that Blair had been unduly influenced by a group of Jewish advisers. Mike went on the attack to defend his reputation, and pointed out that he had not written what Monks’ claimed he had, and that he had in any case taken his words out of context. Monks tried arguing back, but when the force of Mike’s argument proved too much for him, retreated and went silent. He ran away, leaving his mate Spedding to try and defend his libel. Spedding didn’t fare any better either, and this resulted in Spedding not only abandoning the argument, but blocking Mike on Twitter.

You can read about the incident at: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/03/05/another-article-alleges-anti-semitism-about-me-author-refuses-to-acknowledge-his-mistake/

Mike makes several very good points in his article about it, not least that all the relevant information about these claims and accusations is up on his blog, if the writers of such articles would actually care to read what he has to say.

But they don’t, because they’ve already decided that Mike’s an anti-Semite. And it’s not because of any genuine concern for anti-Semitism. Monks’ real motivation in writing the article is clearly shown in the title, and in one of the people he hashtags at the bottom of his tweet about it, Dave Rich.

The title of Monks’ piece is the same as a book written by Dave Rich, and published last year by Biteback. This claimed that there was a rising tide of anti-Semitism on the Left, ever since the Liberal party had got involved in an anti-Israeli politics in the 1970s. I can’t remember where I found it, but I read a review somewhere that pointed out that Rich was another prominent member of the Israel lobby, and that what really concerned him was that the Left were taking the side of the Palestinians against Israel. In short, he’s another Zionist upset that people are criticising and protesting about the Israeli state’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and trying to shut them down by libelling them as anti-Semites. Ditto for Monks and Spedding, who obviously share his views.

As for the accusation that Blair was unduly influenced by a group of Jewish advisers, it is true that Blair received much funding during the run-up to the Iraq invasion from businessmen connected to the Israel lobby, though a campaign run by Lord levy and Peter Mandelson. John Booth describes this in his ‘Labour, Corbyn and Anti-Semitism’ in Lobster 74. He writes

In contrast, this is Jon (now Lord) Mendelsohn speaking to Jewsweek.com on 8 September 2002: ‘[Tony] Blair has attacked the anti-Israelism that had existed in the Labour Party . . .Labour was cowboys-and-Indians politics, picking underdogs. The milieu has changed. Zionism is pervasive in New Labour. It is automatic that Blair will come to Friends of Israel meetings.’ Mendelsohn was speaking during the build-up to the Iraq war. At the time Corbyn was indulging in what the New Labour fundraiser would probably style ‘cowboy-and Indian politics’ by helping create the Stop the War Coalition. 7 Mendelsohn was a close associate of Michael (now Lord) Levy in drawing down funds from Israel supporters, a programme also well described in Robert Peston’s Who Runs Britain?. The ITN political editor in his informative 8 chapter ‘Democracy for Sale’ makes clear that a good deal of that funding was not from Labour supporters, but from those, including previous Conservative backers, who identified with Blair and his support for Israel and the Iraq war.

He also goes on to discuss the connections between the Israeli embassy and the various Friends of Israel organisations, which have been making the accusations of anti-Semitism against Corbyn and his supporters.

Mendelsohn is a former chairman of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), membership of which, as he says, attracted many of the New Labour intake in 1997 and which resembled a passport to promotion for many of them. Not all have stayed in party politics since Labour’s 2010 defeat. Former Cabinet minister and chairman of LFI James Purnell is now a senior BBC executive and is talked of as a possible future director-general. LFI supporter Lorna 9 Fitzsimons, formerly Parliamentary Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, became chief executive of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) after losing her parliamentary seat in 2005. Most of the LFI supporters still in Parliament or subsequently elected to it were opposed to Corbyn’s 2015 election as leader and tried to unseat him the following year. From their ranks – some of them here supporting LFI chair Joan Ryan – have come many of the well-publicised claims of anti-semitic 10 abuse that has attended Corbyn’s rise. 11 As the Al Jazeera documentary series, The Lobby, exposed earlier this year, there is a very close working relationship between the Israel embassy in London and the Friends of Israel groups in Parliament, including the one chaired by Enfield North MP Ryan. 12 There is also a strong link between the embassy and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) that has led criticism of Corbyn and was very active on the ‘anti-semitism’ issue at the Brighton conference. Two JLM officials, Jeremy 13 Newmark and Mike Katz, were backed by Yvette Cooper, a Corbyn rival for the leadership in 2015, when they unsuccessfully stood as Labour candidates in the general election.

And no, before anyone asks, Booth’s article is not remotely anti-Semitic. It begins by describing the warm welcome given to Jewish speakers at Labour’s Brighton Conference last year, including Naomi Klein, Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi, who declared that the party did not have a problem with Jews, and, of course, Ed Miliband. Wimbourne-Idrissi later that day went on to launch Jewish Voice for Labour, along with a number of other, very prominent Jewish activists, including a former member of the Israeli Defence Force.

The article also discusses the close relationship between the Blairites and the Israel lobby, and how the rise of Corbyn and the leftward turn of the party threaten the Thatcherite entryists, and their backers in the media, such as the Groaniad. It challenges their views on the neoliberal consensus, as well as their political careers. Hence they have resorted to smearing their opponents as anti-Semites. And before Booth talks about Mandelson, he writes about how Marek Edelman, a hero of the Warsaw Ghetto, was persona non grata in Israel because he supported the Palestinians. He stated that to be a Jew means that you always side with the oppressed.

Edelman’s a true hero, and Rich, Monks and Spedding are definitely siding with the oppressors. Hence their participation in the smearing of Labour members and supporters, who criticise Israel’s maltreatment of the Palestinians, or who, like Mike, simply defend those, who do, on grounds of historical accuracy.

Lobster 74 is at https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/issue74.php

Go and read the whole article to find out what these mendacious accusations are really about, and the noxious politics behind them.

Lobster on a Report into BICOM, and Bias at the Beeb

September 27, 2016

BICOM

Lobster 66 also carried news of the publication of a report into one of the most important parts of the Israel lobby, BICOM in Robin Ramsay’s ‘View from the Bridge Column’. He wrote

The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre: Giving peace a chance? by Tom Mills, David Miller, Tom Griffin and Hilary Aked is a study of BICOM, its creation and influence in British politics. Among its chapters are ‘The second intifada and the establishment of BICOM’, ‘BICOM and British Zionism’, ‘BICOM strategy, elite networks and the media’ and ‘The Fox-Werritty scandal and the decline of democracy’. If you are only going to read one chapter, make it chapter five, ‘BICOM strategy, elite networks and the media’, which describes in great detail BICOM’s (largely successful) campaigns to get the British media to follow a pro-Israel line. This 96 page report can be downloaded as a PDF file.

Ramsay notes that the report is available online at: http://www.dropbox.com/s/rgb5yn4vjt2q74r/Giving%20Peace%20a%20Chance%3F-Spinwatch-2013.pdf

Aunty’s In a Bind

Further on in the column, Ramsay discusses two reports into political bias at the Beeb. One of them, The Today Programme and the Banking Crisis, concluded that the coverage given to economic issues by Radio 4’s current affairs programme, Today, was dominated by spokesmen from the City, and they were the only commenters, whose views were taken seriously. Ramsay notes that a copy of the study itself cost $25 (sic – perhaps he means pounds). However, Nick Shaxson had put a detailed summary of it, ‘Is the BBC Afraid of the City of London’, on his blog at

Ramsay also reports that a study of the BBC’s bias in reporting the privatisation of the NHS had also been published. This stated

In the two years building up to the government’s NHS reform bill, the BBC appears to have categorically failed to uphold its remit of impartiality, parroting government spin as uncontested fact, whilst reporting only a narrow,
shallow view of opposition to the bill. In addition, key news appears to have been censored.

This study was at http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/oliver-huitson/how-bbcbetrayed-
nhs-exclusive-report-on-two-years-of-censorship-anddistorti.

The BBC’s refusal to cover or criticise the government’s privatisation of the NHS is one of the issues Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis criticise in their back, NHS-SOS, which discusses how a whole series of British institutions, which claim to provide a check on government, like the press, and the medical profession itself, failed to protect it and instead were cowed by government pressure.

More on Progress, the Groaniad, and the Israel Lobby

September 27, 2016

Lobster 70 also had some very interesting little snippets about the Israel lobby, and its connections to sections of the Labour party and the press, specifically ‘Progress’, and the Guardian.

‘Progress’ is the Blairite faction within the Labour party. In ‘Tittle-Tattle’ for that issue, Tom Easton praises Solomon Hughes in the Morning Star for his work investigating and exposing Progress and its dodgy donors. Hughes had written about the close connection between Tristram Hunt and David Sainsbury. As I’ve blogged previously, Sainsbury was a big corporate donor to the Labour party under Blair and Brown. He stopped funding the party as a whole when Ed Miliband became leader, but, according to Hughes, he continued funding Progress. Just as he continued funding the SDP rump under Dr David Owen after the rest of it had merged with the Liberals. One of the SDP’s members was Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee.

In November 2014 Hughes described Hunt’s speech at the previous Labour Conference, in which he made a joke about the secretive and numerically small nature of the faction, which did not go down well with the Progress hordes. He wrote

‘When I went to the Progress rally at the last Labour conference, Tristram Hunt was one of the speakers, where he declared he was “delighted to be with Progress” because “you might be an unaccountable faction dominated by a secretive billionaire, but you are OUR unaccountable faction dominated by a secretive billionaire”.

Here were two dozen true words spoken in jest. Hunt’s joke was so close to the bone that the shiny happy people of Progress — this is one of the biggest events on Labour’s fringe — seemed embarrassed into silence.

Hunt’s insistence that Progress was “the Praetorian Guard, the Parachute Regiment, the Desert Rats of Labour” also raised few laughs, even though the meeting took place in a Comedy Club at the edge of the Labour conference site. Even joking that Progress is new Labour’s shock troops was a bit too much.’

One of Progress’ board members is Patrick Diamond, who is a long-time associated of Peter Mandelson. He is the Vice-Chair of Mandy’s Policy Network, as well as frequently contributing columns to the Guardian. Progress’ president is Stephen Twigg, a former chair of Labour Friends of Israel. Progress’ chair, John Woodcock, the MP for Barrow and Furness, contributed the foreword to the Labour Friends of Israel’s The Progressive Case for Israel. And when it seemed Liz Kendall was about to don the mantle of leadership for New Labour, she got a positive press from the Jewish Chronicle. The week after Labour lost the election, the newspaper ran the headline, ‘Labour Must Now Pass the Israel Test’. Which shows just how close New Labour is to the Israel lobby. And in another item in the same column, Easton states that another former chairman of the LFI is Jim Murphy, the head of Scottish Labour. Which sheds yet more light on his determination to block Rhea Wolfson’s attempts to get on to the NEC. Murphy persuaded her local Labour party not to back her because of her links to that terrible anti-Semitic organisation, Momentum, despite the fact that they’re not, and Wolfson herself is Jewish.

A further item, ‘Grauniada’, also comments that that the Graun’s connections to Zionism goes back ‘to the early days of both’, noting that the newspaper itself had told the story of its relationship with Israel in 2008 when it published Daphna Baram’s Disenchantment: The Guardian and Israel. The same item also notes that Jonathan Freedland, one of the leading critics of Jeremy Corbyn, is also a columnist for the Jewish Chronicle.

All this shows the very strong connections between New Labour, the Labour Friends of Israel, and the Jewish Chronicle, and how they are absolutely united in their hatred of Jeremy Corbyn.

The same item in Lobster also speculates on how long the connection between the Graun and Zionism will survive, now that the new editor-in-chief is Katherine Viner. Viner and Alan Rickman produced a theatre production based on the diary entries and writings of Rachel Corrie. Corrie was the American peace activist, who was killed by bulldozer driven by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza in 2003.

There’s also another section in that part of the magazine specifically about the Israel lobby. Most of the politicians reported in that item, ‘Israel Lobby News’, are Conservatives and Lib Dems, such as Eric Pickles, Nick Clegg’s head of communications, James Sorene, who went off to head BICOM, while local councillors elected in May that year were invited to join the Local Government Friends of Israel by Rachel Kaye, the Executive Director of We Believe in Israel. Kaye stated that the director of We Believe in Israel was Luke Akehurst, a former Labour councillor for Hackney, and had worked with Peter Mandelson’s former press secretary in the PR and lobbying firm Weber Shandwick.

Spoof Interview with Benjamin Netanyahu on the Jimmy Dore Show

September 24, 2016

In this video from the American comedian and frequent guest on The Young Turks, Jimmy Dore, he takes a phone call from ‘Benjamin Netanyahu’. During their conversation, ‘Netanyahu’ talks about how some American politicos need to be given a stiff talking-to by him, as they have not spread panic and fear-mongering about all Muslims being responsible for the terrorist attacks on their country. He calls Muslims ‘the most dangerous of all the ‘M’s’, and praises Hillary Clinton as being every bit as belligerent and pro-war as he is. And also very manipulable. The only drawback is that while Clinton would give Israel more than previous American leaders, there would still be a ceiling on what they would give them. As for Donald Trump, he states that Trump’s surname was originally Drumpf, a German name, and the idea of America led by someone with a German name would not be particularly pleasing to his people. Nor is the anti-Semitism in the Alt-Right movement which supports him. But the man himself is not personally anti-Semitic, and, like ‘Netanyahu’ himself, is a bully, so he understands him and they can do business. Indeed, he thinks that if Trump wins the presidency, he will be the first president to give Israel everything it wants, including the ethnic cleansing or ‘resettlement’ of the Palestinians from Gaza. Indeed, he’ll offer The Donald a deal. If he allows it to go ahead, Bibi ‘Netanyahu’ will offer him a deal to build a casino there. It ends with Netanyahu offering Dore a series of gigs to perform there for three weeks, which he angrily withdraws when Dore asks if he can bring his own opening man. ‘Netanyahu’ also gets angry when Dore mentions that there are many Israelis, who dislike the fact that their country is now ruled by the Likud party, an extreme right-wing faction.

I know this is another video about America, but it makes several excellent points. Netanyahu is indeed the leader of an extreme Right-wing party, Likud. he is a thug and a bully determined to browbeat any opposition to the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Hillary Clinton is a belligerent hawk, fiercely pro-Israel, who is determined to start more wars. Trump is also a bully supported by neo-Nazis, who has tried to make money – and failed – from casinos. And Netanyahu has promoted the war on terror by promoting Islamophobia, and the fear that all Muslims are real or potential terrorists.

I’m also posting this up as it’s a subject that the Israel lobby is doing its absolute best to close down. As we’ve seen, any opposition to Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the country’s numerous human rights abuses is loudly denounced as anti-Semitism, even when those protesting against them are committed anti-racists with a proud personal history of attacking anti-Semitism. Many of the victims of this smear tactic have been Jews, who have been abused as ‘self-hating’. This sketch probably wouldn’t be shown on mainstream American television, for fear of offending the Zionist lobby and influential Zionist donors to the political parties. I doubt if something similar would be shown over here either, for exactly the same reasons. If it was, I can imagine there would be howls of protest from groups like BICOM, Labour Friends of Israel, the pro-Israeli section of the Tories, and the Israeli ambassador, Mark Regev.

The other year, when Israel embarked on yet another military attack on the Palestinians, Gerald Scarfe satirised it in the Independent in a cartoon showing Netanyahu building the wall, which is designed to keep Arabs out of Israel, using their blood as part of its mortar. Regev sent the newspaper an angry letter, complaining that the cartoon was anti-Semitic because it was allegedly based on the medieval blood libel that Jews ritually sacrificed Christians to use their blood in the matzoh bread at Passover. The blood libel is, of course, disgusting rubbish, and has been responsible for causing terrible pogroms and violence against the Jews ever since it appeared in the 12th century. However, blood is also a common metaphor for human suffering and carnage, and to me the cartoon is fair comment. The wall is metaphorically built on the blood of the Palestinians, who have been killed and expelled from their homeland. That’s fact, not a vile and pernicious medieval myth. Scarfe’s cartoon made no reference to the blood libel. He did not show it as any kind of ritual murder, or include any Jewish religious observance. And the cartoon wasn’t about the Jewish people as a whole, just Israel. And Scarfe is not an anti-Semite. Rather, the cartoon was part of his repertoire of bitter visual invective against brutality and atrocity, regardless of the ethnicity of those responsible.

The Indie should have defended Scarfe against Regev’s accusations. Instead, it printed his letter and an apology. The cartoon didn’t need one, and Regev didn’t deserve one.

I mention this incident as it’s an example of the difficulty in criticising Israel for its multifarious attacks on the persons, property and dignity of the Palestinians, and those Israelis, who courageously take a stand against this. But the more Likud and its allies smear and demonise critics of Zionism, the more opposition to them will grow as increasingly more people, including Jews, will become sick and tired of such bullying and harassment. The more Netanyahu and his allies complain, libel and smear, the more they will lose support.

Ruth Smeeth, the Anti-Semitism Smears and the Israel Lobby

September 22, 2016

Ruth Smeeth is one of the other Blairites, who made allegations of anti-Semitic abuse earlier this year. According to Wikipedia, she demanded that Corbyn resign, after Marc Wadworth, of Momentum Black Connexions, accused her of working ‘hand-in-hand with the right-wing media’. She claimed that this was a slur against her as someone of Jewish heritage, because it was linking her, as Jew, to a conspiracy theory. See the entry at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Smeeth

Easton, in his ‘Tittle-Tattle’ column in Lobster 68 for 2014 also reveals that she’s a member of Progress, the Blairite party-within-a-party, funded by David Sainsbury. She was also a former director of public affairs for another Israel lobby group, BICOM. A number of organisation have documented how BICOM are involved with the occupation of the West Bank and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

As was remarked at the time, if I recall correctly, her accusation is all about protecting the neoliberalist entryists in Labour and protecting the Israel lobby and its influence.