Posts Tagged ‘Colin Challen’

Corbyn Falsely Smeared Again as Anti-Semite by Campaign Against Anti-Semitism

January 31, 2018

Another week, another anti-Semitism smear. This time they’re attacking Jeremy Corbyn himself. Last Saturday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the Labour leader wrote his own, personal message in the Holocaust Book of Remembrance. He was then accused of anti-Semitism by the former BBC director of television, Danny Cohen, and his friends at the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, who demanded that the Labour leader apologise. Corbyn was an anti-Semite, the claimed, because his message did not specifically mention Jews.

Oops! It turns out that Corbyn did mention Jews. And the messages of the leaders of the other parties didn’t mention them, or not explicitly. Theresa May’s messages didn’t, neither did Vince Cable’s, the leader of the Lib Dems. Nor did Rabbi Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi, explicitly mention Jews either in his message. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism was duly caught out, and torn to shreds by people disgusted at their lies and hypocrisy on Twitter. Three days later, on Monday, they issued a grudging non-apology for their mistake, still maintaining that there was a problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

As I’ve blogged about many times previously, the anti-Semitism smears against Corbyn, Momentum and a large number of ordinary members of the Labour party, including Mike himself, are politically motivated. The Blairites in the Labour party were very closely linked to the Israel Lobby. Both these groups hope to hold on to power by smearing Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites, even though the allegations are nothing but a pack of lies. Lobster issue 74 has a couple of pieces on the anti-Semitism smears, including one by the former Labour MP, Colin Challen. Challen states very clearly that there isn’t a problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Or if there is, it’s no bigger than the amount of anti-Semitism found anywhere else. Various Jewish members of the Labour party have also written pieces making it clear that, in their experience, there is no anti-Semitism in the party, and that they have personally never encountered anti-Semitic abuse or attitudes from its members.

A little while ago I received a comment from a reader, who took issue with one of my pieces about the antics of the Zionists and the Israel lobby. He complained that by talking about ‘Zionists’, rather than specifically attacking Benjamin Netanyahu and the other, racial nationalist members of his coalition, I was handing the people making these smears a loaded gun. He pointed out that Corbyn was a supporter of Israel, and had appeared and spoken to a number of pro-Israel groups.

I’ve no doubt that he’s correct. I used the term ‘Zionists’ to describe the Israel lobby, because the very founders of Israel planned on the ethnic cleansing and deportation of the Palestinians. The brutality and atrocities committed by Netanyahu, Likud and their allies are merely the latest phase of a long campaign of oppression and persecution that goes right back to the nation’s very foundation. But the commenter is right that the critics of Israel and its barbarity don’t support its destruction. There’s an interview with Norman Finkelstein, a very prominent Jewish American historian, and critic of Israel, who makes that very clear.

There is instead a debate within the critics of Israel how to combat Israel’s ethnic cleansing and give freedom and dignity to the indigenous Arabs. The most popular, at least until a few years ago, was the ‘two state’ solution, in which the Palestinians were to be given their own state. Many of Israel’s critics believe that this should be achieved by Israel withdrawing to its pre-1967 boundaries. This is a move that the Israelis themselves reject, claiming that it would strategically weaken Israel and leave the country open to attack.

The other suggested solution is that the nature of the Israeli state has to change, so that the Arabs are also granted full Israeli citizenship. This would be unacceptable to most Zionists, as Israel was set up to be the Jewish state. Only Jews are allowed to immigrate to Israel and settle as citizens under the Law of Return. Altering the law so that the indigenous Arabs are also Israeli citizens, with all the rights and privileges currently enjoyed by Israelis, would change the formal ethnic basis of the Israeli state and society.

Corbyn is a threat to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and its mouthpieces, like Danny Cohen, not because he’s an opponent of Israel, but because he’s a supporter of the Palestinians. And so they’ve decided to smear him, and anyone who dares support him or criticise Israel.

As for Danny Cohen, I see absolutely no reason why any decent, reasonable person should take anything he says in this respect remotely seriously. Cohen was the director of television at the Beeb until a few years ago, when he went off to Israel. He claimed that Europe was no longer safe for Jews, and that there was a resurgence of anti-Semitism comparable to that of the 1930s in Germany, and advised other Jews to follow his example and move there. It’s the standard line retailed by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the other groups in the Israel lobby, and it’s pure twaddle. The stats actually show that 70 per cent + of all Brits have a positive or neutral attitude towards Jews. Only five per cent of the British public have negative views of Jewish people.

The same is true of France. The Financial Times way back in the first years of this century published an article stating that only five per cent of French people considered that Jews weren’t really French. The numbers, who consider that Muslims aren’t really French is much higher at something like 15 per cent.

And Tony Greenstein, a Jewish critic of Zionism, as well as a firm opponent of all forms of racism and Fascism, has pointed out that in Britain, there is much more racism against Blacks, Asians and Muslims. But the racism experienced by these groups isn’t treated as quite so serious and outrageous as anti-Semitism. This is so, even though some Black and African historians have argued that Africa also experienced its own Holocaust through the depredations of the slave trade. During the roughly three centuries the trade was in existence, about 12 million or so people were carried off from the Continent into bondage in the New World. It’s been estimated that a similar number of Africans were also killed by the slavers during their raids. The 19th century abolitionists themselves gave very graphic accounts of whole regions, that had been depopulated thanks to slave raiding.

I also wondered if these latest smears against Corbyn were also a diversion, to take attention away from another incident that’s embarrassed the Israelis. This is the case of Ahed Tamami, a 16 year-old Palestinian girl, who was arrested for slapping a Jewish soldier. Well, he and a few other goons had burst into the girl’s house. I think they also shot another member of her family, though I can’t remember whether it was a father, brother or other relative. But for that act of terrible disrespect, the girl has been arrested and tried for his crimes against the Israeli military. There’s been a public outcry about it, and the other child prisoners the Israelis drag through their military courts. Israel’s one of the very few nations to do this, and try children as adults. But only if they’re Palestinians. Faced with this awkward and shameful incident, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone in the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism decided that the best form of defence was attack, and so decided to smear Corbyn once again. And especially now that Tweezer is very weak politically, with various challenges to her leadership coming from within her party.

I’m not complacent about the threat of anti-Semitism. It is present in Britain, and has come to the fore once again in the various Nazi sects, like National Action, now banned. Eastern Europe has seen the emergence of a number of ultra-nationalist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic parties. The Alt-Right is gaining power in the US through its connection to Trump, while in Germany the last elections saw the Nazi Alternative Fuer Deutschland enter the Bundestag for the first time. This is a party that includes real Nazis among its members. Various leading members have made speeches denouncing Germany’s Holocaust Memorial as a badge of shame, and vowed to build an underground railway to Auschwitz.

These are real threats to European Jews, along with other ethnic minorities, and ordinary, decent people, who don’t want their countries transformed into Fascist dictatorships. But its seems that these threats don’t concern Cohen and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism quite so much as smearing decent people simply for the crime of sticking up for the Palestinians and exposing Israeli atrocities against them.

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Priti Patel and the Shady World of Right-Wing Lobbyists and Thinktanks

November 9, 2017

Hat tip to Michelle, one of the great commenters on this blog, for letting me know about this article.

Priti Patel has finally done the decent thing, and resigned following the revelation of her highly secretive visit to Israel, where she met met leading politicians, while telling everyone she was just on a holiday. Part of the reason behind Patel’s little trip seems to have been to get the British government to divert some of the money it gives for international aid to Israel, so it can spend it on the IDF’s continuing occupation of the Golan Heights. This is territory which Israel nicked from the Syrians during the Six Day War.

Israel is already massively supported by Britain, the US and the EU, where it is treated almost as a member, despite not having formal membership. The IDF is one of the main instruments of the country’s brutal repression and ethnic cleansing of its indigenous Arab people, the Palestinians. During its independence campaign in 1948, the Israeli armed forces were responsible for a series of massacres, rapes and beatings against the Palestinians. The most notorious of these was Deir Yassin. But that was only one massacre out of many. Very many. Israeli soldiers killed people sheltering in a mosque, shot and threw handgrenades at women and children, and in one horrendous incident killed a group of Palestinians, who were coming towards them to offer them rice in the hope of getting some mercy. The IDF today enforces the brutal apartheid regime against the Palestinians, including the fouling of cisterns and wells to make the water undrinkable, and the demolition of houses and seizure of property by Israeli colonists.

I have no desire whatsoever to see my government give aid money to the IDF. And I very much doubt I’m alone.

This isn’t about anti-Semitism. I am very much aware that there is and always has been a very strong Jewish opposition to the ethnic cleansing and terror, which not only includes American and European Jews, but also Israelis such Ilan Pappe and human rights organisations such as BT’salem. Anyone, who dares to criticise Israel, is smeared and abused as an anti-Semite. But many anti-Zionist Jews, or simply Jews critical of the occupation of the West Bank and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, feel that they are particularly singled out for abuse and vilification. Tony Greenstein, a veteran anti-Zionist and anti-Fascist campaigner, has quoted in his blog the left-wing comedian, Alexei Sayle. Sayle, the son of Jewish Communists, has said that it seems to him that the majority of people smeared as anti-Semites in the Labour Party were Jews.

Returning to Patel, an article by Adam Ramsay on the Open Democracy site, reveals that she has very extensive links to some very shady right-wing lobbying groups and thinktanks.

Before she was elected MP in 2010, Patel worked for the PR form Weber Shandwick, whose clients included British American Tobacco. Not only does the company produce a highly addictive and lethal drug, it also has links to the dictatorship in Myanmar and child labour. The article notes that some of the PR company’s employees were uncomfortable dealing with BAT. Not so Patel. She was perfectly relaxed.

BAT in their turn fund the right-wing think tanks the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute for Economic Affairs. In 2002, while Patel was working there, Weber Shandwick merged with the Israeli lobbyists Rimon Cohen, whose clients include the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, the illegal Migron settlement on the West Bank, and Benjamin Netanyahu. Whom Patel coincidentally met on her jaunt.

Weber Shandwick’s clients also included Bahrein, and just months after her election, the Bahreini’s flew her there to meet some of their ministers. This is a Gulf kingdom widely criticised for human rights abuses. In 2012 she went on another trip, this time to the United Arab Emirates, as part of the All Party Group, which went there. She made two return trips in 2013 and 2014. The first time she went with the World Consulting and Research Corporation, based in New Delhi. This outfit describe themselves as a brand equity and management organisation. The second trip was courtesy of Sun Mark Ltd., who are regular donors to her office. Weber Shandwick also added the Dubai firm Promoseven to its list of clients about the same time it merged with Rimon Cohen.

In 2014 she also attended a meeting in Washington, courtesy of the right-wing, and highly secretive British think tank, the Henry Jackson Society. The meeting was organised by AIPAC, the very powerful Israeli lobbying organisation in the US, about security in the Middle East. As for the Henry Jackson Society, they are so secretive about the source of their funds that they withdrew it from two parliamentary groups, rather than reveal where it comes from. Earlier this year the Charity Commission announced they were investigating it following allegations that it was being paid by the Japanese government to spread anti-Chinese propaganda.

Patel’s holiday to Israel also seems to have been sponsored by Stuart Polak, the former head and honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel. In 2009 Peter Oborne wrote a piece about the extensive influence the CFI has in the Tory party. Ramsay also notes that trips to Israel funded by the CFI and similar groups are the most consistent entry in the MPs’ and MSPs’ register of foreign interests.

The article concludes

Much has been written about the weakness of the current Conservative government, as exhibited by this scandal, Boris Johnson’s blunders, and last week’s resignation of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour. But here is the problem. When governments are falling apart, special interest groups run riot. Flagrant abuses usually happen at times when minor abuses are normalised. What other powerful lobby groups are pushing ministers around? How did it get to the point that Patel thought she’d get away with this?

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay/we-cant-ignore-patels-background-in-britains-lobbying-industry

It’s a good question, though you’d have to work extremely hard to find out. The Labour MP Colin Challen wrote a piece years ago in Lobster reporting that half of Tory funding remains mysterious. As for the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Affairs, they’re extreme right-wing think tanks that provided much of the ideology of the New Right during Thatcher’s grotty rise to power and period in office. They want to privatise everything, including the NHS and schools, as well as social security. I know. I’ve got the IEA’s pamphlets about the last two. The IEA also produced another pamphlet addressing a question vital to today’s women: Liberating Women – From Feminism. Which has been the line the Daily Mail’s taken almost since it was founded.

Mike yesterday put up a piece commenting on the strange verbiage of Patel’s resignation letter, and the reply from Theresa May. Both contained passages stressing that Patel was usually open and transparent about her business. Mike commented that neither of these letters actually looked like they’d been written by the two.

Mike comments that neither May nor Patel have acted transparently and openly, and we still don’t know what Downing Street’s role in this whole affair may have been. The Jewish Chronicle suggests it’s rather more than May and Patel are telling.

He concludes

This matter has demonstrated that Theresa May’s government has no interest in transparency and openness. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The minority Prime Minister will be hoping that it will go away, following the resignation of the offending minister.

It won’t.

We need to know exactly what happened, when it was arranged, with whom, who knew about it, who was there at the time, what was said about it afterwards and to whom, and whether all the information has been made public. My guess that it hasn’t.

Recent events involving Boris Johnson have shown that ministers cannot expect to be able to lie to us and expect us to accept it. We need the facts.

And if Theresa May can’t provide the answers, it won’t be one of her ministers who’ll need to resign.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/11/08/priti-patel-resigns-resigns-doesnt-theresa-may-have-the-guts-to-sack-anyone/

And Patel’s trip to Israel is just one secretive lobbying trip, paid by some very shady people, of many.

It’s time this government was forced out, and some real transparency put in place.

Vox Political on Hidden Payments to MP’s Funding

July 30, 2016

More electoral corruption from the Conservatives, though Mike points out that it appears unconnected to the wider issue of electoral fraud by Tory MPs. Yesterday, Mike reported that the BBC had uncovered that three payments of £10,000 had been made to the fighting fund for the Tory MP for Northampton South, David Mackintosh. Although the payments, comprising £30,000 in total, were made under different names, they appear to be all from the same company, 1st Land Ltd, which is being investigated for the disappearance of millions of taxpayer’s money. Mackintosh says he will fully co-operate with police, and that he had no reason to believe the money didn’t come from the donors claimed.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/29/police-investigate-hidden-payments-to-northampton-south-mps-fund/

Corruption is endemic at all levels of politics, and some of the prize examples of electoral fraud and the bribery of MPs and local councillors can be read regularly in the pages of Private Eye. If affects all parties, but Tory funding is particularly murky. About a decade ago Colin Challen, a Labour MP, wrote a series of articles in Lobster about his attempts to trace the funding of the Tory party. It’s unknown, or at least, it was then, where the Tory party got half of its money. It’s clear from this that the Tory party is funded by some very powerful, extremely secretive, and very probably extremely corrupt individuals and companies. Dubious payments like this made to Mr Mackintosh is just the most obvious tip of a very large, nasty iceberg. It’s probably small potatoes, and run of the mill corruption compared to what else is going on in the party.

A Possible Useful Resource: Colin Challen’s Book on Tory Funding

August 13, 2013

The parapolitical magazine, Lobster, carried a short review in its winter 1998/99 edition of Colin Challen’s book, The Price of Power: The Secret Funding of the Tory Party (London: Vision Paperbacks 1998), £7.99. Challen had contributed articles to the magazine on the subject of the Tories’ highly murky finances. The review states that there are far more sources for the Thatcher and post-Thatcher years, despite the fact that Thatcher tried to keep anything to do with the intelligence services and the connections to the Conservatives strictly under wraps. She was unable to cover it all up simply because there was a general, rapid increase of knowledge in those areas while she was in power. According to the article, Challen identified the links between the Conservative party, the City and the intelligence services as the triangle of power at the heart of the British system. The review also notes that while there is less material available on the funding of the Tory party before her, nevertheless there is a surprising amount of information present. Despite this, the review noted that at least half of the Conservative party’s recent financial sources remain secret.

Challen originally worked for the Labour Party, and I’ve got a feeling he left for the Lib Dems when he found Tony Blair adopting the same authoritarianism and contempt for human rights. The Lobster review considers that with Labour adopting the same methods of fund-raising as the Tories, a similar book would one day be necessary for them. The review also states that the book is the only one yet published on the subject. It would be interesting to see if this was still true after fifteen years. I suspect it probably is. The situation made have changes slightly in the intervening period, but I would imagine that the picture of the Tory party’s finances is still pretty much the same. In the absence of later books analysing the Tories and their dodgy finances, this may still be an extremely useful resource.

Source

The Price of Power: The Secret Funding of the Tory Party, Colin Challen, in Lobster, Winter 1998/9, 36: 42.