Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Chronicle’

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.

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Jewish Chronicle Race Hucksters Make More Fake Anti-Semitism Accusation over Criticism of Luciana Berger

July 10, 2017

On Saturday Mike also put up a piece reporting how the Jewish Chronicle had taken the opportunity offered by the criticism of Luciana Berger, the Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, by a member of the local party’s executive to make fresh accusations of anti-Semitism against Momentum and the Labour party.

Berger had resigned from the Shadow Cabinet last year as part of the ‘chicken coup’ of Blairites hoping to weaken to Corbyn’s leadership of the party. Roy Bentham, the local officer, who made the criticisms, said

“Luciana needs to get on board quite quickly now. She will now have to sit round the table with us the next time she wants to vote for bombing in Syria or to pass a no-confidence motion in the leader of the party – she will have to be answerable to us.”

However, as Mike points out in his article, Bentham is not a member of Momentum, which has distanced itself from his comments. Angela Kehoe-Jones, the Secretary of Liverpool Wavertree constituency Labour party, said

The newly elected Executive of Liverpool Wavertree are looking forward to working with our MP Luciana Berger for our constituency.

We must disassociate ourselves from one of our officers who did not speak on behalf of the Executive. The views he has expressed do not in anyway represent the views of the CLP officers.

We have a lively and growing CLP and we have regularly campaigned together in local and national elections and to get Luciana re-elected in the General Election. We are united in our common goal to oust this Tory government and to see a Labour government elected under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

Berger herself has stated that she did not resign from the Cabinet because of anti-Semitism. And while Bentham’s critics, like Owen Jones, have said that his comments were ‘off’, there isn’t actually anything anti-Semitic about them. There was no mention in his comments of Berger’s religion or ethnicity.

Mike speculates that the Chronicle may have been provoked by Bentham’s remark about Berger voting to bomb Syria. But that’s actually fair comment. There’s nothing anti-Semitic in criticising an MP, who wishes to bomb a foreign country for very dubious geopolitical reasons. Likud and the American Neo-Cons want Assad deposed, as do a number of Gulf states, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, for similar reasons to the Iraq invasion: overthrew a secular, Arab nationalist state allied to Russia and Iran, stop a source of possible aid to the Palestinians, loot the country of its industries and oil reserves, and in the case of the Gulf Arab states and Jordan, send a gas pipeline through the country to Europe and Turkey, which is currently blocked by Assad because of his alliance with the Russians and Iran.

Britain and America are already supporting rebel forces trying to overthrow Assad, and these are very unpleasant indeed. They’re al-Qaeda and ISIS. So we’re cynically supporting the very people we’re supposed to be fighting against in the Middle East, because they’re against a secular dictator the American military-industrial complex also wants to remove.

And it is by no means only Jewish politicos in the Labour party, who voted for the bombing. So was Hillary ‘Bomber’ Benn, the son of Tony Benn.

So, as Mike himself points out, this is yet another baseless accusation of anti-Semitism, like those made against Mike himself in order to prevent him from being elected to Powys council, and for which Mike is pursuing legal action.

These accusations are all the more disgusting, as they detract from the real anti-Semitic abuse Berger suffered from a genuine Nazi, who was jailed for his offences.

Mike quotes one of the commenters on Twitter, EL4JC, who states that the people throwing around these smears undermine the genuine fight against anti-Semitism, and concludes

That is exactly right. Baseless accusations, such as those made against me or Mr Bentham, undermine the fight against anti-Semitism. One wonders why people do it.

Is it to spread division, confusion, disinformation?

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/07/08/fake-accusations-against-momentum-over-luciana-berger-are-undermining-the-fight-against-anti-semitism/

In fact, two weeks ago Tony Greenstein put up on his blog an article reporting how the Zionist lobby in the Labour party were going to launch another spate of anti-Semitism accusations after their disappointment with the results of the election. Contrary to their desires, this showed that Corbyn is massively popular with the electorate, a stance that threatens the Blairites’ neoliberal economic agenda and the Zionists’ demands that criticism of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians should be studiously avoided. Joan Ryan, the Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, even wrote to her supporters stating that Theresa May would be better than Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Greenstein commented

The success of Jeremy Corbyn in turning the Tory tide is making these racists sick to the gills which is why they are trying to relaunch the false ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign in the hope of dividing the Party, sowing dissent and providing succour to the Tories. False anti-Semitism and false victimhood are their chosen strategy for defending a state which demolishes Palestinian homes, even of Israel’s own Arab citizens in order to make way for Jewish homes and towns.

In Israel ‘Judification’ is official policy. Google ‘The Koenig Plan’ or the ‘Prawer Plan’. In Nazi Germany they had deJewification campaigns. Israel is a state which officially does its best to stop Jews and Arabs having sexual relationships. A Jewish state means a Jewish Supremacist State. It isn’t a constitutional adornment. Purity of race and a Jewish settler state goes hand in hand. This is what Ryan, Kyle and Newmark are defending.

It is essential that if there is a further round of false ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations that Jeremy Corbyn stands firm and calls it out. There is no future in trying to appease the supporters of Israel. You cannot appease racists or the supporters of racism. If Corbyn had, at the very start, said that yes he condemns anti-Semitism and he also condemns false accusations of anti-Semitism directed against supporters of the Palestinians (and even against Jewish anti-Zionists) then he could have defused these attacks early on.

Corbyn above all knows that the ritual response of Zionism’s supporters to opposition to Israel and what it does to the Palestinians has always been false accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’. They even invented a ‘new anti-Semitism’ since the traditional anti-Semitism (hatred or hostility to Jews) didn’t accord with hatred of racist Israel.

Nothing Corbyn says or does will ever satisfy Israel’s supporters. They are part of the NATO supporting friends of US imperialism. Corbyn will never be acceptable to them which is why the Left in the Labour Party needs to be resolute in opposing any further appeasement of these people. If they think the Labour Party is anti-Semitic then they should clear off and join the Tory Party, the traditional home of genuine anti-Semitism.

http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/labour-friends-of-israel-zionists-are.html

In the case of the accusations made by the Jewish Chronicle and other commenters against Bentham and Momentum, this is just nasty, cynical yellow journalism. There’s nothing anti-Semitic in Bentham’s comments, and he wasn’t a member of Momentum. But they made the accusations anyway, and cynically expect the public to believe it. Who knows, perhaps they even believe it themselves? They hope that simply by repeating the smear – the big lie – they’ll get more people to believe it, just as Goebbels, the master of this type of propaganda, recommended.

There’s a very nasty element of race hucksterism here. This is what such accusations are often called in America, whenever a radical Black politician or activist, such as Al Sharpton, gets up and makes an inflammatory comments about White racism. The Republicans, backed by Fox News, immediately fall over themselves to denounce them as a ‘race huckster’ or ‘race baiter’, and try to turn it around so that the politico making the accusations of racism is the one, who is really racist.

And this is what is going on here. The Jewish Chronicle and its allies are simply playing the race card to smear their political opponents, who are genuinely anti-racists, and who include Jews and people of Jewish heritage. It’s about time the Chronicle was still held to the same standards as everyone else. Owen Jones states in one of his Tweets that they should retract their accusations. They should. And Tony Greenstein is also correct in that if they really think that Labour is anti-Semitic, then they should leave and join the Tories, who are, after all, their natural allies if Joan Ryan is to be believed.

Richard Seymour on the Anti-Semitic Smears against Jeremy Corbyn

April 6, 2017

The decision against Ken Livingstone yesterday, sentencing him to suspension for another year because of his entirely accurate statement about the initial collaboration between the Nazis and the Zionists was declared to be anti-Semitic, brought fresh denunciations and anger from Jewish leaders. Members of the Jewish establishment from Rabbi Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, downwards, ranted about how Labour was riddled with anti-Semitism, the sentence was insufficient, and Red Ken should be expelled.

It’s all nonsense. As the five Jewish Labour party members, whose statements Mike put up on his blog yesterday pointed out, the Leninist newt-fancier had said absolutely nothing anti-Semitic. Indeed, at least one pointed out that in her experience she had encountered no anti-Semitism in the party. Florence in her comments about this shabby affair states that Labour has far fewer racists and anti-Semites in its ranks than the Tories. What really infuriated Mirvis and his fellows wasn’t that Ken was an anti-Semite, but that he and Naz Shah – who actually had a very good relationship with her local synagogue – had dared to criticise Israel for its brutal and barbarous treatment of its indigenous population. The Zionists have worked long and hard to try to forge a spurious equivalence between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. It’s rubbish, because not all Jews are Zionists by any means, and that the real definition of Anti-Semitism, as used by Wilhelm Marr, the founder of the League of Anti-Semites, was hatred of Jews simply for being Jews. The League of Anti-Semites were one of the odious precursors to the Nazi party, so this definition of anti-Semitism comes from ‘the horse’s mouth’.

Furthermore, two of the people giving their statements about this issue came from homes, which were staunchly Zionist. One lady stated that her mother had lived in Palestine after being forced to leave Ukraine due to the anti-Semitist outrages there. Her paternal grandmother had also been an active supporter of Zionism in Britain. In a letter sent to the NCC, and signed by 30 Jewish Labour party members in support of the man Private Eye calls ‘Leninspart’, the signatories point out that not only aren’t all Jews Zionists, but many Zionists believe that Zionism itself has to be open to criticism, and hence the outrage to Ken’s entirely accurate statement is unwarranted.

Richard Seymour, in the chapter on how Project Fear failed to stop Corbyn in his book Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics, also discusses some of the anti-Semitism smears against the Labour leader. He writes

One of the most insidious attacks from the Right was organised by the Jewish Chronicle, edited since 2008 by the Tony-Blair worshipping neoconservative pundit Stephen Pollard. In an article published a month before the outcome, the Chronicle posed a series of ‘key questions Jeremy Corbyn must answer’. Most of these were insinuation, guilt-by-association tactics. So, for example, it queried his links to Carlos Latuff, whom it characterised as ‘the notorious anti-Semitic cartoonist.’ Latuff is notoriously pro-Palestinian, but support for Palestine is a far cry from anti-Semitism. Even the Jewish daily Forward considers it a ‘stretch’ to call his cartoons ‘anti-Semitic’. Far more insidious was the attack on Corbyn for supporting Raed Salah, whom the Chronicle depicted as ‘a man convicted of the blood libel’. This was particularly obnoxious, because Salah had been the subject of a deportation struggle, in which these claims of anti-Semitism were used by the government to support his expulsion from the UK. What the Chronicle failed to mention was that Salah won that court case precisely because these claims were shown to be false and based on mistranslations. The fact that Salah was being slandered by the government is the reason why Corbyn, quite ethically, stood by him. Nonetheless, the Chronicle’s article provided material for reams and reams of similarly insinuating media attacks, such as Dan Hodge’s claim that Corbyn’s victory would be ‘cheered by terrorists and racists; and it served as ammunition for Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan to attack Corbyn in the Daily Mail for ‘encouraging terrorism’. (pp. 35-6).

The Zionists have had very strong links to Blair and New Labour ever since Blair bumped into the future Lord Levy at a gathering at the Israeli embassy in the 1990s. It was Levy, who got Blair funding from Jewish businessmen, funding that allowed him to be independent of the unions, whom he despised. The Blairite coterie have benefited from trips to Israel, paid for by the Israeli state, and have given their wholehearted support to Israel.

This has absolutely nothing to do with real anti-Semitism, about which, as one of those giving their statements yesterday pointed out, the Board of Deputies of British Jews will say nothing if it also serves their purposes. The Board kept their mouths firmly shut when the Mail used dog-whistle tactics to make a series of anti-Semitic smears against Ed Miliband when he was Labour leader. This is all about a Blairite political establishment, which was always a minority, trying to cling on to power, hysterically supported by a Zionist establishment desperate to criminalise support for the Palestinians against Israel’s massacre and deportation of them.

Vox Political: Jackie Walker’s Response to Anti-Semitism Smears on ‘Free Speech on Israel’

October 4, 2016

Mike has put up another important piece about the anti-Semitism smears against Jackie Walker. Mrs Walker has written a long piece explaining her attitude and comments on the website Free Speech on Israel, to which Mike’s attention was directed by one of the people he was talking to on Twitter.

In the pieces Mike has reposed, Mrs Walker explains her comments linking the Jews to the transatlantic slave trade. She states that she was trying to make the point that there are no hierarchies of genocide, and that her people were involved in both sides of the slave trade. She is Black and Jewish, and noted that the Jews also played a role in financing the slave trade, hence the number of early synagogues in the Caribbean. She also makes the point that it was the Christian rulers of Spain and Portugal, who massacred and expelled the Jews from their kingdoms, and that it was overwhelmingly Christian kingdoms and empires that profited from the kidnap, enslavement and murder of Africans. She states that she is perfectly happy to correct the different impression her Facebook comments made. She also makes the important statement

“The shame is, at a time when antisemitism has been weaponised and used against certain sections of the Labour Party, nobody asked me before rushing to pin the racist and antisemitic label on me.”

She says that she is perfectly willing to change her views if they are shown to be wrong in future. But she did not state, as the Jewish Chronicle claims she did, that Jews played a disproportionate part in the slave trade. She makes the point instead, quoting the historian Arnold Wiznitzer, that at that time and place the Jews were also involved in financing the sugar and slave trade. She also quotes the historians Kagan and Morgan as describing the Jews as a stateless minority within the European empires, but who also played a key role in expanding them. She also cites Jonathan Israel on the peculiar position of the Jews as both the victims and agents of empire.

Mike’s quotes from her conclude with this paragraph:

“This was the point I was attempting to make on Facebook, in a comic-strip, abbreviated, inadequate, deficient sort of conversational way. This was my point, as the Israel Advocacy Movement could see even as they decided to weaponise my words. No peoples have a monopoly of suffering or virtue. No peoples are special or free of the complexity of history. That is as true in the Middle East now as it ever was anywhere, in all places, with all peoples, across the diversity of our globe and so it will remain until, and unless, we achieve the goal of all internationalists – the liberation of humanity.”

Mike states in his comments that ‘certain…elements’ have tried to claim that Mrs Walker’s comments on the Jews and slave trade came from those of the head of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan made speeches in the 1990s claiming that the slave trade was basically the fault of the Jews. Mike has challenged those claiming that Walker’s views are the same as Farrakhan’s to show him how they are linked. Mike notes that they have not done so.

The article’s at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/10/03/jackie-walker-responds-to-accusations-of-antisemitism-free-speech-on-israel/

Please go and read this article. Mrs Walker clearly is very well-informed about the slave trade and Jewish involvement in it, as well as the complex nature of European imperialism, and the historiography of both. It is a fact that the global European empires also frequently used subaltern peoples as part of the mechanism of imperial expansion and exploitation. The slave trade was immensely profitable, and so it not only involved White Europeans, but Muslim Arabs and Black Africans. Recognising this should not be considered anti-African, anti-Arab or islamophobic, any more than noting that some Jews were involved in the transatlantic slave trade, should make one an anti-Semite, provided that this is kept within the bounds of historical fact. And Jackie Walker has done just that. She has not done what Louis Farrakhan, and which some White Nazis and members of the At Right do, and made Jews, or Africans, or Muslims solely responsible for the slave trade, or accused them of playing the major role in it.

She is clearly not an anti-Semite. Rather, she has shown that she possesses a critical intelligence, which is not satisfied with facile simplifications of complex issues. And that makes her a danger. She has been targeted, in my view, because she is like the very many Jews and people of Jewish heritage, who do not accept the simplistic message promoted by the Israel lobby that the immense suffering of the Jewish people in the Holocaust and throughout history justifies their brutalisation and oppression, in turn, of the Palestinians. Authoritarian regimes of all shades, from Fascists and Nazis to the Stalinist Communists, cannot stand people, who dare to think for themselves. This is why free speech, and the ability to say things that others might consider offensive, is so vital for genuinely humane, democratic societies. The Right likes to attack politically correct speech codes, saying ‘No-one has the right not to be offended.’ They will also quote Orwell on the importance of telling truths people don’t want to hear. Both of these statements are correct, if you’re telling the truth. They trivialise both of these aphorisms, because they take them as giving them licence to sneer at women and ethnic minorities, and insist on traditional hierarchies of race and gender. But those two comments go much further than that. Orwell, for all his hatred of totalitarianism and Communism, was an anti-imperialist and Socialist. During the Spanish Civil War he fought for the non-Marxist Socialist faction, POUM, and was strongly impressed by the achievements of the anarchist movement, which he described in Homage to Catalonia. The Young Turks have pointed out time and again that for all their sneering at political correctness and ‘safe spaces’, it is the Right, who are the worst at invoking political correctness to silence speech that is offensive to them.

And this is what the Likudniks of the Jewish Labour Movement and the Israel lobby have tried to do to Mrs Walker. Like the American Right with its shouts of ‘Political correctness’ and denunciations of laws against ‘hate speech’, they are hypocritically using perceived offensiveness to try to silence and stifle genuine historical and political debate, in order to present a simplistic, carefully sanitised and politically useful view of history.

This is to be resisted, and resisted to the utmost. The distorters of history, who use carefully crafted falsifications to justify their own brutality, cannot be allowed to win, regardless of who they are and who they claim to represent. We need to be supporting Jackie Walker, and those like her, who are not satisfied with the easy answers of totalitarian propaganda, and who stand for genuine Socialist internationalism against militaristic nationalism posing as its opposite.

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.

Mandelson’s Support for Israel in the Jewish Chronicle

September 25, 2016

This is another piece from Tom Easton’s ‘Tittle-Tattle’ column in Lobster 59 after New Labour’s links to the Israel lobby. This reported that before the 2010 general election, Peter Mandelson published a piece in the Jewish Chronicle urging its readers to vote Labour. He declared that ‘Our beliefs are your beliefs’, stating that ‘The Labour Party is driven by many of the same values that have historically united and defined the Jewish community.’ He then followed this up by writing

‘The Labour Party is, and will continue to be, a strong and loyal friend to Israel. We are very proud that Gordon Brown was the first serving Prime Minister to address the Knesset last year. Under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s leadership, Labour has worked tirelessly to ensure a just and secure settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We believe this settlement will be achieved through constructive dialogue and not through sanctions, boycotts and violence. In government, Labour will continue to lead international efforts to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and will not waiver from our commitment to promote regional stability and an enduring peace.’

Easton comments that this is as big an endorsement of Israel as any editor of that newspaper could have wished for.

And looking through that endorsement, what stands out very clearly is that Mandy stated that a ‘peaceful settlement’ would not be achieved through ‘sanctions, boycotts and violence’. Apart from the mention of violence, this also looks like an attack on the BDS movement – Boycott, Divest and Sanction – which urges people and businesses not to invest or do business with Israeli companies based in or supporting the occupied West Bank. Despite New York local authority formally outlawing the movement as an anti-Semitic organisation, the BDS includes very many Jews, as does the anti-Zionist movement as a whole, many of whom are doubtless like the writer Michael Marqusee, in viewing their actions as part of the Jewish ethical tradition. As for New York’s ban on the BDS movement, at the meeting in which this was debated there were six rabbis supporting the movement, which should disprove the screams of its opponents that the movement was anti-Semitic.

The anti-Semitism smear against Corbyn and Momentum have never been about anti-Semitism. This is obvious from the way those attacked have included committed anti-racists and Jews and people of Jewish heritage, who have also suffered from, and pledged themselves to combating, genuine anti-Semitism. This is all about the Israel lobby and New Labour trying to hang on to power, and defend Israel’s grotesque policy of colonialism and ethnic cleansing.

The Anti-Semitism Accusations, Blair and the Israel Lobby

May 7, 2016

I’ve blogged a number of articles last week pointing out that the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour have precious little to do with any genuine anti-Semitism, but are simply part of a strategy by the Blairites to hang on to power within Labour, and the Israel lobby to deflect criticism of the state’s appalling treatment of the Palestinians.

I’ve posted up a number of pieces from the parapolitics magazine, Lobster, about the connections between the Zionist lobby and New Labour. And in the case of Blair his circle of MPs and activists, the connection was very close indeed. For example, in the article ‘Yo, Blair!’, in Lobster 52 for Winter 2006/7, editor Robin Ramsay noted that Lord Levy’s fundraising activities amongst the Jewish community was aided by a member of the Israeli embassy.

Even when the police investigation into Lord Levy’s fundraising activities for the Labour Party overlapped with the Israeli assault on Lebanon, to my knowledge none of the major British media, looking at Blair’s support for the Israelis, thought it relevant to mention that his successful capture of the Labour Party owed much to the money provided by Lord Levy, money which came, we are told, from British Jews, and that this arrangement, which enabled Blair to be financially independent of the Labour Party’s resources – and thus to all intents and purposes beyond their control – was facilitated by Gideon Meir, then with the Israeli embassy in London. (P. 16).

Ramsay also ran another piece on ‘New Labour and Israel’ in ‘New Labour Notes’ in Lobster 44, Winter 2002, 16-17. He wrote

In Lobster 43, p. 9, I referred to Tony Blair’s membership of the Labour Friends of Israel. That body was the subject of ‘Byers plots a comeback with pro-Israel pressure group’ by the Times’ political editor, David Cracknell, which included the following:

‘Stephen Byers is bidding to make an early political comeback just two months after quitting the government. The former transport secretary is the front runner to take over the chairmanship of the influential Labour Friends of Israel pressure group. the body is one of the most prestigious groupings in the party and is seen as a stepping stone to ministerial ranks for Labour MPs. Several recent incumbents have been backbenchers who have gone on to be appointed to government….Tony Blair consults members of the Friends of Israel over Middle East policy and Byers would have the opportunity to regain access to Downing Street on a vital area of policy without attracting unwelcome headlines.’

In ‘Tony Blair, New Labour Trumpet Boy!’, Diane Langford of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, added the following information on LFI.

* The Director of Labour Friends of Israel is David Mencer, former research assistant and electoral agent for Gwyneth Dunwoody, ‘life president’ of LFI.

*The parliamentary register of Members’ interests shows that recent visitors who have had flights and accommodation paid by Labour Friends of Israel include Ivor Caplin, Paul Clark, Oona King, Ashok Kumar, Ivan Lewis, Anne McGuir, Rosemary McKenna, Margaret Moran, former LFI Chair Jim Murphy, Sandra Osborne, Gareth Thomas, Frank Roy, Joan Ryan, Angela Smith, Graham Stringer, Rudi Vis, David Watts, Gillian Merron, Peter Pike, Lorna Fitzsimons, Louise Ellman, Caroline Flint, Linda Perham, Douglas Alexander, Fabian Hamilton, Anthony Colman, LFI former Chair Stephen Twigg, LFI Vice Chair Mike Gapes, and Dan Norris.

Ivan Lewis, in the list above, was PPS to secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers MP.

* Since 1997 57 Labour MPs have visited Israel, mostly with the Labour Friends of Israel.

* The have been 14 official trade missions to Israel from the UK since 1997. The BRITECH agreement signed by Trade Secretary Stephen Byers means there is now a £15.5 million joint fund to encourage co-operation between British and Israeli hi-tech industries in research and development for their own benefit.

In the even the puff for Byers in the Times came to naught. the new chair of Labour Friends of Israel is the MP James Purple.

Further information on the Labour Friends of Israel appeared in the article ‘Terrorism, Anti-Semitism and Dissent’ by Tom Easton in Lobster 47 for Summer 2005, pp. 3-8.

Gwyneth Dunwoody’s researcher and election agent for some time was David Mencer, a former member of the Israel armed forces, and now secretary of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). Stephen Byers, one of the few remaining defenders of the New labour Project, is a senior figure in LFI whose parliamentary chairman is now James Purnell. the latter was elected to Parliament in 2001 after working at No. 10.

Purnell, Stephen Twigg, Lorna Fitzsimmons, Jim Murphy and Sion Simon (a columnist for Conrad Black’s Daily Telegraph before becoming an MP in 2001) were all members of the New Labour ‘Praetorian guard’. Before becoming MPs they all cut their teeth in student politics with the help of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). Numerically small – its website said it had 5,000 members in 2001 – it can afford 10 full-time workers. It played an important role in the 1990s in working with the National Association of Labour Students (later Labour Students) in keeping Israel off the campaigning agenda of the National Union of Students (NUS).

Of an older generation of student politicians is Mike Gapes, who came to work for the Labour Party after the NUS as a foreign policy researcher. He was part of the small team around Neil Kinnock who shifted the party away from its critical stance of the US and unilateralism. Elected to Parliament in 1992 he is now vice-chairman of Labour Friends of Israel. He wears another hat, that of chairman of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), a tax-funded operation similar to the NED in the States. Earlier this year Gapes chaired a WFD gathering at which Neocon NED chief Carl Gershman was a speaker.

This is just scratching the surface of the old Atlanticist networks with a newer Israel dimension, but it is sufficient to suggest that much of it in Britain centres around New Labour. And just as Avnery describes the pride the Israel lobby takes in its power over the US political process, so we have a parallel here around Tony Blair.

We not only can piece together the evidence; we can hear the words of one of Blair’s main links to the business community John Mendelsohn. this is what Mendelsohn told Jews Week (www.jewsweek.com) on September 8, 2002.

‘Blair has attacked the anti-Israelism that had existed in the Labour Party. Old 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.

In a signed 2001 election advertisement in The Jewish Chronicle, Blair said:

‘Since 1997 a record 57 Labour MPs have visited Israel, mostly with Labour Friends of Israel, swelling the numbers of MPs willing to ensure balance on the Middle East in the House of Commons. More labour MPs have visited Israel than from any other party.’

How many of those Labour MPs voted against the invasion of Iraq? This is now important to the future of British politics. (p.8)

Elsewhere in the article Easton notes that the journos promoting the Iraq war worked for Murdoch, Black and Richard Desmond, who were all very strong supporters of Israel. (p. 6)

In Today’s I Newspaper: Desmond, Express Magnate Backs UKIP

December 13, 2014

Private Eye: Desmond Considering Supporting UKIP

In today’s I newspaper is the news that Richard Desmond, the pornographer and owner of the Daily Express, has come out and backed UKIP. This isn’t entirely surprising. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, long before it was bought by Dirty Des, the newspaper was extremely Thatcherite, publishing articles attacking the unions, benefit scroungers and, of course, non-White immigrants. Under Desmond, it has tried to compete with the Daily Mail, and so become even more shrilly Right-wing and bigoted than Paul Dacre’s mighty organ. This isn’t exactly news, as Private Eye revealed in its issue on Wednesday that Dirty Des was planning to support UKIP. Representatives of Fuehrer Farage’s party visited the newspaper’s offices last week, and Farage had re-hired Lord Stevens, who represents UKIP in the House of Lords. Nevertheless, this represent a new low even for Desmond.

Desmond Grandson of Ukrainian Jewish Immigrants

Desmond is Jewish, and his grandparents came to London in the 1900s from the Ukraine. The Eye described how he wrote a moving piece in the Jewish Chronicle two years about how his grandparents came here from the Ukraine, and the pilgrimage he and his son, Robert, made to Auschwitz. According to Desmond, this helped him to understand not only the vast scale of the atrocity and the immense logistics involved, but also the mentality and the millions required to co-operate in the holocaust in order to bring it about.

The Kippers’ Ally, Korwin-Mikke, and Holocaust-Denial and Anti-Semitism

By supporting UKIP, the Eye pointed out that Desmond would also be supporting some very unpleasant, and deeply anti-Semitic people, who are the Kippers’ partners in the European parliament. Like the extreme Right-wing Polish party, the Congress of the New Right. Their leader, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, is a critic of what he calls ‘the holocaust industry’, and, while not denying the holocaust, follows other extreme Right-wing parties and groups in claiming that it was actually much smaller than everyone else believes. Korwin-Mikke has also stated that the Jews ‘are our worst enemies because they are very talented Communists.’ We’re back to the usual Nazi claim that the Jews are part of the Communist threat. The Eye points out that the Kippers have their own ‘Friends of Israel group, but quotes the Chronicle as saying that they were an ‘unpalatable’ lot after meeting them last week. It’s therefore deeply grotesque that Desmond, as the grandson of Jewish immigrants, who left their homeland because of persecution, should back UKIP, an anti-immigration party, many of whose members are indeed extremely racist.

Nazis Dangerous Even When Small and Insignificant

Desmond’s public embrace of the Kippers is extremely dangerous. Now the actual numbers in the Nazi extreme Right has always been extremely small. Similarly the amount of votes cast for them at elections, though for a time in the 1960s and ’70s it did look as though the NF or BNP would overtake the Liberals as Britain’s third party. The closest the BNP got to power, it could be argued, was a few years ago when their Fuehrer Nick Griffin got elected as MEP and appeared on Question Time. The party’s success didn’t last long, as society recognised the threat Griffin and his stormtroopers posed, and subjected them to a barrage of criticism and attack. As result, the BNP has just about collapsed, split into a number of minuscule warring factions and grouplets, while Griffin himself has been ousted.

One reason why the Nazi Right has been regarded as such a threat despite its small size in Britain, is because of the parallels between them and the Nazi party in Germany, and the Fascists of Mussolini’s Italy. The Nazis were similarly a tiny fringe party for most of the period of the Weimar Republic, the number of Germans who voted for them was similarly small. What raised them to power and made them a political force was a series of crises. They gained their first electoral breakthrough in 1924 in Schleswig-Holstein, where they represented the peasant farmers after an the shock of an agricultural crisis. They were further catapulted into power by the global depression caused by the New York stock market crash of 1929.

The Italian Fascists were similarly a minute, electorally insignificant party. Despite Mussolini’s boasts, the Fascists were soundly beaten in the 1919 elections. When Il Duce stood for election in his home town in a later election, he too lost badly. Very badly. In fact, the only way the Fascists actually gained power in Italy in an election was through a massive piece of gerrymandering in which the whole of Italy was declared to be a single constituency.

Nazis and Fascists Gained Power through Support Mainstream Figures

What made a difference with both the Nazis and the Fascists was the support of powerful members of the political establishment, who by giving their support and that of their organisations – their newspapers and businesses – legitimised them and encouraged the rest of the public to vote for them. They were helped into power by mainstream, establishment politicians, who sought their support against their rivals as the system of coalitions governing these two countries broke down. Hence, decades later, the NF and BNP are still regarded as a danger to British society because of the way the Nazis rapidly grew from insignificance to political strength through the collusion and endorsement of mainstream figures. No-one wanted to see the same thing happen in Britain through mainstream political figures, businessmen and celebrities giving their support to the NF or BNP.

Danger of Desmond Supporting UKIP, Like German and Italian Businessmen Supported Hitler and Mussolini

Desmond has broken that tacit agreement by the British establishment to withhold its support, at least openly, from the extreme Right. This means that there is a real chance UKIP will become a genuine force in British politics, despite its vile xenophobia, its misogyny and its contempt for the working and lower-middle classes. Farage has been extremely clever in concealing its true nature under a public anti-racist façade and by suppressing or disavowing those parts of Kipper policy that are aimed at attacking workers’ rights and the welfare state.

He’s made UKIP respectable, and Desmond has fallen for it, just as there were Germans and Italians, who believed that they could somehow make Hitler and Mussolini respectable, and that they wouldn’t carry out their threats and plans.

Desmond and the Kippers have to be stopped, before more people are persuaded into believing that UKIP are an acceptable, mainstream electoral choice.

According to Hope Not Hate’s I’m With the 85% campaign, only 15% of people support Farage and his stormtroopers. Let’s do everything we can to keep it that way and reduce it even further.