Posts Tagged ‘‘Tittle-Tattle’’

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.

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The Israel Lobby, Liam Fox and the Planned Bombing of Iran

September 27, 2016

I found a few more bits and pieces on the Israel Lobby going through some more recent back issues of Lobster on the net. I know there’s a risk of sounding fixated with them, but much of the hostility against Jeremy Corbyn from the Blairites is directly due to the Blairite’s strong connections to the lobby. The lobby’s influence is also extremely strong in the media, which is why, apart from the space given to ludicrous allegations of anti-Semitism against perfectly decent people, you rarely hear reports condemning the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. And it seems that it was the machinations of the Israel lobby that nearly got us involved in an American-Israeli plot to bomb Iran.

Liam Fox and Werrity Scandal

Remember the scandal that erupted a few years ago over the improper relationship between Dr. Liam Fox, then Secretary of State for Defence, and his adviser, Adam Werrity. Werrity had been Fox’s flatmate. Fox was nearly prosecuted for breaching various ministerial codes of conduct over his relationship with Werrity. He met Werrity over 40 times both abroad and in the Ministry of Defence, and a full report revealing Fox’s misdeeds was published by the cabinet secretary, Gus O’Donnell. This revealed that Fox had not informed his permanent secretary that he had tried to obtain funds for Werrity, and had blocked other civil servants from attending meetings alongside him. Fox had also ignored calls to distance himself from him.

See Lobster 65, ‘Tittle-Tattle’, by Tom Easton.

All that was covered in the media, if I recall correctly. I think Mike also wrote a few pieces about it, as it’s yet another example of the ministerial corruption that soon accompanies the Tories into office.

About a year and a half previously, in Lobster 62, Robin Ramsay in his ‘View from the Bridge’ column, discussed a piece about the Werrity scandal by Craig Murray in his blog. Murray was the former ambassador to Uzbekistan, who lost his job because he dared to start making waves about how corrupt and brutal the Uzbek dictator was. It was information that the British government and business establishment really didn’t want to hear, or the public knowing, as they were desperate to conclude various trade deals. So Murray got the sack.

In his article, Murray revealed that at last someone in the mainstream media had had the courage to talk about the possibility that the Werrity affair was part of a operation by the Israeli secret services, and stated that this had been a major concern of the MOD and government officials. He wrote

‘A mainstream media source has finally plucked up the courage to publish the widespread concern among MOD, Cabinet Office and FCO officials and military that the Werritty operation was linked to, and perhaps controlled by, Mossad – something which agitated officials have been desperately signalling for some days.

“Officials expressed concern that Fox and Werritty might even have been in freelanced iscussions with Israeli intelligence agencies” write Patrick Wintour and Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian.

As I have been explaining, the real issue here is a British defence secretary who had a parallel advice structure designed expressly to serve the interests of
another state and linked to that state’s security services. That is not just a sacking offence, it is treasonable.’

Ramsay goes on to state that in a later article, Murray cited answers to questions he and Jeremy Corbyn had put to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to show that the Werrity scandal wasn’t an intelligence operation, but part of the preparations for an ‘Anglo-British-Israeli’ attack on Iran. I think Ramsay might mean that the attack was planned by America, Britain and Israel. Unless Scots, Northern Irish and Welsh devolution had gone much further than everyone knew.

Ramsay then remarks that Murray didn’t comment on the incompetence of using Werrity, the Defence Secretary’s bagman, as part of the plot, and suggests that the bizarre dealings had been deliberately exposed by Whitehall civil servants determined to stop the attack going ahead.

This seems all too plausible to me. Netanyahu was desperately trying to get America to attack Iran, including scaremongering about Iran being a few months away from having a nuclear bomb. This was rubbish. Netanyahu’s generals and his own intelligence services told him so. But this didn’t stop the old butcher turning up in front of Congress or the UN with entirely fraudulent diagram to hawk his lies. Fortunately, nobody believed him, which is why the situation in the Middle East hasn’t become very much worse.

This little incident also adds yet more information explaining why the Israel lobby has such desperate hatred for Corbyn. Not only is one of the few politicians genuinely trying to stand up for the rights of the Palestinians against their oppression and brutalisation by the Israelis, he’s also an obstacle to the foreign policy objectives. Netanyahu, his hawks and the neocons in Britain and America wanted to attack Iran, and he and Murray helped prevent them from doing so. Hence the splenetic attempts to portray him and his supporters as anti-Semites, when they are no such thing.

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.

Labour Friends of Israel in Liverpool

September 25, 2016

If memory serves me correctly, Luciana Berger, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, and Louise Ellman, representing Liverpool Riverside, have also attacked Jeremy Corbyn. It’s probably no coincidence, then, that they are both members of Labour Friends of Israel, which has been responsible, in my opinion, for many of the smears of anti-Semitism against Corbyn and his supporters in Momentum. Berger is a former director of the organisation, and Ellman is, or was, its deputy chair.

See Tom Easton, ‘Tittle-Tattle’, in Lobster 59, p. 89.

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.