Posts Tagged ‘Tom Easton’

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.

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)

Tom Easton on the Israel Lobby and Spurious Accusations of Anti-Semitism

May 3, 2016

I’ve just posted a piece about Tom Easton’s review of Michael Neumann’s The Case Against Israel (Oakland: CounterPunch/ Edinburgh: AK Press) 2006. Written by an author, who declared himself to be ‘pro-Jewish’ and ‘pro-Israel’, the book was fiercely critical of Zionism and the continued occupation of the West Bank. Easton’s introduction to the review of the two books is also extremely relevant and worth quoting. Easton was writing when Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s The Israel Lobby was published in the US. This was attacked as anti-Semitic, even though it mostly said what everyone already knew, and what had been pretty much said already. The New Statesman over on this side of the Atlantic had made a similar attempt to write about the subject four years earlier, but was also heavily criticised as an anti-Semitic for daring to do so. Easton writes of the controversy surrounding these pieces

In a year in which Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and Gaza were accompanied by more stores of New Labour loans and the arrest (twice) of Tony Blair’s fundraiser and Middle East ‘envoy’ Lord Levy, it would have been good to have seen British publications examining how Israel is bound up with the politics of its allies. But apart from the decision in March by the London Review of Books (LRB) to publish US academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt on the Israel lobby in their country, Britain has seen no serious recent initiatives on that front.

The New Statesman (NS) made a stab at the job in 2002, but suffered very heavy criticism for its ‘anti-Semitism’ from, among others, the then Labour general secretary and now Foreign Office minister and colleague of Lord Levy, David Triesman. In the week that I write this, the award-winning NS political editor Martin Bright describes ‘Blair’s twin shame of Iraq and cash for honours’ as ‘on the one hand, a foreign policy catastrophe; on the other a classic domestic sleaze scandal’. Several American writers, including one of the two authors under review, try to investigate links between ‘foreign policy catastrophe’ and ‘domestic sleaze’. One wonders how many years will pass before the NS will feel able to return to the subject of Zionism and New Labour, and when the LRB will feel able to run a piece on the Israel lobby in the UK.

When journalists and academics tiptoe around this elephant in the front room of British politics they leave a gap in our political understanding that is important for at least two reasons.

One is that the links between Israel and its supporters in Britain are a legitimate subject for inquiry given the extent to which those advocating terrorist tactics here often identify themselves as critics of Israel. If, as Home Secretary John Reid said in October, the ‘war on terror’ now demands the ingenuity shown by Barnes Wallis and Alan Turing in opposing Nazi Germany, we are surely under a democratic obligation to ask how matters have come to such a pass that our traditional liberties are being so readily and uncritically jeopardised.

A second reason is that the ‘war on terror’ agenda has now become indelibly linked in the minds of many with hostility to Muslims, a recipe for serious difficulties in a society as diverse as Britain. This is paralleled in some circles with talk about the ‘clash of civilisations’ stimulated by Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntingdon soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The work of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Jonathan Institute (Lobster 47) et seq.) in promoting the ‘war on terror’ agenda to serve the interests of Israel goes back well before that time. But once the Berlin Wall fell, the blame for terrorism switched from the Kremlin and KGB to Israel’s neighbours and Islamic radicalism. Yet virtually all of the British electorate remains in ignorance of the origins and purposes of this strategy.
(Lobster 52, Winter 2006/7: 40).

As the spurious accusations of anti-Semitism levelled at Naz Shah, show, Easton’s comments still remain acutely topical now, nine years after he wrote them.

Michael Neumann’s ‘Pro-Jewish’, ‘Pro-Israeli’ Case against the Occupation of Palestine

May 3, 2016

Tom Easton in Lobster 52, for Winter 2006/7, reviewed two books criticising Israel. One of these was The Case against Israel, by Michael Neumann, published in America by CounterPunch, and in Britain by the radical, Anarchist publishers AK Press. Neumann’s an American philosophy professor, whose family were the victims of Nazi persecution, and who grew up strong disposed towards Israel. He describes his bias as ‘pro-Israel and pro-Jewish’. He further stated that the only material he used in writing the book came from Israeli, not Palestinian sources, and stated that he intended his book to be ‘anti-Israeli’ but not ‘anti-Israeli’.

Neumann is critical of both the establishment of Israel, Zionism and the occupation of the West Bank. He states:

The Zionist project, as conceived and executed in the 19th and early 20th century, was entirely unjustified and could reasonably be regarded by the inhabitants of Palestine as a very serious threat, the total domination by one ethnic group of all others in the region. Some form of resistance was, therefore, justified. That Zionist Jews, and Jews generally, may later have acquired pressing reasons for wanting a Jewish state does not change this. The legitimacy of the Zionist project was the major cause of all the terror and warfare that it aroused.

He then goes on to argue that the resulting conflicts weren’t due to ancient ethnic tensions between Jews and Arabs in the area, but were the result of the colonialist policies of the Zionist settlers. He states that the Zionists sought

to implant an ethnic sovereignty in what was to them a foreign land, on the basis of a population expressly imported to secure that end. Unlike other occasions for territorial compromise, this one did not involve two existing people pursuing competing claims. Instead, there was a claim at whose service a people was to be created by immigration from outside the area. That claim was to be pursued against the existing inhabitant, who had never thought to advance some claim of their own against the Jewish people.

He squarely blames Israel for the resulting carnage of the wars and terrorism between the two peoples.

The illegitimacy of Zionism has important implications for the legitimacy of Israel itself and for the early history of that state. It was wrong to pursue the Zionist project and wrong to achieve it. For that reason, how it was pursued and achieved has little bearing on the fundamental rights and wrongs of the Israel/Palestinian conflict … Zionism initiated a process whose evolution was foreseeable and understandable. Zionists are, therefore, to an unusual degree responsible for the consequences of that fateful step. Their project was not like raising a child who, unexpectedly, turns psychotic, but like releasing a homicidal maniac – a child of ethnic nationalism – into the world. This is why the blame for the conflict lies to heavily on Zionist and so lightly on Palestinian shoulders.

Neumann does not argue from this that Israel should be destroyed or abolished. He points to America, which is similarly the result of the genocide, massacre and exploitation. He argues instead that Israel’s existence is tainted, not sacred, but it is protected by the same useful international conventions that allow others, in the name of peace, to retain their ill-gotten gains.
Instead, Israel should ensure its survival by withdrawing from the Occupied Territories.

With the acquisition of the Occupied Territories in 1967, Israel had a chance to make handsome amends for the crimes on which it was built. Saintliness or selfless optimism were not required. Israel could have sponsored and supported, with true generosity, the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state by backing those amenable to reconciliation and attacking those who were not. This might not have been a just settlement, but it would have worked.

I realise this is very controversial stuff, but the author’s own family history and his statement that he is indeed pro-Jewish and pro-Israel, should carry weight. If nothing else, it should show that critics of Israel are not necessarily anti-Semites and not necessarily anti-Israel, even if anti-Zionist.

Lobster on Politically-Motivated False Accusations of Anti-Semitism

May 2, 2016

I found this very interesting and pertinent quote from Uri Avnery’s paper, ‘Manufacturing Anti-Semites’ in Tom Easton’s article, ‘Terrorism, Anti-Semitism and Dissent’, in Lobster 47, Summer 2004: 3-8. The article’s an analysis of the role of the Neo-Cons in Britain and America, and the Israel lobby, in the invasion of Iraq and the new imperialism in the Middle East. The article’s based on four books, Covert Action: The Roots of Terrorism, ed. Ellen Ray and William H. Schaap, The Politics of Anti-Semitism, ed. Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair, The Betrayal of Dissent: Beyond Orwell, Hitchens and the New American Century by Scott Lucas, and George Galloway’s I’m Not The Only One. He writes

Uri Avnery’s ‘Manufacturing Anti-Semites’ is a very powerful attack on the present government of Israel by one of its own citizens.

‘The Sharon government is a giant laboratory for growing the Anti-Semitism virus. It exports it to the whole world. Sharon’s propaganda agents are pouring oil on the flames. Accusing all critics of his policy of being anti-Semites, they brand large communities with this mark. Many good people, who feel no hatred at all towards the Jews but who detest the persecution of the Palestinians, are now called anti-Semites. thus the sting is taken out of this word, giving it something approaching respectability.’

In America, he says, ‘the Jewish establishment is practically straining to prove that it controls the country’. Avnery describes how in 2002 a young black congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney, ‘dared to criticise the Sharon government, support Palestinians and (worst of all) Israeli and Jewish peace groups. The Jewish establishment found a counter-candidate, practically unknown black woman, injected huge sums into the campaign and defeated Cynthia. All this happened in the open, with fanfares, to make a public example – so that every senator and congressperson would know that criticising Sharon is tantamount to political suicide.’

Easton in his paragraph quotes the absolute dominance of the Israel lobby over congress, and the disastrous effect this has had on relations between America and the rest of the world.

This theme is taken up by George Sutherland, the pen name of a ‘senior congressional staffer’, in describing what he calls ‘Our Vichy Congress’. He writes: ‘For expressions of sheer grovelling subservience to a foreign power, the pronouncements of Laval and Petain pale in comparison with the rhetorical devotion with which certain congressmen have bathed the Israel of Ariel Sharon.

After detailing several examples of the way the Israeli lobby operates, including preventing an investigation of the Israeli ‘arts students’ saga, he concludes:

‘Israel’s strategy of using its influence on the American political system to turn the US national security apparatus into its own personal attack dog – or Golem – has alienated the United States from much of the Third World, has worsened US ties to Europe among rancorous insinuations of anti-Semitism, and makes the United States a hated bully.’

Sutherland quotes the words of EU commissioner Chris Patten in The Washington Post: ‘A senior Democratic senator told a visiting European the other day: “All of us here are members of Likud now.”(p.5).

Avnery, and Israeli critics of their country’s foreign policy and maltreatment of the Palestinians, are, not surprisingly, subject to intense hostility in their homeland. In one poll, a majority of Israelis declared that those of their countrymen who defended the Palestinians should be stripped of their citizenship. Avnery also has a point about the way the cavalier use of accusations of anti-Semitism have cause the word to lose much of its sting. The Cynthia McKinney affair was reported and remarked on in the Libertarian blog, Vox Day, which is highly critical of Israel and does have a very pronounced tone of anti-Semitism.

The accusations directed at Naz Shah, Ken Livingstone and now Jeremy Corbyn are in line Sharon’s strategy of trying to silence his critics with the same accusation. And the more it’s used, the more likely it will have the opposite effect.

BAP’s Newsmen and Women and the War in Iraq

January 29, 2015

Tom Easton in his ‘Tittle-Tattle’ column in Lobster 45 describes the various members of the British-American Project and their involvement in the preparations for the invasion of Iraq and its propaganda. The British-American Project for the Successor Generation was an initiative launched by Ronald Reagan to cultivate leading politicians, industrialists and journalists. In the US, BAP is sponsored by the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. The school’s dean until George Dubya stole the American election, was Paul Wolfowitz. In Britain it receives taxpayer’s money through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Amongst the very senior political and industrial leaders it counts as members, are a number of journalists, newspaper editors and broadcasters. They include the Time’s journos Mary Ann Sieghart and Bronwen Maddox; the Sunday Times’ Martin Ivens; Charles Moore, formerly editor of the Telegraph and now editor of the Times, and Alice Thomson, also of the Torygraph.

At the BBC, BAP’s members included Radio 4’s Jim Naughtie, Evan Davis, Andrew Whyte, Margaret Hill and Paxo. Their connections to BAP may well explain the Right-wing bias in their reporting and the assumption that there is no alternative to austerity and the free market.