Tag Archives: board of deputies of british jews

A bad week for “Britain’s powerful Israel Lobby”.

IMO secretary-general Koji Sekimuzu addresses Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub last week.

IMO secretary-general Koji Sekimuzu addresses the Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub last week.

In the last few weeks accusations of Britain having a “powerful Israel Lobby” are being reiterated once again.

David Ward MP tweeted “shame there isn’t a powerful, well funded Board of Deputies for Roma”. This seems to be an indirect reference to the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Meanwhile, in his opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph Peter Oborne described Conservative Friends of Israel as “by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group”.

Oborne attacks CFI for acting “as if every Jew in the country is a Likud supporter” on the basis that CFI seemed to be parroting Netanyahu’s criticisms of Iran’s interim nuclear agreement with Britain, USA, France, Russia, Germany and China.

In 2009 Oborne made a documentary for Channel 4 called Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby which he introduced with the sinister line “Tonight on dispatches how British policy is influenced by supporters of a foreign power”.

So I thought about how effective these lobbies actually are and the recent picture doesn’t look rosy.

The irony of Oborne’s piece for the Daily Telegraph is that “by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group” did not achieve for Israel what Israel had wanted, namely the total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear programme.

For, let’s remember, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has said that “Israel is a cancer that must be removed”. No, not the “Zionist entity” or even “the Apartheid state”, but Israel, hook, line and sinker.

Then we discover that Britain has been carrying on behind-the-scenes negotiations with Hezbollah. Hezbollah is Iran’s surrogate in Lebanon and Syria and is also determined to annihilate Israel.

Britain, unlike America, quite unbelievably recognises Hezbollah’s political wing, despite this political wing, no doubt, directing the military wing to bomb American and Jewish targets around the world. Britain’s talks with Hezbollah were not explicitly condoned by America, which doesn’t recognise either wing of Hezbollah, but America “will listen with interest” to what is being said.

Then Universities UK produced a document on preserving free speech in universities and in one section the document gives a case study on what to do in the event that any speaker is disrupted. Remarkably, it is British Jews who are the transgressors in this fictional case study.

Case Study 4 “Israel and Palestine” describes how a university’s Jewish society and the local synagogue have expressed concerns about a pro-Palestinian speaker. The local Rabbi has even written to the local paper. During the event “there are concerted attempts to shout the speaker down and prevent him from speaking”. People are asked to leave and do so voluntarily (see page 30 of said document).

I have never heard of British Jews actually trying to prevent a pro-Palestinian speaker from speaking. It is pro-Israel speakers who are regularly shouted down as was the case recently in Sheffield when protesters stormed the stage at the Model United Nations student conference while Israeli deputy ambassador Alon Roth-Snir was speaking.

Finally, the International Maritime Organisation is currently meeting in its 28th session in London. On the agenda was the election of 40 member states to the IMO’s Council.

Israel was up for election and a few days before the vote I found myself in a bar in Westminster among diplomats from various IMO member countries. Israel’s Ambassador Daniel Taub gave a speech and the secretary-general of the Council lit the Chanukah candles.

Over canapes and an endless supply of wine the idea was to mingle and sing Israel’s praises. The Bahamas delegation assured me Israel and they were voting for each other so I moved on. The Turkish delegate assured me that “there was every possibility” that he would vote for Israel.

Turkey and the Bahamas were among those elected, but Israel failed despite the incredible contribution Israel can make to important seafaring issues such as security, safety and technology.

It was yet another failure chalked up by Britain’s “powerful Israel Lobby”.

The cowardice of Peter Oborne.

Peter Oborne loves the Jewish people. He loves us so much he wants to save us from ourselves. It’s a shame Oborne wasn’t around at any of the previous troubled stages of Jewish history to advise us where we were going so wrong, but we can only breathe a sigh of relief that he has taken an interest in our current predicament.

In his recent article for The Daily Telegraph The cowardice at the heart of our relationship with Israel he writes about the “cowardice” of the Conservative Party for not condemning Israel’s settlement policy in stronger terms. He’s concerned the door will soon be closed on the possibility of a two-state solution and that, eventually, Israel will either cease to be Jewish and democratic or will become an apartheid state.

Oborne quotes Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, a former British ambassador to Israel, who recently said that “anyone who has a real affection for the Jewish people will want to help them to avoid this looming disaster.”

Alarm bells start ringing when someone critical of Israeli policy then co-opts the “the Jewish people”. Are all “the Jewish people” really responsible for “this looming disaster”? Israel is a democracy and British Jews do not have a vote. And it’s not British Jews who have Hamas to their south and Hezbollah to their north.

It’s a fact that there are far more non-Jewish supporters of Israel in the world, and thank goodness when considering the tiny Jewish world population. So why don’t Cowper-Coles and Oborne think non-Jewish supporters of Israel require such “help”?

Their patronising attitude towards Jews brings to mind Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury’s quip that “the Jews aren’t lacking in intelligence”.

Oborne finishes his article by claiming that “Mr Cameron does not want to go down in history as the man upon whose watch all hope of a two-state solution died”. Oborne ignores the fact that the two-state solution died in 1937 when the Arabs rejected 80% of British Mandate Palestine, in 1948 when the Arabs rejected 45% of British Mandate Palestine and 2000 when the Palestinians rejected 22% of, what was, British Mandate Palestine.

Oborne’s allegation that Israel could eventually either cease to be Jewish and democratic or become an apartheid state bears no relation to reality when one looks at the demographics on the ground. A study by Bar Ilan University proves that should Israel ever decide to annex the West Bank then the 1.41 million West Bank Palestinians would, when added to Israel’s existing Arab population, still leave Israel a Jewish majority and democratic state.

Oborne slams David Cameron for devoting just 64 words to the settlement issue at the recent Conservative Friends of Israel lunch. Oborne thinks “This is cowardice”. But Oborne doesn’t criticise Hamas and even blames Israel for the recent conflict. Again Oborne ignores the hundreds of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza before Israel assassinated Hamas’ Ahmed Jabari.

And Oborne refuses to differentiate between Palestinian terrorists and civilians who were killed, but just repeats the mantra that “the number of Palestinian deaths vastly exceeded those on the Israeli side”.

Oborne ignores Hamas treatment of its own people in forcing them to become human shields. Hamas imports tens of thousands of rockets into Gaza but cannot build even one bomb shelter for the people it was elected by to govern.

Oborne also criticises Britain for not backing the recent Palestinian bid for enhanced statehood at the UN. It is morally reprehensible that Britain only abstained. How could a civilised country like Britain refuse to vote against enhanced statehood when considering that the Hamas Charter calls for the murder of Jews?

In 2009 Oborne made a television documentary called Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby. It opens with the menacing line “Tonight on Dispatches how British policy is influenced by supporters of a foreign power.”

Oborne sets out to investigate financial transactions between Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and the Conservative Party and to investigate the influence of pro-Israel lobbyists like CFI, BICOM, Zionist Federation, Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. A not insubstantial part was dedicated to CiFWatch, which monitors anti-Semitism in The Guardian and its Comment is Free website.

Oborne investigated the claim that accusations of anti-Semitism by pro-Israel lobby groups are being used to silence criticism of Israeli policy. He put to Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian’s editor, an accusation by CiFWatch that the Comment is Free comments’ thread “is full of vile anti-Semitic sentiments”.

Rusbridger replied:

“I think it would be a terribly dangerous thing if the British press were made to feel that they couldn’t criticise Israel because they are going to be held up as anti-Semitic. I think it is a very disreputable argument.”

But since 2009 CiFWatch has proved time and again that some Guardian articles are anti-Semitic. Chris Elliot, the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, has admitted as much.

The Guardian’s Deborah Orr was forced to apologise for describing Israel’s prisoner swap of Gilad Shalit in exchange for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners as proof “Zionists believe that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.” Elliot explained in response that “Historically it has been antisemites, not Jews, who have read ‘chosen’ as code for Jewish supremacism.”

A recent cartoon by The Guardian’s Steve Bell seemed to employ the anti-Semitic trope that Jews control the world. Elliot admitted that Bell’s cartoon could be considered anti-Semitic.

And under a very recent Comment is Free article there’s this and worse:

“The 9/11 WTC attack was done by the pro-slavery Zionist-Jew bankers…”

Despite all his efforts to uncover something sinister Oborne declares at the end of his Dispatches documentary:

“In making this programme we haven’t found even something faintly resembling a conspiracy, but we have found a worrying lack of transparency and the influence of the pro-Israel lobby continues to be felt.”

So, Oborne found the pro-Israel lobbies in Britain guilty of nothing more than…..doing their jobs effectively.

Instead of trying to save “the Jewish people” from ourselves Oborne could do worse than visit Gaza if he really wants to understand why there cannot be peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He could then ask Hamas:

1. Why it summarily executes alleged Palestinian collaborators and drags their bodies through the streets?

2. Why it oppresses Palestinian women, gays and political dissidents?

3. Why it doesn’t build any bomb shelters for its people?

4. Why its Charter calls for the murder of all Jews?

But we know he won’t go and ask such questions and that makes Oborne the only coward around here.

Former BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Llewellyn: “Zionists are scattered at strategic points throughout British business.”

Milne, Alibhai-Brown, Llewellyn, Rowland listening to Jenny Tonge's rant last night.

Milne, Alibhai-Brown, Llewellyn, Rowland listening to Jenny Tonge’s rant last night.

The reputation of the Jewish community was dragged through the gutter at last night’s book launch of The Battle for Public Opinion in Europe: Changing Perceptions of the Palestine-Israel Conflict. The event was staged by anti-Israel pressure group Middle East Monitor at the University of London’s Senate House.

The panelists were Tim Llewellyn (former BBC Middle East correspondent and now adviser to Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding), Jackie Rowland (Al Jazeera correspondent) and Seumas Milne (The Guardian associate editor). Yasmin Alibhai-Browne (The Independent) chaired the event.

Llewellyn and Rowland described a persistent manipulation of the British broadcast media by a well-moneyed pro-Jewish lobby. Llewellyn said, inter alia, that:

“The BBC is very sparing in the amount of delegations or visitors it allows from the Palestinian side. Whereas from remarks that have been heard from the head of BBC News, Helen Boaden, the British Board of Deputies (of British Jews), for example, practically lives at the BBC. They’re there all the time.”

And:

“I was there (at the BBC) when we weren’t interfered with. But the last 10-12 years, since the beginning of the second Intifada, has coincided with Israel’s decision  to mount a tremendously well organised, careful, assiduous and extremely well financed propaganda campaign in this country, especially in Britain.

The BBC has completely and utterly become feeble and has misreported, in my view; misrepresenting the situation in Israel-Palestine. It has done this maybe because of intense Israeli and pro-Israeli pressure from within this country, from political elements like the Friends of Israel of our three main political parties.

Also through the higher level of pro-Israel Zionists who are scattered at strategic points throughout the British establishment, throughout British business and among the people whose voices are respected.

The propaganda can sometimes be extremely intense, it can be bitter, it can be angry, it could be violent, it can be other forms of coercion. But it’s something the suits at the BBC find very hard to resist. So what has developed over the past 10 years at the BBC, and at other broadcasting institutions like ITN, not so much Channel 4, is a kind of self-censorship.

It is known now by the reporters if they are reporting on an atrocity by the Israelis, in the occupied territories or elsewhere, that they have to add on to the end of their story some kind of appeasing story of how terrible the Palestinians are or how the Israelis have suffered.”

And:

“The pressure of this Israeli campaign has had a tremendous effect, especially at the institutional level of the BBC and inside the political parties. These people are extremely tough, tough minded. I have just read a book by Anthony Lerman called The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist. If you studied the internecine warfare that goes on inside the Jewish community between the different groups; the anti-Zionists, the Zionists, the liberal Zionists, the non-Zionists, it is vitriolic, it is dreadful, I mean what chance have we got outside that community.”

Llewellyn even described Jews as “an alien people”. He said:

“The situation in Palestine now is the direct result of British deviousness, betrayal…dividing Syria in at least three parts; Lebanon, Syria as it is now, and Palestine, and setting the stage for the imposition and the implanting of an alien country, an alien people in that region.”

Rowland described how the BBC’s obligation for accountability, because it is publicly funded, has been “used and exploited by very well organised pro-Israeli, pro-Jewish lobby groups.”

She said that she knew someone who worked in the complaints department of the BBC who told her “that 85% of the complaints he dealt with were complaints by pro-Israeli, pro-Jewish lobby groups complaining about the perceived bias of the BBC’s Middle East coverage.”

She said this gives an idea of “how well organised, well funded people use the idea of public accountability to tie up a lot of BBC resources on one very narrow focus.”

Alibhai-Browne told of how she had been given a rent free home in England by Professor Hugh Blaschko for seven years after she fled Uganda and how he had said to her that “Israel will bring the worst out in us Jewish people”.

Alibahi-Browne also compared Israel to apartheid South Africa.

Milne said “there are well funded and well organised organisations that campaign in support of Israel. If you’re editing in these area you will find pressure and campaigning constantly by those groups.”

During the Q&A I couldn’t resist mentioning, seeing she was in the audience, that I took the footage that contributed to Jenny Tonge’s exit from the Liberal Democrats. In a bizarre outburst right at the end she took to the microphone to announce:

“I’d like to say, I hope he hasn’t gone, a big, big ‘thank you’ to Richard Millett, the Jewish Chronicle, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the entire pro-Israel lobby who have relentlessly attacked me for eight years but making sure that the Palestinian cause gets heard.”

I have no problem at all with the Palestinian cause getting heard. The main problem for the Palestinians is that it is heard via the likes of Tonge, Milne, Rowland, Alibhai-Browne and Llewellyn.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to clarify exactly what Helen Boaden did say that led to Llewellyn’s accusation that the Board of Deputies of British Jews “practically lives at the BBC”.

Click HERE for Jonathan Hoffman’s view of last night.

Click HERE for MEMO’s version with photos.

MEMO Talk audio

Red Ken explains suicide bombings in Israel (again)

Ken Livingstone (Daily Mail)

Ken Livingstone, ex Mayor of London, has given an interview on Press TV (see below) to Andrew Gilligan, Daily Telegraph journalist. In it Livingstone explains suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and accuses respected journalist, Martin Bright, of being an “Islamophobe”.

Livingstone indicated that he will be standing again for London Mayor in 2012.

Gilligan presses Livingstone on the embrace he gave to Islamic preacher, Yusuf “homosexuality is a sin” al-Qaradawi, who Livingstone views as “a great reforming radical”. Livingstone simply compares al-Qaradawi’s views on homosexuality to those of the Chief Rabbi and the Church of England.

Livingstone explains that although al-Qaradawi denounced 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings, he makes the exception for suicide bombings inside Israel because the Palestinians’ land is occupied and they have no weapons apart from their own bodies.

Livingstone thinks that the only reason Jews might be offended by this mentality is because they defend Israel “right or wrong”. He says: “There would not be any Palestine suicide bombers if Israel withdrew from the occupied lands. If Israel wants peace it should withdraw from the occupied territories and dismantle its nuclear weapons.”

To most people this would sound like someone who condones suicide bombings in Israel. Gilligan puts this to Livingstone, who denies it. Gilligan does not, sadly, press Livingstone further on this point.

Next Gilligan asks Livingstone about his exchange with Evening Standard journalist Oliver Finegold, whom Livingstone knew to be Jewish when accusing him of being a “concentration camp guard”. Livingstone explains he will not exempt Finegold from slurs about him being a journalist just because he is a Jew: “He’s a reporter before he’s a Jew.”

Livingstone also refers to Martin Bright, respected Jewish Chronicle and Spectator journalist, as “a bit of an Islamophobe”. Gilligan suggests that Livingstone makes the “Islamophobia” accusation too readily against people who disagree with his views and reminded him that he recently had to apologise and pay damages to Michael Keith for making a similar accusation.

Livingstone does not seem to appreciate the difference between Islamism, adhered to by a tiny minority of Muslims and who interprete the Koran in a violent manner, and Islam itself. Livingstone suggests that Muslims in general are under attack from “the parties and newspapers of the right”.

But Gilligan points out that the main critics of Islamic Forum of Europe in his own Dispatches programme were Muslims. Gilligan says he has seen the transcripts of the IFE who seem to say one thing to the likes of Livingstone but something else to others. According to Gilligan, Islamists wish to “overthrow western style democracy”.

Livingstone suggests that there is no way that these kinds of Muslims would wish to work with someone like himself: “Someone who is a fundamentalist Muslim is not going to be prepared to work with me, an atheist and promoter of homosexual tolerance. I’m everything they would loathe and abhor.”

Gilligan points out that “entryism” is the core of Islamism: “They enter into conventional democratic political parties and take them over. That’s there is Maududi.”

Analysis:

Livingstone’s anti-Zionist instincts are on full display here. He once said that Israel should never have been created. He blamed his loss of office to Johnson on the Board of Deputies of British Jews but he cannot seem to accept that his views are not only rejected by Jews but by British society more generally.

In Part 1 (below) Livingstone attacks the current London Mayor, Boris Johnson, even going so far as crediting him with support from the BNP, something that Johnson has no control over. This echoes the accusation that Israel is supported by the English Defence League. Again, this is something Israel cannot control but it is enough for the anti-Zionist brigade to utilise for their criticism of Israel.

In Part 2 (below at 3 mins 35) Livingstone is questioned by Gilligan over the accusation that Livingstone has been “too close to radical Muslims”. Here Livingstone seems to come very close to condoning suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. In a press conference a few weeks after 7/7 he expressed similar sentiments: “Palestinians don’t have jet fighters. They only have their bodies to use as weapons. In that unfair balance, that is what people use.”

And Livingstone views criticising fundamentalist Islam as a case of Islamophobia. He accuses Martin Bright and Gilligan himself of being Islamophobic. Someone who cannot make this basic distinction is plain ignorant.

Livingstone regularly employs what David Hirsh refers to as the Livingstone Formulation when Israel is criticised: “For too long the accusation of anti-Semitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government, as I have been.” (Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism Cosmopolitan Reflections, Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary study of Antisemitism, 2007, P.38).

By casting both Bright and Gilligan as Islamophobes this formulation is now being extended to defend criticism of all forms of Islam, including Islamism. Gilligan is right to refer to Maududi. The hard-left in the UK takes homophobes like al-Qaradawi at face value when al-Qaradawi says to Livingstone “It is wrong to strike homosexuals”.

The hard-left is quite flexible at being hoaxed into having sympathy with Islamism eventhough at the core of Islamism is an anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic ideology. This is everything the left would normally reject.

But then again Islamists and the hard-left share one enduring core value: the absence of a Jewish state.

On the Oliver Finegold affair David Hirsh also questions whether Livingstone would have suggested to a black journalist who had similarly questioned him whether he was a “plantation owner”. Likewise, something similar to a Muslim journalist.

All that said, British Muslims are starting to reject those on the hard-left who they feel do not reflect their own Islam, as we saw on election night when a group of 200 Muslims told George Galloway what they thought of him as both he and his Respect Party were rejected by the British people.

With Livingstone also rejected as London’s Mayor this is an encouraging sign.