Tag Archives: conservative party

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.

MPAC, the General Election and British Jews

With the gun for the general election having been fired British Jews are expecting open season on them and on Israel.

Even before the announcement of the May 6th election, which is expected to be close and could result in a hung Parliament with the highly anti-Israel Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power between Labour and the Conservatives, the attacks have been vicious. Recent accusations of Jewish political financing and Israel pulling the strings behind the electoral scenes have been hitting the headlines.

Martin Linton, a Labour MP, recently gave a talk in Parliament to the Friends of Al Aqsa and spoke of Israel’s “long tentacles” that fund British election campaigns and which try to buy a Conservative victory. Linton said that he failed to appreciate the Nazi symbolism of the Jewish octopus controlling the world with its tentacles and he apologised but he stands by his thesis of Israelis and pro-Israelis trying to buy a Conservative win.

At the same meeting Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish Labour MP, spoke of Lord Ashcroft owning part of the Conservative Party and right-wing Jewish millionaires owning the other part.

These are, of course, unfounded and defamatory accusations that paint many British Jews as being Fifth Columnists dedicated to another country only, Israel.

Then there is the election literature that has been doing the rounds. The Liberal Democrats are expert at manipulating the religious and ethnic sympathies of the voting public. They have already called for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel. Woe betide Israel if a hung Parliament results in Nick Clegg as Foreign Secretary as a quid pro quo for the Liberal Democrats supporting either Gordon Brown or David Cameron if neither wins a majority on May 6th.

In London there are two neighbouring constituencies where the policy of Liberal Democrats towards Israel depends wholly on the ethnic and religious make-up of the voters. In Holborn and St. Pancras, with its disproportionately high Bangladeshi community, the leaflets of the Liberal Democrat candidate scream “Stop Arming Israel”.

But in Hampstead and Kilburn, where the voters are disproportionately Jewish, the leaflets are pro-Israel with pictures of the Liberal Democrat candidate’s recent visit to Israel and there is even Hebrew writing included. Mezuzahs are very useful in determining whether to push said leaflet through a door or not.

MPAC: “Get out the Muslim vote II”

There is also the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which is sure to have a big say in some constituencies on who gets elected or not. A page on the MPAC website asks “is your MP a Zionist?” and then goes on to list those MPs and candidates that it deems to be so. You don’t have to be Jewish. The only qualification seems to be that you are affiliated to a Friends of Israel group of one of the three main political parties.

The current list contains 36 names. In 2005 Lorna Fitzsimons, now head of British Israel Communications and Research Centre, lost her seat as a Labour MP partly because of MPAC. The 2006 Report of the All Parliamentary Committee into anti-Semitism found that MPAC, in order to help unseat Fitzsimons, distributed leaflets stating “she had done nothing to help the Palestinians because she was a Jewish member of the Labour Friends of Israel”. Lorna Fitzsimons is not Jewish.

The media will play its role. The Independent has committed anti-Israel writers like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Johan Hari and Robert Fisk and the Guardian’s Comment is Free section is replete with anti-Israel polemic. A recent Guardian editorial on the Dubai passports affair and Israel’s building in east Jerusalem spoke of Israel as “an arrogant nation that has overeached itself”. This seems to be an implicit attack not on Israel specifically but on Jews generally.

But with four weeks to go until election day we can expect Jewish and Muslim sensitivities to be manipulated to the full in order to propel a political candidate into Parliament, or to reduce their chances.

So who will you be voting for and why?

“Free Palestine, Vote Labour.”

Tony Benn

Last night’s meeting in Parliament arranged by Friends of Al Aqsa was due to be about Israel’s building in east Jerusalem but turned out to be a party political broadcast for the Labour Party.

The three Labour MPs that spoke mainly turned their guns on the Conservatives.

Martin Linton, Labour MP for Battersea (majority – 163 votes):

“There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends. Now there are a number of Conservatives who have a very good record on this issue, I am not saying it’s a simple party political issue, but you must consider over the next few weeks, when you vote and when you make your constituents aware, of the attempt by Israelis and pro-Israelis to influence the election in this country and you must draw your own conclusions from that. If they get the message that trying to buy a Conservative victory, what’s more trying to buy Conservative support for Israel, is successful then they will carry on doing it. If they can see that it is not going to work, then they will desist. It is important for not only this country but also for the future of the Middle East that the result of the election in this country does not send that message.”

Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Manchester, Gorton (majority – 5808 votes):

“Just as Lord Ashcroft owns one part of the Conservative Party, right-wing Jewish millionaires own the other part.” (That’s a bit “rich” coming from someone who, according to the Daily Telegraph “charged the taxpayer £1851 for a rug he imported from a New York antiques centre and tried to claim £8865 for a television”).

Andrew Slaughter, Labour MP for Ealing Acton Shepherd’s Bush (majority – 5520 votes):

“There is no will in the Conservative Party to support anything other than the state of Israel. There has been a sea change on the Conservative Party over the course of a generation. That didn’t used to be the case. They are as firmly locked in now as the Republicans are in America. We have to challenge that through political power in this country.” (Did Slaughter not see William Hague’s condemnation of Israel in Parliament yesterday?)

It was stated by the Chairman of the meeting that the Conservatives were offered an invitation for someone to speak last night but they said that no one was available.

There was a sense that the pro-Palestinian campaign is suffering from event fatigue. With meetings and protests virtually every day over the last few weeks on the Goldstone Report, the arrests of british protestors over Gaza, protests against Mayor Nir Barkat as well as International Israel Apartheid Week recently finishing, things are losing steam.

Tony Benn spoke briefly but with nothing like his normal passionate anti-Zionist rhetoric. And Dr Phyllis Starkey, Labour MP for Milton Keynes South-West, who was due to speak last night, was a no-show.

And even Kaufman displayed some sort of concern for the future of Israel by explaining that its future is in jeopardy: “Either meaningful talks will take place soon or the population equation will take over.” It wasn’t an anti-Israel tirade, which one might have expected in front of this audience.

The meeting was told that all the main religions should be allowed to pray properly in Jerusalem “the third most Holy place in the world to Muslims”. Even this was met with light applause and nothing like Benjamin Netanyahu’s “Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is our capital”, which raised the roof at the AIPAC meeting in Washington on Monday in front of 7500 actvists and members of Congress.

Hugh Lanning of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign then spoke of future events including a global boyott, divestments and sanctions weekend, a campaign to ban Israeli settlement goods being sold in the UK, Naqbah Day on 15th May, a TUC action day in June and the six pledges* that all Parliamentary candidates must sign up to, but by then it was a case of information overdose.

The Six Pledges*:

1. Call on Israel to end its violations of international law, including ending its illegal occupation.
2. Oppose any attacks on universal jurisdiction and support bringing Israeli war criminals to justice
3. Work to end the siege on Gaza
4. Call on the government to ban the import of settlement goods
5. Call on the government to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement
6. Call for an end to the arms trade with Israel