Tag Archives: Iran

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”.

My appearance on 4ThoughtTV: Are Jews Still Persecuted in Britain Today?

Tonight at 7.55pm on Channel 4 I am in 4ThoughtTV’s slot on whether Jews are still persecuted in Britain today, which is the theme of the week.

There are seven contributions in all. Here is the link to mine and the other six:

http://www.4thought.tv/themes/are-jews-still-persecuted-in-britain-today/richard-millett?autoplay=true

1. I spoke about my experiences of harassment at anti-Israel events when I have merely tried to get Israel’s point of view across.

2. Stephen Sizer is an anti-Israel/anti-Zionist Christian Minister. I once went to hear him speak at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event held in a church. He said, inter alia, that churches that side with Israel have “repudiated Jesus, have repudiated the bible and are an abomination”. On my way out of that meeting I was accosted by an audience member who let out some of the most Holocaust denying anti-Jewish vitriol I have ever heard. She told me, inter alia, that Jews died in the Holocaust from having “had their foreskins chopped off.”

In his 4Thought clip Sizer claims it’s important to be able to criticise certain Israeli policies without being accused of anti-Semitism. Let’s be clear: criticising Israel’s policies is legitimate, just like it is legitimate to criticise the policies of any country.

Sizer and his ilk are accused of anti-Semitism because they want the world’s only Jewish state to disappear. This is completely different to criticising Israel’s policies. Instead, they single out the Jewish state, the collective Jew, for destruction. So, Sizer is being highly disingenuous. If he were truthful he would have admitted he wants the Jewish state removed.

3. Another who wants the Jewish state removed is Ahron Cohen, of the extremist religious Jewish sect the Neturei Karta which believes that Jews should only go to the Holy Land once they have received a direct order from God to do so. The Neturei Karta also embraces Iran’s Holocaust denying President Ahmadinejad who repeatedly calls for the destruction of Israel. Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei has referred to Israel as “the Zionist cancerous tumour in the heart of the Islamic world”.

In his clip, Cohen blames Palestinian terrorism “on the very existence of the sectarian state known as Israel”.

4. Mike Marcus has also fallen for the myth that “The Zionist lobby uses the label of anti-Semitism to silence their critics”.

5. Jose Martin correctly blames the media for whipping up anti-Semitism due to its unfair reportage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

6. Yisrael Abeles, a Holocaust survivor, also blames the media for driving much of what has, these days, become “institutionalised anti-Semitism” as opposed to street anti-Semitism.

7. The most moving clip is by schoolgirl Eden Simones-Jones who says that she still suffers from depression and anxiety due to anti-Semitic harassment. She finishes:

“If people say there is no problem with anti-Semitism, I think they should wake-up, open their eyes and really look about what’s going out there because they’re obviously sheltered in their own little dreamland where everything’s rosy, because anti-Semitism’s everywhere. You’ve just got to know what to look for.”

Sadly, she’s right. Anti-Semitism is everywhere. In Britain today anti-Zionism, an attack on Israel as the collective Jew, is the modern updated version of anti-Semitism, the attack on Jews as individuals. “Anti-Zionism” is a label that has been adopted by many of Britain’s  academics, journalists, politicians, religious leaders and charities to hide their true feelings about Jews. This is the “institutionalised anti-Semitism” referred to by Yisrael Abeles.

Nick Clegg just can’t bring himself to support Israeli defensive action against Iran.

The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg attended a Q&A session at Hasmonean School in north-west London last night. The event was staged by the Jewish News and chaired by ITV correspondent Tom Bradby

While Israel was under concerted rocket fire from Hamas in 2009 Clegg wrote “We must stop arming Israel”. In 2010 he acknowledged that there had not always been an equal voice for Israel within the Liberal Democrats and in 2011 he said he craved a time when the Community Service Trust, which protects Britain’s small Jewish community, wasn’t needed.

He did finally force Jenny Tonge to resign from the Lib Dems. when she said that Israel won’t be here forever, but it was also back to business as usual this year when he called Israel’s settlements “deliberate vandalism”.

Clegg doesn’t get that it’s precisely this hostility to Israel which is one of the main reasons the CST continues to be needed. Whenever he and his ilk criticize Israel’s defensive actions or the settlements in such an unbalanced manner synagogues and Jewish schools have to tighten their security and it gives encouragement to those seeking to harass Israeli-owned shops and disrupt Israeli productions visiting these shores.

Surprisingly, there were very few questions about Israel and the Middle East last night considering that Israel is still under constant fire from Hamas rockets, David Cameron is currently in the Middle East selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the so-called Arab Spring is descending into mass murder and oppression.

However, my colleague Jeremy Havardi was given the opportunity to ask the following on Iran:

“I gather you support the policy of sanctions against Iran, which is great. Will you support an Israeli strike on Iran if it was an absolute last resort in stopping its illegal nuclear weapons programme?”

Notice the words “absolute last resort”. A simple question, but Clegg spent the next 6 minutes obfuscating even when pushed twice to answer Havardi’s question by Bradby. Here is some of how Clegg didn’t answer the question:

“I would counsel against the idea that there is a simple military solution.”

“Most experts say that if you took military action you’d probably delay a nuclear programme, but you wouldn’t eliminate it.”

“What we are doing is, if it works, more effective….squeezing harder and harder with tougher sanctions, which are having a real effect…”

“To risk all the dangers of a unilateral military strike, which might not provide a permanent solution… is unwise.”

Clegg continued in the same vein even when Bradby asked whether Clegg would expect military action once Iran had loaded nuclear weapon technology into a missile and, finally, if Israel’s intelligence showed that they couldn’t sit and tolerate the situation anymore.

Yet still Clegg could not bring himself to support Israeli defensive action, even against such an existential threat as an all-out nuclear attack.

Luckily, my colleague Clive wasn’t given the opportunity to ask “What’s the capital of Israel?” Just imagine how long it would have taken Clegg to answer.

Here is Clegg’s full answer from last night:

Anti-Israel QC: “Israel is not the most peaceful of nations.”

As soon as you hear that someone is a human rights lawyer you hope that the subject will not move on to Israel because, for many on the left these days, human rights do not apply to Israel.

This was apparent last night when human rights lawyer John Cooper QC (here’s his showbiz blog) appeared on Sky News to review today’s newspapers alongside Deborah Haynes, Defence Editor of The Times.

Haynes and Cooper were reviewing the story on page 4 of today’s Daily MailIsrael planning to attack Iran before U.S. election‘. Haynes was discussing the ramifications of such an attack and the possibility of scud attacks on Israel. She said she had just returned from Israel and felt that no decision had yet been taken by Israel on attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.

She tried to stay objective by restating Iran’s claim that its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes.

Then Cooper had his say and you got a sense of what the chatter around his dinner table must be like when he and his guests discuss the Middle East. Here is the exchange:

Cooper: “You’re the expert on this obviously but I sometimes think we should take a moment to step back from demonising everytime Iran is mentioned. I’m not going to support or standby the atrocities and appalling behaviour that takes place in Iran, certainly not. But I think we often need to analyse what Israel may say is happening. And just because they are saying it is Iran doesn’t mean to say we should always take it from Israel.”

Haynes: “I think it is Iran that is developing nuclear weapons.”

Cooper: “Yes, but on the other hand Israel is not the most peaceful of nations.”

Haynes: “Well, it has got quite combative neighbours. Iran has said that it wants to wipe Israel off the planet.”

Cooper: “All I will say is we shouldn’t always accept, when it comes to international politics, that Israel is the most peaceful of nations. They can be bellicose and they can, to use a colloquialism, ‘wind people up’ as far as their neighbours are concerned.”

Haynes: “Well, they’re using every tool in their box.”

Cooper: “And they have big friends with the Americans, which some of us dont.”

Haynes: “Well, that’s the big thing; whether they can do it on their own or whether America will have to help them and a lot of people say they wouldn’t be able to actually effectively destroy the nuclear facilities on their own.”

Cooper: “The Israel-American axis is sometimes overpowering.”

So, I am not sure what is more disturbing:

1. Cooper acknowledging that Iran commits “atrocities” against its own people, yet he still seems willing to trust Iran’s word over Israel’s.

2. Cooper acknowledging that Iran is developing nuclear weapons but it doesn’t seem to bother him much because, after all, the nation of Israel does tend to “wind people up”. Is the implication that, because of such behaviour, Israelis deserve to be nuked?

3. Cooper twice referring to Israel as “not the most peaceful of nations“. What other country in the world gets referred to as a “nation” these days? For example, in the above exchange Cooper refers to America, not the American “nation”.

Does “nation” include EVERY Israeli? 18% of Israelis are Arabs. I presume he doesn’t mean to include those Arabs, so he must mean EVERY Jewish Israeli?

Seeing as being Jewish seems to be a defining trait could this definition be extended to Jews not just living in Israel? The history of the Jewish people contains, after all, many people who thought we had a knack of winding them up and our ancestors paid a heavy price for such false sentiments.

Either way, had someone said that, for example, Pakistan, the Palestinians or the French are not peaceful nations would that not be considered to have racist overtones?

Worryingly, Cooper has been named by The Times as one of the top 100 influential lawyers of 2012 in the UK.

I wish Haynes had picked Cooper up on his use of the term “nation”. The next best thing would be to be a fly on the wall at one of Cooper’s dinner parties when the subject of the Middle East comes up.

Trigger from Only Fools and Horses says “Don’t attack Iran”.

Roger Lloyd Pack - "intellect has rapidly diminished over the years until it reached its current level of hilarious stupidity"

Roger Lloyd Pack - "intellect has rapidly diminished over the years until it reached its current level of hilarious stupidity"

It’s a shame when an actor from one of Britain’s best loved comedies joins with the forces of darkness to come to the defence of one of the world’s most reviled regimes, but such is the fate of Roger Lloyd Pack who played Trigger in the BBC’s Only Fools and Horses.

Lloyd Pack is a seasoned anti-Israel activist and so it is no surprise to find his signature among the usual suspects in a letter to Wednesday’s Guardian supporting Stop The War Coalition’s Don’t Attack Iran Campaign.

Ironically, the BBC website gives the following description of Trigger:

“Although initially a (relatively speaking) sharp-minded villain Trigger’s intellect has rapidly diminished over the years until it reached its current level of hilarious stupidity.”

Who said art doesn’t sometimes mirror life?

The Guardian website even generously links the letter to the Don’t Attack Iran Campaign website. Why take out an expensive ad in a national newspaper, hire an expensive London venue or print millions of leaflets when all you need do nowadays is write a letter to The Guardian who will give you free advertising space if you’re anti-Israel.

The familiarity of these hardcore anti-Israel signatories is positive in as much as it shows how so alone they are in their support for such an oppressive ideology as Iran’s:

Tony Benn,
Jeremy Corbyn MP,
Brian Eno,
Lindsey German,
George Galloway,
Kate Hudson,
Jemima Khan,
Ken Loach,
Roger Lloyd Pack,
Lowkey,
Len McCluskey,
John McDonnell MP,
John Pilger,
Michael Rosen,
Jenny Tonge.

You’d have thought that after her forced resignation from her party after wishing away Israel’s existence they might have left Jenny Tonge off for once but, then again, her recent statements that “Israel is not going to be there forever” and “then they will reap what they have sown” ties in nicely with Ahmadinejad’s genocidal desire to wipe Israel off the map.

Some say Ahmadinejad was mistranslated and that he merely wanted to eradicate Zionism.

Let’s forget that Israel and Zionism are not mutually exclusive and gloss over Ahmadinejad’s “mistranslation” and listen to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei who, as reported by Press TV, “described Israel as a cancerous tumor that must be removed”.

It doesn’t get more unambiguous than that and straight from the fool’s and horse’s mouth!

And calling it an attack on Iran is like calling Operation Cast Lead an attack on Gaza or on the Palestinians when, in actual fact, it was a legitimate attack on the terrorist group Hamas in self-defence.

Attacking Iran’s nuclear sites will also be a legitimate act of self-defence unless Iran opens itself up to a full nuclear inspection in accordance with its non-proliferation treaty obligations, something that it has so far proved suspiciously unwilling to do.

And calling itself Stop The War Coalition is as equally disingenuous. Let Them Die Coalition would be far more accurate judging by their calls for non-intervention in Libya and, now, Syria.

The Guardian letter compares the build up to a possible war with Iran to that with Iraq. But Stop The War Coalition’s approach is itself reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of another evil regime.

Galloway and German say they aren’t pacifists and Galloway has said that World War Two was a just war, but how can he, and we, be so sure he would have called it “just” at the time.

Stop The War Coalition is, basically, an organisation that supports non-intervention against regimes that are anti-American and/or anti-Israel. They were ecstatic when pro-American/pro-Israel Mubarak fell in Egypt but have criticised NATO’s ousting of anti-American/anti-Israel Gaddafi and will no way want Assad to fall with the negative impact that would have on Iran and, ultimately, Hezbollah and Hamas.

The hypocrisy of the signatories to The Guardian letter is fully exposed when Stop The War Coalition feels comfortable standing back watching Libyans and Syrians slaughtered in their droves while defending the vile Iranian regime and staying silent about the continued oppression of Iran’s women, gays, Jews (the 25,000 strong community is limited to one MP), Bahais, Kurds and anyone wanting to live a life in Iran as free as those signatories themselves can do in the west.

George Galloway: “Iran ready to fight to the last drop of blood”.

Shirin Shafaie, Chris Nineham, Tony Benn, Lindsey German, Abbas Edalat prepare to spout nonsense.

Shirin Shafaie, Chris Nineham, Tony Benn, Lindsey German, Abbas Edalat prepare to spout nonsense.

George Galloway gave warning that should Iran be attacked by Israel then “the Persian Gulf will be on fire, the Straights of Hormuz will be on fire and the allies of America in the Gulf will be on fire” and Iran will also answer “inside Iraq”.

And he said that Iran is ready to fight to the last drop of blood.

He called on Muslims not to “fall for this gigantic fraud in which the imperialist countries who were bombing and murdering one kind of Muslim in Iraq now want to mobilise that kind of Muslim against another kind of Muslim on a sectarian basis dividing the Muslim world” and he warned that “once they’ve dealt with the Shi’ites, they’ll deal with you”:

Galloway was the final act in Monday night’s Don’t Attack Iran meeting in London organised by The Stop The War Coalition, a coalition that is against any war (unless it’s against Israel, of course), even the war in Libya which would have left possibly thousands to be massacred in Benghazi by Gaddafi’s forces had NATO not intervened.

And only a dunce from the Green Party could invoke the Nazis like Darren Johnson AM did when he warned that attacking Iran would unite the whole of Iran just like attacks by the Nazis even united the Conservatives and the Communists in this country:

Well, that wasn’t the case in Libya was it! NATO’s attacks on Gaddafi’s troops strengthened the opposition leading to Gaddafi’s downfall. And, likewise, I am sure that the good people of Iran would welcome an attack on their own cruel regime that still stones women to death and hangs gays for being gay. Johnson should stick to dealing with matters to do with London as he obviously hasn’t a clue about foreign affairs.

And then there was Tony Benn, the President of The Stop The War Coalition, claiming that the only reason America wants to attack Iran is because of its oil. Oh come on, Tony, you can do better than reel off that tired old line:

Benn disappeared early after the usual announcement that he had to be up early to give yet another talk, although it was more likely the lure of a hot cup of cocoa and a pair of warm slippers that sent him on his way.

Other speakers told us how cuddly and peaceful today’s Iran, basically, is. It had never attacked anyone, don’t you know!

Abbas Edalat, a professor in Computer Science at Imperial College, thought the war against Iran had started in 1979 after the Revolution, while Shirin Shafaie, a researcher at SOAS, claimed it started as far back as 1953 with the overthrow of Mossadeq.

Edalat claimed there was even a self-imposed fatwa against Iran possessing nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction and that the aim of the West was to recolonise Iran like it did in 1953.

These people honestly believe the rubbish that pours out of their mouths. It is a remarkable sociological study to hear such delusion and to see how an audience, albeit a small one, laps up this rhetoric.

Oh, and just in case there wasn’t enough instability in the Middle East I was passed a leaflet detailing how Palestinians living inside Israel and those from the West Bank and Gaza are due to be joined by Palestinians and others from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan for a Global March to Jerusalem arriving in Jerusalem on “Land Day” (30th March 2012 to you and me).

For an organisation that claims to want to stop war The Stop The War Coalition tries its damned hardest to encourage as much bloodshed in the Middle East as it possibly can.

Oh, Mehdi, feel free to tell us to “bugger off to Tel Aviv”.

Mehdi Hasan.

Mehdi Hasan.

Last Friday Luke Bozier, a Labour blogger, said of Mehdi Hasan, the embattled Senior Editor (politics) at the New Statesman magazine:

“Wouldn’t it be good if he just buggered off to Tehran.”

It was in response to Hasan’s article the previous day If you lived in Iran, wouldn’t you want the nuclear bomb? which some commentators have interpreted as a call by Hasan for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb.

Yesterday Hasan posted a response to the criticism of his article and made the following curious remark about Bozier:

Can you imagine the media reaction if a British Jew wrote a column about Israel which prompted the response of “bugger off to Tel Aviv”?

I can’t see the parallel myself. Hasan isn’t Iranian and neither does Bozier’s remark seem to be an attack on Hasan’s Muslim identity.

It might be in dispute as to whether Hasan’s article amounts to a call for an Iranian nuclear bomb, but what is not in dispute is his coming to the defence of the vile Iranian regime, describing it as “surrounded on all sides by virulent enemies” and he doubts whether Iran is looking to create a nuclear bomb when he gives credence to the regime’s rhetoric that its “goal is only to develop a civilian nuclear programme, not atomic bombs”.

And so Bozier’s comment is not so different from those by people who tell apologists for Hamas to move to Gaza if they love Hamas so much. It’s the same with telling Hasan to go to Tehran. It isn’t a racist slur.

And in reality, and Hasan must know this, the equivalent far-left racial slur against British Jews is for us to bugger off to Russia. I, myself, was once told to go back to Poland at an anti-Israel event in London.

So what a nice change it would be for British Jews to be told to “bugger off to Tel Aviv”.

Implicit in such a suggestion would at least be a recognition of the Jewish connection to Israel, a connection which both the Palestinian leadership and the far-left refuse to make.

But it wasn’t like that before 1948 when the common refrain of racists in the UK was for Jews to go back to Palestine. After 1948 it became politically inconvenient for the racists to suggest Jews go back to Israel, so Poland and Russia are now the new hot spots designated for us by the far-left, irrespective of the fact that Jews got slaughtered there in their millions by the Nazis.

And how ironic that Hasan now chooses to employ British Jews in his defence when he has previously shown us such disregard with his casual attitude to anti-Semitism.

In an echo of Ben White’s article in 2002 Is It Possible to Understand the Rise in Anti-Semitism? in which White wrote “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” Hasan wrote in his article Does Israel “cause” anti-Semitism?:

“Nothing justifies anti-Semitism…But I do find it both tragic and ironic that the state of Israel…through its actions today…provokes such awful anti-Semitic attacks against diaspora Jews who have nothing to do with the actions of the IDF or the policies of Netanyahu, Olmert and Sharon.”

As The CST‘s Dave Rich wrote in the comment section of that post:

“The people who are primarily responsible for racist hate crimes are the racists who perpetrate them; the “cause” is their bigotry and hatred for a chosen ‘other’…You would not write an article lamenting that fact that Muslim immigration “caused” the recent arson attack on the Luton Islamic Centre…Don’t make excuses for racists, and don’t use racism as an excuse to score political points.”

And anyway, Hasan and President Ahmadinejad do have similar ideas which suggests that Hasan might actually feel at home in Tehran. For example, they both wish for Israel to be wiped off the map. In his article I’ve changed my mind about a two-state solution Hasan describes his own solution as being:

“a single, secular and binational state for Israelis and Palestinians. No longer ‘two states for two peoples’, but ‘one person, one vote’.”

And in mid-July 2009 he wrote of the Iranian regime’s Press TV that “not a single critic so far has claimed that his or her views were ever censored”. However, two weeks earlier Press TV interviewed Hossein Mousavi in his prison cell in Iran asking him questions prepared by the Iranian regime with Mousavi reading his answers from a script also prepared by the regime. (OFCOM recently upheld the complaint of unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in making the programme containing Mousavi’s interview.)

So, Mehdi, by all means hate Israel, excuse anti-Semitism and support the Iranian regime if you are that way inclined but please don’t try to use British Jews in your defence when it suits you politically. And if anyone does tell me to “bugger off to Tel Aviv” I will be happy that, finally, they will have stopped trying to force me back to Poland.