Tag Archives: Daniel Taub

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”.

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Zionists back to Manchester!

I was up at 5am on Sunday morning to catch the 5.45am coach to Manchester for The Big Tent For Israel conference along with another 17 hardy souls and so an early Saturday night was in order, although we were bemused that the half-way stop at Corley services lasted a full 45 minutes, possibly in line with EU regulations, as we could all have done with an extra 45 minutes in bed.

Once on the coach tiredness quickly subsided as anecdotes were exchanged about past battles against London’s anti-Zionist movement and plans discussed about possible future action.

We pulled in to Manchester at about 10.15am and once through registration were eventually seated in time for the sharp 10.50am start where we heard from Ivan Lewis MP, Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub and Mick Davis, who seemed to be speaking on a videolink from somewhere much warmer than Manchester!

Sessions were arranged in five spheres that the Reut Report recognised as being the main areas in which Israel tends to suffer delegitimisation in the UK: Politics, Media, Academia, the Trade Unions, Churches.

Lewis, a “son of Manchester”, reminded us that Manchester was where Zionism came of age with CP Scott, owner of the Manchester Guardian, befriending Chaim Weizman and introducing him to British statesmen, which eventually led to the Balfour Declaration. Scott’s Guardian even editorially supported the idea of the Jewish Legion, the brainchild of Jabotinsky. How times have changed!

Daniel Taub was adamant that it is Israel’s existence that is under attack. If it was just about “occupation” then why, he asked, were Israel’s pull-outs from south Lebanon and Gaza followed by a constant barrage of rocket attacks on Israel from those places.

He told us about when he went to speak at a British university and was met by a front row of anti-Israel activists who immediately stood up and unfurled anti-Israel slogans in front of him. So he went to his computer and showed them a youtube clip of a Palestinian gunman attempting to cross a street. Knowing he would be immediately targetted when he stepped out the gunman grabbed a Palestinian boy and held him as he crossed before discarding the boy on the other side. Taub asked which Palestinian those activists were supporting; the boy or the gunman?

After that I went to hear Jonny Paul (Jerusalem Post), another “son of Manchester”, Adam Levick (CifWatch), Marcus Sheff (Israel Project), yet another “son of Manchester”, and Michael Weiss (Henry Jackson Society) speak about Media Delegitimisation: Fact or Paranoia?

Sheff told us that Israel’s PR has improved from where it used to be, although that seemed to be from a very low wrung of the ladder, while Jonny Paul spoke about The Independent’s cartoon by Dave Brown of Ariel Sharon eating a baby, The New Statesman‘s 2002 front page of a Star of David piercing the Union Jack flag to illustrate a story about Britain’s “Zionist lobby” with the title “A Kosher conspiracy?” and of The Independent‘s false front page story by Robert Fisk that Israel may have used depleted Uranium weapons in the 2006 Lebanon War.

I was flattered to have been asked to chair the panel on Countering Delegitimisation: Strategy and Tactics alongside Jonathan Hoffman, Adam Levick and Richard Gold (engageonline).

I had just been to hear Lorna Fitzsimons (BICOM) speak at Every Jew is an Ambassador for Israel, why don’t we use them?, where I disagreed with quite a bit of what she said, although the passion with which she delivers her words was a brilliant lesson in oratory.

She asked who in the audience had written a letter to their local newspaper about Israel, or phoned in to a radio station, or had met with their MP. Few in the audience had done any of this and people were asked to pledge that they would.

I ripped up my prepared speech and decided to speak about how few pro-Israel letters get published and when they do they get published alongside letters extolling the supposed virtues of a one-state solution or Hamas.

At least with blogging everything you write gets published in addition to the important fact that the internet has now become one of the main battle-lines of attack against Israel.

I explained that I thought that the title of our panel discussion should really have been Countering anti-Semitism: Strategy and Tactics as I have lost count of the number of times I have heard Jews, not Israel or Zionism, be the object of degradation and derision at many of the anti-Israel meetings I have been to.

Some of the examples I gave were of anti-Israel commentator Khaled Amaryeh calling someone a “kike” on my blog, of a woman called Jane Green telling me outside a Palestine Solidarity Campaign meeting she had just attended that any Jews that did die in the Holocaust probably died after having had their foreskins chopped off, of trade union rep. Steve Hedley’s racist accusation at an anti-Israel RMT event that I was one of the Chosen People and of academic Ghada Karmi’s statement at a conference at SOAS that:

“The Zionist project would never have succeeded without Western complicity. Criminals might want to rob you, kill you, rape your daughters but normally they do not get away with it. Israel’s total impunity is so unusual today. The only way to reverse this is on the basis of rights and justice; that is the right of return of the refugees and the dispossessed and the exiles back to their homeland. If that were to happen we know very well that that would be the end of a Jewish state in our region.”

I also displayed the falsified slide shown at an anti-Israel meeting at Amnesty International of a young Palestinian boy having had a tattoo of a Star of David, allegedly, carved into his forearm by an Israeli soldier using a piece of broken glass. The Star was too small and too perfect to have been created that way and the plaster doesn’t even fit over the supposed wound!

Look at the Star and the plaster.

Look at the Star and the plaster.

Jonathan, Adam and Richard spoke very well and after that I went to listen to Stuart Palmer (Cohav) give another Social Media Workshop before the final session brought together some Rapporteurs to tell us about some of the events that people had been unable to go to seeing as many sessions clashed.

It was good to meet other bloggers, like Ray Cook, who had been lured out from behind their computers for the day, but I was astonished by the huge turnout with numbers reaching at least 500, possibly as many as 650.

But then that’s Manchester for you; hardcore Zionist through and through.

Oh, and Titanics kosher smoked salmon sandwiches on sale were just to die for!

Hacked by Yachad.

New organisation Yachad describes itself as a “a pro-Israel pro-peace grassroots movement that aims to harness the energy of large numbers of British Jews through education, debate and advocacy in support of the steps needed to create peace and long-term security for Israel”.

They have just written a letter to Daniel Taub, the new Israeli Ambassador to the UK, and launched an Ipetition to gain signatures to the letter (see text of letter below).

Last night I noticed an automated email thanking me for signing this petition.

I couldn’t recall signing it and presumed I must have somehow done it by mistake. Then this morning I got an automated follow-up email from Hannah Weisfeld, a Yachad director, thanking me for signing and asking me to get my friends to sign it and also asking me for money.

Looking through the other signatures I noticed Jonathan Hoffman’s name. But he told me that he hadn’t signed it either!

I have nothing against Yachad and wish them well in their search for “long-term security for Israel”, but their letter basically amounts to a call for Israel “to end the occupation”.

It’s a nice idea in fantasy, but in reality ending “the occupation” would lead to Hamas, with the help of Syria and Iran, unleashing destruction on Tel Aviv, and Israel in general, on a scale unseen for many years.

Yachad means well but following their cause won’t achieve anything worthwhile soon.

Oh, and please will someone remove my signature from the petition. Thanks.

Text of Yachad’s letter to the new Israeli Ambassador to the UK:

Dear Mr Ambassador,

We welcome you to the UK and the British Jewish community.

The British Jewish community has a long and proud connection to Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people and we care deeply about its future. Each day without a peace agreement makes this future less secure.

We stand behind the cross section of voices inside Israel – including former chiefs of staff, major generals, leading academics and intellectuals – who have spoken in support of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps. We believe the need to create a Palestinian state is urgent, and the best way to safeguard Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and internationally recognised borders.

We urge the Israeli government to do everything in its power to make this vision more, not less likely, through taking steps to end the occupation and heeding the calls to return to the negotiating table.

We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with you throughout your term of office here and hope you will ensure our message of support is passed to the government of Israel.

Yours Sincerely,