Tag Archives: Seumas Milne

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

Muslim Brotherhood’s Dr Kamal El-Helbawy defines who is a Jew, and who isn’t.

Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, Andrew Murray, Seumas Milne at the SOAS Respect meeting.

Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, Andrew Murray, Seumas Milne at the SOAS Respect meeting.

When I went to SOAS on Sunday for the Respect Party’s public meeting Where now for Egypt and the Middle East?, chaired by The Guardian’s Seumas Milne, I didn’t expect a sermon on who is, and who is not, a Jew.

Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, Chair of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and former speaker for the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, was updating us on the political situation in Egypt as he saw it. He welcomed the fact that 75% of the new Egyptian parliament was now Islamic, but said that he hoped for increased Coptic Christian participation and the promotion of women.

The Muslim Brotherhood isn’t especially keen on Jews. For example, Hamas, the Brotherhood’s subsidiary in Gaza, remembers us in their Charter by calling for us to be killed.

However, Dr Kamal El-Helbawy seemed to be concentrating on Egypt’s pressing internal issues. Could this be a new Egypt; a Light Unto the Arab nations, I thought? Fifteen minutes into his speech and Dr Kamal El-Helbawy still hadn’t mentioned Israel and the Palestinians.

Finally, Dr Kamal El-Helbawy, a self-proclaimed scholar of comparative religion, introduced the subject as follows (see clip 1 below):

“I have Jewish friends who are really Jewish. They stay with me, they eat with me, they sleep with us at home. Who are real friends. Like Neturei Karta people. Like Dovid Weiss and hundreds of others, who are real Jews. And we respect them and we love them. We are brothers in humanity if not in religion. But unfortunately the ones we have in Israel, the Zionists, are not Jews. I am happy with what usually my dear brother George Galloway says ‘atheist Jews’. Even I say they are Zionists. They have nothing, nothing at all related to Jewish religion. Moses did not order people to kill each other and the Christ did not ask people to kill each other or colonise each other or destroy each other or stop, for example, Iran doing good research in atomic energy.”

During the Q&A I said I thought it disrespectful of him to tell us who is, and who isn’t, Jewish and that just because one might disagree with someone’s political view shouldn’t make anyone less of a Muslim, Jew or Christian for it. To applause he responded (see clip 2 below):

“I have 100% right to define. I am a scholar of comparative religion as well. And I understand, and I have many friends who are Jews, and I don’t believe that the Nobel Laureate Peres is a Jew at all, is a Jew. Who is a Jew is the one who follows Moses, peace be upon Him. Who’s a Christian is the one who follows Jesus Christ, peace upon Him. Who is a Muslim is the one who follows Muhammad the Prophet, peace be upon Him. So it is not difficult to define who is a Jew and can measure who is a Jew, who is not. If you kill you are not a Jew, because Moses did not ask you to kill people. If you ousted them from their lands and houses and destroy them you are not a Jew.”

Meanwhile, Gorgeous George described (see clip 3) the Balfour Declaration as “142 words that have produced nearly a hundred years of misery and disaster in the Middle East” before continuing:

“Mark Sykes hated Jews. He was a vicious, foul anti-Semite, but he loved Israel and he loved the idea of Israel. Like so many he saw Zionism as a means of ensuring that he would never have to look at Jewish people on the streets of London. He talked openly about ‘we’ll be able to clean the East End of London if we can create Israel and, by one means or another, encourage or otherwise, the Jews of the East End of London to go and live in Palestine’. He hated Arabs also who he described as venal and lazy.”

Amid all this fascination with Jews Galloway, Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND, and Andrew Murray, founder of the Stop The War Coalition, rejected all types of outside intervention in the affairs of Syria instead calling for the revolution to be allowed to take place from the ground upwards on the basis that there had never been an example of outside intervention working effectively in the Middle East and that such intervention always took place out of pure self-interest.

Clip 1: Dr Kamal El-Helbawy discusses Israel and the Palestinians

Clip 2: Dr Kamal El-Helbawy responds to criticism of his definition of Jews

Clip3: George Galloway on Mark Sykes and more

Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury: “Many Jews may be deeply prejudiced”

Banned! The (blurred) photo of Lord Phillips they didn't want you to see.

Banned! The (blurred) photo of Lord Phillips they didn't want you to see.

“The Jews” were once again singled out by one of our lawmakers last night in the shape of Lord Andrew Phillips. Not Israel, not Israelis, not Israeli Jews, but “the Jews”.

Phillips was chairing a Middle East Monitor event at Senate House; The Palestine Papers: Under the Spotlight.

Lord Phillips has form. He has not denied that he previously said that “America is in the grip of the well-organised Jewish lobby”.

Kathleen Christison, former CIA political analyst and author of Palestine in Pieces, told us how Obama is unbelievably craven in the face of the Israel lobby.

The example she gave was last friday’s US veto of the UN resolution on the illegality of settlements when Susan Rice, America’s UN ambassador, told the UN that America thought the settlements are illegal but America couldn’t vote for the resolution because the Israeli lobby and Israel wouldn’t like it. Lord Phillips responded (listen to audio at end):

“Everything I hear from the platform speakers makes me think that the world we are now moving into has been turned upside down and that, er, the Jews aren’t lacking in intelligence, they may be deeply prejudiced, many of them, but they are going to be saying the same sort of thing as you on the panel are saying. It seems to me that it is not at all safe to rely on the past to interprete the future and that American, indeed American Jewry, quite apart from the progressive elements within Israel, who have been overshadowed in recent years, all of this could change quickly and rapidly in the face of a Middle East that suddenly becomes hostile.”

The anti-Israel rhetoric was slightly diluted due to the absence of Clare Short (broken bone) and Seumas Milne (ill). Some might call it divine intervention but Christosen more than made up for their absence.

Christosen told us that everything America does in the Middle East it does to safeguard Israel from its Arab and Muslim neighbours who don’t like Israel’s treatment of its subjects.

She said that the Palestine Papers showed that the Palestinian Authority treated the Palestinians with humiliating derision and that America represents Israel in negotiations despite claiming to be an honesy broker: “The Palestine Papers laid bare the Israel-America relationship in all its obscenity”.

She said that people can’t even mention Israel in America for fear of being called “anti-Semitic”. Lord Phillips agreed. He said it was like McCarthyism and a good way to silence people. “We have a bit of that starting here, I’m afraid,” he said.

In answer to a question on the viablitity of the one state solution Christosen felt it was “the only just solution” and called for the dismantling of Israel as an “exclusivist Jewish state” and for the “Jewish exclusivist government” to be dismantled. But, she said, she had nothing against Jews as individuals.

Even J Street came in for criticism from her because its logo is “Pro Israel, Pro Peace”.

Tim Llewellyn, a former BBC Middle East correspondent, said he supported boycotts. He said that if Israel wants to be accepted as a European state it must be told that it is a pariah state: “The government is uncivilised and Israelis who support it take part in that uncivilisation. Israel is a rogue state in the Middle East,” he said.

Clayton Swisher, an Al Jazeera reporter, felt sanctions won’t work because the EU and America are feckless but the Arabs could make it difficult for Israelis as many travel on Arab airlines and if, after looking at their passports, they find they live in the settlements they should not allow them to travel.

The only conciliatory voice came from Oliver McTernan, director of Forward Thinking, who felt that sanctions were hypocritical as he has worked to remove the sanctions against Gaza. He also felt that the price of the one state solution would be too great, although he thought that Hamas should be brough into the negotiating process.

The story of the photo above was that we were told that there was to be no photography or filming unless authorised. There were about four or five photographers and the event was being filmed. Towards the end, and in light of the comments by Lord Phillips, I thought I would try to sneak a photo after seeing a woman behind me taking one on her IPhone.

But as I snapped away I was surrounded by two men from the World Ju-Jitsu Federation who stopped me, one of whom snatched by audio recorder and wanted my camera also. I managed to grab back the recorder.

So there we were in a British University discussing the leaked Palestine Papers, which have basically killed off any hope of peace in the Middle East for a generation, listening to a rant about Jews from one of our lawmakers, yet I was harassed when wanting to take one lousy photograph of the event (which came out blurred anyway).

Lord Phillips talks about “the Jews” at 12 minutes.