Tuesday, May 31 2016

Peter Oborne on Britain's pro-Israel lobby: 'Friends in High Places'

 Peter Oborne, presenter of tonight's Dispatches documentary on the UK's pro-Israel lobby writes in the Guardian today, with James Jones, on issues that prompted the Dispatches investigation and what they learned.

Oborne and Jones ask:

What are the rules of British political behaviour that cause the Tory leader [David Cameron], his mass of MPs and parliamentary candidates to flock to the [Conservative] Friends of Israel lunch in the year of the Gaza invasion? And what are the rules of media discourse that ensure such an event passes without even being noticed?

Oborne and Jones refer on Cameron’s speech at the CFI lunch in June this year in which Cameron praised Israel for “striv[ing] to protect innocent life", while making no mention of the 1,400 Palestinians who were killed during Israel’s 22 day long savage bombardment of Gaza, events that have since been characterized by Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Council as war crimes.

Oborne and Jones, disclosing the findings of their documentary, state:

During an investigation lasting several months, we have been able to reach several important conclusions. We maintain there is indeed a pro-Israel lobby in Britain. It is extremely well-connected and well-funded, and works through all the main political parties.'

Jon Mendelsohn, a former chairman of LFI [Labour Friends of Israel] and now Gordon Brown's chief election fundraiser, was quoted in the Jerusalem Post as saying that "Zionism is pervasive in New Labour. It is automatic that Blair will come to Labour Friends of Israel meetings."

‘After Hague said Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006 was "disproportionate", there was an explosion among donors. Only a few weeks ago Hague, following CFI pressure, put out a statement demanding Britain reject the Goldstone resolution at the UN.’

The US pro-Israel lobby has been scrutinized for its influence over US foreign policy in the superb study by Professors Mearsheimer and Walt, ‘The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy’.

In tonight’s Dispatches programme Peter Oborne turns the lens on the UK’s own pro-Israel lobby and its far-reaching influence on British politics:

'The financial arrangements of a number of the organisations that form part of the pro-Israel lobby are by no means widely known. The pro-Israel lobby, in common with other lobbies, has every right to operate and indeed to flourish in Britain. But it needs to be far more open about how it is funded and what it does', he writes.

See also Ian Black in the Guardian today on the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on the Conservative party, 'Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Tories, film claims'.
Dispatches: 'Inside Britain's Israel Lobby' is on tonight on Channel 4 at 8pm.

Update: Read the accompanying pamphlet to the Dispatches programme, 'The pro-Israel lobby in Britain', also published on OpenDemocracy, here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 November 2009 11:36


0 #7 john 2009-11-17 20:32
Oborne's expose was a start.

Too many names not raised eg kim Howells and Lib Dems.

Anyhow, Thompson's Zionist corp. will not have such basic integrity.

Oh to be relieved of tax for fatcats of BBC.
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0 #6 dominic 2009-11-16 18:07
I applaud Peter Oborne's reporting of the 80% pro Israel bias within British politics & the media gagging tactics employed by the Israel lobby, which have hijacked the BBC's reporting to such an extent that the BBC refused to broadcast a humanitarian appeal, on the grounds that it would compromise their impartiality ( "their" impartiality in this matter being dictated by the Israel lobby's vociferous criticism that they are not impartial of course ).

The decision not to broadcast the appeal was made by the same man ( Mark Thompson ) who took the decision to invite BNP leader Nick Griffin on "Question Time"...his reasoning behind the decision was the same as his decision not to broadcast an appeal that may have saved & improved thousands of lives, ie. that the BBC would not be acting impartially.

Effectively, Thompson & the BBC hierarchy valued the rights of the leader of a quasi fascist far right political party more than the welfare of those people suffering in Palestine.

The documentary was careful to present the facts without reaching any conclusion. The only conclusion one can draw from the programme is that a powerful lobby of Zionists are seeking to actively influence, or rather control, both the political policy of the British government regarding Israel and the occupied territories & how the British media reports upon Israel & the occupied territories.
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0 #5 Lobby Fodderramm 2009-11-16 17:20

Peter Oborne, excoriating scourge of the British Political Class and conservative opponent of its wars, will use a television program tomorrow to break one of Britain’s great political taboos, namely that against mentioning the existence of our very own Israel Lobby. It will be interesting to see how far Channel Four, which is publicly owned though funded by advertizing, will let him go.

The Israel Lobby accounts for the overwhelming majority of newspapers sold in this newsprint-addicted country. It terrifies the life out of the broadcast media with its screaming about anti-Semitism if anything other than its own view is ever presented. It provided from the criminal sale of seats in the legislature much of the money necessary to create New Labour. It dominates Cameron’s Tories. And it remains much stronger in the Liberal Democrats than is often assumed. Most significantly of all, it embodies, just as it does in America, a secular Ashkenazi nationalist position which is not held by most Israelis, fewer and fewer of whom fall into all three of those categories.

How far are we paying for it? Oborne may be able to tell us. I very much hope that he is and does. But we know that the American taxpayer is ultimately footing the bill for the maintenance on your soil of, in such forms as AIPAC and the ADL, the largest spy network maintained by any country on the soil of any other, to which Presidential candidates are even expected to go and pay court. Will Obama bother to turn up in 2012? What would happen if he didn’t? The Christian Zionists (by no means all of the white Evangelicals, quite a number of whom voted for him anyway) would never vote for him, no matter what, so he wouldn’t be losing anything there. And the Jews, many of whom in any case do not agree with the Mossad position, mostly live in safely blue states.

At their respective heights, the British Empire and the Soviet Union ran large and powerful spy networks in the United States. But they were real powers. And, courtly as Britons and Russians can both be, we and they certainly did not have the sheer effrontery to charge you for the privilege of hosting those networks. Oh, the shame, the shame!
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0 #4 Fareed 2009-11-16 10:38
MPACUK are live blogging this tonight, It should be fun.
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0 #3 Back to the originRaymond 2009-11-16 10:00
There is no escape from bringing things back to Israel and Muslims. Isreal is at the heart of most of the injustices Muslims face, not only in Israel, but all over the world. They manipulate most if not all western politicians in favour of Israeli and against Muslims. Even Obama has been prepared by Zionists to dupe the Muslim world. I just been reading a eye-opening article by someone in Oxford. Its a long report but worth every minute. See it here: http://www.occri.org.uk/Articles/Obama-Aqsa.htm
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0 #2 Very intelligent lobbyingIlluminati 2009-11-16 09:47
I thought this passage from the pamphlet was just incredible and reveals the very intelligent thinking of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobby group. Streets ahead of any comparable Muslim organisations.

'On studying donations to Conservative Constituency offices before the 2005 election a pattern emerges. A group of donors, all with strong connections to pro-Israel groups, (almost all are on the board of the CFI) made donations of between £2,000 and £5,000 either personally or through their companies to the constituency offices of certain Conservative candidates.

The donors involved include Trevor Pears, a property magnate, who has sat on the BICOM board, used to sit on the CFI board, and has donated to Cameron in the past; Lord Steinberg, vice-president of Conservative Friends of Israel and sponsor of Stuart Polak in parliament; Michael Lewis, a South African businessman and deputy chairman of BICOM who was formerly on the Board of CFI; three or four other prominent members of the CFI. The method of donation – medium-sized sums to constituency offices often through companies rather than personal names – means that connections to the CFI or other pro-Israel group are by no means obvious. These donors may never have met the candidates, nor stepped foot, let alone actually live, in the constituency, but were happy to make donations. All candidates in these constituencies either won the seat or came close. Interestingly, in constituencies where the Conservative candidate stood little chance, the CFI made the £2,000 donation themselves.'
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0 #1 Mousey 2009-11-16 07:45
I was reading the comment piece in the JC about this documentary last week and something that struck me for its irony was the allusion that this documentary was in some way quid pro quo for the earlier Dispatches programmes on Muslims and mosques in the UK.

There seems to be some mistaken belief that Dispatches is somehow trying to even out the score rather than accept that mosques in the UK and the pro-Israel lobby are legitimate targets for investigation.

Bright once wrote, I think in the Guardian, of why Muslims always bring things back to Israel. Might Muslims ask the same: why pro-Israel lobbyists bring things back to Muslims?
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