| ||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.
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