By Stuart Littlewood – London
Last night Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’ program set out to investigate the pro-Israel lobby in Britain, and to boldly go where no TV team had gone before.
On the Dispatches website we were told that the lobby "aims to shape the debate about Britain’s relationship with Israel and future foreign policies relating to it".
So the program (Watch video here) would be looking at "who they are, how they are funded, how they work and what influence they have, from the key groups to the wealthy individuals who help bankroll the lobbying".
Political commentator Peter Oborne would explain how accountable, transparent and open to scrutiny the lobby was, particularly regarding its funding and financial support to MPs.
So it was with mounting excitement that countless thousands of citizens here in an increasingly Zionist-ruled Britain awaited the screening of this daring program. Some of the reader comments on the Dispatches website showed the expectant mood …
"Finally someone will take this issue on. British politicians should represent Britain not a foreign interest."
"I expect the usual accusations of anti-semistism of any attempt to show Israel in its true light."
"I hope the program would expose how lobbyists for Israel trample over the UK democratic process. I expect Oborne to expose the destructive role of the Labor Friends of Israel in British politics, but I hope he won’t stop there."
"The Zionist Lobby counts many British politicians in its ranks where they function as a fifth column in support of Israel’s illegal actions."
"I live in hope but I doubt this program will truly unmask the Israel lobby that has played a critical role in destabilizing the Middle East…"
"Expect numerous cries of "anti-semitism". Le’ts hope the program doesn’t pull its punches."
"We have tried for years to have this shadowy support mechanism for Israel exposed. Please do not allow this program to be pulled. Please do a proper exposé of all aspects…"
"It won’t change anything. Most of the British public are too stupid to realize how important this program is." Mr Oborne reported that a large majority of Conservative MPs and half the shadow cabinet are signed-up Friends of Israel, and £millions flow into the bank accounts of MPs and parties although only a fraction of these “contributions” is visibly accounted for.
As Sir Richard Dalton, a former British diplomat who served as consul-general in Jerusalem, observed: "I don’t believe, and I don’t think anybody else believes these contributions come with no strings attached."
Mr Oborne showed how Labor and Conservative Friends of Israel take dozens of MPs on free trips to Israel, where they are guests of the Israeli government.
He showed how one of the Conservative Party’s big donors has vested interests in illegal settlement development in the West Bank and in Bicom, an Israeli public affairs outfit, and how the party’s leadership is prey to foreign pressure.
Assuming the Conservatives win next year’s election Israel can rest easy in the knowledge that it continues to have sufficient stooges in place at the heart of our government.
Just as importantly, Mr Oborne showed how the BBC – or the ZBC, as it has become known for obvious reasons – allows itself to be relentlessly bullied by the Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation who, the program pointed out, don’t represent anybody except an extremists section of the Jewish community.
But he forgot to tell us that director-general Mark Thompson has Zionist links through marriage and Thompson himself went to Israel in 2005 to "build bridges" with the then prime minister Ariel Sharon, considered by many a war criminal and mass murderer.
Interesting though the program was, it left out too much. For example, it didn’t name and shame enough individuals. It didn’t tell the nation that our most important security bodies – the Intelligence & Security Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Defense Committee – are all headed by Israel flag-wavers. How can that possibly be in our national interest?
It didn’t reveal that our Labor and Conservative leaders are both patrons of the Jewish National Fund or explain the sinister purpose of that organization.
According to Mr Oborne, ”the pro-Israel lobby, in common with other lobbies, has every right to operate and indeed to flourish in Britain. But… the present obscurity surrounding it can, paradoxically, give rise to conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact.” However, he spent the best part of an hour convincing us (well me, anyway) it is indeed a conspiracy and a very large and well organized one.
He didn’t mention that two years ago a group of individuals asked the Committee on Standards in Public Life to investigate the undue influence of the Friends of Israel lobbies.
Their main argument was that the lobbies existed in contravention of the Seven Principles of Public Life, which the Standards Committee had been formed to uphold. Some of those who signed the letter believed the strength of these alliances should be seen as bordering on treason.
They put it to the Standards Committee that "the activities of the Israel lobby in Westminster seriously undermine a number of those Principles as defined by the Committee itself, namely Selflessness, Integrity, Accountability, Openness and Honesty.
"A large majority of Conservative MPs and MEPs are Friends of Israel. The lobby also claims a very large number of Labor MPs and ministers. The Liberal Democrat FoI website brazenly states that its first aim is to maximize support for the State of Israel within the Liberal Democrats and Parliament, furthermore to develop and maintain a broad-based LDFI membership inside and outside of Parliament…
“All MPs (and many parliamentary candidates) are exposed to the lobby’s influence and a disturbingly large number apparently carry its message into their parliamentary work, causing great damage to our parliamentary democracy, harm to Britain’s reputation throughout the world and risk to our security because a just solution in the Holy Land is excluded by such partisanship."
They even quoted George Washington: "The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils."
But their concerns were rejected out of hand. Not surprisingly it was found that the Israel lobby had infiltrated the Standards Committee itself. Who could be summoned to investigate that?
Peter Oborne and the Dispatches team get an encouraging two cheers from me. It was a brave effort which went halfway and will no doubt draw considerable flak from Israel’s hirelings and admirers. A wholehearted third cheer will be earned if they go back and finish the job.
In the meantime it would be no bad thing if all our Westminster politicians had the Second Principle of Public Life tattooed on their forehead – Integrity: Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties. (Note to tattooist: Apply back-to-front so that they can read it every morning when they look in the mirror.)
– Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.