By Stuart Littlewood – London
It’s been one atrocity after another, so you’d think that Israel’s cheer-leaders scattered about the upper echelons of the British Establishment would have the decency to keep quiet and “consider their position”.
But no. In the wake of the Free Gaza flotilla hi-jacking this letter appeared in The Daily Telegraph…
“We must not forget what Hamas, which controls Gaza, stands for: it is intent on violence, smuggles arms, colludes with other rogue states, and thumbs its nose at the international community.
“To achieve long-term security in the region, Hamas must accept the Quartet Principles – to renounce violence, accept the existence of Israel, and abide by previous agreements.
“Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and the West have a shared interest in preventing Hamas from being strengthened, ensuring that a moderate national unity government is established in Gaza and the West Bank, and supporting ordinary Palestinians to secure a two-state solution.
“The international community must be very careful not to do anything that emboldens Hamas to pursue its course of aggression and rejection. To hand such a propaganda coup to Hamas would pave the way for future conflict. Hamas needs to know that the British Government will not reward its terror tactics, and that getting it to abide by the Quartet Principles will form the core of our policy.
James Clappison MP (Con)
David Amess MP (Con)
James Arbuthnot MP (Con)
Bob Blackman MP (Con)
David Burrowes MP (Con)
Douglas Carswell MP (Con)
Mike Freer MP (Con)
Robert Halfon MP (Con)
Gareth Johnson MP (Con)
Stephen Metcalfe MP (Con)
Matthew Offord MP (Con)
It’s OK, of course, for the British Government to reward Israel for its terror tactics… These MPs would paint a much truer picture if they substituted Israel for Hamas.
Who are they anyway? Never heard of them? Don’t be surprised. With 650 MPs in the UK parliament it is easy to vanish into the woodwork. Some have been there for years and never been noticed. But the name Robert Halfon gives the game away. He is former political director of the Conservative Friends of Israel. James Arbuthnot is chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel and, worryingly, chairman of the Defence Select Committee. It would seem therefore that the rest of the group are similarly allied to the Israel admiration society.
What they propose is certainly no path to peace but a sure way of keeping strife on the boil, which is Israel’s true purpose, as we’ve seen these last 62 years.
They clearly don’t respect Palestinian democracy or humans rights but they love Israel’s racist ethnocracy. They still enthusiastically bat for Israel regardless of its long crime-sheet, even thought doing so puts British interests and British citizens in danger.
A hundred years ago people siding with a foreign power at British expense could have found themselves swinging by the neck. Three hundred years ago they risked their heads on pikes for what used to be called treason.
And now Israel has invited Conservative Lord David Trimble to become an independent observer [suppressed laughter] in its self-appointed inquiry into the piratical assault on the Mavi Marmara, in which at least 9 aid workers were murdered. As it happens, Trimble has just joined the odious Bolton to launch the "Friends of Israel Initiative," a new project to counter attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel.
Trimble is remembered for his connection with the fanatical and extremist Orangemen Order in Northern Ireland. As a member of the Henry Jackson Society he now hob-nobs with the likes of Robert Halfon.
A flagship publication of the society, The British Moment, calls for a new way of thinking about British foreign, security and defence policy and argues that it is time for Britain, and indeed the rest of Europe, to reclaim the tradition of interventionism across the globe. This is generally taken to mean the bully-boys can cook up daft excuse (like a country not having western-style democratic government) to help themselves to the world’s goodies – like Iraqi and Iranian oil and Afghanistan’s mineral wealth.
The British Parliament now has so many Zionists and Friends of Israel that these admirers of the rogue state are still swinging from the chandeliers despite the non-stop killing sprees, mega-maiming and wholesale destruction.
Over in the Labour camp there’s a struggle going on for the party leadership. Interest is centred on the Miliband brothers, front-runner David (former foreign secretary) and Ed. The prospect eventually of a Jewish prime minister after the Zionists Brown and Blair is too depressing. Is the Labour party really going to saddle us with that?
The Conservatives meanwhile are bulging with Israeli flag wavers. The prime minister David Cameron, has declared himself a Zionist. His foreign secretary and defence secretary are both leading Friends of Israel. Indeed, 80 percent of Conservative MPs and MEPs are thought to belong to the pro-Israel lobby, according to a recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme.
After recent scandals the British people have been promised a major clean-up of politics. In the pipeline are constitutional changes that will give voters power to force an MP who engages in serious wrongdoing to face another election. All they’ll need is the backing of 10 per cent of constituents in a petition.
As well as the power to get rid of corrupt MPs, changes include a clamp-down on lobbying in Parliament, a statutory register of lobbyists and a clean-up of party funding.
But could any of this bring an end to infiltration by agents of a foreign power?
The three main political parties in the UK each have a ‘Friends of Israel’ lobby organisation that ensures pro-Israel members are embedded at all key levels in Parliament and government. These adherents to another flag inhibit the government when it comes to taking a principled stand on issues such as Israel’s murderous and unlawful blockade of Gaza and continuing illegal occupation of the West Bank.
As the parties show no sign of cleansing themselves of these obnoxious groups, an obvious way of dealing with them would, in theory, be to engage the Committee on Standard in Public Life, a standing committee which says that ‘Seven Principles’ should apply to everyone in the public service. These are:
Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
Integrity: Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
Objectivity: In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
Openness: Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
Honesty: Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
Leadership: Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
I produce them here in full because they are a beacon of good practice and a splendid basis on which to build solid and reliable government. These principles are now included in the Ministerial Code, a document setting out "rules" and standards for government ministers.
So why aren’t they enforced? Especially the one about Integrity?
In 2005 it was reported that the UK Government was considering bringing prosecutions for treason against a number of British Islamic clerics who had publicly spoken positively about acts of terrorism against civilians in Britain, or attacks on British soldiers abroad. That does not seem a million miles away from speaking encouragingly about Israeli thugs carrying out acts of lethal violence against peaceful activists, including British nationals, in international waters.
The Standards Committee is essentially a parliamentary sleaze watchdog, but two years ago it turned down a request by a group of 20 top academics, surgeons and others to investigate the influence of Israel lobby organisations like Friends of Israel at the heart of British government.
The group maintained that "the man in the street is entitled to look at the Seven Principles of Public Life and say that the activities of lobbies like Friends of Israel are against the intentions, both in word and spirit, of those Principles“.
No-one will be surprised to learn that the sleaze watchdog had itself been infiltrated by Friends of Israel. The Jewish Chronicle reported a "smear" on Israel lobby MPs, one of whom suggested that if the Committee failed to investigate it might be accused of being part of a Jewish conspiracy. But the then political director of Conservative Friends of Israel, none other than Mr Haflon, confidently predicted there would be no investigation, his cocksure attitude leading one to suppose that he and others of similar persuasion were a protected species within the Westminster village.
There wasn’t an investigation; and they are.
At the time Liam Fox, now Defence Secretary, was quoted on the Conservative Friends of Israel website as saying: "…We must remember that in the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression – Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together or we will all fall divided.”
Dr David Halpin, a trauma surgeon who had led a team of 7 UK doctors to Gaza, said: "Dr Fox presumably speaks for all Friends of Israel in the party that hopes to form the next government. He would have Parliament and the public believe that Israel’s enemy, Iran, must become Britain’s enemy. Such dangerous and irresponsible nonsense could lead this country to disaster.”
That is even truer today. The group observed that British people should not have to tolerate dual allegiance in their Parliament and Government, since obviously it put national security at risk.
Today, the Jerusalem Post reports that a study by B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organisation, shows that 95 per cent of Gaza’s factories are closed, 93 per cent of the water is polluted and Israel’s blockade has caused an economic collapse. B’Tselem’s executive director Jessica Montell sums up by saying that the ongoing occupation both violates Palestinian rights and poses clear dangers for Israel’s democracy. "For this reason we as Israelis must demand accountability for actions taken in our name in the occupied territories and work to change policies that infringe human rights.”
Words are simply not adequate to describe those who perpetrated this evil and those who encourage, support and cheer from the sidelines like the stooges hiding behind the respectable trappings of Westminster.
We’ll have to see whether our bright new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government really means to abolish sleaze, as it says, or is just a ‘big girl’s blouse’ – a bunch of wimps – when action is needed.
– Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.