By Stuart Littlewood – London
UK politicians are currently reeling from a public lashing for fiddling their expenses big-time. Such is their arrogance that many, when confronted with their crimes, don’t see that they have done anything wrong.
The guilty ones who step down will be further enriched with a lavish re-settlement allowance and a big pension pot.
To appease voters’ anger Parliament and Government are now promising anti-sleaze reforms. They are calling on the impressive-sounding Committee on Standards in Public Life to investigate and make recommendations. Conservative leader David Cameron, who has expectations of becoming the next British prime minister, talks of purging his party of its cheats and racketeers.
But swindling the taxpayer over MPs’ expenses is nothing compared to other corruption that’s rife in Westminster. It is said that becoming a Friend of Israel is a necessary stepping-stone to high office. As a result supporters of that foreign power are embedded at all levels in the fabric of British political life and at the heart of the Government.
Eighteen months ago a group of concerned academics wrote to the Standards Committee complaining about Israel’s “deep penetration” of our political system and how it prevented Britain from taking a principled stand on Middle East affairs, including the Iraq war and the never-ending violations of Palestinian human rights. They asked the committee to consider the activities of the Friends of Israel as a matter for urgent investigation.
The chairman, Sir Christopher Kelly, refused. Why? He wouldn’t say. But some members of his committee were found to have close links with Friends of Israel. Even this inner sanctum of British correctness and fair play is compromised.
Integrity is Lacking
One of the Seven Principles of Public Life, and perhaps the most important, is 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.” That’s plain enough for even a schoolboy to understand.
Yet the authorities turn a blind eye to the various Israel Lobby organizations, which go to great lengths to influence not only those in power but those wishing to achieve power in the future. Conservative Friends of Israel claim that with over 2,000 members and registered supporters, alongside 80 percent of the Conservative MPs, it has become the largest affiliated group in the party.
Its website states that the CFI, in the run-up to the last general election, supported candidates up and down the country. “As candidates are now being continuously selected for target seats, CFI has developed a special program of weekly briefings, events with speakers and a chance to participate in delegations to Israel. CFI encourages all members to help campaign for parliamentary candidates and also for local council, London and European elections.”
It also ‘fast-tracks’ candidates fighting target marginal seats. Senior Conservatives try to justify the turning of would-be MPs into Zionist stooges by insisting that Israel is “a force for good in the world” and that in the battle for democratic liberal values against repression “Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together…”
A top Conservative Friend of Israel confidently predicted there would be no investigation by the Standards Committee, his cocksure attitude adding to the view that his like are a protected species within the Westminster village.
Security and Defence Are Undermined
But there are deadly serious consequences. The Israel Lobby is even more heavily represented at the centre of Britain’s security establishment since the appointment of Kim Howells, formerly minister in charge of Middle East affairs and a one-time chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, to the chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee.
This committee has oversight of the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee and the Intelligence and Security Secretariat, which includes the Assessment Staff in the Cabinet Office. The committee also takes evidence from the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS), part of the Ministry of Defence.
These people have access to highly classified material. How can we trust them? Another member of the committee is Sir Alan Beith, president of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, whose aims and objectives are stated thus:
To maximize support for the State of Israel not only within the Liberal Democrats but within Parliament itself.
To influence the party’s Middle East policy.
To liaise with Israeli politicians and government.
To provide parliamentarians with briefing material for parliamentary debates, questions to ministers and public appearances.
To rebut attacks on Israel in the media, Parliament and the party.
To arrange and accompany Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel delegations to Israel.
To keep in regular contact with the Embassy of Israel.
Other pro-Israel groups have similar objectives.
British citizens would horrified to know that Zionist tentacles have spread everywhere in Westminster and our most important security bodies – the Intelligence & Security Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Defence Committee – are all chaired by Israel flag-wavers. They inhibit a proper British response on issues such as the cruel and unlawful blockade of Gaza, and more recently the twenty-two days of lethal terror unleashed by Israel in an attempt to crush the trapped and half-starved men, women and children of the Gaza Strip.
Cameron has painted himself into a corner by declaring he’s a Zionist, leaving one to wonder if he actually knows the meaning of the word and all the nastiness it implies. His ideas about the situation in the Middle East seem confused. Take this gem: "The West has to understand that there isn’t an equivalence between a democratically elected Government of Israel, a state of Israel that is a democracy, that’s a member of the United Nations, that has a totally legitimate right to exist and defend itself – there is no equivalence between that and a group like Hamas…"
Hamas was democratically elected in 2006. Why not acknowledge and respect that? Israel, of course, is no western style democracy but a racist ethnocracy. It flouts dozens of UN resolutions and defies international law. Its every act is designed to make the illegal occupation permanent and realize the Zionist dream of a ‘Greater Israel’ at the expense of world peace.
The Israeli cabinet has just approved a draft law to ban Palestinians from marking the Nakba – the "catastrophe" of 1948 widely regarded as the Palestinians’ holocaust, when the state of Israel was declared and some 700,000 were subjected to an Israeli campaign of terror and ethnic cleansing, and subsequently lost their homes and lands… including the land on which the much-mentioned town of Sderot was later built. To this day, they and their descendants, an estimated 4.5 million, have been denied the right to return to their homes.
And the Israeli gestapo this week closed down the Palestine Festival of Literature, sponsored by the British Council. Does any of this sound like the work of a democratic government, Mr. Cameron? Do you seriously think your party is fit to govern if it aligns with an apartheid regime that has no regard for the rights of others or for the sanctity of human life, and uses depleted uranium and white phosphorus bombs against civilians in densely populated areas?
Did you and your colleagues learn nothing from Gaza 2009?
And how does it look, standing shoulder to shoulder with religious fanatics who horribly persecute the Christian communities in the Holy Land? Why do you condemn Palestinian resistance when Israelis are killing Palestinians at the rate of nearly 12 to 1? Why insist that they “recognize” Israel while Israel’s boot is on their necks?
Prime minister Gordon Brown’s conduct is equally odd. Brown, like Blair before him, also seems indifferent to the 90 years of British betrayal and the Palestinians’ present plight. He was "delighted" when invited to become a patron of the Jewish National Fund in the UK. Set up to help establish a Jews-only state in Arab Palestine, the JNF is a principal tool for Israel’s program of land theft. The JNF’s constitution requires it to benefit Jews exclusively, therefore it promotes and implements policies that discriminate against the Arab population of Israel.
The JNF stands accused of ethnic cleansing, the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages and the expropriation of Palestinian land on a massive scale – war crimes in anyone’s language. And yet… can you believe it…Cameron too has become a patron.
It is not enough for party leaders to sack a few scoundrels, reduce a few perks and claim to have cleaned up the system. There’s a mountain of mucking out to do before the British parliamentary system can call itself ‘fit for purpose’.
– 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.