My last article spoke about a British MP who was harassed by the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, for daring to suggest that Israel’s leaders seemed happy to inflict on the Palestinians in Gaza the sort of thing that happened to Jews in the Holocaust of World War II.
Ms. Pollock called the MP’s remarks “offensive.” She also said the comparison was “inappropriate,” and that such “lazy and deliberate distortions have no place in British politics.”
Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, accused the MP of being “deeply offensive to the memory of the Holocaust” and “willfully ignorant of the actual situation in Gaza.”
A couple of comments at the end of the article caught my eye. A reader in Milwaukee observed:
“I thought there was freedom of speech in the UK. I didn’t realize that speakers had to have their comments vetted by Ms. Pollock to ensure she didn’t find them offensive. Her zeal in persecuting anyone who she believes is disrespecting the Holocaust only enhances the view of the UK as a puppet regime doing the bidding of Israel.”
Another said: “Friends of Israel groups should be banned in the UK along with their chief lobbyist BICOM. If our supine, pathetic MPs love apartheid Israel so much they should go and live there.”
Many MPs have been similarly bullied for talking out loud about Israel’s evil and lawless conduct. In one recent case, party bosses were browbeaten by Israel lobbyists into suspending their MP and appointing a task group to set down language rule to assess whether he was “salvageable” and re-educate him about Israel.
Furthermore, our standard watchdog has so far been indifferent to Israel’s stooges driving a coach and horses through the Seven Principles governing the behavior of those who hold public office.
Taking a stand
Six years ago twenty signatories, mostly senior professionals, wrote to the chairman of the Standards in Public Life committee about the undue influence of the Israel lobby at the heart of British government.
They received a dismissive note from an administrator, which included this statement:
“The Committee would not see this as encompassing the attitudes of British politicians towards foreign countries and governments, assuming that these did not imply relationships which amounted to improper behavior under existing corruption laws.”
Improper behavior, of course, was exactly what they were getting at.
The band of MPs wrote again:
“It seems perfectly clear to us that the Standards Committee is established to uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life is explained in our submission of 19 December, 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 Labour MPs and ministers. The Liberal Democrat FoI website brazenly states that its first aim is “to maximise support for the State of Israel within the Liberal Democrats and Parliament”, furthermore to “develop and maintain a broad-based LDFoI membership inside and outside of Parliament”. We are not discussing individuals, which you have suggested, but powerful groups within Government.
All MPs (and many parliamentary candidates) are subject to the lobby’s influence and a disturbingly large number have succumbed and actively 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.
We therefore fully expect our Standards ‘watchdog’ – at least those members of it who do not have a prejudicial interest – to act, and we are more than happy to meet with you to clarify any points at issue.”
The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is gathering a nice pace. It now needs to shift up a gear and widen its scope.Stuart Littlewood
They were later told the committee could not investigate individual cases.
So they wrote again.
“It had already been made clear that we are not asking the committee to investigate individual cases, or specific allegations of misconduct, so to be told yet again that the committee is precluded from doing so is perplexing.
You are now saying the subject is a matter of general policy for others but admit that the remit of the body you suggest (the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards) does not fit the circumstances. It is plain to us that the matter falls squarely within the Standards Committee’s remit.
The man in the street is entitled to look at the Seven Principles and say that the activities of lobbies like Friends of Israel are against the declared intentions, both in word and spirit, of the Principles. Otherwise what is the purpose of having them enshrined in the Committee’s constitution?
The aim of Friends of Israel is to promote the interests of Israel and its government, which is racist in its treatment of its own Arab population, the Palestinians and the Bedouin. MPs who align themselves with Israel are not acting in the public interest of the UK but against our own anti-racist laws.”
The letter also reminded the Standards Committee of George Washington’s wise words:
“Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all… 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.”
Falling on deaf ears
None of this was an attack on the Jewish community in Britain. It was about the activities of the Israel lobby – groups of political activists and MPs who are mostly non-Jews – and its support for a foreign government that has repeatedly defied United Nations resolutions and committed sickening war crimes.
The letter pointed to Secretary of State for Defense, Dr. Liam Fox, who was quoted on the Conservative FoI 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.”
Presumably Fox was speaking for all friends of Israel in the party that hoped to form the next government. They would have the parliament and the public believing that Israel’s enemy, Iran, must become Britain’s enemy.
How ironic that Fox was forced to resign as Defense Secretary in 2011 following scandalous goings-on between him, his ‘close friend’ Adam Werrity, the UK ambassador to Israel and Israeli intelligence figures allegedly involved in plotting sanctions against Iran.
The chairman, still ducking and weaving, replied:
“This Committee commented on lobbying in their first report in 1995 and re-addressed the issue, including the changes instigated by their first report, in a review in 2001. The Committee has no plans to review this area again in the near future.”
So the twenty citizens wearily batted the ball back into the committee’s court, saying there appeared to be nothing in the 1995 report relating to MPs and legislators representing the interests of foreign countries within parliament or placing themselves under the influence of a foreign country’s political lobby. Nor could they find any mention of it in the 2001 report. They asked for chapter and verse, but none was supplied.
And there the matter rests.
The tentacles of the Israel lobby had already reached into the inner sanctum of the committee; a body charged with guarding the morality of the nation’s public life.
Even today the Standards Committee includes the likes of Lord Bew, the chairman of the Anglo-Israel Association, which calls itself “a non-political charity facilitating informed debate and seeking to enrich the understanding of decision makers and opinion formers in the UK regarding developments in Israel and the Middle East,” the president of which is the Israeli ambassador.
The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is gathering a nice pace. It now needs to shift up a gear and widen its scope. Important elections are looming again: the European elections in a few months and the UK general election next year. Membership of Friends of Israel is said to be a stepping stone to high office in government.
It is also a pathway to being successfully selected as a parliamentary candidate in the first place. Many hopefuls are ‘groomed’ on the conveyor-belt through Tel Aviv’s propaganda cesspit long before becoming MPs. Agent William Hague, our beloved foreign secretary, was a member of Conservative Friends of Israel while a schoolboy and probably still in short trousers.
This time BDS needs to mobilize locally and nationally to challenge election candidates robustly on their membership of Friends of Israel. Party leaders deserve to be clobbered hard until they disband their sinister apartheid support groups. And the Committee on Standards in Public Life ought to be prodded into action by not just 20, but 20,000 signatories.
In case some readers are nervous about BDS and the hysterical claims that it is anti-Semitic, here is how respected Palestinianlawmaker, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, defines it:
“BDS is… a legal, moral and inclusive movement struggling against the discriminatory policies of a country that defines itself in religiously exclusive terms, and that seeks to deny Palestinians the most basic rights simply because we are not Jewish.”
Stuart Littlewood is a marketing specialist turned writer-photographer in the UK. He is a regular contributor to Al Arabiya English website and the author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.