Pam Barker | Director of the TLB Europe Reloaded Project
Yesterday, we looked at parts 1 and 2 of the Al Jazeera series, “The Lobby”, which examines the influence of the Israel lobby on the British government. Of particular concern to the Israel lobby currently is the stance of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is openly pro-Palestinian, and the pro-Palestinian movement BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions).
In Part 3 today (below), we see the Israeli ambassador Mark Regev (pictured) at the Blackpool Labour Party conference advising his operatives on how to present a convincing argument to those Labour members who support the BDS movement. We also witness a conversation between a pro-Palestinian Labour Party member, Jean and MP Joan Ryan, Chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, in which a perfectly practical question on implementing the two-state solution MP Joan Ryan claims to support turns into a charge of anti-semitism against Jean.
Two things become clear: people in the Israel lobby are highly attuned to any type of critical comment made against them, and seek to charge others with this perceived offense. Yet it is equally clear that they aren’t certain about what constitutes an anti-semitic remark in the first place.
In part 4 we witness the restaurant conversation in which it becomes clear the extent to which Israeli government operatives are influencing individual UK politicians by writing speeches for them, giving them questions to ask at Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQT) on Wednesdays in Parliament, etc. As the parliamentary officer says, if you hand them a question to ask or a speech to give, they can’t get out of it by saying they have no time.
Which leads one to ask, why can’t these MPs simply refuse? The pressure is clearly on MPs, however, to toe their own party line, which is to support Israel unquestioningly, especially in the British Conservative Party.
Veteran journalist Peter Oborne (pictured) complains that British foreign policy in the Middle East must surely be shaped by the lobby’s influence among the Conservative Friends of Israel group.
The restaurant conversation also reveals the idea of taking down Sir Alan Duncan, who works under Boris Johnson as Deputy Foreign Secretary and is very vocal about giving Palestinians their own state.
In addition to the Israeli embassy, AIPAC is shown as a powerful, very direct influence on London operatives in terms of both funding and policy. Its aim is to turn the UK into as much of a friend of Israel as the US is, in contradistinction to Europe.
It is indeed hard to see how their behavior doesn’t conform to the UK intelligence services’ definition of espionage, as seeking to influence the opinion of decision makers in the interests of a foreign power.
As some in the video observe, the recent fuss about anti-semitism in the Labour Party has been fueled as an attack on Corbyn, which makes you wonder about the feverish level of criticism Corbyn faced from within his own party after the Brexit vote failed to deliver the outcome the Labour Party wanted. What criticism of Corbyn could ever again be taken as genuine? What approach to the Middle East by Theresa May and Boris Johnson can be seen as an autonomous decision of a sovereign power?
Enjoy parts 3 and 4.
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