The corridors of power at Westminster are swarming with Israel supporters, even though the British public has little sympathy for the rogue regime.
The Israel lobby has now achieved a dangerous numerical advantage at the heart of Britain's security establishment thanks to 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.
The nine members of the committee are:
Dr Kim Howells MP (Chair)
Michael Ancram MP
Sir Alan Beith MP
Mr Ben Chapman MP
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
George Howarth MP
Michael Mates MP
Richard Ottaway MP
Ms Dari Taylor MP
These people have access to highly classified material. So who are they and why should we trust them? Sir Alan Beith, for example, presides over the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, whose aims and objectives are:
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 Friends of Israel groups have a similar agenda. Labour Friends of Israel seeks to strengthen the bond between the British and Israeli Labour parties and organizes meetings between senior figures, officials and the grassroots in both countries. Lord Foulkes is on the Labour Friends of Israel’s policy committee and employs an assistant with a Hebrew name. Dari Taylor is also a member. In Parliament she has voted against a transparent Parliament, for the Iraq war and against investigating the Iraq war.
Michael Ancram, a Conservative heavyweight, calls himself a “longstanding friend of Israel”. Conservative Friends of Israel claim around 80 per cent of the party’s MPs and MEPs and tries to justify their devotion to Israel by quoting party leader, David Cameron, who says Israel is '"a force for good in the world", and Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox, who maintains 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..."
Should people with such leanings be allowed anywhere near British national security? Are we supposed to believe there are no links to Israeli intelligence?
In the US, under an Act approved by Robert Kennedy in 1962, the US Department of Justice was keen to register the American Zionist Council (the parent organization of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, a sort of “big sister” to the British and European Friends of Israel groupings) as the foreign agent of Israel and publicly disclose it activities. But after Robert Kennedy's departure from the Department of Justice the American Zionist Council and AIPAC were largely let off the hook.
However the Israeli threat to security continues, as this from the Institute for Research’s Middle Eastern policy unit in Washington D.C. shows:
August 4, 2005, Col Lawrence Franklin was indicted alongside two executives of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for allegedly violating the 1917 Espionage Act. Franklin later pleaded guilty to passing AIPAC a classified presidential directive and secrets concerning America's Iran policy. AIPAC then allegedly forwarded the highly sensitive information to Israeli government officials and select members of Washington's media establishment. This covert leaking appears to be just one of many AIPAC programs designed to encourage tougher US policies toward Iran, from financial boycotts to naval blockades and possibly even military strikes. Lawrence Franklin was sentenced to 12 years in prison…
Could that sort of thing happen here in Britain? Is it already happening?
If so, it’s useless complaining. The Committee on Standards in Public Life is pledged to uphold the high-minded principles under which our democracy operates. One of those principles 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”.
It is said that becoming a Friend of Israel is a necessary stepping stone to high office – such is the integrity of British politics. Nearly a year ago a group of academics and others wrote to the Standards Committee complaining that “Israel’s deep penetration of our political system apparently prevents Britain from taking a principled stand on Middle East matters, including the violations of Palestinian human rights”. They invited the committee to consider the activities of the Friends of Israel as a matter for urgent investigation. The chairman refused. Three members of the committee were found to have close links with Friends of Israel – yes, they even have this “inner sanctum” of British correctness and fair play covered.
In the meantime, European Friends of Israel is holding its first policy conference in Paris, where it will present the EU presidency with a “Paris Declaration” seeking closer and stronger partnership between Israel and the European Union. Misguided EU brass-hats will be on hand to dignify the proceedings.
The declaration, according to the European Jewish Press, “recognizes the common values that bind Europe and Israel and a shared cultural heritage reinforced by interests based upon friendship and mutual respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”.
The gullible will always feed on garbage. But those who are acquainted with the stomach-churning truth may now be thinking it’s time Friends of Israel groups were registered as agents of a foreign power, before we too are engulfed by the relentless march of Zionist ambition, the hallmark of which is cruel contempt for human rights, freedom and the rule of law.
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.
By Stuart Littlewood