Does Israel call the shots in British politics?
Russia’s alleged attempt to sway the results of the US presidential election pales by comparison to Israel’s proven infiltration of Britain’s political sphere. However, whereas the US political establishment is up in arms, threatening a new round of anti-Russian sanctions, the British government has done its utmost to sweep the explosive findings of an Al Jazeera undercover reporter under the rug.
This is, of course, unsurprising. Israel is a special case, uniquely permitted to get away with anything from snubbing international law and UN resolutions to inserting spies and working against unsympathetic politicians in the US Congress and UK Parliament.
Much has been written about the power of the Israeli lobby in the US, and its ability to destroy the careers of out-of-step lawmakers. One of the most controversial exposes was “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, that smashed taboos and brought down an avalanche of criticism on the writers’ heads.
However, the extent to which Israel’s emissaries have succeeded in manipulating British Conservative and Labour MPs, as well as student bodies and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, had evaded the spotlight until now; a spotlight that quickly dimmed due to the government’s conciliatory responses.
Indeed, its reaction to hard evidence of a plot — discussed by a senior Israeli political officer based in Israel’s London Embassy, and the Conservative Party’s deputy chairman’s chief of staff — to take down two influential politicians, Sir Alan Duncan and Crispin Blunt, was not only muted but bordering on the apologetic.
The Israeli propagandist conceded that Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was solid on Israel, but referred to him as “an idiot.” If Johnson was offended, he did not show it. An apology from Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev was all it took for him to announce he was closing the book. The offending political officer later resigned, but when the dust settles he will probably resume his duties elsewhere in the world.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May was also keen to put a lid on the matter and screw it down tightly. A spokesman confirmed the UK-Israel relationship remained strong. May’s personal affiliations are no secret. Her rapping of former US Secretary of State John Kerry on the knuckles for his branding of the Israeli government as “the most right-wing in history,” which it certainly is, spoke volumes.
At a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch in December, attended by 200 MPs, she praised Balfour’s historic letter as demonstrating Britain’s vital role in creating a Jewish homeland, and displayed her rose-colored spectacles with the words: “It is only when you walk through Jerusalem or Tel Aviv that you see a country where people of all religions and sexualities are free and equal in the eyes of the law.” In any other forum, that statement would have been met with derision.
May rejected a call by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn — an unabashed pro-Palestinian politician who features large in the lobby’s sights — to open an investigation into Israel’s reach and methods to sway the country’s democratic process.
An unnamed minister in former Prime Minister David Cameron’s Cabinet, who is afraid to reveal his identity for fear of “a relentless barrage of abuse and character assassination,” asserted in the Daily Mail: “British foreign policy is in hock to Israeli influence at the heart of our politics, and those in authority have ignored what is going on.” He condemned successive governments for allowing “Israel influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of ministers.”
To imagine Israel’s apology was genuine would take a leap of credulity. Mossad’s former motto was “by way of deception thou shall do war,” and that secret war is ongoing. As usual, Israel’s government has gone on the offensive, out to shoot the messenger, in this case Al Jazeera.
Organizations affiliated to Israel have asked the UK’s communications watchdog OFCOM to probe the televised expose for its alleged lack of impartiality and anti-Semitic content.
If the Palestinians are hoping that the US or UK will ever emerge as unbiased intermediaries in their struggle for a state, they should think again. Many years ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek column “Does Israel rule the world?” The answer is not yet, but due to indoctrinated, fear-ridden, bribed or religiously/ideologically committed politicians, it is quietly shackling the power centers in Western capitals while conniving to silence the voices of the brave.
• Linda S. Heard is an author and columnist specializing in Middle East affairs.