Espionage – “. . . seeking to influence decision makers and opinion formers to benefit the interests of a foreign power.” – MI5, Britain’s Security Service.
A recently-aired documentary by Al Jazeera, ‘The Lobby’, reveals the Israeli Embassy’s furtive dealings with British parliamentarians and political parties. It took a Middle East news channel to expose the extraordinary lengths to which Israel and its supporters will go to bury the truth and control minds, when neither the British security services nor news media were onto it. The BBC, the Guardian and the Independent were all apparently too wrapped up in reporting the myriad unsubstantiated accusations being levelled by Zionists against members of the British Labour Party. The New Zealand news media, meanwhile, has chosen to largely ignore the mounting scandal.
Israeli Embassy conspiracy
The undercover documentary filmed an Israeli Embassy official, Shai Masot, plotting to “take down” MPs regarded as hostile to Israel. These included Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan. Masot, who admits to being a Major in the Israeli military and to having served in an Israeli gunboat off the Gaza coast, revealed also that he was the chief point of contact between his embassy and British MPs. He explicitly admitted to liaising with Ministers and officials at the Foreign Office. Maria Strizzolo, an aide to the pro-Israel Tory MP Robert Halfon, was also involved in the Israeli Embassy plan. Too late to hide the high level complicity, both Masot and Strizzolo have been dismissed and disowned by their respective governments. The UK Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee is to investigate the scandal, and Tory MP Crispin Blunt, who was to have been put on a ‘hit list’ by Masot and Strizzolo, will chair the enquiry. The Mail on Sunday reported Blunt as describing the Israeli Embassy conspiracy as “interference in British politics of the murkiest kind”.
A young Labour, pro-Israel activist, Michael Rubin, told Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter that he worked “with the ambassador and embassy quite a lot”, adding: ”We work really closely together” and admitting “but a lot of it is behind the scenes . . . the embassy helps us quite a lot.” Unable to deny the evidence revealed in the documentary, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, made an apology to Sir Alan for what he described as an Israeli Embassy official’s “completely unacceptable comments”. But Regev himself, filmed at the Liverpool Labour Party Conference, can be seen advising a group of Labour Friends of Israel and revealing that the Israeli Embassy is behind the plot to discredit the UK Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn. It is Regev who promotes the branding of anyone who campaigns for justice for Palestinians as anti-Semitic. In The Lobby we hear him suggesting further hysterical-sounding slurs: “The fashion is, if you are on the left today you are probably very hostile to Israel, if not anti-Semitic. Why are people who consider themselves progressive supporting Hamas and Hezbollah? We have got to say, I think, in the language of social democracy, they are misogynist, homophobic, they are racist, they are anti-Semitic, they are reactionary, I think that is what we need to say. It’s an important message.”
Not sure what to say? No worries – we’ll put the words in your mouth
Strizzolo is on camera advising the undercover reporter: “If at least you can get a small group of MPs that you know you can always rely on, when there is something coming to parliament and you know you brief them, you say: ‘you don’t have to do anything, we are going to give you the speech, we are going to give you all the information, we are going to do everything for you’.” She even offered advice on taking part in the weekly live television Prime Minister’s Questions [PMQs]: “If they already have the question to table for PMQs, it’s harder to say: ‘No, no, no, I won’t do it’,” she said.
UK Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has called on British Prime Minister Theresa May to launch an inquiry into the Israeli propaganda operation – “This is clearly a national security issue” and referred to it as an “improper interference in this country’s democratic process”.
Friends of Israel
In the UK about 80% of Tory MPs, including most Cabinet Ministers, are members of the well-funded, highly influential parliamentary lobbying group Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). Many of them have been taken by CFI to visit Israel and learn the narrative that Israel is anxious to spread. There is, of course, no equivalent Conservative Friends of Palestine. The Lobby reveals the extent to which the Israeli Embassy influences, with both strategic and financial support, the UK Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) parliamentary group. The young undercover journalist (posing as an activist, who is loyal to Israel and keen to combat the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) is told by Michael Rubin, that according to Shai Masot, “the Israeli Embassy will be able to get a bit of money” to establish an LFI offshoot for young people. Masot was also on video discussing the handing over of £1 million to Labour MP Joan Ryan on behalf of LFI.
The British journalist and author, Peter Oborne, told Al Jazeera: “If you were trying to fool the British people by setting up a front organisation which masquerades or says that it is genuine Friends of Israel but actually is run from Tel Aviv that’s troubling.” He described the conspiracy as “a clearly deliberate attempt by a foreign government to interfere in the workings of British democracy and to secure the destruction of career of a minister in the British government”.
Racism and violence
During a Labour Party conference in Liverpool, the vice-chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, Mike Katz, held a training session on anti-Semitism. There was some dispute over what constituted a reasonable definition of the term ‘anti-Semitism’ and the session was filmed, secretly, by Al Jazeera. Jackie Walker, a black British Jew and leading UK Labour activist, commented at the training session that: “Anti-Semitism, like any form of racism is deplorable and my feeling about how to tackle this is for Jews to be standing firmly and squarely alongside our black comrades, our Muslim comrades, who are much more at the moment the target of racism than thankfully we are”. She told those attending the training session that she had not “heard a definition of anti-Semitism that I can work with”. She also said, “If you are saying effectively that Zionism is not open to debate as a concept, then that is really worrying”. The reaction to this was alarming. She was temporarily suspended from the Labour Party and her role as vice-chairwoman of Jeremy Corbyn’s support organisation, Momentum. Shai Masot told the undercover Al Jazeera reporter that Walker was “problematic”, adding “Do not let it go”. He actually told him to report “all of the party” members who had similar views.
The Al Jazeera documentary also shows the director of the Jewish Labour Movement, Ella Rose, who had also worked at the Israeli Embassy, calling Walker a “******g anti-Semite”. Rose claimed that she had training in Krav Maga, an Israeli military hand-to-hand combat technique, and went on menacingly, “You know what, I could take her. She’s like 5ft 2in and tiny”. On camera, the Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, says: “In the past, anti-Semitism was hating Jews for being Jews. Now Israel tries to extend it to say that any criticism about what Jews are doing is also anti-Semitism.”
Undermining international law – the real threat to global security
A BBC Today programme on 23 January contains a radio interview with Tzipi Hotovely, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, in which she reveals Israel’s true contempt for both international law and the Palestinian people. In the interview, which begins 1h 23m and 56 seconds in from the beginning of the online broadcast and ends at 1h 30m 00s, Hotovely rejoices in the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian land, telling the interviewer and the world that “since 1967 this is a Jewish Land.” She dismisses international law altogether, calling it “legal terminology” and saying it has no relevance to the Occupation because “this is political.” A day later, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Defence Minister, said in a statement announcing new settlement building: “We are going back to normal life” in what he called “Judea and Samaria.”
An article earlier this month by the US-based Stratfor organisation Why Israel won’t relinquish its settlements, is very revealing. Stratfor describes itself as a “geopolitical analysis firm” whose function is to provide what it calls “valuable context to global events, to empower businesses and governments.” The question is treated soullessly, devoid of any humanity. The terminology used is loaded with Zionist assumptions, describing the West Bank as “contested” territory and asserting that although “Netanyahu’s government does not have complete control over proliferating Israeli settlements, it has no intention of amending its settlement policy.” Holding the Occupied territory, Stratfor tell us, “is part of Israel’s defensive strategy.”
Sounding very like Tzipi Hotovely, the geopolitical analysis firm asserts that, “Israel’s borders and settlements are internal issues that only the Israeli government has the power to address.” Read that again! So much for international law, so much for negotiations even. What sort of analytical service is this? An ill-informed (or is it deliberately misleading?) reference by Stratfor to UN Security Council Resolution 2334, describes its passing as “controversial” – ignoring the fact that it simply confirms countless previous resolutions based firmly upon international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. It would appear to be unaware of their existence. The geopolitical analyser gives away its loyalty to Israel with the following observation: “The country does not heed non-binding UN resolutions.” Yet Israel claims its legitimacy on one such resolution – General Assembly Resolution 181 (II). What Israel has ratified and is bound by, is the Fourth Geneva Convention. Stratfor goes on to throw doubt upon even the existence of the Israeli Occupation, saying the UN resolutions “will not prevent Palestinians from launching retaliatory attacks against” what it calls the “perceived” Israeli Occupation. While not actually denying the rights of what it admits are “generations of Palestinian refugees”, Stratfor draws comfort for Israel by claiming that “new refugee populations in the Middle East have pushed the issue to the back burner”, noting with relief that “prospects are dim for progress on the conflict’s main challenges.”
The Stratfor article throws light on the cynical thinking in powerful circles that helps to reinforce Israel’s intransigence. Nevertheless, Zionists worldwide are split between those who would render the two-state solution utterly unrealisable and those who believe that Israel’s best interests are served by actions and statements that keep up the pretence of a future Palestinian state. Both camps rely on forcing an isolated and defenceless Palestinian people into a one-on-one dialogue with the Occupying power that can have only one outcome – the surrender of all Palestinian rights. The argument between Zionists over which course is the better to pursue, diverts attention from the unbending strategic purpose of the ideology.
Israel and New Zealand
So if Israel can treat British democracy with such disdain, what about the Zionist state’s relations with New Zealand? There are signs that Israel’s respect for New Zealand is also rather slight. In 2004 two Israeli spies were caught attempting to produce a fake New Zealand passport, using the identity of a man with cerebral palsy. The New Zealand Government accused the Israelis of attacking this country’s sovereignty in breach of international law but Israel simply refused even to acknowledge that the agents were spies. In 2011, at the time of the Canterbury earthquake, an Israeli newspaper article on the death in this country of three Israeli citizens revealed that one was a member of a team of spies trying to infiltrate computer systems. He had five passports in his possession. In 2014, the Israeli Foreign Ministry refused to accept a newly-appointed ambassador from New Zealand because he would also be an envoy to the Palestinians. In 2015, Israel even demanded that New Zealand back away from drafting a UN resolution to restart peace negotiations. Finally, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is on record, threatening to exact a “diplomatic and economic price” from countries who acted against Israel’s interests and he reportedly warned Murray McCully that New Zealand support for UN Resolution 2334, condemning Israeli settlement-building in the Occupied territories, would be viewed as a “declaration of war”.
Friends of what, really?
The Al Jazeera documentary has thrown a spotlight on the various Friends of Israel lobby and propaganda groups, revealing their true purpose. Some of these should more properly call themselves, ‘Friends of the Israeli Government’. Unable to refute its appalling racism against its own citizens, as well as against people under its colonial rule in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, Israel seeks desperately to divert attention. In Britain, it has subverted democracy; engineering by stealth the slur of anti-Semitism. The New Zealand Government has, for years, assisted Israel by supporting the ‘peace negotiations’ and ‘two-state solution’ that have served only to buy time for Israel to grab and colonise ever more Palestinian land. But the Zionist website Shalom Kiwi reviles McCully’s stated policy of even-handedness in our country’s relations with both Israel and Palestine. Shalom Kiwi dismisses what it calls our Foreign Minister’s “light-weight analysis, one-sidedness and wishful thinking”. The most ill-informed claim by Shalom Kiwi is that Resolution 2334 was a “departure from long-standing NZ policy.” Anyone with only the most elementary understanding of New Zealand’s position on the Middle East would know that Resolution 2334 re-affirmed decades of international understanding that has been reflected in New Zealand Government policy. These are the voices of Zionism, the founding ideology of a nuclear-armed power that believes itself to be uniquely superior and above international law.
It is regrettable to have to face the reality that there are those who would willingly allow their democratic institutions to be subverted for the benefit of a foreign power and this Al Jazeera investigation should alert the New Zealand Government and all who care about our own sovereignty and the defence of international law. MI5, Britain’s Security Service, defines espionage, in part, as “seeking to influence decision makers and opinion formers to benefit the interests of a foreign power.” We should learn from what the Israel lobby has been up to in Britain and guard against anything like it ever happening here.