(melaniephillips.com)The irrationality and prejudice inherent in the vilification of Israel are becoming ever more egregious.
A book launch staged by anti-Israel group Middle East Monitor at Senate House last week, chaired by the journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and including Tim Llewellyn, the former BBC Middle East correspondent and one-time executive committee member of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding, (CAABU) appears to have been a virtual symphony of Judeophobic slander. As reported by blogger Richard Millett, Llewellyn’s remarks were pretty eye-popping.
It was not just that he described the Jews in Israel as “an alien people in that region”. Whether or not he really doesn’t know that the Jews are the only people for whom Israel was ever their historic national home, that’s the kind of thing one expects from an old CAABU hand.
Much more remarkable was his off-the-wall view of “Jewish power”. For he suggested that not just the BBC but the entire British establishment was in thrall to a sinister, manipulative and all-powerful Jewish – sorry, Zionist – lobby.
Thus he claimed that, since the beginning of the second intifada, Israel had mounted “a tremendously well organised, careful, assiduous and extremely well financed propaganda campaign in this country”.
If only, eh! The most obvious feature of Israel’s “careful, well-organised, assiduous propaganda campaign” has been its total non-existence. Yet, according to Llewellyn, the outcome of this crushing pressure has been BBC self-censorship, with journalists being forced to add to reports “some kind of appeasing story of how terrible the Palestinians are or how the Israelis have suffered”.
Rub your eyes indeed. This is the same BBC responsible for giving Britain and the world the entirely false impression that Israel is the ruthless, law-breaking driver of events in the Middle East – and, by minimising or failing to report attacks upon Israel, misrepresenting its defence against mass murder as aggression.
Worse, he claimed pressure was being brought to bear “through the higher level of pro-Israel Zionists who are scattered at strategic points throughout the British establishment, throughout British business and among the people whose voices are respected”. All prominent Jews who defend Israel are thus smeared as part of some covert conspiracy, a deliberate infestation of British society to advance the cause of an “alien” people”.
And just what is a “pro-Israel Zionist”? Sounds like an attempt to avoid the opprobrium of using the J-word.
He also claimed that, from remarks made by the head of BBC News, Helen Boaden, it appeared that “the Board of Deputies…for example, practically lives at the BBC. They’re there all the time”. One wonders what she really did say to give him this impression.
Whatever Ms Boaden herself may actually think, the nonsensical elevation of this pro-Israel “Jewish lobby” to uniquely powerful proportions has become a staple of apparently respectable discourse.
In fact, the “well-funded Israel lobby” is demonstrably an abject failure. It’s hardly surprising if, as Llewellyn claimed, the Palestinians don’t lobby the BBC very much – they don’t have to. The BBC is to a large extent their propaganda arm.
The horrible Senate House event – which also featured an Al Jazeera correspondent and Seumas Milne of the Guardian – might be dismissed as no more than a gathering of the usual suspects. But the wider salience of the unmistakable “Jewish lobby” trope confirms once again that irrationality and bigotry have gone mainstream in Britain.
It should be clear by now that President Obama has told Prime Minister Netanyahu in no uncertain terms that he had better be nice to the President in return for American support at the United Nations. He has been told to praise Obama personally because Obama is in trouble with the American Jewish community which despite its relatively small electoral vote controls a lot of Democratic campaign contributions. And Netanyahu is playing along.
The wicked witch of Beirut nowadays talks to anyone who would listen. Literally, anyone.
On a side note, Playboy must be in REAL need these days, to engage a beauty of Helen Thomas’ caliber.
(Haaretz) Helen Thomas, former dean of the White House Press Corps, reportedly told Playboy in an interview for their April issue that Jews have power over the White House and Congress, who are in the pockets of the Israeli lobbies.
Thomas left her post at the White House after she publicly made anti-Israel comments last May, telling the Jews they should “get the hell out of Palestine.”
The former reporter told Playboy that the Israeli lobbies “are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood. Same thing with the financial markets. There’s total control.”
When asked about her comments that ultimately cost her her job, Thomas told Playboy that “everybody knows my feelings about the Palestinians,” adding “sure, the Israelis have a right to exist—but where they were born, not to come and take someone else’s home. I’ve had it up to here with the violations against the Palestinians. Why shouldn’t I say it? I knew exactly what I was doing—I was going for broke. I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up.”
Thomas also clarified that when she said the Jews should go back to Poland,Germany and America, that she was not referring to the concentration camps, but rather that “they should stay where they are because they’re not being persecuted—not since World War II, not since 1945.”
However, when asked about the Holocaust, Thomas told the magazine that “there’s nothing wrong with remembering it [the Holocaust], but why do we have to constantly remember? We’re not at fault.”
She then launched into criticism of Israel and its alleged oppression of the Palestinians, accusing the Jews of lacking introspection.
“Do the Jews ever look at themselves?” asked Thomas, “why are they always right? Because they have been oppressed throughout history, I know. And they have this persecution. That’s true, but they shouldn’t use that to dominate.”
The former reporter told Playboy that she is not anti-Jewish, just anti – Israel, saying she thinks Jews are wonderful people. :I’m not anti-Jewish,” clarified Thomas, “I’m anti-Zionist. I am anti Israel taking what doesn’t belong to it. If you have a home and you’re kicked out of that home, you don’t come and kick someone else out.”
While the media and politicians engage in frenzied debate about the virtues and vices of building—or preventing the building of—a Muslim community center (cum mosque) near the “sacred ground” of 9/11, Iran continues to build a nuclear weapon, as the Israelis and Palestinians take a tentative step toward building a peaceful resolution to their age-old conflict. Inevitably, whenever Middle East issues take center stage, the question of the role of lobbies, particularly those that advocate for foreign countries, becomes a hot topic. This book by longtime Middle East authority, Mitchell Bard, is a must read for anyone who cares—and who doesn’t?—about the role of lobbies in influencing American policy in the Middle East. Its thesis, which is sure to be controversial, is easily summarized:“If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you’d be surprised how much better friends you have when they are just coming into office.”
Yes Virginia, there is a big bad lobby that distorts U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East way out of proportion to its actual support by the American public. Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, author of the screed, The Israel Lobby, are right about that. But the offending lobby is not AIPAC, which supports Israel, but rather the Arab lobby, which opposes the Jewish state.
Both the pro-Israel and pro-Arab lobby (really lobbies because there are several for each) are indeed powerful but there is a big difference—a difference that goes to the heart of the role of lobbying in a democracy. Bard puts it this way:
“One of the most important distinguishing characteristics of the Arab lobby is that it has no popular support. While the Israeli lobby has hundreds of thousands of grass root members and public opinion polls consistently reveal a huge gap between support for Israel and the Arab nations/Palestinians, the Arab lobby has almost no foot soldiers or public sympathy. It’s most powerful elements tend to be bureaucrats who represent only their personal views or what they believe are their institutional interests, and foreign governments that care only about their national interests, not those of the United States. What they lack in human capital in terms of American advocates, they make up for with almost unlimited resources to try to buy what they usually cannot win on the merits of their arguments.”
This is a critical distinction for a democracy. The case for Israel (though not for all of its policies) is an easy sell for pro-Israel lobbyists, especially elected representatives. Voting in favor of Israel is popular not only in areas with a large concentration of Jewish voters, but throughout the country, because Israel is popular with Evangelical Christians in particular and with much, though certainly not all, of the public in general. Lobbies that reflect the will of the people are an important part of the democratic process. Thus, the American Association of Retired People (AARP), the principal lobbying group for the elderly, is extremely powerful because there are so many elderly people in this country who want to protect social security, Medicaid, and other benefits. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a powerful lobby precisely because so many Americans, for better or worse, love their guns. And The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a powerful lobby because Americans, in general, support the Middle East’s only democracy and reliable American ally.
But why is the Arab lobby, and most particularly the Saudi lobby, also powerful? Saudi Arabia has virtually no support among Americans. Indeed, it is widely reviled for its export of terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, its manipulation of oil prices, its anti-Christian and anti-Semitic policies, its total deprivation of any semblance of freedom of speech or dissent, and its primitive forms of punishment that include stoning and amputation. Yet, as Bard demonstrates, the Saudi lobby has beaten the pro-Israel lobby over and over again in head-to-head conflicts, such as the sale of sophisticated weapons to a regime that doesn’t even have the technical skills to use them, and the conflict over whether to move the United States’ embassy to Jerusalem. Even now, Saudi Arabia is lobbying to obtain a multibillion-dollar arms deal, and it is likely to succeed over the objections of Israel.
How then does a lobby with no popular support manage to exert influence in a democratic country? The secret is very simple. The Arab lobby in general and the Saudis in particular make little effort to influence popularly elected public officials, particularly legislators. Again, listen to Bard:
“The Saudis have taken a different tact from the Israeli lobby, focusing a top-down rather than bottom-up approach to lobbying. As hired gun, J. Crawford Cook, wrote in laying out his proposed strategy for the kingdom, ‘Saudi Arabia has a need to influence the few that influence the many, rather than the need to influence the many to whom the few must respond.'”
The primary means by which the Saudis exercise this influence is money. They spend enormous amounts of lucre to buy (or rent) former state department officials, diplomats, White House aides, and legislative leaders who become their elite lobbying corps. Far more insidiously, the Saudis let it be known that if current government officials want to be hired following their retirement from government service, they had better hew to the Saudi line while they are serving in our government. The former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, who was so close to the President George H.W. Bush that he referred to himself as “Bandar Bush,” acknowledged the relationship between how a government official behaves while in office and how well he will be rewarded when he leaves office. “If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you’d be surprised how much better friends you have when they are just coming into office.”
Bard concludes from this well known quid pro quo that: “given the potential of these post-retirement opportunities, it would not be surprising if officials adopted positions while in government to make themselves marketable to the Arab lobby.”
The methodology employed by the Arab lobby is thus totally inconsistent with democratic governance, because it does not reflect the will of the people but rather the corruption of the elite, while the Israeli lobby seems to operate within the parameters of democratic processes. Yet so much has been written about the allegedly corrosive nature of the Israeli lobby, while the powerful Arab lobby has widely escaped scrutiny and criticism. This important book thus contributes to the open marketplace of ideas by illuminating the dark side of the massive and largely undemocratic Arab lobbying efforts to influence American policy with regard to the Middle East.
It’s Time for Nick Clegg to Scrape this Foul Tonge – Spinning Jenny the Lib Dem Peer Slurs Israel Yet AgainNovember 14, 2010
13 November ’10
Jenny Tonge – who sits in the House of Lords on the Lib Dem benches as Baroness Tonge, having been given a life peerage in 2005 after several years as an MP – is a veteran detester and demoniser of the world’s only Jewish State, and as a result has earned the epithet “Jihad Jenny”. In 2004 the then Lib Dem leader, Charles Kennedy, sacked her as a party spokesperson after she had refused to apologise for saying of Palestinian suicide bombers: “If I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming one myself.”
In 2006 Tonge made headlines when she announced: “The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a grip on our party.” Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell – himself no great friend of Israel – called her remarks “unacceptable” and possessing “clear antisemitic connotations”.
An all-party group of members of the House of Lords led by former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey noted that her comments “evoked a classic anti-Jewish conspiracy theory”. She retorted that Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s article “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” that appeared in the 23 March 2006 issue of The London Review of Books – whose “as-a-Jew” editor Mary-Kay Wilmers is on record, incidentally, as describing herself as “unambiguously hostile to Israel” – bore out her contention that the “‘Israel lobby’ had a disproportionate voice in Anglo-American foreign policy”.
(Read full post)
The most insidious example used in the report is the Channel Four Dispatches program “Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby” screened last year, in which presenter Peter Oborne said he had not identified any conspiracies while making the program.
“We haven’t found anything even faintly resembling a conspiracy, but we found a worrying lack of transparency, and the influence of a pro-Israel lobby continues to be felt,” Oborne said at the time.
Channel Four’s website alluded to what the report sums up as “shady characters, with financial influence, underhand tactics and treacherous goals.”
This message was repeated, the report shows, in The Guardian’s news story about the program – titled “Pro-Israel lobby group bankrolling Conservatives, film claims.”
The report also highlights how a medieval accusation, claiming that Jews steal children in order to use their blood, was also revived and frequently used last year in accusations that Jews and Israelis steal body parts. The London-based but Iranian-run Press TV revived the blood libel charge, according to the CST document.
One of the Press TV stories begins with the sentence: “An international Jewish conspiracy to kidnap children and harvest their organs is gathering momentum as another shock story divulges Israeli plot to harvest organs from Algerian children.”
British media watchdogs, like Adam Levick of CiF Watch, praised the report for bringing to the surface rampant bias against Jews in daily publications.
“The CST report is a shocking indictment of how so-called progressive news outlets such as The Guardian are mainstreaming the type of anti-Jewish hate speech that was once the province of the far-right,” said Levick, whose organization particularly monitors The Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog.
CST is the only organization in the UK that collects, analyzes and publishes statistics and incidents relating to anti- Semitism, including an annual Anti-Semitic Incidents Report.
CST’s publishes an annual Anti-Semitic Incidents Report. The 2009 report, published in February, showed a record high number of incidents in one year since records began in 1984.
these media outlets are not underground. the hate is hidden within professional slick graphics and shrouded in pretension of integrity.