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A Nest of Lies

The story of When Corbyn Met Sarkocy, a Czech spy, during the Cold War has been seized on with glee by the usual press, plus the anti-Corbynites.  My own thoughts are:- 1) Corbyn was a back-bench MP and unlikely to know anything except the price of a cup of tea in the House of Commons café;  Corbyn, though classic useful idiot material, was useless in this case ; 2) this is reminiscent of a Le Carre novel where a clapped out branch of the security services bigs up a bungled operation with a dodgy agent.

That’s off the top of my head. Paul Anderson, who knew the milieu, has this to say:-

He [Sarkocy, the Czech spy] was employed to take people out to lunch who knew something of what was going on in British politics, drink beers with them in the evening, and write reports on what they told him. And what he got from his efforts was probably little better than any half-compos-mentis reader of the UK press would have gleaned. It was in his interest to exaggerate what his conversations revealed, and he did just that – he had what was in 1980s Prague terms a big-money salary paid in hard currency, with a serious expense account, in a swinging western city.<

Anderson saw these lunches as a chance to glean a little information from behind the Iron Curtain, as well as connecting to those on the Other Side who were both for nuclear disarmament and democracy:-

But getting the odd tip on the biggest news wasn’t my main purpose in meeting Sarkocy. At the time, the Soviet bloc’s suppression of its democratic dissidents was a massive issue – and many of those dissidents were discussing with western peaceniks the possibility of ending Soviet dominance of east-central Europe through a melting of the nuclear confrontation that divided the continent. Moscow wanted west European opposition to American nuclear arms as an issue it controlled through the World Peace Council, based in Prague, which didn’t have a thing to say about Soviet nukes – and it wanted dissident discussion with the western left stopped. END and Tribune were talking to the dissidents, and for us (and them) it was crucial to make sure our engagement with and support for opponents of the regime were conveyed to the Soviet bloc authorities. So I met Sarkocy primarily to complain, time and again, about how his scumbag regime treated its citizens.

He suspects Corbyn would have been a useless idiot at such times – which would follow the pattern:-

I hope Jeremy Corbyn did the same, and I’m told that he took up the cause of Czechoslovak dissident exile supporters of the group Charter 77. But I’m just a bit unsure. Quite a lot of the British left in the 1980s was at best completely clueless about – and at worst subsidised by – the disaster for socialism that was the USSR. Quite a few of Sarkocy’s contacts were idiots who thought Charter 77 were counterrevolutionaries and everything was cool about the Soviet Union – because it was anti-imperialist. Labour Action for Peace, a pressure group that had no formal role in the Labour Party, and for which Corbyn was an officer, was notoriously and idiotically pro-Soviet.

I was part of the CND movement in the 1980s and do remember the foolish pro Soviets and the END, and that account sounds convincing to me.  It also reminds me yet again how humiliating it is to have a clueless 80s throwback as Leader of the Opposition.

Tony Greenstein expelled from Labour

After some speculation, it has finally been confirmed that Tony Greenstein has been expelled from the Labour Party; he was found to have breached party rules on three counts. The Jewish Labour Movement welcomed this move:

You can read more about the background to Greenstein’s expulsion here.

Greenstein is – or was – a leading figure in Labour against the Witch-hunt, an anti-zionist group recently involved in an oddly recursive spat with Socialist Fight.

Tony Greenstein has been the subject of many posts on Harry’s Place – here are just a couple of reminders of his earlier form.

The Truth about Zionists and Jewish Terror

This is a cross-post from The Zionist

Middle East monitor recently published an article by Asa Winstanley entitled; “The Zionist Lehi was the last self-proclaimed terrorist group”.

The title is paraphrased from a line in a Haaretz article he links to discussing recent bits of information emanating from recently declassified files from MI5 relating to the period between the end of World War II and the establishment of the State of Israel. Specifically the files relate to bombing attacks made by the dissident group Lehi in the British mainland.

There’s no secret about the fact that the two dissident movements Lehi and the Irgun didn’t limit their operations against the British to Palestine but sought also to hit targets in the United Kingdom. One compelling historical work that deals with this is Major Farran’s Hat by the late David Cesarani. Another is Anonymous Soldiers by Bruce Hoffman. Both are excellent works of history on the subject of mandate era Palestine, Hoffman’s work in particular analyses the history of the Irgun and Lehi clearly and without hyperbole.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Winstanley’s piece. With 4,400 shares on Facebook it seems worthy of dissection. Winstanley writes;

The most right-wing of the armed Zionist groups then active in Palestine, Lehi was a splinter group from the Irgun, whose leader in the late 1940s was Menachem Begin. He went on to become Israel’s Prime Minister and invade Lebanon in 1982, killing more than 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinian people; the infamous Sabra and Shatilla massacre took place on his watch.

Read more »

British Prime Ministers in Transition

After transitioning, these British PMs had the following careers (in chronological order, from bottom right)
Sister Winnie Churchill – Senior Midwife, popular with her patients
Alexandra “Sandra” Eden – debutante, married a banker
Harriet MacMillan – Madam of a brothel, suing her cosmetic surgeon
Harriet Wilson – lecturer in economics at Somerville College
Edwina Heath – middle-class housewife in Surbiton

Jenny Callaghan – changed her name to Mollie Sugden and starred in Are You Being Served
Marcus Thatcher – Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer
Joanne Major – senior in the Accounts team, always helpful to her colleagues
Antonia “Toni” Blair – media career and on the panel of Loose Women
Gordie Brown – Chief Ranger at the Cairngorms National Park
Davina Cameron – Home Counties wife, does some part-time PR work
Terence May – mid-ranking civil servant
(Round of applause for Ross Chmiel)

The Palestinian Idol

KCL – will someone please protect the Jewish students?

This is a cross-post by David Collier

12th Feb 2018, Kings College London (KCL). Former Deputy Prime-Minister Israeli Dan Meridor had been invited to speak on the campus. The event was arranged by The Pinsker Center, KCL Israel Society and City Israel Society. The majority of those attending were Jewish students. Because of increasing intimidation, KCL Israel Society issued a statement to address ‘behind the scenes’ issues related to the event:

Because of the strict security conditions that events such as this require, another message was then posted:

This isn’t normal student politics. These messages are a sign of students under siege. And not without reason. Over the last few years, several events of this type have been disrupted. There had been violence at this university two years ago. Violence that involved the same groups of demonstrators.

External battles

Everyone was aware that this event would face opposition. Below is a screenshot of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, advertising a call for opposition to a student event. Promoting a call for opposition well beyond the confines of the KCL campus. Intimidating behaviour directed towards students, from a group riddled with antisemitism.  Incredibly, despite our growing understanding of the antisemitism within the PSC, and this type of intimidating behaviour, Jeremy Corbyn still remains a patron of this organisation.

We must also remember that in a few days, these anti-Israel activists on campus, will begin a ‘festival of hate’ directed against Israel. A whole week (or more) of events where they will listen to the lies contained within the polished delegitimisation campaign against Israel. They will have their opportunity to chant all manner of threats against the Israeli state.  ‘Apartheid Week’ is coming:

And yet on the other side of this ‘discussion’ it is very different. The Jewish students are under attack. Some hold their head up with pride, but it is absolutely certain some are intimidated into silence. Just one event of this type results in dozens of groups organising an action that tries to shut the event down. It is advertised by organisations off campus that have high level political support. The demonstrators tend to be highly organised, just as we have previously seen on UCL, another London campus.

Do read the rest of David’s post here.

The Cases Against Netanyahu Explained

This Facebook status was written by Daniel Estrin formerly at AP and now an NPR International Correspondent. He’s been covering Israel for several years from Jerusalem. I re-post it here with his permission

I spoke with Ari Shapiro on NPR All Things Considered today about what Israeli police say they found in their corruption investigations into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Here’s a lengthy summary based on the police statement, if you’re interested in the details:

Israeli police say they have completed two criminal investigations into Netanyahu, and say they found enough evidence to recommend he be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Now it’s up for prosecutors to decide whether to indict him, and that could take many months, or perhaps a year.

“Case 1000” involves Netanyahu receiving gifts from two businessmen, Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan (producer of Pretty Women) and Australian businessman James Packer (Mariah Carey’s ex).

“Case 2000” involves Netanyahu’s efforts to weaken the Israel Today newspaper (a newspaper that has a pro-Netanyahu line and is bankrolled by his own supporter, and Trump donor, Sheldon Adelson) through legislation and other ways, in exchange for publisher Arnon (Noni) Mozes promising Netanyahu positive press coverage in his Yediot Ahronot newspaper. Police believe there is evidence to indict Noni Mozes with offering bribes.


In the first half of 2016, police received evidence from various sources that raised suspicion of wrongdoing by Netanyahu. The Attorney General began an initial probe in July 2016. In December 2016, the attorney general ordered a criminal investigation. The national police fraud squad investigated, with oversight by the state attorney and the attorney general.

The investigations involved about 180 witness statements from 80 witnesses. Six were questioned through requests to foreign countries, some of which took a long time.


Case 1000:

Police learned about gifts given to Netanyahu but it took a while before police uncovered evidence of favors Netanyahu gave in return. Over a decade, from 2007 till 2016, Netanyahu and his family members allegedly received cigars, champaign and jewelry from two businessmen or their associates.

Netanyahu received about a million shekels worth of gifts (the dollar equivalent of more than $282,000). The bulk of that was 750,000 shekels (about $212,000) from Milchan. Packer gave Netanyahu a total of 250,000 shekels (about $70,000) which he started giving in 2014 when the two businessmen decided to split the costs of the gifts given to Netanyahu. After Netanyahu was reelected in 2009, the breadth and frequency of the gifts increased significantly.

- Netanyahu is suspected of trying to advance a tax break in Israel which would have great financial benefit to Milchan. Netanyahu asked finance ministry officials to advance the tax exemption, but the officials said this would not be in Israel’s national interest.
- Netanyahu is suspected of acting to get Milchan a renewed US visa. Netanyahu pressed the US ambassador and John Kerry about this.
-Netanyahu pressed communications ministry officials to ensure Milchan would be a shareholder of a television network, which would have helped Milchan financially.
-Netanyahu tried to help Milchan with a business venture involving an Indian businessman. (Israeli TV reports Milchan and the businessman wanted to build a free trade zone on the Jordanian border.) Netanyahu pressed the issue with other Israeli officials who objected.
-Netanyahu dealt with matters related to another Israeli television channel, Channel 10, though his friend Milchan was a shareholder in the channel.

Case 2000:

Since 2009, Netanyahu and Mozes spoke about a deal: Mozes would help Netanyahu strengthen his position as Prime Minister through positive and supportive press coverage in Yediot Ahronot newspaper, in exchange for Netanyahu advancing the newspaper’s financial interests by working to undercut the rise of the Israel Today newspaper. The two then worked to advance each other’s interests, or at least told each other they were.

The investigation is based on two secret tape recordings done at the behest of Netanyahu, recorded by Netanyahu’s chief of staff at the time in the prime minister’s office. According to the recordings, Netanyahu pledged to work to limit the circulation of Israel Today, cancel Israel Today’s weekend edition, and lobby wealthy people to buy Yediot Ahronot

Go to jail?

This is actually the third time the Israeli police have recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on corruption charges.

In 1997, police recommended that Netanyahu be indicted on corruption charges for influence-peddling. He was accused of appointing an attorney general who would reduce the charges and prosecutors ruled that there was insufficient evidence to go to trial. In 1999, Netanyahu faced another scandal when the Israel Police recommended that he be tried for corruption for $100,000 in free services from a government contractor; Israel’s attorney general did not prosecute, citing difficulties with evidence.

Do our Israeli readers believe the outcome this time will be any different?

Should Netanyahu continue as prime minister while subject to a possible indictment?

You may believe that Israel can’t do any better than Netanyahu given Israel’s circumstances. (I hope that’s not true, but I can understand that argument.) But even those who believe that must realize how personally sleazy he is.

Go to Jail (Not)


6 years in Ecuador embassy to avoid arrest

6 months in Wandsworth Prison for skipping bail

Which would you choose?

Wandsworth Prison – institutional food, dodgy fellow prisoners, mail bags to sew, no view

6 years in Ecuador embassy – unlimited internet, balcony, chance to influence American elections, visits from that Bay Watch chick and George Galloway….

Wandsworth here we come.

As it happens, no.

Handing down her judgment at Westminster magistrates court, the senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot said she was not persuaded by the argument from Assange’s legal team that it was not in the public interest to pursue him for skipping bail…

Summers said that the years Assange has spent inside the embassy were “adequate, if not severe” punishment for his actions, and cited a report by a UN committee that said the Australian national was being arbitrarily detained.

But the judge said on Tuesday: “Firstly, he can leave the embassy whenever he wishes; secondly, he is free to receive, it would seem, an unlimited number of visitors and those visits are not supervised; thirdly, he can choose the food he eats, the time he sleeps and exercises.

“He can sit on the balcony (I accept probably observed by the police and his supporters) to take the air. He is not locked in at night.

“I suspect if one were to ask one of the men incarcerated in Wandsworth prison whether conditions in the Ecuadorian embassy were akin to a remand in custody, the prisoner would dispute the working group’s assertions.”

Call for “Unified military effort by Islamic world to remove Zionist occupation” at UCL

Last week, at an event entitled ‘US embassy in Jerusalem, what’s the big deal?’, Dilly Hussain calls for a;

“unified military effort by the Islamic world to remove the Zionist occupation”.

Hussain, deputy editor of 5Pillars made the comment in response to a question by an “Irish student who appeared to be pro-Palestine” (his description).

Hussain is calling for an attack by an Islamic army on Jews in the Middle East, invoking language and sentiment of Quranic battles and subsequent victories over Jews. In fact, Hussain in his talk (which can be viewed here) refers to such Quranic battles as a model for which action should be taken today.

Without a hint of irony even as Hussain calls for a slaughter he also calls for “justice and security for all three Abrahamic faiths to live in peace”.

Imagine tomorrow Hussain gets his wish and a unified Islamic military arrives on the doorstep of Israel to liberate Palestine and rid it of said Zionist occupation.

Millions of Jews (of which there are currently over 6 million) would be slaughtered as they fought to save their state and their way of life. What Jews would be left to live in peace?

None – that’s the point.

Let’s not forget that in its enquiry into the violent anti-Israel protests against Hen Mazzig in 2016, UCL concluded that;

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’….….‘could be considered anti-Semitic’ because it calls ‘for the destruction of the state of Israel’.

How will they now react to a far clearer and much more explicitly violent call for Israel’s destruction, organised and unchallenged by UCL’s Islamic society and Friends of Palestine society who now have a less that admirable record on antisemitism.

Will UCL act?

The event was co-hosted by the UCL Friends of Palestine Society and the Islamic Society:

If you look at the bottom right of the publicity you’ll see the logo for the Islamic Society and the UCL Students Union, have they endorsed this? Is this the official position of UCL Students Union?