This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman
Today’s Sunday Mail front page story is headlined “Israel plot to ‘take down’ Tory minister”.
It is based on the Al Jazeera ‘sting’ to be broadcast as part of four half-hour documentaries from 15 January.
The correct headline should be “Employee of Israel Embassy does job”. (UK Media Watch has complained). It is a non-story. But a non-story upon which the Mail’s Political Editor, Simon Walters, chooses to hang some truly vicious - but anonymous – barbs of bigotry from an ‘ex-Minister in David Cameron’s government’.
(Some other headlines also over-egg the story.)
And the incident in question was not an “Israel plot.” It was a lunch where a temporary employee (not a career diplomat) of the Embassy talked to a Parliamentary aide. The type of encounter that happens every day in Westminster or Washington - or any capital city.
An Israeli employee of the Embassy – Shai Masot – is shown asking Robert Halfon’s aide to ‘take down’ Alan Duncan. ‘Take down’ is unfortunate phraseology – but all it means is to promote negative publicity about him. (Remember Masot is not a native speaker). The type of thing that happens in Westminster constantly. It is perfectly legitimate for foreign governments to attempt to lobby politicians and their aides to try to get more favourable treatment of their countries. Perfectly legitimate despite the Mail’s lame attempt to make out that Masot is working for Mossad as a spy (‘Ambitious Mr Masot’s CV has the hallmarks of a spy’).
The Mail goes on to quote an anonymous ‘Minister who served in David Cameron’s government’. I believe it is Sir Alan Duncan himself. He has simply used this non-incident as a hook on which to hang his Israel bashing.
So we get:
“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.”
[Notice the use of the word 'hock' which Duncan often uses in this context - see below - reinforcing my belief that it is Duncan speaking here]
[And just two weeks ago the UK endorsed Resolution 2334 at the UN Security Council ... Sir Alan (assuming it is he) sure has a strange definition of 'In Hock'!]
‘Lots of countries try to force their views on others, but what is scandalous in the UK is that instead of resisting it, successive Governments have submitted to it, taken donors’ money, and allowed Israeli influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of Ministers.’
‘This is politically corrupt, and diplomatically indefensible. The conduct of certain MPs needs to be exposed as the poisonous and deceitful infiltration of our politics by the unwitting agents of another country, which acts in defiance of international law, and whose government Kerry called its most extreme ever.’
‘This opaque funding and underhand conduct is a national disgrace and humiliation and must be stamped out.’
Let’s recall some of the nastiness of Duncan………… (whose recent career includes being ‘special envoy’ for Oman and Yemen and running a consultancy advising clients with interests in the Middle East).
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 in October 2014, following the debate in Parliament on Palestinian statehood, he said “all know that the United States is in hock to a very powerful financial lobby which dominates its politics.” In his RUSI speech after the vote, he said that “no endorser of Israeli settlements should be considered fit to stand for election, remain a member of a mainstream political party, or sit in a Parliament.”
“But our politics has rules…funding should not come from another country or from citizens of another country, or be unduly in hock to another country. This rule seems to apply to every country except when it comes from Israel. Jewish voters in the UK should be welcomed as supporters of, and donors to, their favoured political party.”
“…the support of any British Jew for any political party can hinge on whatever they want”
“…We need British Jews for the Conservative, Labour, or other UK parties; not the Israeli lobby for any party. The time has come to make sure above any doubt that the funding of any party in the UK is clearly decoupled from the influence of the Israeli state.”
Comments which earned him a sharp rebuke from the CST who said that they ‘resonated with the Jews / money / hidden power / alien purpose motifs of old antisemitic conspiracy theory: only now directed at Israel or pro-Israelis, rather than Jews’.
Whoever is the anonymous former Minister – How very shoddy and underhand of the Mail to allow this bigoted attack on Israel from behind a shield of anonymity.
Indeed look how it fuels the antisemitic slur of ‘Jewish power’:
“Even now, if I were to reveal who I am, I would be subjected to a relentless barrage of abuse and character assassination”.
The other piece of ‘news’ in the Mail article (again sourced from the Al Jazeera ‘sting’) is that ‘Masot had intensive contact with pro-Israel Labour figures and discussed extra funding for LFI at the party’s conference in Liverpool in September’. Again, an Embassy employee doing his job. A figure of ‘£1 million’ is quoted by Masot for bringing MPs to Israel but we have no idea of the provenance of that number: was it for all MPs? From all countries? What did it cover? It was simply plucked out of the air. Maybe the reason Al Jazeera and the Mail highlight this is because they know that to combat the the anti-Israel media (eg Guardian, BBC and – sometimes – the Mail), the best thing is for policymakers to see Israel for themselves.
Let’s remember, this was the paper who called the High Court Judges in the Brexit case “Enemies of the People”.
And even slurred one of the Judges as “openly gay”.
And flirted with fascism in the 1930s
‘THE German nation, moreover, was rapidly falling under the control of its alien elements. In the last days of the pre-Hitler regime there were 20 times as many Jewish Government officials in Germany as had existed before the war. Israelites of international attachments were insinuating themselves into key positions in the German administrative machine. Three German Ministries only had direct relations with the Press, but in each case the official responsible for conveying news and interpreting policy to the public was a Jew. . It is from such abuses that Hitler has freed Germany.’
Mail Editor Paul Dacre sure has a lot of questions to answer ……………