by Stuart Littlewood
Both the Foreign Office and Boris Johnson, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, have declared the Shai Masot affair “closed” after Masot, an employee of the Israeli embassy and probably a Mossad asset, plotted with gullible British MPs and political hangers-on to “take down” senior government figures including Johnson’s deputy, Sir Alan Duncan. “The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed,” they announced. The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, who is Jewish, has also declined to investigate.
Sorry, Boris. It isn’t closed – hell no. It’s just opening and it’ll run and run. You and your fellow stooges can be sure of it.
According to some reports Masot served in the Israeli navy in Palestinian waters off Gaza. Given the many atrocities committed by Israel’s gunboats against Gaza’s fishermen, and children playing on Gaza’s beach, and even peaceful unarmed humanitarian vessels bringing relief to the sick and starving there, he may well be on a wanted list for questioning about war crimes. Masot’s damning comments were captured and revealed in an undercover investigation by Al Jazeera and not, as one might have hoped, by Britain’s own beloved press barons.
Masot’s hostile connivings were going on under the eye of a recently arrived ambassador, the loathsome Mark Regev, ace propagandist, mastermind of the Israeli Lie Machine and personal spokesman for the Zionist regime’s chief thug, Netanyahu.
Emily Thornberry, the Labour Party’s shadow foreign secretary, called Masot’s activities “extremely disturbing” and has demanded a probe into the potential extent of political “interference” in the United Kingdom. There are calls for Regev to be packed off back to Tel Aviv.
A petition demanding a public inquiry can be found here.
Are British parliamentarians at last waking up? Are those who wave the flag of a nasty, murderous foreign military power about to feel the heat from an increasingly furious public? They should be very afraid.
Watch George Galloway’s devastating summing-up.
The realisation that we are in the grip of great evil has been slow in coming. Nine years ago twenty senior professionals wrote to the Committee on Standards in Public Life about the undue influence of the Israel lobby at the heart of British government and their deep concern about the appalling conditions forced on the civilian population in the Occupied Territories and particularly Gaza by the Israeli blockade and uncalled-for sanctions imposed by Britain and the EU.
A letter had earlier been delivered to the Foreign Office minister then responsible for the Middle East, Kim Howells, suggesting that Britain consider suspending the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The rules provide for this sanction if Israel’s conduct towards its neighbours falls short of what is required under the UN Charter and other obligations.
Howells replied: “We consider that the Association Agreement is a key tool for the EU to both enhance co-operation with Israel but also to raise any concerns. We do not support suspension of that Agreement, which would limit how we could put our viewpoint across to the Israeli government.”
When the EU demanded an end to the emergency in Gaza and the military occupation of the West Bank, Israel responded with an even tighter lockdown so another letter was sent to Mr Howells. He replied: “The UK… has strong relationships with Israel on a number of fronts… We do not consider it would be in the best interests of the UK, or the European Union, to end this relationship.”
Howells was a former chairman of Labour Friends of Israel. His opposition shadow at the time was a member of Conservative Friends of Israel.
The minister was then asked to explain what “viewpoint” Her Majesty’s Government had put to the Israeli government regarding the medieval-style siege of Gaza and the collective punishment inflicted on its already impoverished civilians in flagrant breach of the UN Charter and every conceivable code of conduct. What action had he and his Department taken to alleviate the suffering in this former British mandate? What was the status of the coastal waters off Gaza? How could Israel maintain a sea blockade lawfully and deny Gazan fishermen their livelihood?
And how did continuing the Association Agreement in these cruel circumstances “enhance co-operation” with Israel?
No answers to these questions were ever received.
So the twenty signatories reminded the Standards Committee how the lobby group, Friends of Israel, had embedded itself in the British political establishment with the stated purpose of promoting Israel’s interests in our Parliament and bend British policy.
British MPs eating out of the Israeli government’s hand
It was put to the Committee that MPs are surely not at liberty to act for a foreign military power at the expense of our own national interests, or to let foreign influence cloud their judgement. Such conduct breached the second of the Seven Principles of Public Life, namely Integrity – “Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.”
The various Friends of Israel organisations had gone to great lengths to influence those in power. A good many of them, it seemed, reached their high positions with FoI help. The network acted as a sort of parliamentary freemasonry. The political director of Conservative Friends of Israel claimed that with over 2,000 members and registered supporters alongside 80 percent of the Conservative MPs, CFI was the largest affiliated group in the party.
Its website stated that the CFI “strives to support the Conservative Party at all available opportunities. In the run up to the 2005 General Election… CFI supported candidates up and down the country. As candidates are now being continuously selected for target seats, CFI has developed a special programme of weekly briefings, events with speakers and a chance to participate in delegations to Israel. CFI encourages all members to help campaign for parliamentary candidates and also for local council, London and European elections.”
It also had a ‘Fast Track’ group for Conservative parliamentary candidates fighting target marginal seats at the next election. The political director himself was seeking election to Parliament. If successful where would his loyalty lie?
Senior Conservatives tried to justify these activities by insisting that Israel was “a force for good in the world” and “in the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression – Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together”.
The danger of inappropriate ‘friendships’ with foreign regimes had become blazingly obvious a few days earlier when Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, was reported to have twice asked David Miliband, our Foreign Secretary, to scrap the law that authorised magistrates to issue arrest warrants for suspected war criminals who set foot in the UK, she being a particularly bloodsoaked example. Avi Dichter, a former director of the Shin Bet spy service and involved in the Shehadeh assassination in which 14 Palestianian civilians (including children) were killed by an Israeli air strike, had to cancel a trip to London for fear of being arrested.
Doron Almog, an Israeli ex-general also involved in the Shehadeh affair, narrowly avoided arrest when he landed at Heathrow in 2005. Israel wished the UK to change its laws to protect alleged war criminals. So we did so just to oblige them, in the name of “enhanced co-operation” as Mr Howells might have put it.
The Standards Committee was also told bluntly: “It is especially disconcerting to discover that at least two members of your Committee, which is pledged to uphold the Principles of Public Life, are Friends of Israel [one the president of Conservative Friends of Israel and the other a member of Labour Friends of Israel]…. Given that Israel’s deep penetration of our political system apparently prevents Britain from taking a principled stand on Middle East matters, including the violations of Palestinian human rights, we invite your Committee – minus those with an interest – to uphold the Principles of Public Life and consider the activities of the Friends of Israel as a matter for urgent investigation.”
But the Standards Committee refused to look into it. The chairman’s reply, sent in a note from a member of his office staff, said: “I regret that the Committee on Standards in Public Life has no remit to help you in this matter.”
So the public’s watchdog – the Standards Committee – which was formed specifically to uphold those Seven Principles, wasn’t playing ball. Its published remit called on it “to examine current concerns about standards of conduct of all holders of public office, including arrangements relating to financial and commercial activities and make recommendations as to any changes in present arrangements which might be required to ensure the highest standards of propriety in public life.” Wasn’t this the kind of plain English even dyed-in-the-wool bureaucrats like the Committee’s chairman could understand?
Apparently not. He added: “This Committee commented on lobbying in their first report in 1995 and re-addressed the issue, including the changes instigated by their first report, in a review in 2001. The Committee has no plans to review this area again in the near future.”
The angry twenty pointed out there was nothing in the 1995 report relating to MPs and legislators representing the interests of foreign countries within Parliament or placing themselves under the influence of a foreign country’s political lobby. Nor could they find any mention of it in the 2001 report. They asked for chapter and verse. No reply.
And there the matter has rested for nine years.
Fast-forward to the present day and we find it’s now the Anglo-Israel Association (AIA) casting a shadow over the Standards Committee. “The Association’s primary purpose is to promote wider and better understanding of Israel in the UK; to encourage exchanges between both countries at every level and generally to support activities which foster good will between British and Israeli citizens,” says the website. But its programme is skewed mainly towards ‘educating’ Brits (including our clergy) about Israel.
The Honorary president of the AIA is the Ambassador of Israel himself. Chairman of the AIA’s Executive Committee is none other than Lord Bew, also chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. And its Council includes the Earl of Balfour – the 5th earl, that is – related of course to the first earl, that nincompoop Arthur Balfour whose infamous Declaration in 1917 paved the way for the shameful handover of the Palestinians’ homeland – and Christianity’s homeland – to Zionist Jews. “What we have done, by concessions not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section,” warned Lord Sydenham at the time, “is to start a running sore in the East, and no-one can tell how far that sore will extend.”
The centenary of Balfour’s Declaration will be joyously celebrated this year by Israel’s many Westminster stooges including Theresa May if her sucking-up speech to the Israel lobby last month is anything to go by.
So there’s a lot of weeding-out to do.
Those disgruntled twenty could easily become 2 million if the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, the PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign), the unions and other activist groups got together. The sinister machinations of Masot and Regev have presented them an open goal. And we have Al Jazeera to thank for the brilliant exposée where our own security services failed.
After working on jet fighters in the RAF Stuart became an industrial marketing specialist with manufacturing companies and consultancy firms. He also “indulged himself” as a newspaper columnist. In politics, he served as a Cambridgeshire county councillor and member of the Police Authority. Now retired he campaigns on various issues and contributes to several online news & opinion sites. An Associate of the Royal Photographic Society, he has produced two photo-documentary books which can be read online at Radiofreepalestine.org.uk and Paperturn-view.com