January 11, 2017
In part two of The Lobby, our undercover reporter joins a delegation from the Israeli Embassy at last year’s Labour Party Conference. The programme reveals how accusations of anti-Semitism were made against key Labour Party members – and how a former official at the Israeli Embassy was upset when her background was revealed.
The Al Jazeera television channel has revealed an Israeli plan to destroy the careers of senior British government figures because they have been critical of Israel. Shai Masot, a senior official in the Israeli embassy in London, was recorded by an Al Jazeera undercover reporter in conversation in a London restaurant with Ms Maria Strizzolo, formerly chief of staff to the British government’s ‘minister of state for skills’, Robert Halfon, the past political director of the Conservative Friends of Israel, who has a colourful history.
Shai Masot (right, with the Israeli Ambassador at the British Labour Party Conference in 2016)
In one of the exchanges between Ms Strizzolo and Mr Masot, he is recorded as asking her ‘Can I give you some [names of] MPs [Members of Parliament] that I would suggest you take down?’ to which Ms Strizzolo replied that all MPs have ‘something they’re trying to hide.’ (The expression ‘take-down’ is defined as ‘a wrestling manoeuvre in which an opponent is swiftly brought to the mat from a standing position,’ but in this context has more disturbing connotations.)
Mr Masot speaking with Ms Strizzolo
Mr Masot then told her ‘I have some MPs’ and specified ‘the deputy foreign minister,’ Sir Alan Duncan, who has been critical of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. According to transcripts of the meeting, Strizzolo implied that ‘a little scandal’ might result in Duncan being dismissed, and added ‘don’t tell anyone about this meeting,’ which was clear indication that she knew it was clandestine and involved sensitive matters.
It was not surprising that Ms Strizzolo resigned her position following disclosure of her agenda — but first she tried to lie her way out of the affair, as is usual for such people.
In answer to a reporter’s questions she claimed her conversation with Masot was ‘tongue-in-cheek and gossipy… Any suggestion that I could exert the type of influence you are suggesting is risible.’ She declared that Mr Masot ‘is not someone with whom I have ever worked or had any political dealings beyond chatting about politics, as millions of people do, in a social context.’ This was strange, coming from a person who was recorded as saying she could help Israel because ‘If at least you can get a small group of MPs that you know you can always rely on… 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’.’
Pronouncements of innocence did not end with Ms Strizzolo’s assertion of virtue, and the Israeli Embassy declared that ‘the comments were made by a junior embassy employee who is not an Israeli diplomat, and who will be ending his term of employment with the embassy shortly.’
This so-called ‘junior embassy employee’ describes himself as ‘a Senior Political Officer’ on his business card, and his social media page states he is ‘the chief point of contact between the embassy and MPs and liaising with ministers and officials at the Foreign Office’ which indicates that he is responsible for dealing with influential representatives of his host country.
It is bizarre to state that Mr Masot would explore methods of ‘taking down’ British government ministers without authorisation from a very high level.
Masot told Joan Ryan, a Member of Parliament and Chair of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), that he had plans for ‘another delegation of LFI activists’ to visit Israel and Ms Ryan said ‘That’d be good. What happened with the names we put in to the embassy, Shai?’ To which Masot replied ‘We’ve got the money, more than a million pounds, it’s a lot of money… I have got it from Israel. It is an approval.’
Israelis don’t spend a million pounds for nothing.
Predictably, Ms Ryan said the filmed revelations are ‘rubbish,’ but the Al Jazeera recording provides undeniable evidence of her involvement in chicanery as well as an Israeli scheme to interfere even more directly in the domestic politics of the United Kingdom.
It cannot be denied that an official of the Israeli Embassy in London collaborated with a British government employee who worked for a pro-Israeli Member of Parliament in order to attempt to destroy the reputation of a British government Minister. Yet the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office — the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose Minister of State (in effect the deputy foreign minister) was the person specifically targeted for a campaign of Israeli-British denigration — quickly stated that ‘The Israeli Ambassador has apologised and is clear these comments do not reflect the views of the embassy or government of Israel. The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.’
And that is that. There will be no action by the British government, in spite of Mr Masot reflecting amusingly, and no doubt to the approval of Ms Strizzolo and much of the British public, that the Foreign Minister himself, Mr Boris Johnson, ‘is an idiot with no responsibilities.’
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, is entirely pro-Israel, as demonstrated by her criticism of departing US Secretary of State John Kerry who described the Israeli government as the ‘most right-wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.’ He was perfectly correct, but Mrs May scolded him and pleased the Israeli government by stating that she does ‘not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.’
The Conservative and Labour and all the other Friends of Israel have worked their magic in Britain, as does the enormously powerful Israeli lobby in the United States, and the Al Jazeera revelations were only a one-day-wonder in the West.
The Matter is Closed.
But imagine the outcry if there had been reports concerning such actions in London (or Washington) by a representative of any nation other than Israel.
If a Russian diplomat in the capital of any Western country had tried to engage in underhand antics like Israel’s ‘Senior Political Officer’ in London there would be massive journalistic fandangos in American and British media. The West’s television channels would be near meltdown with hysterical condemnation of the threat to democracy and there would be prolonged and frenzied anti-Russian outbursts in their halls of government.
But when Israel schemes to ‘take down’ a respected British Government minister with the assistance of a British government official, and the Israeli ambassador apologises for being found out, the British ignore insult, injury, contempt and condescension, and declare that ‘The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.’
It is amazing what money can buy.
Syrian state news agency SANA says Israeli jets have bombed the Mezzeh military airport west of Damascus, accusing Tel Aviv of supporting terrorism. The airport was rocked by multiple explosions, with ambulances rushing to the scene.
The Syrian Arab Army has warned that there will be repercussions for Israel for the “flagrant attack” on the military base, state TV said, citing a Syrian army command spokesman. It also linked the alleged strike to Israel’s “support of terrorist groups.”
The army said several missiles were fired at the Mezzeh airport’s compounds from the Lake Tiberias area in northern Israel at about 12am Friday. The strike reportedly damaged one of the compounds of the crucial military facility.
There was no information on the death toll resulting from the airstrike immediately available. The base is reported to house Syria’s elite Republican Guards and Special Forces.
Footage from the scene with heavy fire and the sounds of explosions has surfaced on social media. Multiple reports from journalists and activists on the ground described the bombing, with the opposition also reporting there were rockets fired.
“Rockets strike at Mezzeh Military airport in Damascus minutes ago,” tweeted Hadi al-Bahra, former president of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces.
This is the second time in two months that Israel has been accused by the Syrian government of targeting Syrian positions from Israeli territory.
On December 7, SANA reported that “several surface-to-surface missiles” were launched by the IDF from the Golan Heights. At the time, the source in the Syrian armed forces slammed the attack as a “desperate attempt” by Israel to endorse terrorists.
Long before December 28, when Secretary of State, John Kerry took the podium at the Dean Acheson Auditorium in Washington DC to pontificate on the uncertain future of the two-state solution and the need to save Israel from itself, the subject of a Palestinian state has been paramount.
In fact, unlike common belief, the push to establish a Palestinian and a Jewish state side-by-side goes back years before the passing of United Nations Resolution 181 in November 1947. That infamous resolution had called for the partitioning of Palestine into three entities: a Jewish state, a Palestinian state and an international regime to govern Jerusalem.
A more thorough reading of history can pinpoint multiple references to the Palestinian (or Arab state) between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
The idea of two states is western par excellence. No Palestinian party or leader had ever thought that partitioning the holy land was ever an option. Then, such an idea seemed preposterous, partly because, as Ilan Pappe’s Ethnic Cleaning of Palestine shows, “almost all of the cultivated land in Palestine was held by the indigenous population (while) only 5.8% percent was in Jewish ownership in 1947.”
An earlier, but equally important reference to a Palestinian state was made in the Peel Commission, a British commission of inquiry, led by Lord Peel that was sent to Palestine to investigate the reasons behind the popular strike, uprising and later armed rebellion that began in 1936 and lasted for nearly three years.
The “underlying causes of the disturbances” were two, resolved the commission: Palestinian desire for independence, and the “hatred and fear of the establishment of the Jewish national home.” The latter was promised by the British government to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland in 1917 which became known as the ‘Balfour Declaration.’
The Peel Commission recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, which would be incorporated into Transjordan, with enclaves reserved for the British Mandate government.
In the time between that recommendation eighty years ago, and Kerry’s warning that the two-state solution is “in serious jeopardy,” little has been done in terms of practical steps to establish a Palestinian state. Worse, the US has used its veto power in the UN repeatedly to impede the establishment of a Palestinian state, as well as utilizing its political and economic might to intimidate others from recognizing (although symbolically) a Palestinian state. It has further played a key role in funding illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem – all of which rendered the existence of a Palestinian state virtually impossible.
The issue now is: why does the West continue to use the two-state solution as their political parameter for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while, at the same time ensuring that their own prescription for conflict resolution is never to become a reality?
The answer, partly, lies in the fact the two-state solution was never devised for implementation to begin with. Like the ‘peace process’ and other pretenses, it aimed to promote among Palestinians and Arabs the idea that there is a goal worth striving for, despite being unattainable.
But even that goal was itself conditioned on a set of demands that were unrealistic to begin with. Historically, Palestinians had to renounce violence (their armed resistance to Israel’s military occupation), consent to various UN resolutions (even if Israel still reject those resolutions), accept Israel’s ‘right’ to exist as a Jewish state, and so on. That yet-to-be-established Palestinian state was also meant to be demilitarized, divided between the West Bank and Gaza, and excluding most of Occupied East Jerusalem.
Many new ‘creative’ solutions were also offered to alleviate any Israeli fears that the nonexistent Palestinian state, in case of its establishment, never pose a threat to Israel. At times, discussions were afoot about a confederation between Palestine and Jordan, and other times, as in the most recent proposal by the head of Jewish Home Party, Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett, making Gaza a state of its own and annexing to Israel 60 percent of the West Bank.
And when Israel’s allies, frustrated by the rise of the right wing in Israel and the obstinacy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, insist that time is running out for a two-state solution, they express their worries in the form of tough love. Israel’s settlement activity is “increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality,” said Kerry in his major policy speech last month.
Such a reality would force Israel to either compromise on the Jewish identity of the state (as if having religious/ethnic identities of a modern democratic state is a common precondition) or having to contend with being an Apartheid state (as if such reality doesn’t exist anyway.)
Kerry warned Israel that it will eventually be left with the option of placing Palestinians “under a permanent military occupation that deprives them of the most basic freedoms,” thus paving the ground for a “separate and unequal” scenario.
Yet while warnings that a two-state solution possibility is disintegrating, few bothered to try to understand the reality from a Palestinian perspective.
For Palestinians, the debate on Israel having to choose between being democratic and Jewish is ludicrous. For them, Israel’s democracy applies fully to its Jewish citizens and no one else, while Palestinians have subsisted for decades behind walls, fences, prisons and besieged enclaves, like the Gaza Strip.
And with two separate laws, rules and realities applying to two separate groups in the same land, Kerry’s ‘separate but unequal’ Apartheid scenario had taken place the moment Israel was established in 1948.
Fed up by the illusions of their own failed leadership, according to a recent poll, two thirds of Palestinians now agree that a two-state solution is not possible. And that margin keeps on growing as fast as the massive illegal settlement enterprise dotting the Occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
This is not an argument against the two-state solution; for the latter merely existed as a ruse to pacify Palestinians, buy time and demarcate the conflict with a mirage-like political horizon. If the US was indeed keen on a two-state solution, it would have fought vehemently to make it a reality, decades ago.
To say that the two-state solution is now dead is to subscribe to the illusion that it was once alive and possible.
That said, it behooves everyone to understand that co-existence in a one democratic state is not a dark scenario that spells doom for the region.
It is time to abandon unattainable illusions and focus all energies to foster co-existence, based on equality and justice for all.
Indeed, there can be one state between the river and the sea, and that is a democratic state for all of its people, regardless of their ethnicity or religious beliefs.
The anti-Iran, anti-Syria US Washington, DC district court of the absurd illegally ordered both countries to pay $178.5 million in damages to the family of an Israeli infant killed in a 2014 vehicular incident.
Israel calls wars of aggression, lethal shootings of Palestinians, and other barbarous acts self-defense. It considers legitimate resistance against brutal occupation harshness terrorism – a knee-jerk response to all incidents, Palestinians automatically guilty by accusation.
The family in question has dual Israeli-American citizenship. Their three-month-old infant was killed when Palestinian Abdel Rahman Shaludi’s vehicle struck people at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill light-rail station in October 2014.
Israel accused him of ties with Hamas, illegally called a terrorist organization. It’s Palestine’s legally elected government.
Parents of the deceased child sued in the US district court, awarded a default judgment, the entire procedure a sham, a scheme to denigrate and punish Iran and Syria illegally.
Attorneys for the plaintiff claimed both countries support Hamas, their legal right if true. Based on this flawed judgment, the court ruled against them – an unjust decision Tehran and Damascus denounced, intending to pay nothing, now now, not ever, nor should they.
In March 2016, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari denounced a US court ruling against the Islamic Republic for the US state-sponsored false flag 9/11 attack, assessing it $10.5 billion in damages to family members of individuals killed, as well as to insurers for costs incurred.
At the time, Ansari minced no words calling the ruling “ridiculous and absurd to the point that it makes a mockery of the principle of justice while further tarnishes the US judiciary’s reputation.”
The new ruling against Iran and Syria is just as spurious, offensive, and illegal. Neither country has had anything to do with incidents in Israel or America. Claiming otherwise is a despicable fabrication.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
January 10, 2017
In the first of a four-part series, Al Jazeera goes undercover inside the Israel Lobby in Britain. We expose a campaign to infiltrate and influence youth groups, including the National Union of Students, whose president faces a smear campaign coordinated by her own deputy and supported by the Israel Embassy.
CORRECTION: At timecode 25:16 of this programme, the phrase “range of shareholders” appears with respect to We Believe in Israel and who it works with. The correct wording is “range of stakeholders.”
BETHLEHEM – A 16-year-old Palestinian detainee has had to undergo a below-the-knee amputation due to a severe injuries he sustained after an Israeli jeep hit him at an Israeli military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin last week, according to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer.
Addameer wrote in a statement on Tuesday that an attorney representing Sharif Khanfar said the teen was with three of his friends riding a Vespa motorcycle when they were apprehended by Israeli forces for allegedly planning a vehicular attack on soldiers on Jan. 3, and were injured after an Israeli jeep hit them.
The statement contradicted reports from Israeli police at the time of the incident, which did not mention an Israeli vehicle being involved.
Initial reports from Israel media claimed the incident was a deliberate vehicular attack, but Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said later that it was an accident.
The accident occurred at a so-called “flying checkpoint” — a non-temporary Israeli military checkpoint — that had been set up between the city of Jenin and the al-Jalama checkpoint, which Palestinians use to cross into Israel from the northern occupied West Bank.
Al-Samri’s initial statement said that one motorcycle “bumped into” Israeli soldiers who were on foot at a military checkpoint, while three other motorcycles involved in the incident “fled the scene.”
However, she issued a correction later saying only three motorcycles had been involved — one carrying two Palestinians and another carrying one — without elaborating details of how the accident itself occurred.
A second Palestinian was severely injured in the incident, and a third was lightly injured. Two Israeli soldiers were lightly injured under unclear circumstances, though al-Samri seemed to suggest, without saying explicitly, that they were on foot by neglecting to mention the involvement of a military jeep.
Al-Samri also did not mention in her statements that anyone was detained after the accident or accused with wrongdoing. An Israeli police spokesperson could not immediately be reached on Wednesday to confirm whether or not the teen was in fact being detained.
Israel’s emergency medical service Magen David Adom (MDA) said they evacuated the two severely injured Palestinian motorcyclists to Israel’s HaEmek hospital.
However, according to Addameer, Khanfar was being detained by Israeli authorities in the hospital, which is located in the Israeli city of Afula, north of the border with the occupied West Bank.
Addameer’s statement said Khanfar and his family members were “shocked” by the incident that resulted in the loss of a leg, and denied that he and his friends had intended to carry out an attack.
Since a wave of unrest began in October 2015– largely marked by small-scale attacks by Palestinians targeting uniformed Israeli soldiers and police with knives or similar weapons — a number of deliberate car ramming attacks have occurred.
However, Israeli authorities’ version of events have been challenged in a number of incidents, with officials in some cases later admitting so-called “terror attacks” were actually traffic accidents.
Amid the unrest, Israel has come under widespread condemnation for implementing a “shoot-to-kill” policy against Palestinian committing or allegedly committing attacks. Among the more than 100 Palestinians to be killed by Israeli forces and settlers throughout 2016, 33 were minors aged 17 and younger, according to Ma’an documentation.
In addition to lethal shootings of Palestinian children committed by Israeli forces, Palestinian NGO BADIL has warned of an increasing trend of Israeli forces shooting Palestinian youth in a deliberate attempt to leave them crippled for life.
Rights groups have also widely documented the mistreatment, abuse, and torture of Palestinian minors in detention, and the harsh interrogation practices used to force their confessions.
Israeli authorities collaborated with student campaigners in an attempt to topple the president of the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS), Malia Bouattia, undercover filming suggests.
Al Jazeera reports the Israeli embassy in Britain and the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) have sponsored attempts to influence student politics, manipulate NUS elections, and even bring down the current president.
NUS vice president Richard Brooks is seen in footage telling an undercover reporter he is the one helping to organize Bouattia’s opponents.
Bouattia, who represents more than 4 million students, ran on an openly pro-Palestinian platform, and has been criticized in the British media for calling herself anti-Zionist.
Brooks is also filmed telling the Al Jazeera journalist, who went by the alias of Robin and pretended to be a Labour Friends of Israel volunteer, that he had held several “private meetings” with former Labour Students chairman and active pro-Israel campaigner Michael Rubin, and Union of Jewish Students (UJS) campaign director Russell Langer, on how to take over key NUS positions.
“We’d have our secret little purpose meeting where we’d plan how to get moderate people with good politics and any number of things elected to certain places,” he told Robin.
Brooks has since replied to the allegations, saying it is “not a shock or an exposé that I politically organize against what I think to be an ineffectual and damaging presidency for students’ unions and students.”
He did, however, deny that he had actively worked with the Israeli government to depose Bouattia.
News of pro-Israel NUS officers colluding against the pro-Palestinian NUS president comes after revelations that an Israeli embassy aide was filmed telling a Conservative Party employee how to “take down” MPs critical of Israel, as well as other British officials.
In the same Al Jazeera investigation, University College London student and founder of the Zionist think tank Pinsker Centre Adam Shapira is filmed saying “the Israeli embassy in the UK gives money to UJS.”
Other powerful lobbies like AIPAC were also identified as donors to Shapira’s student lobby.
The Israeli embassy and Labour Friends of Israel did not respond to the allegations. Bouattia and the NUS are yet to make an official statement.
Ever heard of a roundabout-dog? They are artificial dogs which started appearing in roundabouts in Sweden last year. Most likely meant as a joke, a Swedish cartoonist figured this phenomenon could be used in a funny way to provoke Muslims anger. The Swedish artist Lars Vilks made three silly drawings portraying a dog standing in a roundabout, with Prophet Muhammad’s head. The political implications aside, the quality of his work is-to say the least-far below even mediocre. Three art galleries decided not to exhibit these drawings, which is perfectly understandable. Nor do they have any obligation to do so, especially when the art is of poor quality and only meant to insult. Vilks has openly admitted this:
“Of course it was a provocation and an insult to the Muslims. But it was an empty provocation. I am not promoting any idea such as kicking all the Muslims out of Sweden.” Getting attention was also a part of it: “All artists gun for attention, and there is jealousy among those in the business of attracting much attention,” he asserted.
It could have ended there. An obnoxious, obscure artist making silly drawings of Prophet Muhammad–who cares? But this was just the beginning. A Swedish newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda, published Vilks’s drawings this August, describing the art galleries’ decision not to exhibit the drawings as “unacceptable self-censorship,” saying it must be permissible to ridicule the symbols of another religion. A staff writer at the paper compared it to Monty Python’s film Life of Brian:
In Norway, Life of Brian was banned, in reference to the law against blasphemy. In the United States voices were raised to have it banned. John Cleese pointed out that God could certainly take care of himself. I am myself an active Christian and I think Life of Brian is an extremely funny movie.
Fine. But what he fails to see is that Life of Brian was made by people of Christian origin, while this is an attack by a Christian on Islam. Also, while Life of Brian was a comedy, these drawings had no other purpose than to insult and provoke. Not exactly comparable.
And it didn’t take long before Muslims raised voices to protest the publication. Not only in Sweden; 200 people went to the streets in Pakistan, burning a doll representing the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and the Swedish flag (which is yellow and blue, not yellow and green as the demonstrations thought). Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the “Zionists,” who (unlike Jews) “only pretend to believe in religion,” were behind the publication. Protestors also hit Swedish streets, though peacefully.
Instead of discussing the issues as to why many Muslims became upset-always seeing Islam slandered, exposed to threats, and having their Mosques vandalised-the affair was made into a matter of freedom of speech. Journalists, commentators, politicians and others all defended the publication in the name of freedom of speech. Truth is, it was never under threat; only a very low number among the opponents of publishing the drawings said this should be criminalised.
One of them, the Egyptian Ambassador Samah Mohamed Sotouhi, declared that “We must try to bring about a change in the law. The Muslims need legal protection against the defamation of the Prophet Muhammad, similar to [the protection] that Jews and homosexuals enjoy.” But except for some efforts made by Muslim countries, no politician or journalist spoke out in favour of the state outlawing such a practise, including the vast majority of those objecting to the publication. (It is interesting to notice that the very same people, who care so much for freedom of speech when defamation of Muslims is the case, had nothing to say when a Swedish computer teacher, Jan Bernhoff, was sacked from his job for attending the holocaust conference in Iran. Bernhoff, not Vilks, was the one who needed their support.)
The publication brought the affair to a whole new level. Two Swedish-Muslim organisations made an effort to cool things down by trying to engage in a dialogue with Vilks (after all, they are the ones who will suffer in the end). One of the two organisations even wanted to exhibit the drawings in order to be able to have a real debate on the issue. But the project came to an end when Vilks, having so far been criticised only for defaming Muslim symbols, posted another silly drawing on his blog, this time a pathetic portrait of a so-called Jew-sow. Faced with Vilks’s newest creation, representatives of the two Muslim organisations, Mohamed Omar and Hooman Anvari, decided a dialogue with Lars Vilks was simply no longer possible. They wrote:
[With] Vilks now publishing an explicitly and undoubtedly anti-Semitic scurrilous portrait (signed as a “Jew-sow” by the artist himself), the discussion has now entered a different phase. From a purely ethical one to one of jurisprudence.
In other words, they cut it short not because of his anti-Muslim work but because of his anti-Semitic drawing. It may seem odd, but reflects the current sentiment in the Western world: insulting Muslims is a matter of freedom of speech, while defamation of Jewish symbols is never tolerated.
As the days went by and everything was petering out, a death-threat was pronounced against Lars Vilks which quickly made things more tense. Things like these happen all the time, many artists receive threats. The difference was the sender; a supposed al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, generously promised $100,000 to whoever kills Lars Vilks ($150,000 if he is “butchered as a lamb”). The editor of the newspaper wasn’t worth as much–only $50,000. However, all we know for sure about al-Baghdadi is that there are different perceptions of who he is. Some sources claim he was a leading al-Qaeda fighter killed in May this year-three months before the publication!-while others say it’s just a name used by a rebel group in Iraq. Hence, should anyone kill Vilks or the editor, it might be hard to claim the reward. But the death-threat again Vilks was taken seriously and he was given police-protection.
A few days after the pronounced death-threats, a list of over 100 Swedish companies was published which Islamists say should be punished just for being of the same nationality as Vilks. “Take revenge,” these fanatics urged. However, when journalists rang some of these companies for a comment, they were surprised. “We have received no indications of any threat,” a spokesperson of one of the companies said. In fact, it turns out, these companies haven’t received any direct threats. The list of companies, as well as the death-threats against Vilks and the editor, all originate from one source: The Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Institute. Founded in 2002 by Rita Katz and Josh Devon, SITE is a Zionist propaganda institute which, among other things, offers its “Monitoring Service, which provides numerous daily translations of terrorist propaganda and multimedia from primary source terrorist websites.” Katz and Devon claims for instance that Yahoo! has become one of al-Qaeda’s most significant ideological bases of operation. Utilizing several facets of Yahoo!’s service, including chat functions, e-mail, and most importantly, Yahoo! Groups, al-Qaeda and its supporters have inserted themselves like a cancer into a company that screams, “American pop culture,” and made it as much their own as a training camp in Khost [in Afghanistan].
When Osama Bin Laden and his gang are not using Yahoo!’s chat service, however, they spend their time surfing more protected sites. SITE brags on its first-page as being described in the following way by an author:
“By monitoring terrorist and extremist websites and penetrating password-protected al-Qaeda linked sites, SITE provides a state-of-the-art intelligence service to both practitioners and analysts to understand the adversary.”
It makes you wonder how the SITE Institute, with a small staff of only two people (at least no other is mentioned) can find its way into “password-protected al-Qaeda linked sites” which, apparently, the FBI and the CIA, with all its resources, seem to be incapable of finding and infiltrating. What is even more noteworthy is that SITE, in its own words, works regularly with and provides important and often unique information to journalists, law firms pursuing civil litigation, major corporations, law enforcement, U.S. Congress, and numerous federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department, Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), the FBI, Customs, and the Department of Justice.
As can be expected of an institute of this kind, there is a Zionist connection. And that is co-founder Rita Katz, who was born to a wealth Jewish family in 1963 in Basra, Iraq. When she was 6-years-old her father was hanged on the charge of spying for Israel. Two years later the family emigrated to Israel, where she stayed until the mid-90s, when she left for the US with her husband. In an interview with The Jewish Journal it is revealed Katz also worked on the case against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), which is on trial accused of channelling money to Hamas.
Katz answered an ad and was hired by a Middle Eastern research institute. (Because of her lawsuit, she doesn’t want to reveal the institute’s name.)
On her first day on the job – much of her work entailed “administrative stuff and copying,” her new boss had told her – she started reading documents in English and Arabic about the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).
“I saw differences in the translations,” Katz recalled. “The Arabic list was longer, and I recognized that some organizations mentioned in Arabic and not in English were Hamas front organizations.”
That realization propelled her to start doing research on that group, collecting Arabic documents and eventually going undercover.
Her work, through her SITE Institute, which is funded by various federal agencies and private groups needing to know about radical Muslim groups operating in the United States, has led to closures of organizations, deportations and ongoing investigations. She also has provided the media with information.
This is very interesting, considering the evidence used against the HLF is highly questioned. In an article published in the LA Times on the 25th of February, reproduced by Information Clearing House, staff writer Greg Krikorian points to discrepancies in the proof put forward against the HLF. Krikorian wrote:
Additional anti-Semitic comments the FBI summary attributed to Baker or Ghassan Elashi, Holy Land’s former board chairman, included:
* “Their [Jews’] only purpose here in the U.S. is to purchase as many politicians as possible and to warp the way the American Christians feel and think not just about the Christian religion but mainly about the Palestinian people and to rob as much money as possible from American taxpayers for the illegitimate excuse of protecting and preserving the chosen people of God.”
* “Even Jesus Christ had called the Jews and their high priests the sons of snakes and scorpions.”
* “I am confident that in the end justice, and not the Jews, will prevail. I believe that there is still justice in America.”
None of those quotes was contained in a 13-page transcript of the conversation, defense lawyers said in their motion to expand access to classified evidence. ()
Because the court records are heavily redacted, it could not be determined who provided the summaries of the FBI wiretaps.
Other alleged discrepancies also have dogged the case. Holy Land lawyers challenged the accuracy of an FBI memo, for example, that quoted a foundation office manager as telling Israeli authorities that charitable funds were “channeled to Hamas.”
But defense lawyers told the court the translation from Arabic to Hebrew to English distorted the official’s original statement, and that he should have been quoted as saying, “We have no connection to Hamas.”
A former U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem, Edward Abingdon, when asked if he found the information Israel provided reliable, answered with a straightforward “No.” He added, “I feel the Israelis have an agenda … they provide selective information to try to influence US thinking.”
Indeed, the trial against the HLF is just one example of how Israelis are the ones persecuting Muslim organisations in America. As made clear in the above-quoted sentence, the translation was made “from Arabic to Hebrew to English.” The Zionists have the upper hand, and going to the bottom with cases like this is close to impossible. They provide the evidence, and not much can be done to prove them wrong. The veracity in the accusations made by propaganda institutes of SITE’s ilk should be strongly questioned. As for the threats against the Swedish cartoonist, editor and the 100 Swedish companies, all we can know for sure is that no attack has yet taken place.
Two months after the publication, the matter has gotten cold. But it is clear that for the first time, through a Zionist institution in America, supposed death-threats by al-Qaeda found their way to a country once known for its peaceful attitude and solidarity with the oppressed, creating fear of Muslim fundamentalism which is now said to live in our midst. Clear also is that sending soldiers to Afghanistan and being silent as neoconservatives and Zionists are creating havoc in the Middle East is not the road to saving our good reputation.
KRISTOFFER LARSSON is a Swedish theology student occasionally commenting on political issues. He works with the Bethlehem-based International Middle East Media Center and is a Director of Deir Yassin Remembered. He appreciates constructive feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
Israeli UK Embassy Scandal: Officer Who Sought to Destroy Tory Leader Worked for Strategic Affairs Ministry
Israeli minister Gil Erdan meets with Conservative Friends of Israel MPs during the London visit, when he also met with Shai Masot
The Guardian has uncovered a major element of the Shai Masot scandal. I speculated in my last post about this story that Masot worked for an Israeli intelligence agency. No one I consulted found it likely it could be the Mossad. Masot was too public and too pushy to be Mossad. Others speculated that he worked for the IDF intelligence unit, AMAN, since he had until recently been an IDF Major. But his LinkedIn account noted that he’d left the IDF.
Now the Guardian has put two and two together and gotten closer to key elements of the story. He worked for the Strategic Affairs ministry headed by ambitious Likud pol, Gil Erdan. His agency has been tasked with mounting a global campaign against BDS. At a conference in Israel, one of Erdan’s fellow ministers even threatened BDS activists with “civil elimination,” a term dangerously close to ‘assassination’ in colloquial Hebrew. Erdan’s budget is huge ($34-million devoted to fighting BDS alone) as the latter has become the bête noire of the Israeli state–named as Public Enemy Number 1; the new “existential threat” to the “Jewish state” and Jewish people.
The Israeli foreign ministry, according to the Guardian story, recognized the danger of what Masot was doing and its London staff wrote a cable warning that freelancing of the type Masot was engaged in was extremely dangerous because funding UK organizations directly with Israeli state funds would jeopardize the non-profit status of any UK non-profit who accepted them. In videos, Masot boasts about founding pro-Israel astro-turf groups which were local in name only. Masot pulled the strings both financially and politically. He also boasts about collaboration with Conservative Friends of Israel and offers 1-million pounds to a Labour Friends of Israel MP in order to encourage other MPs to participate in junkets to Israel. Joan Ryan, the MP before whom he dangled this bauble didn’t seem to have a clue as to the danger it posed to her. She merely joked to Masot that she didn’t expect he was carrying the 1-million in a bag on his back!
One telling passage from the MFA cable confirms that the Israeli government is far more aggressive in creating such astroturf groups in the U.S. than it has been so far in Britain:
“Attempts to act behind our back have happened before and will happen again, but ‘operating’ Jewish organisations directly from Jerusalem, with no coördination and no consultation, is liable to be dangerous,” it said. “Operating like this could encounter opposition from the organisations themselves, given their legal status: Britain isn’t the US !”
This calls to mind the multitude of Israel Lobby groups which closely coördinate their activity with the Israeli government, and perhaps more. They include StandWithUs, The Israel Project, Christians United for Israel, CAMERA, and many others. In fact, then-deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon boasted on an Israeli TV show that his ministry was funding a SWU lawsuit against the Olympia Food Coop.
This reinforces my strong impression developed over the years that many of these groups, which are ostensibly independent U.S.-based groups are either fully or partially “operated” by the Israeli government. I have even reported on several projects of these NGOs which were explicitly funded by the government. This should endanger their non-profit status and force them to register as agents of a foreign government. But our IRS hasn’t chosen to tangle with the Israel Lobby or even the settler lobby (though it should).
Returning to the Strategic Affairs ministry, it released this statement in response to the September MFA cable. It indicates that the ministry either lied or was totally ignorant about what its own operatives like Masot were doing in Israel’s name:
“We work in coordination with the Israeli embassy in Britain and the Foreign Ministry. Every action is done according to the law and in accordance with government decisions and the ministry’s authority. We regret there are elements in the Foreign Ministry who don’t understand the division of responsibilities between the ministries and prefer to deal with struggles of honor instead of focusing on our goals.”
Someone back in Tel Aviv should be eating crow about now. But given the abysmal lack of accountability in virtually everything done in the government, it’s doubtful anything will come of it. … Full article
Al Jazeera is to be congratulated on an undercover investigation exposing something most of us could probably have guessed: that some Israeli embassy staff in the UK – let’s not pussy around, Mossad agents – are working with senior political activists and politicians in the Conservative and Labour parties to subvert their own parties from within, and skew British foreign policy so that it benefits Israeli, rather than British, interests.
One cannot really blame Israel for doing this. Most states promote their interests as best they can. But one can and should expose and shame the British politicians who are collaborating with Israel in further harming Britain’s representative democracy.
It is not as though these people cannot be easily identified. They even advertise what they are up to. They are members of the Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel. They dominate both parliamentary parties, but especially the Conservatives. According to the CFI’s figures, fully 80 per cent of Tory MPs belong to the party’s Friends of Israel group.
Once, no one would have hesitated to call British politicians acting in the interests of a foreign power, and very possibly taking financial benefits for doing so, “traitors”. And yet, as Al Jazeera’s secretly filmed footage shows, Israeli spies like Shai Masot can readily meet and conspire with a Tory MP’s much-trusted aide to discuss how best to “take down” the deputy foreign minister, Alan Duncan, over his criticisms of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territories. Maria Strizzolo, MP Robert Halfon’s assistant, suggests engineering a “little scandal” to damage Duncan.
Masot and Israel’s intelligence services cannot infuence British foreign policy through the opposition Labour party, but that doesn’t prevent them from also taking a keen interest in Labour MPs. Masot is filmed talking to Labour Friends of Israel’s chair, Joan Ryan, about “lots of money” – more than £1 million – he has received from the Israeli government to send yet another batch of Labour MPs on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel, where they will be wined and dined, and primed by top officials to adopt even more extreme pro-Israel positions. LFI is known for sending the largest proportion of MPs to Israel on these kinds of trips.
Does that have an effect on British domestic politics. You bet it does! Israel isn’t a charity.
A large number of those who have been making Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s life a misery belong to Labour Friends of Israel. They are the same MPs who have been talking up an “anti-semitism crisis” in the Labour party – based on zero tangible evidence – since Corbyn became party leader. Were they following the dictates of their conscience? Did they really fear an anti-semitism plague had suddenly beset their party? Or were they playing deeply cynical politics to oust a leader who supports justice for the Palestinian people and is considered by Israel’s right wing government, which has no interest in making peace with the Palestinians, to be bad news for Israel?
Al Jazeera’s investigation has not been shown yet, so we can only rely on the snippets released so far, either by Al Jazeera itself or additional leaks of the investigation provided by the Mail on Sunday.
It is worth listening to a Tory minister in the government of recently departed David Cameron, who writes anonymously in the Mail on Sunday. S/he warns of a double whammy to British politics caused by Israel and its British partisans – one that is starting to approach the damage done to the US political system by Israel.
The British government skews its foreign policy to avoid upsetting Jewish donors, s/he says. MPs, meanwhile, act like agents of a foreign power – s/he generously assumes unwittingly – rather than representatives of the British people. Forget international law, these politicians are not even promoting British interests.
Here is what the minister writes:
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.
For years the CFI and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), have worked with – even for – the Israeli government and their London embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK Government policy and the actions of Ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights.
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.
Even now, if I were to reveal who I am, I would be subjected to a relentless barrage of abuse and character assassination. …
It now seems clear people in the Conservative and Labour Parties have been working with the Israeli embassy, which has used them to demonise and trash MPs who criticise Israel; an army of Israel’s useful idiots in Parliament.
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 …
We need a full inquiry into the Israeli Embassy, the links, access and funding of the CFI and LFI.
It is rare that I agree with a Tory government minister, but such an inquiry cannot come too soon.
Note too that it is an indictment of the UK media that Al-Jazeera, rather than the British fourth estate, has exposed Israel’s moves to subvert the British political system. It is not as though reporters from the BBC, Guardian, Times and the Mail haven’t had ministers like the one above complaining to them for years about interference from Israel. So why did they not long ago send in undercover teams to expose this collaboration between Israel and British MPs?
We have had weeks of stories about the supposed efforts of Russia and Putin to subvert the US election, without a hint yet of any evidence, and based on a central allegation against the Russians that they damaged the election by releasing truthful information about wrongdoing in the Democratic party. Russian diplomats have been expelled based on these evidence-free claims, and President Obama has vowed to take other, covert action against Russia.
Here we have documented evidence of the Israeli government secretly plotting with “friendly” British MPs to oust a British government minister. If that isn’t interference in the British political system, I don’t know what is. Will we similarly have weeks of coverage of this story in the UK media, or will it be quickly filed away and forgotten?
And will any action beyond the removal of Masot be demanded by the British government? It seems unlikely. The Foreign Office has already issued a statement saying that, following Masot’s dismissal, it considers the matter closed.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party has called for an investigation into an “extremely disturbing” plot by an Israeli diplomat against pro-Palestinian MPs.
The party’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Emily Thornberry, slammed Tel Aviv Sunday after release of a video, in which an Israeli embassy official is heard plotting to “take down” some of UK lawmakers.
“Can I give you some names of MPs (members of Parliament) that I would suggest you take down?” Israeli senior political officer Shai Masot is heard asking Maria Strizzolo, a former aide to a British Conservative lawmaker, at a London restaurant.
The regime initially shrugged off the video, secretly recorded by a journalist for Qatari-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera, but announced later that Masot would finish his mission “shortly.”
The Israeli ambassador to Britain, Mark Regev, also apologized to one of the MPs on the “hit list,” asserting that the matter is considered closed.
The move failed to silence the outraged shadow foreign secretary, who described Masot’s action as “improper interference in our democratic politics.”
“The exposure of an Israeli embassy official discussing how to bring down or discredit a government minister and other MPs because of their views on the Middle East is extremely disturbing,” Thornberry said. “It is simply not good enough for the Foreign Office to say the matter is closed. This is a national security issue.”
The video also provoked anger among some Conservative politicians.
“For years the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) have worked with – even for – the Israeli embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK government policy and the actions of ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights,” wrote a Conservative former minister for the Mail on Sunday anonymously. “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, take donors’ money, and allowed Israeli influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of ministers.”
The former minister further called for a probe into the matter, asserting that “This opaque funding and underhand conduct is a national disgrace and humiliation and must be stamped out.”
The recordings form the basis of four half-hour documentaries that Al Jazeera is to broadcast from January 15.