There is a new British organization called Culture for Coexistence with the aim of ending the cultural boycott of Israel, which has been relatively effective in raising public awareness of oppressive Zionist policies, and replace it with “open dialogue” and “cultural engagement.“ A “galaxy of 150 British artists and authors” signed an open letter published in the Guardian newspaper on Oct. 22 announcing the group’s position:
“Cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory and will not further peace,” while “open dialogue and interaction promote greater understanding and mutual acceptance and it is through such understanding and acceptance that movement can be made towards a resolution of the conflict.”
While concepts such as open dialogue and cultural interaction are, in principle, hard to disagree with, their efficacy as agents of conflict resolution has to be judged within a historical context. In other words, such approaches are effective when circumstances dictate that all parties seriously dialogue and interact meaningfully – in a manner that actually promotes “mutual acceptance.”
Is this the case when it comes to Israel? The burden of proof here is on Culture for Coexistence because they are the ones asking the Palestinians and their supporters to put aside a strategy (boycott) that is actually putting pressure on Israel to negotiate seriously.
The Culture for Coexistence signatories do not address this question of efficacy. Instead they make the simple assertion that cultural boycotts are bad and won’t help resolve the conflict while cultural interaction is good and will work to that end. How do they know this? Without evidence of its workability, such an assertion is merely an idealization of cultural engagement that ignores that pursuit’s historical futility during a nearly century long conflict.
Do Israeli Leaders Want a Just Peace?
Cultural interaction with Israel went on for decades before the boycott effort got going. It had no impact on the issue of conflict resolution. Such cultural activity certainly did not change the fact that Israel’s leaders have never shown interest in negotiating a resolution with the Palestinians except solely on Israeli terms.
And, that stubbornness is a major part of the reason why peace talks (and also the Oslo agreements) never worked. There is a whole set of histories, written by Israelis and based on archival research that support the claim that Israel has not sought a just resolution to the conflict. Here I would recommend the Culture for Coexistence signatories read the books of the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.
Given this historical Zionist attitude, what sort of “greater understanding and mutual acceptance” does Culture and Coexistence expect to accomplish by swapping the boycott for “cultural engagement”? It is a question the signatories of the open letter might address to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who just recently was reported to have proclaimed that Israel will control all Palestinian land indefinitely.
The “galaxy of British artists and authors” aligned with Culture for Coexistence seems oblivious to all these contextual issues. Of course, there is a good chance that some of them are more interested in undermining the boycott of Israel than in the alleged promotion of peace through “cultural engagement.”
As the Guardian article discussing the group notes, “Some of the network’s supporters are closely aligned with Israel,” including individuals associated with Conservative Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Israel.
Does Cultural Contact Lead to Peace?
There is another, more generic misunderstanding exhibited in the group’s statement. It is found in the letter’s closing assertion that “cultural engagement builds bridges, nurtures freedom and positive movement for change” – a position reiterated when Loraine da Costa, chairperson of the new organization, told the Guardian that “culture has a unique ability to bring people together and bridge division.”
No matter how you want to define culture, high or low, there is no evidence for this position except on the level of individuals or small groups. On the level of larger or whole populations, the assertion that “cultural engagement builds bridges” is another naive idealization that is belied by historical practice. Historically, culture has always divided people (both across borders and across classes) and acted as a barrier to understanding. At a popular level, most people are uninterested in, or suspicious of, foreign cultures and are unwilling to try to pursue cultural interaction.
Israel is a very good example of this cultural xenophobia. Historically, the European Jews who established the state despised Arab culture. They tried to eradicate it among the Mizrahi Jews who came to Israel from Arab lands. This intra-Jewish Israeli prejudice is still a problem today. What aspects of Arab culture (mostly having to do with cuisine) Israeli Jews are attracted to they try to repackage as “Israeli.”
There are two final considerations here: First is the need to be serious and clear in the use of language. One can, of course, say “culture has a unique ability to bring people together” but is this a statement that has any real meaning or is it just a platitude?
And second: If you are going to give advice about a century-old conflict you should know enough about its history to be sensible in your offering. Thus, in this case, if you know that high or low cultural intercourse with Israel (and, as suggested above, there has been plenty of it since the founding of the state in 1948), has actually improved the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, you should lay out the evidence. However, if one is just offering a banal cliche, well, only the ignorant can take that seriously.
Those who first proposed the cultural boycott did not do it out of some anti-Semitic dislike for Israeli artworks, music, literature or theater. They did it because cultural interaction with Israel had not only failed to promote an equitable peace, but in fact camouflaged the policies of a nation-state that practices ethnic cleansing and other destructive policies against non-Jews.
The logical conclusion was drawn that if you want to pressure the Israelis to change their ways, you withdraw from cultural contact and make any reconnection a condition of their getting serious about conflict resolution.
How is it that the 150 artists and authors who signed the Culture for Coexistence open letter do not know the relevant facts? Setting aside the confirmed Zionists, whose ulterior motive is pretty clear, do these people take this stand because it “feels right” – that is, because they believe cultural interaction ought to, or even must, promote conflict resolution? Alas, this is wishful thinking and, taking history seriously, Palestine may go extinct before such an approach actually helps lead to a just peace.
Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.
Just a few month ago, in a speech in front of the Labour Friends Of Israel Lobby group, Ed Miliband – the Labour party’s current leader, produced one of the most embarrassing statements in the history of modern British politics:
“I want you to know”, Miliband told The Lobby, “that if I become Prime Minister in less than a year’s time, I will be proud to do so as a friend of Israel, a Jew and, most of all, someone who feels so proud to be part of the community gathered here today.”
I guess that many British people would actually expect their Labour party candidate to be primarily a ‘proud Brit’ as well as a friend of the Kingdom. I would have loved to believe that such a clumsy statement on Miliband’s part would be enough for the Labour party to expel the man from its ranks. After all, the above statement proves that more than anything, Ed is much more ‘Blue & White’ than ‘simply Red,’ let alone a British patriot.
Surprise surprise, Labour didn’t react at all. Even the British public, known for its tolerance, was very forgiving. Funny enough, it is the Jews who actually dumped Ed Miliband, they do not believe him nor do they like him at all.
A poll published last week in the Jewish Chronicle revealed that an overwhelming majority of Jews prefer the Conservatives over Labour. 69 percent of Jews questioned said they were going to vote for David Cameron’s Tories. Only 22 percent sided with Labour and Ed Miliband.
Rather than voting for Labour under the leadership of the man who vowed ‘as a Jew’ to be a ‘friend of Israel,’ our British Jews actually want a ‘Goy’ to dwell at 10 Downing Street. How strange? Or is it…
A few analysts have tried this week to grasp this peculiar Jewish collective attitude. They wondered why are British Jews so opposed to the first Jewish candidate with a realistic chance of becoming the country’s leader?
Haaretz’ writer Anshel Pfeffer suggested that “the most obvious reason being given to this question is that while Cameron is widely regarded as ‘the most pro-Israel prime minister in British history,’ Miliband is considered indifferent at best and by many as downright hostile to the Jewish state.”
However, Pfeffer suggested correctly that Miliband is far from being an enemy of Israel. As we read above, Miliband is a staunch supporter of The Jewish State. “He [Milliband] has repeatedly said he is committed to Israel’s right to exist in security and strenuously voiced opposition to any form of anti-Israel boycott.”
Pfeffer is kind enough to provide us with a further insight into Jewish identity, psychic, and ideological attitude. “Historically, the majority of British Jews supported Labour because they saw the left wing as staunch opponents of any form of racism, of which they were so often the targets. In the last quarter of the 20th century, as they became better integrated and wealthier, they began drifting towards the Conservatives, particularly when Margaret Thatcher, who represented the north London Finchley constituency, became party leader.”
What Pfeffer is saying is pretty simple. In the old days, Jews supported Labour not because they were ‘anti racist,’ but just because they didn’t like being persecuted as Jews. But as they moved up the ladder, they actually decided to support the party that is committed to big money and the fight against Anti Semitism. With 80% of our Conservatives MPs being CFI members (Conservative Friends of Israel), the Tory party provides all Jewish needs – it is good for business but it is also united against one kind of racism, namely ‘Anti Semitism.’
Pfeffer correctly states that “the last three prime ministers, all proud Christians, have all felt very much at home with the Jewish community. Miliband came over at best as a polite but awkward stranger.” By now this is easy to explain. The majority of British Jews prefer a ‘Sabbos Goy’ to run the country on their behalf; a politician that can be pushed and squeezed, a person that would take the country to the next Zionist global conflict without raising too many questions. A person that would support Israel when support is requested by The Lobby, a PM that would react to the imaginary fear of Anti Semitism even before the Jews themselves would sense such a fear. Only a dedicated Sabbos Goy can provide the goods. But Miliband will not be able to satisfy any of these demands. For the Jews, his Jewishness is clearly an obstacle. It only means that he will work hard to convey an image of impartiality and reason and, as we know, these two do not agree with Zion.
This Jewish attitude is far from being new, it is in fact as old as the Jews themselves. The Book Of Esther teaches Jews how to manipulate, mobilize and interfere with their rulers rather than becoming the rulers themselves. British Jews need a leader who will easily succumb to their lobby pressure. They suspect that Ed may be more resistant than any other candidate and truth must be told, they may as well be correct.
The Home Office has declared the performer persona non grata and warned he will not be allowed into the country. It has alerted airlines, other transport companies and border officials that the performer, whose stage name is Dieudonné, is an “excluded” individual. A spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Mr Dieudonné is subject to an exclusion order.” With 80% of our Tory MPs being Conservative Friends Of Israel you would expect England becoming a ghetto.
As we all know, in recent years the British governments have launched more than just one immoral Zionist interventionist war. In the name of elementary ‘freedom’ we dropped bombs and killed over a million of innocent Muslims. Hence, I am curious to know how the UK Home Office justifies its latest measure against freedom of speech. Do they really believe that a French comedian who hardly speaks English endangers our homeland security?
Humour is seemingly the last pocket of resistance. They are really afraid of being laughed at, after all, Dieudonne is telling the truth that The Guardians Of Zion can no longer suppress.
In the last week we have been following desperate British and French attempts to push for military intervention in Syria. It is far from being a secret that both governments are dominated by the Jewish Lobby. In Britain it is the ultra Zionist CFI (Conservative Friends of Israel) – apparently 80% of Britain’s conservative MPs are members of the pro-Israeli Lobby. In France the situation is even more devastating, the entire political system is hijacked by the forceful CRIF.
But in case anyone fails to grasp why the Jewish Lobby is pushing for an immediate intervention, Debka, an Israeli news outlet provides the answer. Seemingly, the Syrian army is winning on all fronts. Israel’s military and geo-political calculations have proven to be wrong.
According to Debka, “the battle for Damascus is over”. The Syrian army had virtually “regained control of the city in an epic victory”. The rebels, largely mercenaries, have lost the battle they “can’t do much more than fire sporadically. They can no longer launch raids, or pose threats to the city centre, the airport or the big Syrian air base nearby. The Russian and Iranian transports constantly bringing replenishment for keeping the Syrian army fighting can again land at Damascus airport after months of rebel siege.”
But it isn’t just the capital. Debka reports that “Hezbollah and Syrian units have tightened their siege on the rebels holding out in the northern sector of al Qusayr; other (Syrian army) units have completed their takeover of the countryside around the town of Hama; and a third combined Syrian-Hizballah force has taken up positions around Aleppo.”
Debka maintains that senior IDF officers criticized the Israeli defense minister (Moshe Ya’alon) who “mislead” the Knesset a few days ago estimating that “Bashar Assad controlled only 40% of Syrian territory.” Debka suggests that the Israeli defense Ministry has drawn on a “flawed intelligence assessment and were concerned that the armed forces were acting on the basis of inaccurate intelligence.” Debka stresses, “erroneous assessments… must lead to faulty decision-making.”
Debka is clearly brave enough to admit that Israeli military miscalculations may have led to disastrous consequences. It reports, “the massive Israeli bombardment of Iranian weapons stored near Damascus for Hezbollah, turned out a month later to have done more harm than good. It gave Bashar Assad a boost instead of weakening his resolve.”
Debka is obviously correct. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that an Israeli attack on an Arab land cannot be accepted by the Arab masses, not even by Assad’s bitterest Arab opponents.
Debka maintains that the “intelligence focus on military movements in Syria especially around Damascus to ascertain that advanced missiles and chemical weapons don’t reach Hezbollah laid to a failure in detecting a major movement by Hezbollah militia units towards the Syrian-Israeli border.”
Israel is now facing a new reality. It is facing Hezbollah reinforcements streaming in from Lebanon towards the Golan heights and its border with Syria.
Israel, Debka concludes, will soon find itself “face to face for the first time with Hezbollah units equipped with heavy arms and missiles on the move along the Syrian-Israeli border and manning positions opposite Israel’s Golan outposts and villages.”
Debka is correct to suggest that instead of “growing weaker, Iran’s Lebanese proxy is poised to open another war front and force the IDF to adapt to a new military challenge from the Syrian Golan.”
Rather than The Guardian or Le Monde, it is actually the Israeli Debka that helps us to grasp why Britain and France are so desperate to intervene. Once again, it is a Zionist war which they are so eager to fight.
Sadly enough, it isn’t The Guardian or The New York Times that is there to reveal the latest development in Syria and expose Israeli lethal miscalculations. It is actually a ‘Zionist’ Israeli patriotic outlet that is providing the goods. I actually believe that this form of harsh self-criticism that is embedded in Israeli culture, is the means that sustains Israeli regional hegemony, at least monetarily. This ability to critically examine and disapprove of your own leadership is something I fail to encounter in Western media. Seemingly, the media in Israel is far more tolerant toward criticism than the Zionist dominated Media in the West.
The correct path to statehood is through implementation of international law and UN resolutions and the approval of the international community.
By Stuart Littlewood | Salem-News | December 14, 2012
(LONDON) – Britain’s prime minister David Cameron has again shown why he should stand down from British politics.
In a speech to Conservative Friends of Israel at a lunch the other day he said – and not for the first time – things that are deeply disturbing to people who expect him to put British interests first. He again compromised himself and this country with ridiculous pledges of support for a foreign military power whose behaviour is beyond the Pale and an affront to human decency. Here are some of his remarks…
“I am a passionate friend of Israel – and that’s the way it’s going to stay.”
In that case you shouldn’t be in British politics, Mr Cameron. You have fallen foul of the Seven Principles of Public Life, especially the principle of ‘Integrity’ which says quite simply: “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.”
“We promised to stand up for Israel and in Government that’s exactly what we’ve done. We said it was ridiculous that Israeli officials felt unable to visit Britain because of the malicious and unfounded use of arrest warrants so we changed the law to end it.”
Unfounded? Tzipi Livni, for example, was responsible for launching the pre-meditated blitzkrieg four years ago which caused the deaths of 1,400 defenceless Gazans (including 320 children and 109 women), horribly maimed thousands more and caused immense devastation to essential infrastructure and services. She showed no remorse. Livni’s office issued a statement saying she was proud of Operation Cast Lead, and speaking later at a conference at Tel Aviv’s Institute for Security Studies, she said: “I would today take the same decisions.”
“We said we’d resist calls for boycotts on Israel and yes – we are going to keep on working with Israel, doing business with Israel, trading with Israel.”
Even though Israel is in continual breach of EU-Israel Agreement rules and forcibly prevents its neighbours, the Palestinians, from doing business and trade with the outside world…
“To me it is clear what needs to happen… We need the Palestinians to understand there is only one path to statehood, and that is through negotiations with Israel. We made that clear with that UN vote a couple of weeks ago.”
Wrong. The correct path to statehood is through implementation of international law and UN resolutions and the approval of the international community. Only when the illegal occupation is ended and the right of self-determination is restored can meaningful talks begin.
“We said that Britain could not support a resolution that set back the prospects for peace and that did not commit the Palestinians to return to negotiations without preconditions. Well: they did not provide the assurances that we asked for. So… we did not vote for it.”
Pure blackmail. Bullying Palestinians into resuming failed and discredited talks to bargain with the thief for the return of their lands and property when it is still being stolen with impunity, is utterly immoral. There can be no peace under occupation. And nobody ‘negotiates’ with a gun to their head, nor should they be expected to.
“And I have made something else clear that needs to be made clear to the Palestinians. Britain will never tolerate the obscenity of a football tournament named after a suicide bomber who killed 20 Israelis in a restaurant. We will not tolerate incitement to terrorism.”
This is about Wafa Idris. It has become a favourite rant and Cameron was banging on about it a couple of months earlier at another top Jewish gathering. According to The Jerusalem Post (September 2011) a Fatah-affiliated youth centre in the Ama’ari refugee camp near Ramallah named a sports event after female suicide bomber Wafa Idris, a 28 year-old paramedic who had been shot several times by Israeli rubber bullets during her work for the Red Crescent. Relatives said she was angry at seeing children shot and killed by the IDF in Ramallah. Idris was the first Palestinian woman to carry out a suicide bombing. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a subsidiary of Abbas’s Fatah (who are Cameron’s friends in Occupied Palestine), claimed responsibility for the bomb attack although her family said she was not known to be an activist with any Palestinian militant group.
Cameron, before opening his mouth, might have asked what led her to do it. Wafa Idris was born in the Ama’ari refugee camp. Set up by the Red Cross in 1949 it provided tents to refugees from Jaffa, Ramla and Lydda, towns allocated for an Arab state in the UN Partition but subjected to a bloody programme of ethnic cleansing in 1948.
In Lydda the Israelis massacred 426 men, women, and children. 176 of them were slaughtered in the town’s main mosque (See the lurid details here). Out of the 19,000 people who called Lydda home, only 1,052 were allowed to stay. The remainder were forced to walk into exile in the scalding July heat leaving a trail of bodies – men, women and children – along the way.
The slaughter in Lydda was led by a certain Moshe Dayan. The event was witnessed by two American newspapermen who reported that “practically everything in their way died. Riddled corpses lay by the roadside.” They saw “the corpses of Arab men, women and even children strewn about in the wake of the ruthlessly brilliant charge” (emphasis Aletho News ). This appalling war crime didn’t prevent Dayan becoming a great hero in Israel, and later defence minister and foreign minister.
Today Tel Aviv University has a Moshe Dayan Centre named after the war criminal, but I haven’t heard Cameron complain about that. Likewise the Menachem Begin Centre in West Jerusalem is named after the terrorist leader responsible for the bomb attack in 1946 on the British mandate government based in the King David Hotel, killing 91. Has Agent Cameron anything to say about that?
Back to the Ama’ari refugee camp, now run by the UNRWA, where Wafa Idris was obliged to live in squalor as a result of Israel’s criminal land-grab and forcible eviction of her parents from Ramla. At Ama’ari 10,500 people are squeezed into less than 1 square kilometre in dreadful conditions.
However the camp’s football team has won the Palestine football championship several times and qualified to represent Palestine in regional and international competitions.
The Arab media were lavish in their praise for Idris, the “courageous Palestinian girl”, and as a result she became a heroic symbol of Palestinian womanhood in their struggle to throw off the occupation. If it’s OK for Israel to name major institutions after its famous terrorists what right has Cameron to get upset when Palestinian football team similarly commemorates one of theirs?
“So, in Gaza too, Hamas need to know that they must renounce violence and they will not be allowed to dictate the way forward in the peace process.”
Does Cameron have the balls to tell Israel it too must renounce violence? Hamas, in case he has forgotten, is the legitimate democratic authority. He may not like it but he should respect it and work with them, like the good democratic he claims to be.
“Last month, when rockets rained down on Israel, we were unequivocal about the right of Israelis to live free from attack by terrorist groups on their border.”
When Gaza suffers air strikes on a daily basis, how unequivocal is Cameron about the right of Palestinians to live free from attack by the terrorist state occupying their lands?
“I’ve never had to run for cover as the air-raids sound overhead. I’ve never had to give gas masks to my children. I do understand that for the Israeli people, uncertainty isn’t such a great thing. It means instability. Anxiety. Fear.”
If he goes to Gaza he can experience fear and anxiety in abundance under Israeli air raids. I vividly remember as a kid being bombed by the Nazis every night in London – and not with garden-shed whizz-bangs. I remember German bombers flying at rooftop height down our street to avoid the anti-aircraft guns. At least they didn’t use white phosphorus like the Israelis.
Cameron’s hyper-partisan, head-over-heels friendship – no, obsession – with Israel is allowed to steer nearly every aspect of Britain’s foreign policy. What drives this? You need look no further than The Jewish Chronicle which in 2006 reported on the backers bankrolling David Cameron’s bid for power and provided a fascinating insight into how the pro-Israel lobby infiltrates government and destroys the principles of integrity and accountability so vital to public life.
When Cameron became Conservative leader he proclaimed:
“The belief I have in Israel is indestructible – and you need to know that if I become Prime Minister, Israel has a friend who will never turn his back on Israel.”
Agent Cameron is very careful not to let the words ‘justice’ and ‘law’ pass his lips in connection with Israel’s illegal occupation of the Holy Land. And he and his foreign secretary, Hague, will put on a wonderful show of hand-wringing, deploring and urging whenever Israel commits atrocities, but they never condemn the racist regime or use any obvious levers like suspension of trade or other sanctions.
On the contrary, they shamelessly find ways of rewarding the Israeli regime’s crimes against humanity, making us complicit with its racist ambitions.
© Stuart Littlewood 2012
- A letter to David Cameron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The cowardice at the heart of our relationship with Israel (telegraph.co.uk)
Alistair Burt is the UK Foreign Office minister in charge of Middle East affairs. He is also a former officer of the Conservative Friends of Israel lobby group. He resigned from that position when he became a minister, but leopards don’t suddenly change their spots.
Judge for yourself.
I sent a question through my MP asking why Government ministers such as Burt quote exact numbers of rockets fired from Gaza without also giving the corresponding numbers of bombs, rockets, shells and other ordnance poured into Gaza by the Israeli military.
In his letter of reply Burt says “there are no reliable statistics on the number of bombs and other ordnance fired by Israel on Gaza and Israel does not make public this information”.
In that case, should he not make it clear when quoting Gaza’s rocket numbers that Israel refuses to provide numbers of their own vastly superior missiles used to bombard Gaza?
Yesterday in Parliament David Amess, another officer of the Conservative Friends of Israel, was playing the familiar game of planting Parliamentary questions designed to deflect attention from Israel’s malodorous reputation. He asked Mr Burt what recent reports the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [William Hague] had received on the number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel since 30 October; what recent discussions he has had with the government of Israel on such attacks; and if he would make a statement.
Mr Burt obligingly replied: “We have received reports that 287 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel between 30 October and 14 November. According to Israeli Defence Forces figures, 1,443 rockets were fired during the period 14-21 November.” He added that Mr Hague spoke to Mr Lieberman on 17 and 21 November and he, Burt, spoke to him on 21 November and again on 22 November.
Such precision is of course commendable but grossly lopsided and plainly calculated to mislead Parliament and public. It is astonishing that in all its discussions with Israel’s ministers the Foreign Office hasn’t managed to extract data on Israeli bombing and rocket attacks.
Mr Burt, I venture to suggest, ought to paint a balanced picture and not simply regurgitate Israeli propaganda without caveats and facts from the other side. He should inform the Israeli authorities that British ministers will not in future quote figures for Palestinian rockets unless accompanied by corresponding numbers of Israel’s. These should then be cross-checked with Palestinian and independent sources for proper monitoring.
The same goes for any remarks about Iran’s so far non-existent nukes. There should be equal emphasis on Israel’s vast arsenal of WMDs.
Elbit Systems is one of Israel’s largest defense contractors, something like Lockheed, General Dynamics and Boeing rolled into one. It has its tentacles in virtually every high-tech weapons system developed by and for the IDF. Like its American counterparts, it also has an extensive overseas customer base to whom it exports those weapons it’s developed for the IDF.
The Times of London has just broken a massive story detailing a secret lobbying campaign that brought Elbit a large share of a $1-billion helicopter contract awarded by the House of Commons. The campaign was orchestrated by Lt. Gen. Richard Applegate, former chief of army procurement. The details are so jaw-dropping, I’ll quote extensively from the article:
He boasted how he had pulled off a coup in a covert political lobbying campaign which had secured 500m for the benefit of his Israeli arms company client.
Applegate…admitted he had applied pressure by “infecting the system at every level” using politicians and former colleagues still serving in the forces.
…He…confided that he had persuaded MPs to ask questions in the Commons and arranged for the chairman of the defence select committee to raise the issue with the defense secretary in a move to shame the government into releasing the funds.
Applegate was pushing for an increase in MoD spending on helicopter safety systems, believing it would benefit Elbit Systems, the Israeli arms company he chairs in the UK.
The MoD earmarked 500m in June after months of lobbying by Applegate. He said he expected a substantial portion of the cash to trickle down to Elbit through the military supply chain.
Boasting about his success…he said: “There was no programme, there was no money and we had been sidelined. There is now a programme, there is now money and we have the ability to win and grow.”
He confided that he used Westminster Connection, a discreet lobbying firm with Israeli links as a “firebreak” to ensure “that my fingerprints weren’t over any of it.” It could gain access to anyone “from the prime minister down.” He said the firm, based in Victoria and co-owned by Scott Hamilton, a former Conservative staffer, had used links with Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) to persuade MPs in the Commons to assist in his campaign.
The lobbying firm mentioned is co-owned by two leading Conservative staffers, one of whom, Stuart Polak, has been the director of CFI since 1989. The Jewish Chronicle lists him as one of the top 100 most influential Jews in the UK. He has led more than 50 such missions to Israel as the two mentioned in the passage above. So we can see that these junkets not only bring political benefit to Israel and its UK agenda, but they also can bring huge financial and trade benefits as well.
The Times expose notes that two well-connected MPs carried water for the project, asking pointed questions on the floor and in committee. These members of parliament were sent to Israel by CFI on two separate junkets during which they visited the Elbit headquarters and were briefed on its UK projects.
I hate to say it but Applegate’s full court press makes Aipac look like pikers by comparison:
The former procurement chief claimed his lobbying campaigns operate “at every level,” so by the time he had inspired a minister to ask his advisers about an issue they [the adviser] had been prepped to give the right answer. “I like the minister to be asking the questions [of] the person down here who’s his expert. The expert knows about it, is comfortable with it and you know in terms of, if he doesn’t like it, you make sure he’s no longer the expert…and you position someone else in there to give a different story.”
The entire campaign is one of breathtaking cynicism, but also breathtaking ambition and precision. You have to hand it to Applegate and Elbit. They show you how a master lobbyist does his job. In fact, when he retires Applegate should write a book about it. It would be bound to become the lobbyists’ bible.
Unfortunately, the Times story doesn’t outline Applegate’s direct financial stake in the Elbit deal. Given that it involved $1-billion and a substantial portion would eventually flow to the Israeli arms dealer, one has to assume that the former general would himself earn a substantial fee. How much we don’t know.
In case anyone wonders whether such a system of legalized graft works in Israel, it certainly does. Every retired general joins an Israeli arms or security consulting company. Ehud Barak managed to become a millionaire several times over after he became a private citizen. Even Meir Dagan joined two such U.S. based companies on his retirement.
Unlike the other UK generals caught in the Times sting, Applegate is the only one who hasn’t lost his job. That’s because he was the only one working for an Israeli firm. The others made the mistake of working for UK defense contractors who have to consider the appearance of matters described in the expose. Elbit has no such compunctions. You’ll never hear about the wheeling and dealing it engages in around the world because such shenanigans are accepted and even embraced in the security Wild West that Israel has become.