British Scandal Linked to Pro-Israel Groups - Resignation of Defense Secretary Linked to Shadowy Pal's Trips
Kevin O'Sullivan in Forward, October 28, 2011
The scandal that led to the recent resignation of Britain’s high-powered defense minister has laid bare a seamy underside to the funding and influencing of politicians in the United Kingdom, and the donors of some of the country’s key pro-Israel groups appear to be near the center of the affair.
Liam Fox, who resigned his defense post October 14, has been forced to explain the nature of his relationship with Adam Werritty, a longtime personal friend, after it was revealed that Werritty had been traveling abroad while representing himself as an official emissary of the defense minister with Fox’s knowledge. Werritty’s travels included forays to Iran, where he reportedly met with opposition activists, and to Israel, where he is said to have met with Israeli intelligence agents, including the director of the Mossad.
With no official position, Werritty could not pay for his travels via the government. In fact, his travel was funded by a nongovernmental organization he established in which three of the six principal donors are linked to pro-Israel organizations...
In the United States, the pro-Israel lobby is large and vocal, and wields considerable influence in the national body politic. It also operates fairly openly and has been subject to frequent scrutiny. But across the Atlantic, Jewish interest groups have traditionally operated far more quietly and have been subjected to much less examination...
Now the focus has shifted to Pargav, the not-for-profit organization that Werritty set up to fund his travels on Fox’s behalf. Among its major donors is Mick Davis, chair of the board of trustees of the Jewish Leadership Council and chairman of the United Jewish Israel Appeal. Davis, 52, is also chief executive of the mining company Xstrata, listed in the top 100 companies on the London Stock Exchange, with a market value of about $65 billion.
The millionaire businessman has declined to go into detail about why he decided to donate money to Pargav. But he has also paid about $240,000 to the Conservative Party and $12,000 to Education Minister Michael Gove, another staunchly pro-Israel Cabinet minister.
The second donor, Chaim ‘Poju’ Zabludowicz, is a flamboyant ex-arms dealer who contributed slightly less than $5,000 through his investment firm, Tamares. The London-based billionaire, who counts Madonna as a close friend, is also a key figure in BICOM, which is regarded roughly as the trans-Atlantic equivalent of Washington’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
The third notable donor is financier Michael Lewis, a former BICOM deputy chairman who gave $47,000 to Pargav.
All three men — who are understood to be close friends — have since distanced themselves from Werritty. But the fact remains that their money helped fund, at least in part, some of his 18 trips abroad on Fox’s coattails since 2009. In total, Werritty was present at about 40 of Fox’s 70 recorded engagements, domestic or otherwise, while Fox was in office.
Another aspect of the affair focuses on Howard Leigh, who is the Conservative Party’s treasurer and is also vice president of the Jewish Leadership Council, a body with representatives from community and religious groups, including Davis. In his role as Conservative Party treasurer, Leigh reportedly encouraged wealthy donors to fund Fox’s interests and office; in turn, Fox introduced them to Werritty.
The outcry over these donations has led to calls for a central registry of lobby groups, which the government is under mounting pressure to create. Kehoe said that his group, BICOM, would view any move toward such a registry as “perfectly reasonable...”
Last February, Werritty arranged a dinner attended by Fox, Matthew Gould, who is Britain’s ambassador to Israel, and senior Israeli political figures at a security conference in Herzliya, Israel. Sanctions against Iran were reportedly discussed at the dinner. Crucially, it is understood that Israeli intelligence agents, including then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan, also attended the meeting...
Werritty was CEO of the charity the Atlantic Bridge, which was founded by Fox to promote close relations between America and the U.K. The Atlantic Bridge was found last year to be operating with political purposes in violation of U.K. rules. The Charity Commission, the country’s regulatory body for charities, ordered it to cease its activities “immediately.” The Atlantic Bridge’s trustees closed the charity in July...
Jewish communal leaders hope that the scandal won’t sully the reputation of pro-Israel groups...Lee Scott, a Jewish member of Parliament from Ilford North, just outside London [said] “Normally there’s stuff put up on blogs, some of it quite nasty, but there’s been nothing I’ve seen so far. I think we need to wait a few more weeks to fully understand if there will be any effect.”
Full report in Forward 04 Nov 2011
Thursday 27th October 2011
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Media Release
PALESTINE CAMPAIGNER WELCOMES POLICE APOLOGY BUT ALLEGES LOTHIAN AND BORDERS POLICE CONSPIRED TO COVER UP UNLAWFUL ARREST
"Napier, who spent six hours in a police cell following his unlawful arrest, welcomed the apologies as an “acknowledgement that police officers behaved unlawfully during an entirely peaceful event by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign”. He has written to Lothian and Borders Police, however, to ask for assurances that future police training will ensure that officers do not dismiss pain they inflict on members of the public as feigned. He has also asked Lothian and Borders Police to investigate video evidence that one or more officers fabricated evidence to the PCCS to justify an unlawful arrest."
Lothian and Borders Police have apologised to a 64 year-old university lecturer who was wrongfully arrested and injured by police officers after taking part in a pro-Palestine publicity event. Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Steve Allen has written to Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) Chair Mick Napier complying with a ruling by the Police Complaints Commissioner Scotland (PCCS) that they should apologise to Napier.
In the letter, DCC Allen apologised for Napier’s unlawful arrest, handcuffing and injury, since “there was no proper basis for your detention or arrest for failing to provide your details”. DCC Allen further apologised for Lothian and Borders’ dismissal of Napier’s original complaint following a flawed internal investigation, when “the error was not identified”.
Professor John McNeill, who heads the PCCS, has advised Lothian and Borders Police to “review the effectiveness of handcuff tightness checks”, and criticised the police for “avoidably” injuring the university lecturer, who was caught on video screaming in pain before police eventually slackened his handcuffs. The Commissioner told police, who had described Napier’s cries as “theatrical”, that “the applicant should not have been handcuffed and that the injury sustained by the applicant was avoidable.”
Napier, who spent six hours in a police cell following his unlawful arrest, welcomed the apologies as an “acknowledgement that police officers behaved unlawfully during an entirely peaceful event by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign”. He has written to Lothian and Borders Police, however, to ask for assurances that future police training will ensure that officers do not dismiss pain they inflict on members of the public as feigned. He has also asked Lothian and Borders Police to investigate video evidence that one or more officers fabricated evidence to the PCCS to justify an unlawful arrest.
The Scottish Police Complaints Commissioner described Napier’s case as relating to “the fundamental issues around decisions by the police to deprive people of their liberty. There can be no greater test of public confidence in the police than the way they exercise their power to detain and arrest citizens.”
The Commissioner reminded police that officers “must, when requesting certain information, inform the person of his suspicion and the general nature of the offence he suspects the person has committed.” Napier said he hoped that police now understood that “Because I’m asking for your details” is not a satisfactory justification.
“I hope that this ruling, coming after three years of attempted cover-up, will persuade L&B Police to genuinely learn from this incident. Police officers who assault and handcuff a peaceful citizen without explanation, and then later describe their victim’s response to excruciating pain as ‘theatrical’, are a danger to anyone who crosses their path.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (Intifada).
The SPSC has branches throughout Scotland, and members and supporters from Scotland and elsewhere.
For further information, contact:
SPSC Chair, Mick Napier: 0131 620 0052 ; 07958002591
3. Letter from DCC Steve Allen, Lothian and Borders Police, dated 19 October 2011, can be downloaded in pdf format here.
4. Mick Napier’s reply to DCC Steve Allen, dated 27 October 2011, can be downloaded in pdf format here.
5. The report of the Commissioner of the Police Complaints Commission Scotland can be downloaded in pdf format here:
The Commissioner also issued a media release highlighting the Napier case, entitled, “Spotlight on police as Commissioner examines wrongful arrest claims”. This can be accessed here:
6. The Lothian & Borders Police statement is quoted in the Scotsman, 23rd September 2011, “Police finally apologise for wrongful arrest of protester”: http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland/Police-finally-apologise-for-wrongful.6841081.jp
The Scotsman editorial (same date) also focuses on the story: “Leader: Half-hearted police apology unhelpful”: http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/leaders/Leader-Halfhearted-police-apology-unhelpful.6841021.jp
7. On 17 May 2008, around 15 members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign had bought tickets and boarded an Edinburgh open-top guided bus tour. After a few minutes, the guide informed the driver that the group were waving Palestinian flags and a banner saying, “End the siege of Gaza”. The driver informed the group that as long as the banners were not hung down the side of the bus, there would be no issue.
Mick Napier was filming the bus from a car following behind.
A passing bus supervisor who, along with the bus, was stuck in heavy traffic, saw the flags on the bus and boarded it. He told the group that they could not continue to do what they were doing, and that the driver was wrong to have given permission. Although the group were in the process of packing up their flags to leave, the supervisor, noticing a police vehicle nearby, left the bus to speak to the police officer.
Mr Napier was separated from the bus by heavy traffic and had no idea what was going on.
Around the same time as Mr Napier approached on foot to check on the bus, a vanload of police arrived. The officer in charge instructed his officers to “get everybody’s details”.
L&BP submissions to the PCCS investigation claimed, “The constable asked for his details, but Mr Napier replied: ‘I am declining’."
Video evidence reveals, however, the following dialogue:
Police officer: [Not clear] details please.
Napier: Can I ask why?
Police officer: Sorry?
Napier: Can I ask why?
Police officer: Because I am asking for your details.
(Relevant video here: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=2197355647127)
Napier was then assaulted by two L&BP officers, handcuffed, arrested, and detained at St Leonard’s Police Station for 6 hours.
L&BP also submitted to the PCCS investigation that Napier was "being pretty loud on the pavement shouting about the treatment of Palestinians". Once again, however, the video reveals that at no time were any voices raised, except Mr Napier’s shouts of pain as the handcuffs bit into his wrists.
In response to the PCCS ruling, L&BP stated: "We note that the commissioner accepts that the officer involved acted in good faith during a difficult operational situation.” In fact, the Commissioner makes no such assertion. The video evidence shows a very relaxed group of officers prior to the sudden attack and handcuffing of Napier. The situation was neither tense nor difficult, and L&BP actions have been officially ruled entirely unjustified.
8. Napier was also illegally arrested, handcuffed and put in leg-irons, together with another Edinburgh man, retired Scottish Government statistician, Frank Thomas, before being jailed and deported by Israeli authorities back in July this year. Neither man was charged or told why they had been arrested after they told passport control officers in Tel-Aviv Airport that they intended to travel to the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
See Edinburgh Evening News, 13th July 2011, “Lecturer tells how group was imprisoned on Israel visit”: http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/Lecturer-tells-how-group-was.6800627.jp
9. Napier was amongst five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign charged with racially aggravated conduct after their Aug 2008 disruption of a concert by Israeli Army musicians, the Jerusalem Quartet.
After Sheriff James Scott dismissed the charges, the Herald’s front page reported, “Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism, rules sheriff”
The Herald, April 9th 2010:
An SPSC media release on the ruling can be found here:
"MacEoin's special claim to unique ignorance of Israel and Palestine, however, is clinched by his insistence that "Under Israeli law, Arab Israelis have exactly the same rights as Jews or anyone else; Muslims have the same rights as Jews or Christians." He seems not be aware of the startling fact that the para-statal JNF (Jewish National Fund) controls 94% of all Israel land, on behalf of the state, and openly practices racist discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel."
Note to campaigners for Palestinian rights: whenever you feel a little tired, I suggest a moment's reflection on the calibre of your opponents. It never fails as a tonic.
Dr. Denis MacEoin is a case in point. This author of trash fiction on themes of black magic is being paraded by supporters of Israel's crimes as an expert on the Middle East, an assessment MacEoin shares. He claims authority: "I am the author of several books and hundreds of articles in this field. I say all this to show that I am well informed in Middle Eastern affairs." 'Never mind the quality, feel the width' was an old British TV sitcom; MacEoin is the modern academic equivalent.
MacEoin damns Edinburgh University students for supporting the Palestinian appeal for boycott of Israel. He accuses the students of anti-Semitism, being "absolutely clueless", and their ethical stance "a sad comment on the state of modern education", since they have accepted" false accusations against one of the world's freest countries." Not only is Israel "free", but it "embodies the best in democracy, anti-racism, religious freedom."
The article making these claims by a "former academic in Islamic studies...has now been forwarded around the world by Israel supporters." Mike Wade has praised the letter on behalf of the Murdoch press.
MacEoin not only asserts "There is not and has never been a system of apartheid in Israel", he ridicules the very idea since Israel "embodies the best in democracy, anti-racism, religious freedom." Heady stuff, but facts are stubborn things. State-enforced residential segregation of Jews and non-Jews in Israel, for example, extends to 93% of Israeli lands. This land is under the effective control of the para-statal JNF (Jewish National Fund) via the ILA, is explicitly reserved for exclusively Jewish benefit, and may not be leased or sold to non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
He may wish to claim, bizarrely, that "Arab Israelis have exactly the same rights as Jews" under Israeli law. MacEoin's indifference towards the facts, however, is accompanied by a deeper methodological ignorance. MacEoin commits a schoolboy howler in confusing an example of something with its definition, evidenced in his ignorant claim that "For apartheid to exist, there would have to be a situation that closely resembled things in South Africa under the apartheid regime."
That is nonsense: apartheid is defined in international law as a type of state-enforced racism, where the state functions openly to maintain domination by one racial group over another or others. Apartheid is a crime under international law and any state or society can be investigated to decide whether it fits the template. One can examine Israel, Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere to see whether the crime of apartheid has been committed. This has been done. In 2007, UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine John Dugard noted that that "elements of the Israeli occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law".
Similarly, South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) found in its 2009 report that "the State of Israel exercises control in the [Occupied Palestinian Territories] with the purpose of maintaining a system of domination by Jews over Palestinians and that this system constitutes a breach of the prohibition of apartheid."
As anyone can easily discover with a modicum of effort, inside the entire area controlled by the Israel State, Jews are superior to non-Jews from the day they are born to the day they die. Jews enjoy political benefits since, for example, no Israeli parliamentary majority will ever rely on Arab Knesset votes. Israeli Jews enjoy legal benefits in being able to live anywhere in Israel while one million Palestinian Arabs with Israeli citizenship are barred from living in kibbutzim and most of the the rest of the land surface of the country. Israeli Jews can live and commute from illegal settlements where they live under a separate legal code to non-Jews.
Jews enjoy economic benefits, ranging from privileged patterns of investments in municipal services to priority access to jobs in most sectors of the economy. Jewish settlers enjoy the right to bear arms denied to Palestinians, and roam the country, including the occupied territories under Army protection; armed Palestinians would be killed on sight.
Israel fits the template of apartheid as developed in international law : it is a state openly committed to Jewish political, economic and military supremacy, codified partly in a racist legal system. The May 2009 South African study found that Israeli state-enforced residential segregation in favour of Jews, assassinations, administrative detention, systematic torture, supports the conclusion that "Israel has become a colonial enterprise which implements a system of apartheid."
We leave aside the testimony of the entire Palestinian civil society, or Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate who was "very deeply distressed" by a visit to Israel, since "it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa".
MacEoin points out that Israeli practice is way short of Nazi extermination as practiced after 1942. Quite so. I know of no one who would make such a claim. Parallels are perfectly valid, however, between the systematic segregation and persecution of Jews in 1930s Germany, and the much harsher oppression of Palestinians under Israeli control in Jerusalem, or helicopter gunsights in Gaza today.
More parallels could be drawn, however, perhaps more fruitfully, by comparing Israeli colonial dispossession with Rhodesia, or with MacEoin's native Ireland or Rhodesia, or Tasmania in earlier periods.
MacEoin's special claim to unique ignorance of Israel and Palestine, however, is clinched by his insistence that "Under Israeli law, Arab Israelis have exactly the same rights as Jews or anyone else; Muslims have the same rights as Jews or Christians." He seems not be aware of the startling fact that the para-statal JNF (Jewish National Fund) controls 94% of all Israel land, on behalf of the state, and openly practices racist discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Is he unaware that since the foundation of Israel the state has progressively dispossessed Palestinian citizens of their land to transfer this to Jewish control, and that this process is still underway. Surely MacEoin knows that land, once stolen or ethnically cleansed or confiscated by the Jewish state, cannot be sold or even given to non-Jews, even the original owners who are Israeli citizens.
MacEoin should ask how he would feel if laws rigidly enforced in the UK prohibiting Jews from buying or leasing land, or residing outside Jewish areas. Such a nightmare would be a BNP Britain.
MacEoin's ignorance is charmingly complete. Defending the worn out Zionist claim that Israel is a protection for Jews, he is certain that," If there had been a single Jewish state in the 1930s (which, sadly, there was not), don't you think Adolf Hitler would have decided to boycott it? Of course he would." The fact is, however, that Nazi Germany not only didn't boycott the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine, the Zionist state in the making, but set up a special scheme, the Ha'avara, to move German Jewish wealth to Palestine in the form of German manufactured exports. This scheme – A Zionist-Nazi pact - was so significant that "Some 60 per cent of all capital invested in Palestine between August 1933 and September 1939 was channelled through the agreement with the Nazis."
Part of his appeal to Edinburgh University students "to show some common sense" urges they "Get information from the Israeli embassy," presumably to sit through an explanation of how 1,400 Palestinians brought about their own deaths under Israeli white phosphorous in Gaza during New Year 2009.
It is surely significant that supporters of Israel trumpet such an ignoramus as their expert on Islamic studies. If I were a Zionist, I'd be worried. Very worried.
Mick Napier, Edinburgh
01 October 2011
UNRWA: Israel becoming 'more efficient' at displacing Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Oct -- Israeli demolitions affected 990 Palestinians in the West Bank in September, showing that Israeli authorities "are becoming more efficient," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said. The latest report from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees shows a dramatic rise in the number of people displaced or affected by Israeli demolitions. In July, the figure stood at 247.
Full report here from Ma'an news agency
Musicians suspended over Israel Proms row
The London Philharmonic Orchestra management has some serious question to answer
Ben White in New Statesman 15 Sept 2011
The London Philharmonic Orchestra has suspended four of its musicians for up to nine months for putting their names to a letter, published in the Independent, that called for the BBC to cancel a concert by the Israel Philharmonic.
For expressing support for the Palestinian boycott call, these individuals have received what has been called "the most severe penalty inflicted on London orchestral musicians in memory".
Plenty of people have been disturbed by the LPO management's response, including those who disagree with the views expressed by the four musicians. Classical music journalist Gavin Dixon, for example, has written that "the efforts by the LPO management to distance themselves from the views of these players has clearly been an over-reaction".Norman Geras, someone who thinks that boycotting Israel is "contemptible", has written of his concern about "whether a nine-month suspension from one's job for writing a letter to a newspaper isn't rather excessive". Geras also raises the legitimate questions about LPO internal disciplinary policy, and asks:
Why should members of an orchestra not be free to signal their professional affiliation when publicly expressing their views? Academics do it as a matter of course, and no one assumes that the University of Edinburgh, or Oxford, or Birmingham, or wherever, is implicated in the views that their members have publicly espoused.
There are many unanswered questions here:
First: the letter appeared in the Independent on 30 August. On 2 September, in what seems like the first official public response to enquiries, LPO chief executive Timothy Walker told the Jerusalem Post:
The views expressed by four members of the LPO concerning the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Proms are the views of the individuals and not the company.
A reasonable (and rather obvious) clarification statement - but no indication that the musicians were liable to face internal disciplinary action, let alone the severity of a 9-month suspension. What happened between 2 September and the decision to mete out the punishment?
Second: On 8 September, the Jewish Chronicle reported that an LPO violinist had been suspended for launching "an anti-Israel tirade at a question and answer session". The article said that "LPO chief executive Timothy Walker confirmed she had been suspended indefinitely" and that "the LPO board will decide on what disciplinary action to take". But the recent confirmation of four suspensions by LPO is reported as because of signing the letter -- not for "an anti-Israel tirade". Which is it?
Third: On announcing the suspension, the official LPO management statement said "the board's decision in this matter will send a strong and clear message". This indicates that the severity of the punishment is motivated by deterrence, rather than being an appropriate response guided by established practice or policy.
The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is not unique -- whatever the news media may suggest. Lorenzo Veracini argues that the conflict is best understood in terms of colonialism. Like many other societies, Israel is a settler society. Looking in detail at the evolution of other colonial regimes -- apartheid South Africa, French Algeria and Australia -- Veracini presents a thoughtful interpretation of the dynamics of colonialism, offering a clear framework within which to understand the middle east crisis.