Senior Israeli embassy official Shai Masot plotting to 'take down' government minister Alan Duncan. (Photo: Al-Jazeera.)

The power of the Israel lobby.

There seems to be a constant stream of allegations of anti-semitism from the corporate media these days. That's a bit strange seeing that the "levels of antisemitism in Great Britain are among the lowest in the world." That's according to "the largest and most detailed survey of attitudes towards Jews and Israel ever conducted in Great Britain" by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

So it's clear that someone's telling lies. Don't we 'smell a rat' when these people make allegations of anti-semitism, especially as we are rarely told of the organisations they represent? Groups such as the 'Labour Friends of Israel,' the 'Conservative Friends of Israel' or other groups that represent the interests of Israel. So these cases publicised in the corporate media are invariably engineered by supporters of Israel - and directed against supporters of the Palestinians and the movement for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) of Israel.

Israeli plans to "take down" UK MPs.

Evidence of this campaign came to light through an undercover operation (by Al-Jazeera TV). This showed a senior diplomat from the Israeli embassy boasting about plans to "take down" MPs that are regarded as hostile to Israel, suggesting that "a little scandal" might get UK deputy foreign secretary Alan Duncan dismissed. Alan Duncan has been critical of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The film also showed the same embassy official promising to give £1 million to the 'Labour Friends of Israel.'

In fact it was the 'Labour Friends of Israel' (LFI) that engineered one well-publicised case of "anti-semitism." The Al-Jazeera undercover reporter filmed the entire incident. At the 2016 Labour Party conference, one delegate, Jean Fitzpatrick, approached the LFI stand and engaged in a conversation about Israel's illegal settlements. At no point did she make any anti-semitic comments, but the LFI reported her to the party's Compliance Unit. This "incident" ended up all over the British press, with headlines screaming "anti-semitism." After an investigation, Jean was cleared. But the whole experience must have left her feeling that she had been caught up in some sort of McCarthyite witch hunt.

The BDS movement gains momentum.

Israeli interference in British politics is set to continue, especially as the country has given its Ministry of Strategic Affairs £39 million per year to fight the Palestine solidarity and BDS movements.

So while the Israel lobby has always been active, it is clear that it has stepped up its game considerably. So why now? International opposition to Israel's occupation and apartheid policies has been growing, especially after its massacres in Gaza during 2014, killing more than 2,250 Palestinians, including 551 children. While the boycott movement (called by Palestinian organisations in 2005) had already been winning successes, the Israeli massacres brought the principle of BDS to a wider public than ever before.

It is not only just a case of individual consumers refusing to buy Israeli goods: large banks and pension funds have divested from Israeli companies. The $210 billion Dutch pension fund PGGM announced its divestment from Israel's 5 biggest banks. The world's largest ($820 billion) wealth fund in Norway - the Government Pension Fund Global - divested from Israeli companies involved in illegal settlement building. And Denmark's third largest pension fund excluded four companies from its portfolio, citing their investments in illegal Israeli settlements. Companies throughout the world have terminated substantial contracts with Israeli firms. Churches have divested; trade unions and student unions have called for boycotts.

The cultural and academic boycotts.

The cultural boycott has helped keep the issue of Israeli apartheid in the public eye: musicians such as Annie Lennox, Sinéad O'Connor, Roger Waters and Massive Attack have refused to play in Israel. New Zealand singer Lorde cancelled her Tel Aviv concert. Actress Natalie Portman refused to accept an award in Jerusalem in protest at Israel's shoot-to-kill policy against Gaza protesters. A few months after that, Lana Del Ray cancelled her concert in Israel. The academic boycott was boosted by the late Professor Stephen Hawking refusing to attend a conference in Israel. More publicity for the BDS movement followed when renowned scientist George P. Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize: he supports the BDS movement and has called for an end to US military aid to Israel.

Intimidation by pro-Israel groups.

Clearly, Israel is on the attack like it has never been before. We can expect Israel and its supporters to play dirty. The 'anti-semitism trick' is employed time and time again. One worrying development is the increasing use of censorship. Pro-Israel groups have tried to close down events about Palestine, sometimes successfully. For two years running, pressure by Israel supporters led to the cancellation of a conference on Israel and international law at the University of Southampton. This type of pressure has also been put on owners of venues in order to ban Palestine Solidarity Campaign meetings, successfully in the case of events at Nottingham, Norwich, Portsmouth and Cambridge; though thankfully alternative venues were found at the last moment. A meeting organised by the Scottish PSC with anti-racist campaigner Jackie Walker was banned in Edinburgh. Universities at Exeter and Manchester have banned meetings with Tom Suárez, author of 'the State of Terror - how terrorism created modern Israel.' Tom gave a well-received talk in Hastings (November 2017) - notwithstanding complaints by Zionist groups. Also in Hastings, a pro-Israel group wrote to the owner of our meeting room demanding that he ban the event we had planned in September 2017. Thankfully, the owner wouldn't be intimidated and the meeting - with author Ben White - went ahead.

Palestinian solidarity movement stronger than ever.

This type of intimidation seems to have made the different Palestine support groups more determined; they have stepped up their activities. One very encouraging development is the growth of Jewish organisations dedicated to the support of the Palestinians. In the UK there is the 'Jews for justice for palestinians' group, the predominantly Jewish 'Free Speech On Israel' and 'Jews For Boycotting Israeli Goods.' In the USA, Jewish groups play a central role in the movement for Palestinian justice. It's very encouraging to see the formation of the US Jewish youth group IfNotNow.

It's important to point out that whenever Israel manufactures "anti-semitism," we will call it out; but where we find genuine cases of anti-semitism, we will always oppose and denounce them. But we must never allow the Israel lobby to distort legitimate criticisms of Israel with the slur of anti-semitism.

"Anti-semitic, its a trick we always use it" interview with former Israeli Minister Shulamit Aloni:



November 2018.