August 28, 2011

The lobby in the UK

There are two curious pieces in Friday's Jewish Chronicle.  The first describes how
The [UK] government has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after a minister described Israel's security barrier as a "land grab" and said that Israel deliberately took water away from the Palestinians.
The minister's remarks were in a video. Here's more detail:

In the video Mr Duncan declared: "The wall is a land grab. It hasn't just gone along the lines of the proper Israel boundary. It's taken in open land which actually belongs to Palestine". He added: "Israeli settlers can build what they want and then immediately get the infrastructure so that takes the water deliberately away from Palestinians here."
The UK has previously told Israel that it believes the security barrier encroaches on Palestinian territory and the government has a consistent policy of opposition to settlement building.
The Board of Deputies wrote to Mr Duncan on Monday to demand the withdrawal of the video, copying in his boss, Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, and Foreign Secretary William Hague.
The video was taken down shortly afterwards.
So the Board of Deputies can effectively order the removal of a video from a UK government website but it gets worse. In a front page comment, Martin Bright, the JC's political editor wrote the following, under the headline, It was a Palestinian narrative:
Ministers are in a very difficult position on this matter because Mr Duncan was, strictly speaking, doing no more than expressing official UK government policy. It does believe that Israel has failed to keep to its borders in constructing the security wall, and it is opposed to settlement building and the implications for natural resources such construction brings with it.
So a UK minister has used a video on a government website to express government policy on Palestine and the Board of Deputies of British Jews has told him not to do that.  And he has dutifully removed the video from the site.

We now have two front page articles in the most recent edition of the Jewish Chronicle boasting of a Jewish lobby group's ability to affect government behaviour and policy.  Next week perhaps there will be a couple of front pages telling us that it is antisemitic to speak of a Jewish lobby.

In fairness to Jews like me, it should be called the zionist lobby and the Board of Deputies should make it clear it only represents a zionist perspective.  But of course honesty has never been the best policy for zionists and honesty is certainly not going to be the policy of either the Board of Deputies or the Jewish Chronicle any time soon.

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