By Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector (i.e. president) of the University of Dundee. Craigmurray.org.uk.
Last week, Israel bulldozed twelve Palestinian homes in Area C of the illegally occupied West Bank to make way for new illegal settlement building, while two Palestinian minors were killed by the Israeli Defence Forces.
This makes it a totally unexceptional week for the Palestinians. It has not however been an unexceptional week for Palestinian supporters in the UK, who have suffered the most vicious coordinated media witch hunt in memory. Two things are happening. The Blairites are trying to engineer a coup against Corbyn by sabotaging Labour in forthcoming elections, while the Israeli lobby seek to discredit all supporters of the Palestinians as anti-semites, including people like me who have no connection to the Labour Party.
The Daily Mail’s Jake Wallis Simons has been at the forefront of this campaign. He implied I am an anti-semite on television. Two years ago in Israel he gave an interview to Haaretz newspaper of which this is a snippet
Now consider if we apply this transposition. It makes plain just how astonishing Wallis Simons’ admission is:
“He and his classmates at his Islamic school would debate which side they would support if Britain and Syria went to war. The consensus, he recalls, was that they would throw their lot in with Syria.”
There is no doubt at all that a Muslim who published this would instantly be arrested and taken for police questioning, to see if their extremist religious indoctrination at school and their fantasies of fighting against Britain meant that they remained a threat. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Islamic school in question would be subject to intense investigation – no matter how long ago the incident was. Almost certainly the Governors would be suspended in the interim and the inquiry extended to similar schools. There is no doubt whatsoever that Mr Wallis Simons’ own Daily Mail would be proclaiming in lurid banner headlines about this Islamic danger.
If the Prevent programme were not in fact purely Islamophobic in both construction and content, action would have been taken against such schools which inculcate anti-British feelings and philosophies. Wallis Simons would have been questioned. But no, it appears some religious extremism is OK, and only some is frowned upon. A Muslim could not publish what Wallis Simons publishes, let alone occupy well paid roles in the UK corporate media.
In the Haaretz article, the Daily Mail’s Wallis Simons expresses regret at having published his anti-British views. But note the grounds on which he regrets. Because it is “too personal” and because people “keep digging it up” when he writes on the Middle East. It “undermines everything”: in other words it reduces his influence in the UK.
He does not say in Haaretz that he no longer holds the same views. Rather he shows concern that, because people can discover that view, the value and influence of his pro-Israeli propaganda is diminished in the UK. It is also interesting that in this article Simons refers to the West Bank as Samaria – the term is only used by those Zionists who claim that all of the West Bank is an integral part of Israel.
At this stage I should very much like, in all fairness, to read the Guardian article referenced by Haaretz to see if in that article he says he has changed his mind and, as someone who was born a Londoner and has lived all his life in Britain, his allegiance is firmly to Britain and not to Israel. I can perhaps understand he would not say that to Haaretz while promoting his book sales in Israel. But I cannot find the Guardian article anywhere online.
JAKE WALLIS SIMONS’ INCREDIBLE VANISHING ALLEGIANCE
The article incriminating Wallis Simons appears shortly after his Haaretz interview to have vanished from the internet, even from the Wayback machine and archive.org. Given that it must have been very controversial, it has left astonishingly little trace. You can find the odd tantalising reference here or there, but the link never works, and not only to the Guardian. Here is but one example of am entry we found:
Jake Wallis Simons (biographical details)
This is a biographical profile of Jake Wallis Simons. … When British author and journalist Jake Wallis … they would support if Britain and Israel went to war.
But when you try that link, you cannot get the page, and the same is true of everything else online that looks like it is going to reveal Wallis Simons’ once public declaration.
Wallis Simons complained to Haaretz that “whenever I write about the Middle East, people dig it up”. And yet we have found it impossible to dig up. In fact is appears that very substantial effort must have been put in to expunging from the internet all trace that Wallis Simons ever wrote it. That is really hard to do, and requires a great deal of resources, and probably the collusion of The Guardian.
Obviously to preserve Wallis Simons’ effectiveness as an Israeli propagandist, it was considered worth those resources.
I do hope that by now you have been angry with me for not putting a link to the Haaretz article and only giving you highly selective quotations. I have done this deliberately, just to make plain how entirely unfair it is as a technique. Simons used this technique on me on Sky News by selectively quoting one phrase – not even the whole sentence – out of context to show I was an anti-Semite who sneered at the “tribe” of Israel. Out of context this part sentence was so outrageous I did not recognise it, and I called Mr Simons a liar, in which I was wrong. He then went on twitter to tweet around a tiny snippet of what I had written, causing the expected stream of abusive tweets to come my way.
My response was to republish the entire post, acknowledging that Mr Simons did not lie but putting the phrase in its context. Mr Simons has nevertheless said that he will sue me, and I look forward to that. But unlike Mr Simons – who has still never given a link to my full article from which he took the phrase out of context to misrepresent me – I do not cheat and distort in argument, so his full Haaretz interview is here.
Indeed, could I find anywhere that Mr Simons had said that he retracts his view and that he would not fight for Israel against the UK, I would very definitely publish that too in the interests of fairness. But I simply cannot find it.
PERPETUATING THE DIVIDED LOYALTIES TROPE
What is particularly infuriating about Simons is that “divided loyalties” is indeed a trope that has been used against Jews – and against Catholics and immigrant groups – by racists over the years. By his stupid point about once wanting to fight Britain for Israel, Simons reinforces and perpetuates this trope. This is infuriating to those of us campaigning for a peaceful multicultural Britain, just as infuriating as it is when our efforts against Islamophobia are undermined by the occasional Islamic extremist doing something stupid.
In this context, my article from which Simons extracted one phrase is extremely revealing in its subject matter. He chose an article in which I attacked a statement by Israeli economics minister Naftali Bennett. Responding to criticism of Netanyahu by Obama’s White House, Bennett said:
“The prime minister [Netanyahu] is not a private person but the leader of the Jewish state and the whole Jewish world. Such severe insults towards the prime minister of Israel are hurtful to millions of Israeli citizens and Jews all over the world.”
This statement is completely unacceptable. Benjamin Netanyahu is not the leader of British Jews, and Israel does not lead “the whole Jewish world”. All of the British Jews I know would utterly repudiate, and be horrified by, the idea that Benjamin Netanyahu is their leader. Jewish British people are British, just like Black, Asian or other British people. They are British not Israeli. For an Israeli minister to claim leadership of all Jews in the world absolutely cannot be admitted. But – and this is the important point – it is exactly the same argument as the contention by Jake Wallis Simons that he, a British Jew, would have fought for Israel against the land of his birth.
It is exactly the same argument that Israeli and Jew are synonymous, and therefore to attack Israel is anti-Semitism. It is exactly the same argument that Jew equals Israel so anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. It is exactly the same argument the entire corporate and mainstream media have been drumming into our heads 24 hours a day. And the object is to outlaw any criticism of Israel or active support for the Palestinians. The object is to make Zionism compulsory, at the very least as political correctness, and there are rumblings that anti-Zionism should be made illegal.
It only appears surprising that those of us who have fought all racism – including anti-Semitism – our entire lives, now come under attack. It is not surprising when you look in to the motives of those who lead the attack; they are supporting a racist, apartheid state. We should stop being defensive and shout this from the rooftops. In an appalling article in the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff listed use of #apartheidIsrael as an indicator of anti-Semitism. Even more astonishing, Jonathan Freedland wrote in the same newspaper that we are hypocrites for attacking Israel, which is only doing what Australia, Canada and the USA did to their indigenous populations. He did not acknowledge that these were appalling crimes, subject of recent historic apologies and the source of much shame. Nor that the world is supposed to have moved on from Imperialism.
The media onslaught against Palestine is as unrelenting as it is intellectually bankrupt.
To finish with Jake Wallis Simons, he is a major figure in the anti-Palestine barrage. Wallis Simons was the author of the highly tendentious Daily Mail article of 7 August 2015 headlined “Jeremy Corbyn’s “longstanding links” with notorious Holocaust denier and his “anti-Semitic” organisation revealed.” The inverted commas are in the original headline and they are sure signs that the Mail’s lawyers have pointed out something is completely untrue – so they indicate the Mail is only “reporting an accusation”. This article was the origin of the joint Israel/Blairite campaign which has been gathering momentum ever since, up until the current explosion of orchestrated media hatred against Palestine supporters.
Precisely what is happening became much more obvious this week with the revelation that Alex Chalmers, the Oxford student who had made the entirely unsubstantiated claims of anti-Semitism at Oxford University, had previously been an intern at BICOM, the oligarch funded Israeli propaganda outfit (officially the British Israel research and Communications Centre). Possibly the best-funded lobby group in UK politics, BICOM has contributed funding and trips to Israel to many of the Blarities involved in the present propaganda blitz.
Chalmers’ claims have been central to all published accounts of “Labour anti-semitism” and were used by Cameron to attack Corbyn in the Commons. University authorities have found no evidence to back Chalmers’ claims and his main complaint was that there had been an Israeli Apartheid week held by students. In fact his claim depends entirely on the notion that to criticise Israel is anti-Semitism. A theme is emerging here. BICOM is also the organisation which funded Adam Werrity to accompany Liam Fox to Israel, and to which Hillary Benn said shortly before his Syria War speech “we must seek to take on those who seek to delegitimise the state of Israel”
Which gives us yet another pointer. The cheerleaders of the current “anti-Semitism” witch-hunt have a 99% correlation with the supporters and cheerleaders of the Iraq war, and their targets are, I believe without any exception, opponents of the Iraq War. This is in part a kind of twisted revenge for having been shown, not least in the last couple of days, to have been hopelessly wrong about Iraq. The wound of being labelled with that monstrous policy failure has fatally undermined the Blairites. Now they delude themselves that they have unanimous mainstream media “vindication”, because all their opponents were just racists all along!
I make not one penny from expressing my views to the public for the purpose of debate. This blog does not even have adverts. I have no official position. There is nothing from which I can be expelled. I am not scared of courts. We face an attempt to make it compulsory to support Zionism. To make it impossible to stand up for the rights of the Palestinians. Yet that campaign is led by a totally self-centred and isolated metropolitan elite, who cannot understand that on Palestine as on so much else they do not represent us. I shall not be intimidated into abandoning my campaigning against apartheid Israel, and nor will many others. The battle for truth is a hard one at the moment, but we will prevail.