16 November 09
In respect of tonight’s TV programme on the allegedly malign influence of the Israel lobby in Britain -- previewed here in today’s Guardian by presenter Peter Oborne -- readers may find enlightening these comments by Robin Shepherd, who takes issue with Oborne’s claim that he is not peddling ‘Jewish conspiracy theory’, and Tom Gross, who observes that there is no effective British pro-Israel lobby.
A propos, in view of Oborne’s suggestion that pressure from pro-Israel donors upon the Tory party silenced criticism of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza by the Tories’ foreign affairs spokesman William Hague, it is instructive to see what Hague actually said about that operation.
He first called for restraint from Israel:
‘We deeply regret the loss of civilian life in Gaza today. We call on the Israeli government to show restraint. At the same time we call on Hamas to stop the rocket attacks which are an unacceptable threat to Israel’s security, so that the ceasefire, which Hamas failed to renew, can be urgently restored’.
A few days later, he amplified this when he called upon Israel to stop its action against Hamas:
‘I am gravely concerned about the continuing violence in Gaza and the numbers of civilians killed and injured. The crisis is exacting a terrible human toll on both sides and it is imperative that further loss of life is avoided. I join the Security Council’s call for an immediate ceasefire and call on Arab countries to use their influence to urge Hamas to end rocket attacks on Israel. I also call on Israel to work with the international community so that the humanitarian relief so desperately needed in Gaza can be provided. The British Government must work with the United States and other members of the Middle East Quartet to secure an early return to negotiations in 2009. The only long-term solution is a negotiated two-state agreement that achieves a viable and secure Palestinian state living alongside a secure Israel with her right to live in peace and security recognised by all her neighbours. The world looks to the new President of the United States to place these negotiations at the top of his foreign policy agenda and to pursue them with vigour and determination from the very outset.’
He also condemned the Israeli shelling of the UN headquarters and joined the outcry over the ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Gaza:
William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, said: ‘The shelling of the UN Headquarters in Gaza is unacceptable. This undercuts efforts to bring relief to the people of Gaza and is against Israel's own interests. The UNWRA provides food and aid to over a million Palestinian refugees in Gaza. The suspension of its operations will bring more misery to civilians. We desperately need a ceasefire by both sides, not further escalation. Both sides must meet their obligations to protect aid workers at all times.’
He also, as reported here, called for alleged Israeli ‘war crimes’ against the Palestinians to be investigated.
Given that Hague allied himself to some degree with the disproportionate canards of anti-Israel hysteria over Cast Lead and went along with at least some of the blood libels used to defame Israel– not mention the more extreme denunciations emanating from the Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband -- can there ever have been in fact a weaker and more ineffective pressure group than Britain’s Israel lobby?