Israel Lobby in The United Kingdom - Criticisms of The Lobby - Journalists


In a September 2001 column in The Observer about the September 11 attacks in the United States, Richard Ingrams noted “the reluctance throughout the media to contemplate the Israeli factor” and, commenting on Britain, cited “pressure from the Israeli lobby in this country that many, even normally outspoken journalists, are reluctant even to refer to such matters.” He also noted their reluctance to address issues he had mentioned in past columns related to Lord Levy, the Labour Party and to the “close business links with Israel” of press magnates Rupert Murdoch and Conrad Black. Earlier in August, Times journalist, Sam Kiley, resigned from the newspaper as he claimed his work was severely censored by senior executives due to the Zionist sympathies of Rupert Murdoch.

In 2002 journalist John Pilger’s documentary “Palestine is Still the Issue” was shown on ITV. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, Conservative Friends of Israel and the Israeli Embassy expressed “outrage” and, according to Pilger, demanded a "pro-Israel" film. Pilger states the BBC would not have “dared to incur the wrath of one of the most influential lobbies in this country” by showing the film, citing comments written by Tim Llewellyn, the BBC's longtime Middle East correspondent, that the BBC continues to “duck” the issue. Pilger stated this was "one example of pressure exerted on British journalists from Zionists and the Israeli embassy."

In a December 2007 column, after the 2007 Labour party donation scandal (“Donorgate”) broke, Assaf Uni of Haaretz wrote that there was concern in the Jewish community about “conspiracy theories regarding a ‘Jewish plot’ in the United Kingdom, and the role of the pro-Israel lobby there.” In late 2007 it was revealed that David Abrahams, who was deputy chair of Labour Friends of Israel until 2002, had made secret and illegal donations through junior employees of 600,000 pounds sterling (approximately $1.2 million) to the Labour Party. Abrahams, “a Jewish millionaire,” admitted in The Jewish Chronicle that he concealed his activity because "I didn't want Jewish money and the Labour Party being put together." The Telegraph ran a photograph of Abrahams with Israeli former ambassador to Britain, Zvi Heifetz, and “insinuated that Israel was the source of the illegal campaign contributions.” According to an article in Haaretz, several in the media have maintained there was a connection between money donated by Zionist Jews and the pro-Israel policy of British prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told The Forward "Clearly there is a potential for it to turn against us."

Writing about the scandal, journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown asked in The Independent about the roles of the Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel groups, given that former Labour Friends leader David Abrahams involvement. She questioned the role in Labour victories of John Mendelsohn, noting that Mendelsohn is “a passionate Zionist and infamous lobbyist, described by the Jewish Chronicle as ‘one of the best-connected power brokers’.” She stated her assumption that Labour Friends of Israel plays a part in shaping British foreign policies in the Middle East. She also questioned the donations and “back-room influence” of Labour Friends of India and Muslim Friends of Labour.

In 2009 British investigative journalist Peter Oborne produced a documentary for Channel 4 Dispatches programme exposing the influence of the Israel Lobby within British politics and alongside James Jones wrote a pamphlet investigating which groups make up the pro-Israel lobby, how they operate, and how they exert influence.

Read more about this topic:  Israel Lobby In The United Kingdom, Criticisms of The Lobby

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