Complaint filed over secret donors to “friends of Israel”

Last week I wrote about how Labor Friends of Israel (LFI) – a lobby group within Britain’s largest opposition party – appears to be breaking a law on political donations. I am happy to report that the UK’s Electoral Commission has now received a formal request to investigate the LFI and similar organizations affiliated to the country’s ruling coalition.

Jenny Tonge, a member of the House of Lords, has alerted the Commission to the lack of transparency over how Zionist support groups are funded.

Tonge’s letter draws attention to apparent omissions in the information that the “friends of Israel” groups within Labor and the senior government party, the Conservatives, have submitted to the Commission. Under legislation dating from 2001, all donations exceeding £7,500 ($11,600) to “member’s associations” within political parties have to be disclosed.

The LFI has reported spending nearly £77,000 on trips to the Middle East for members of Parliament between 2003 and 2009 and is known to have at least two full-time members of staff. The Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) have reported expenditure of more than £110,000 on travel since 2011, yet have indicated that they only received donations totalling £29,350 in that period.

Tonge wrote, “The Commission surely has an obligation to examine their finances, together with those of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, to ensure that they have not failed to declare any donations above the threshold, as it does seem remarkable to have this level of expenditure without significant donations from groups or individuals.”

Pounding the drumbeat of war

The LFI’s reticence over its funding is at odds with its determination to prove that it is shaping policy. Its 15 December newsletter gloated at how the first visit to Israel and the West Bank by Douglas Alexander, since his appointment as shadow foreign secretary in January, was hosted by the LFI. During the visit Alexander met Israel’s chief spindoctor Mark Regev, a man who has perfected the art of looking suave while telling lies. Alexander showed just how amenable he was to Israeli propaganda by going to see a high school in southern Israel — where, in his words “classrooms doubled up as bomb shelters.”

His itinerary did not include an excursion into the nearby Gaza Strip, where he could have inspected schools destroyed by the highly-equipped Israeli military during Operation Cast Lead three years ago. At least 353 Palestinian children were killed by Israel in that three-week offensive.

The same newsletter illustrates that LFI – like its beloved Regev – has a tenuous relationship with the truth. It brands Iran’s nuclear programme “illegal” and notes that the Labor hierarchy has pledged support for sanctions against the Tehran regime. Readers are not provided with any background details about how it was Israel, not Iran, that introduced nuclear weapons to the Middle East and how it is Israel, not Iran, that has refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The newsletter proceeds to recommend an article by Alan Johnson from the Britain Israel Research Center (BICOM), who praised the British government’s determination “to end the diplomatic merry-go-round, to see Iran plain and to act, now and decisively, to confront it.”

If the “friends of Israel” are pounding the drumbeat of war against Iran, then it is vital that they be closely monitored.

Tags

Comments

picture

The British public have a right to know who is funding our politicians so we can draw conclusions on why we have certain foreign policies that favour relationships with states that abuse human rights and practise (in Israel's case) apartheid. I am against all donations to political parties because it means that the wealthy can mould policies while the poor and vulnerable have no value to those in power because they do not give out big donations of cash. This is a corrupt way of doing things, but so long as we have this faulty system, we should at the very least have transparency. Look at how war criminal Tony Blair is becoming wealthier by the day with his lucrative deals and contracts in the Middle East with big business. He spends more time on increasing his wealth and influence than on working for peace in the region. We are faced with similar charades. Politicians are abusing their positions of power to make money, even when it means cosying up to repressive regimes. Many of us have had enough with the hypocrisy of supporting Israel and Saudi Arabia, for example, while violently attacking foreign countries for the human rights abuses our 'friends' commit on a daily basis in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Israeli war criminals who killed hundreds of children between December 2008 and January 2009 are now welcome in Britain. British politicians re-wrote the law, which is based on our legal and moral obligation to arrest war criminals, so that Tzipi Livni could visit. So clearly the Friends of Israel lobby groups can actually affect our domestic law- which I find a frightening prospect. Have we lost our sovereignty to Israeli politicians who demand changes in our law and get what they want? Whatever happened to our legal obligations? The public needs to know and to become outraged and mobilized. We demand transparency, justice, equality, honesty, decency among many things. If our politicians continue to take money from criminals, we will vote them out.

picture

All the main UK political parties have "Friends of Israel" lobbies, under the umbrella of the Friends of Israel Initiative. What is really needed, is an expose of the Henry Jackson Society, of which all UK MPs are terrified. One of its high-flyers misled Parliament by accusing another MP of a statement he never made, but the statement was withdrawn anyway, in humiliating circumstances. Such is the fear of the HJS. The actual statement dealt with with complaints from two UK women tourists thrown into jail in Israel, withdrawing their serious complaints against the UK Ambassador, for "taking Israel's side" in the matter. Democracy in the UK is dead. Israel calls the tunes. Until last summer, the Prime Minister was a Patron of the Jewish National Fund, the organisation responsible for burning olive groves, demolishing Palestinian houses and displacing Bedouins. All credit to Jenny Tonge, one of the few UK politicians with the courage to tell it like it is.

picture

Not at all surprised to see the activities of these fanatical Zionists who are effectively acting as a 5th column in the UK by ' nobbling' various party members of both major parties. Having watched helplessly as the previous Labour administration was manipulated by these people(LFO > Iraq Invasion) I asked for written assurance from Conservative Central Office before the last General Election that they would not allow the Conservative Friends of Israel to manipulate a future Conservative administration. How disappointed I am to see "plus ca change" as the French say. Realistically , a minority group of zionist zealots from a minority 'community ' (400,000 out of a total population of 63 million ) within the UK should NOT be allowed to subvert democracy by greasing palms and having legislation altered ( take note William Hague) to allow a mass murderess Tzipi Livni ( white phosphorous bombs dropped on civilians in Gaza) to enter UK. I hope the courageous and straight-talking Jenny Tonge ( William Hague take note) gets a lot of support and the British people wake up from their torpor to see who exactly is running government, media and banking in UK.

David Cronin

David Cronin's picture

David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada. His latest book is Corporate Europe: How Big Business Sets Policies on Food, Climate and War (Pluto, 2013). His earlier book is Europe’s Alliance With Israel: Aiding the Occupation (Pluto, 2011).