Back Commentary & Analysis The common thread that binds the Israel lobby with the Arab dictatorships

The common thread that binds the Israel lobby with the Arab dictatorships

MEMO CommentaryIn theory they do not seem to have a common cause. In practice, however, the pro-Israel lobby shares several vital interests and characteristics with the dictatorships that have bedevilled the Middle East for decades. They share a common desire to perpetuate the culture of subservience and dependency in the region. Driven by similar instincts of survival, in a fast-changing environment they exploit equally the phoney spectre of "Islamic extremism". Thankfully, European governments are finally awakening to this farce. Thus, when Libyan leader Mu'ammar Gaddafi raised the alarm about "Al-Qaeda" and "Islamic extremism" being responsible for the challenge to his authoritarian rule, following his deposed buddies Ben Ali and Mubarak, no one took him seriously.

None of these claims have anything to do with improving the common good of the people affected by despotic rule; on the contrary they are used only to advance the selfish designs of the rulers to preserve the status quo. The pro-Israel outfit Just Journalism confirmed as such when it published an article on March 17th under the heading, "Paper-wrapped extremism".

The article was a frontal attack on the Guardian newspaper for publishing the findings of the ICM report on European public perceptions of the conflict in Palestine, which was commissioned by the Middle East Monitor (MEMO), Al Jazeera Centre for Studies and the European Muslim Research Centre. The Guardian is, of course, well capable of defending itself to preserve its independence from the Israel lobby's pernicious influence; but there are aspects of the article which warrant a response from MEMO.

Clearly unwilling to address the major findings of the survey, Just Journalism went instead for the familiar tactic of shooting the messenger, as its Israeli handlers have ordered lobbyists to do - "delegitimise the delegitimisers".

To the same degree that Gaddafi failed to impress Western governments with his pathetic cries of "Al-Qaeda", so too are the cries of "extremists" falling on deaf ears. The reference to the Istanbul Declaration did not conceal the real aim of Michael Weiss, who penned the piece, which is to divert the reader's attention from the real issue; in this case, the findings of the ICM survey. It is noteworthy, however, that several signatories of the Istanbul Declaration are today spearheading the popular movements in their respective countries to deliver their people from the grip of ruthless dictatorships. Neither the angst nor antics of the Israel lobby have diminished their legitimacy and acceptance by those who really matter, their own people.

To the mass of people in the Middle East, the Istanbul Declaration was about protecting the innocent victims of Gaza who were being slaughtered by an out-of-control Israeli army. Israel's crimes were so heinous that several independent inquiries recommended that the perpetrators be brought before the International Criminal Court for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. The only reason why international warrants were not issued for their arrest is because America came to Israel's rescue, again. According to the minutes of a meeting between Saeb Erekat and George Mitchell on 21 October 2009, the latter told the Palestinian negotiator, "You can go for a public statement. The ICC is a different thing." Such is America's commitment to the rule of law.

Although the Geneva Conventions Act 1957, gives the UK universal jurisdiction to arrest and try suspected perpetrators of "grave breaches" of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 (IVGC), the Conservative Party has undertaken to change the law in response to pressure from Israeli politicians and the British branch of the Israel lobby. Just Journalism's problem with the ICM survey, it seems, is the fact that it highlighted the resolve of the European public to uphold the rule of law, respect fundamental human rights and protect the dignity of all people, regardless of race, colour or creed.

Days after Just Journalism launched its attack on the Guardian the Israeli Knesset approved two laws banning Palestinian citizens of the Zionist state from commemorating their Nakba and living in certain parts of Israel, equivalent to 70% of the entire country. The undeclared aim is to keep the indigenous inhabitants of the land on isolated reservations so the European and Russian immigrants who dispossessed them may have "security". This is the sort of discrimination and undemocratic behaviour that Just Journalism supports.

The real test for the lobby today is not the past, however, but the present. Given the close ties between the Libyan regime and the Israeli government and its foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman in particular, Just Journalism would be better off responding to the widespread media reports on Israel's recruitment of mercenaries and provision of logistical support for Gaddafi to suppress the heroic Libyan people who are demanding nothing but freedom.

It was Lieberman who convinced Gaddafi to release the Tunisian-Israeli, Raphael Hadad, who was detained in Libya in March 2010. He was caught by the authorities taking photos of Jewish properties in Libya on behalf of an Israel-based organization. His release was secured through the efforts of Lieberman and the Austrian-Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff; the latter is a close friend of Sayf el-Islam Gaddafi. On his return to Israel Hadad was met at Ben Gurion airport by Lieberman.

Despite its claim to democracy, freedom, the rule of law and all the other noble universal values that the young Arabs aspire to today, it is clear that Israel does not want any of these revolutions to succeed. It fears that the historic changes in the region will return Arab countries to their natural role, in particular real support for the Palestinian people instead of the lip service that has been a hallmark of the old regimes.

If the people of the region had listened to the so-called moderate camp championed by Just Journalism and its fellow lobbyists they would still be crushed under the jackboots of their oppressors. Like the pitiful playground bully, Israel and its supporters can't live with anyone who stands up to its appalling human rights record and lack of accountability. Instead of backing those who stand up for justice and freedom for the Palestinians living under an illegal Israeli military occupation, Mr Weiss and his cohorts support a state which is guilty of ethnic cleansing (itself a war crime), the colonisation of occupied land and innumerable human rights abuses. As aggrieved British citizens take inspiration from the people of Egypt and turn Trafalgar Square into their own version of Cairo's Tahrir Square, Weiss and Co. should hang their heads in shame.


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