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Israel spends £1 million on bribing British MPs

Urgent calls for an independent inquiry into the scandal that undermines the democratic process have been ignored. ZOE STREATFIELD reports

The recent revelations about the Israeli state lobbying Labour MPs is shocking but hardly surprising.

Secret recordings caught a senior Israeli embassy official Shai Masot plotting to “take down” opponents of Israel’s illegal settlements and atrocities in Palestine.

In the recordings Masot discusses plans to set up a youth wing of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) organisation.

It also emerged that he had told Labour MP and LFI chair Joan Ryan, that £1m from the Israeli state had been approved to send sympathetic MPs and students on allexpenses-paid trips to Israel.

Masot also accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of being “crazy” and called his supporters “weirdos” and “extremists.”

It is no secret that Corbyn has been a vocal critic of Israel’s apartheid regime over the years and is a firm supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has been successful in drawing attention to the plight of the Palestinian people and undermining the Israeli government.

Elsewhere in the recordings Michael Rubin, parliamentary officer for LFI and former leader of Labour Students confirmed that he had worked “really closely” with Masot “behind the scenes” and that money had been made available by the Israeli embassy.

Money from the Israeli government being spent on bribing our MPs into supporting Israel is an affront to democracy.

It is also not much of a stretch of the imagination to speculate whether the Israeli state has been involved in undermining the Corbyn leadership and his supporters.

I spoke to Glyn Secker, secretary of Free Speech on Israel and executive member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians about the scandal.

“We’ve been saying for a long time that there’s been a close association between the Israeli embassy and Labour Friends of Israel stretching back over many years, with the Israeli government funding all-inclusive trips to Israel where delegates get a very jaundiced perspective of the occupation,” Secker said.

He confirmed the Israeli government had a long history of investing in Jewish societies at universities and it “has been an important way in which they have influenced opinion both in the student body and in parliament.”

Secker added his voice to calls for an independent inquiry into the scandal, adding that Jeremy Newmark, who is the chair of Jewish Labour Movement — a formal affiliate to the Labour Party — should come clean and make public meetings and conversations he has had with Masot — the two were photographed together at Labour Party conference.

He said there has been “a very powerful campaign in the Labour Party accusing people, particularly supporters of Palestinian human rights, of anti-semitism” in order to discredit them, which he called the “weaponisation of anti-semitic allegations.”

Supporters of Israel had stirred up allegations of anti-semitism in order to attack the left and supporters of Corbyn,” he said.

Secker argued that this was because Corbyn has always been a strong supporter of Palestinian human rights and his sudden rise in popularity was a huge shock to Conservatives and the Labour right, who are looking for a possible way to “take him down” politically.

He also revealed that “many in the alternative Jewish community get quite nastily attacked by Jewish supporters of Israel and are accused of being self hating, anti-semitic Jews.”

He said that the “debate about Israel within the Jewish community had always been kept behind closed doors” but as the Israeli government has moved “increasingly to the right” over the years, more and more Jewish people “are beginning to openly voice criticisms.”

He said the Board of Deputies of British Jews (the main representative body of British Jews) doesn’t represent both sides of the debate and there is “almost a self-fulfilling prophecy where Jewish community leaders ally themselves with Israel uncritically and it gives the impression that all Jews think that way.

“We need an open debate on the topic of Israel and Palestine so that people can see that there are Jews on both sides of the issue,” he said.

While the establishment are trying to sweep this scandal under the carpet the left and pro-human rights groups need to keep the pressure on for a fullscale independent inquiry.

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