Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby P1
How Israel influences British politics-
We reveal from the inside how the Israeli Embassy
penetrates different levels of British democracy in the first of four programmes:
The Battle for Britain’s Youth
[sounds of explosions and yelling]
Following decades of violence
a new challenge has emerged to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands called BDS.
[crowd chants] “BDS is here to stay”
That’s the global movement to boycott, divest, and impose sanctions on Israel,
and expose it as an apartheid state.
The Israeli Government has responded with a campaign to rebrand the country’s image.
[Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu] “The reason we should fight BDS is because it’s wrong. It’s a moral outrage.”
It’s an operation run by the secretive Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
“They recruit mainly former intelligence officers.”
“Its main task is to counter BDS worldwide.”
Using an undercover reporter, Al Jazeera’s investigative unit exposes Israel’s clandestine activities in London,
a city that’s become a major battleground.
“BDS campaign in many ways germinated in Britain.”
You’ll meet the people working to challenge BDS at every level of British politics.
One of Israel’s main targets is the Labour party.
For the first time its leader is a champion of Palestinian civil rights.
They’d be very happy to see Jeremy Corbyn no longer leader of the Labour party for sure.
It’s a covert action that penetrates the heart of Britain’s democracy.
It is outrageous interference in British politics, it shouldn’t be permitted.
It’s a battle of ideas seeking to change not only how Israel’s portrayed, but even how it is debated.
Our undercover reporter grew up in Germany and creates an identity as a graduate planning to live in Britain.
Robin sets himself up in London as an aspiring Labour party activist with strong sympathies toward Israel.
After over a month of attending party functions, he stood out as a friend of Israel.
And before long, he recognized a familiar face.
It’s a meeting of the Labour Friends of Israel or LFI,
– members of the British Parliament, who lobby for Israel.
Oh yeah, take the districts
Shai later explained to Robin the problems the LFI is facing.
Robin tweeted and wrote articles about Israel and the Labour party, building up his online identity.
He discovered numerous groups that support Israel –
– and which identify themselves as independent grassroots movements.
One is the Sussex Friends Of Israel –
– who organized a march to protest against the pro-Palestinian movement to boycott Israel.
Robin had joined them.
Shai later described the embassy’s role in some of these movements.
Shai had helped establish a youth group within the Conservative Friends of Israel.
Alright, thank you very much
Have a nice evening, right
Our investigation linked the embassy’s senior political officer with a series of pro-Israel groups –
– the parliamentary friends of Israel, young conservatives, lobbyists,
as well as grassroots movements.
In addition, Shai’s involved with the youth arm of the Fabian Society –
– an influential Labour party think tank.
It appears the Israeli diplomat’s’ mission is to build support for Israel at all levels of the Labour party.
Shai says he knows nearly all the Fabian Society activists.
Martin Edobor explains how foreign governments’ support helps the Fabian membership.
I went on one of the trips of the Conservative Friends of Israel to the Middle East.
It was brilliantly well arranged, very well looked after.
You got fantastic access. You did meet Palestinians.
If all you did was rely on that one trip, you would get a very one-sided point of view.
According to Haaretz newspaper, Israel, which controls all water sources in the Occupied West Bank,
– did cut supplies, even if the reason was contested.
Our undercover reporter discovered that Shai Masot played a role in another key Labour party organization –
– The Jewish Labour Movement, or JLM.
Robin attended a summer barbecue organized by the JLM.
Much of the small talk turned to the Israeli embassy.
What came next surprised our undercover reporter.
Shai had asked Robin to become part of the Israeli Embassy’s plan to attract young Labour party members.
Shai then suggested that as well as setting up the Young LFI, Robin apply for a job at the Israeli embassy.
He was invited to a private meeting at a London hotel.
It included embassy staff and British supporters of Israel.
An Israeli diplomat takes Robin to one side.
Ella Rose, the new director of the Jewish Labour Movement, was pleased to hear –
– of Robin’s plans to set up a Young LFI.
The guest of honour: a minister from the Israeli government.
The primary role of Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry is to counter the BDS movement.
During another meeting with the embassy’s senior political officer,
Shai tutors Robin on setting up a new pro-Israel group.
The LFI appears to be looking beyond Labour’s present set of MPs.
Robin tells him about the Israeli Embassy’s interest in recruiting him.
He gave an example of how a job at the embassy could further a career in British politics.
Round about the same time the JLM –
– re-emerged under the leadership of Jeremy Newmark,
– who would later hire Ella Rose as the director of the JLM.
The big story was about a young student in Oxford, who made allegations –
– that the Labour party and most of the student left at Oxford was anti-Semitic.
He didn’t present any evidence at all. The only thing he said was –
– that they had promoted the Israel Apartheid Week,
– which is a well-known event which takes place on campuses around the world.
The national chairman of Labour Students at that time was Michael Rubin.
There was lots of media leaks and talks about
how anti-Semitism was being covered up.
British newspapers repeatedly ran stories of anti-Semitism in the Labour party.
One of the next targets was Malia Bouattia, the newly elected leader of Britain’s National Union of Students.
With each year of Israel’s expanding occupation, support for BDS has spread –
– on college campuses around the world.
In Britain, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict defined the 2016 election for the NUS presidency.
But Israel, where it exists now, is that problematic to you?
Israel as it behaves, is problematic to me.
You would feel it would be O.K. for you to say about yourself that you are anti-Zionist?
Yes, I would.
Another vice president, Richard Brooks, took the unusual step of publicly claiming that Bouttia’s criticisms –
– of Israel amount to anti-Semitism.
When you look at what Malia Bouttia has been saying – she says… it’s… her criticisms are political ones.
She talks about Zionism, not about people who are Jewish.
Yeah, I think that the really important thing here, and something that student movement needs to face up to,
is that it is for Jewish students to find what anti-Semitism is in the run up to national conference.
Nearly 50 union of Jewish student presidents of societies made it clear that they had concerns about some of the rhetoric.
Brooks never mentioned that weeks before that interview,
– he’d been taken to Israel as part of a delegation from the Union of Jewish Students.
During the runup to the election, Richard Brooks had held private meetings with Russell Langer,
the campaign director of the Union of Jewish Students.
Also attending the meetings was Michael Rubin.
After being introduced by the Israeli Embassy as a Young LFI volunteer,
– our undercover reporter explores the possibility of ousting the pro-Palestinian NUS president –
– with the help of Richard Brooks.
Our investigation also revealed that the UJS, who sent critics of Malia Bouttia on trips to Israel,
– has received money from the Israeli Embassy.
In 2016, Schapira launched an unsuccessful bid for the presidency of the UJS.
He also received donations from Israel to set up a new campus-based think tank.
He established a Pinsker Centre with former University College student Elliot Miller.
They also confirmed for the first time that the powerful American pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC,
– is channelling money to British campuses through the Pinsker Centre.
Elliot Miller remains vocal in the cauldron of London student politics.
In episode two: further evidence of Israel’s involvement in Britain’s Labour party.
And the money Israel gives Labour MPs to help improve its image.
— സ്രോതസ്സ് aljazeera.com
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