CALL FOR AN INQUIRY INTO FOREIGN INTERFERENCE IN UK POLITICS AND THE LABOUR PARTY
We are members and supporters of the Labour Party. We have today sent the letter below calling on the General Secretary Jennie Formby to see that the revelations of last year’s Al-Jazeera documentary, The Lobby, and new information that has since emerged are investigated.
We hope that others will send this letter on to Jennie Formby so that the request comes from as many people as possible. All are welcome to sign. When you have written please let us know by BCCing us or sending us a copy. Please circulate this widely.
Michael Kalmanovitz, Sara Callaway and Moshé Machover
Dear Jennie Formby,
We write as Labour Party members or supporters to ask what is happening with the investigation into interference by the state of Israel into UK politics.
In January 2017, Al-Jazeera broadcast a four-part documentary, The Lobby, into a senior political officer of the Israeli Embassy in London plotting to “take down” Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan and discredit the then chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Crispin Blunt for disagreeing with Israel’s policies towards the Palestinian people.
The evidence recorded on video also exposed extensive interference by the Embassy into the Labour Party and the National Union of Students and its then president, a supporter of Palestinian rights. The main protagonist from the Israeli Embassy, Shai Masot, had set up a group called ‘The City Friends of Israel’ (in collaboration with AIPAC, an influential pro-Israel lobbying organisation in the US), and a youth wing of Conservative Friends of Israel. He was then working to set up a youth wing of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI).
Masot was filmed bragging to Labour MP, Joan Ryan (chair, LFI), that he had more than £1million of Israeli government funding at his disposal for LFI MPs to take trips to Israel. It also showed Ryan without justification trying to smear a Labour Party member.
Ella Rose, director of the pro-Israeli Jewish Labour Movement, said that she knew Masot “very well” and that she had worked with him when she was a public affairs officer at the Israeli embassy.
There is evidence that Masot was working for the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Erdan. The ministry, with a budget of some $45 million, is in charge of Israel’s covert efforts to counter the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement, internationally.
At the time, Jeremy Corbyn (ably supported by Emily Thornberry MP) commented that ‘such improper interference in this country’s democratic process is unacceptable’ and ‘a national security issue’. Corbyn called for the government ‘to launch an immediate enquiry into the extent of improper interference’.
We think that this demand for an investigation into outside interference, or actual subversion, by a foreign power into the internal affairs of both the Labour and Tory parties was right and proper.
Despite Al Jazeera’s evidence of a network of organisations and political operatives working to undermine British democracy, the May government stated that this matter was closed. And as far as we know, there has been no inquiry inside the Labour Party.
There is now an urgent need for such an inquiry. We say this because:
1) Since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party to carry out an ethical foreign policy based on respect for human rights, including Palestinian rights, escalating accusations of antisemitism (hitherto always associated with the racist right) have been wielded against the left within the Labour Party, especially by organisations in the UK which strongly support the Israeli government and are attempting to stifle any political criticism of Israel by labelling it “political antisemitism”.
2) The three Jewish newspapers which collaborated to demand that Labour adopts the full IHRA definition with all examples relating to Israel, explicitly state that their aim is to destroy the movement that elected Jeremy Corbyn and hand the party back to the rightwing: “Had the full IHRA definition with examples relating to Israel been approved, hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members would need to be expelled.”
3) Since March 2018, the Israeli army has murdered at least 160 unarmed Palestinians and wounded over 16,000 others, including children, women, medical personnel and journalists (many of them deliberately maimed by illegal dumb-dumb bullets) during the Great March of Return which calls for the right of return for refugees of the Nakba, and for lifting the siege of Gaza.
4) Defenders of the IHRA definition insist that it is antisemitic to refer to the State of Israel as a “racist endeavour”, even as Israel has just enshrined in its Basic Law the already existing apartheid system against Palestinians and anyone who is not Jewish;
5) This August evidence emerged of an app (Act.IL app) created and operated as part of an Israeli government propaganda campaign (a product of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs) to generate accusations of antisemitism against Corbyn.
6) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now intervened personally with demonstrably false accusations against Corbyn. As John McDonnell has said: “Having a politician like Netanyahu join the media feeding frenzy is a line in the sand. Enough is enough.”
7) Ongoing investigations into whether or how much foreign governments and other external forces, via social media or by other means, influenced the last presidential election in the US and the Brexit referendum in the UK, show that this poses an existential threat to the democratic process.
We cannot be complacent.
In March 2018, a poll of Labour Party membersfound that 77% believe the charges of antisemitism in the Labour Party are ”being deliberately exaggerated to damage Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, or to stifle criticism of Israel”. This is likely to have increased now that three pro-Israeli newspapers have warned that a Corbyn-led government would pose “an existential threat to Jewish life” in the UK.
Clearly the overwhelming majority of members would welcome an investigation into any attempts by the Israeli government, or any other foreign power, to determine who represents their party and therefore what their party’s policies are. Labour Party members and the public at large have a right to know.
We ask that you pursue this matter by urging the government to investigate what seems strongly to indicate Israeli interference with the Parliamentary process in the UK, and that you initiate an investigation to determine whether and if so how much the Israeli government, or the government of any other foreign power, is interfering in the Labour Party.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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