A question every voter should ask candidates
in the coming UK general election
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, ccun.org, March 29, 2010
Stuart Littlewood says that the forthcoming UK general election
will be an opportunity for the British public to call to account those
politicians – Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat – who are “cabbing”,
or “stooging”, for a foreign power, Israel.
There can be few
sights more pathetic than ex-ministers and chums of Tony Blair offering to
use their government contacts to help influence policy on behalf of business
"I'm like a cab for hire," said Stephen Byers when secretly
filmed by Channel 4 TV’s “Dispatches” programme. Byers could be "hailed" for
GBP 3,000 to 5,000 per day.
And so a new expression was born into the
sleazy world of Westminster: “political cabbing”.
"I will continue to do what I can both to
defend Israel and to protect the security of Israel’s
borders... I count myself not only a friend of Israel but
someone who wants to support the future of Israel ... we
will do everything that we can to work with Israel."
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown
The latest revelations come only a few months after another Channel 4
“Dispatches” report, by Peter Oborne, showed how large numbers of MPs were
stooging (or "cabbing") for Israel.
Mr Oborne reported that a majority of Conservative MPs and half the
shadow cabinet are signed-up Friends of Israel, and millions of pounds flow
into the bank accounts of MPs and parties, although only a fraction of these
“contributions” are visibly accounted for. Sir Richard Dalton, a former
British diplomat who served as consul-general in Jerusalem, observed: "I
don't believe, and I don't think anybody else believes, these contributions
come with no strings attached."
Mr Oborne showed how Labour and
Conservative Friends of Israel take dozens of MPs on free trips to Israel,
where they are guests of the Israeli government.
Few, if any, declare
this interest when speaking in Parliament.
He showed how one of the
Conservative Party's big donors has vested interests in illegal settlement
development in the West Bank and in Bicom, an Israeli public affairs outfit,
and how the party's leadership is subjected to foreign pressure.
What harm does “cabbing” for Israel do?
Large numbers of MPs (and many parliamentary candidates) are exposed to
the Israel lobby's influence, and its message is carried through into
parliamentary work, causing great damage to our parliamentary democracy,
harm to Britain's reputation throughout the world and risk to our security
because a just solution in the Holy Land is prevented by such partisanship.
The majority of Conservative MPs and MEPs are Friends of Israel. The
lobby also claims a very large number of Labour MPs and ministers.
Membership is said to be a necessary step to high office.
Democrat Friends of Israel (LDFI) website brazenly states that its first aim
is to maximize support for the State of Israel within the party and
Parliament, and develop and maintain a broad-based LDFI membership inside
and outside of Parliament.
Conservatives Friends of Israel have a
“fast track” group for parliamentary candidates fighting target marginal
Senior Conservatives try to justify their support for the
foreign military power by insisting that Israel is "a force for good in the
world" and "in the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy
against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression –
Israel's enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand
"The belief I have in Israel is
indestructible – and you need to know that if I become prime
minister, Israel has a friend who will never turn his back
UK Conservative Party leader David
This partisanship undermines a number of the
Principles on which our standards in public life are founded. One of
these requires holders of public office not to place themselves under any
financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations that
might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
Nowhere is this disregard for principle more dramatically demonstrated
than in the appointment of Israel flag-wavers to the chairmanship of our
most important security bodies – the Intelligence and Security Committee,
the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Defence Committee.
Minister Gordon Brown told Labour Friends of Israel that they were
one of the great influences on the whole of the Labour movement... I
will continue to do what I can both to defend Israel and to protect the
security of Israel’s borders... I count myself not only a friend of
Israel but someone who wants to support the future of Israel ...
we will do everything that we can to work with Israel.
Conservative opposition leader David Cameron has said: "The belief I have
in Israel is indestructible – and you need to know that if I become prime
minister, Israel has a friend who will never turn his back on Israel."
Both leaders are patrons of the Jewish National Fund, an organization
with a sinister purpose.
Lobbying will be the "next political
scandal", says Cameron blissfully unaware of the irony of his remark.
“Cabbing” to change the law and protect Israel’s thugs
When Tzipi Livni,
leader of Israel's main opposition party Kadima and foreign minister during
the murderous blitzkrieg on Gaza civilians a year ago, recently
cancelled a visit to Britain after an arrest warrant was issued against her
by a British court, Israel complained that “we have to put an end to this
absurdity, which is harming the excellent bilateral relations between Israel
Gordon Brown responded by insisting that Livni was
welcome and promising to change the law that allows British courts to issue
warrants for war crimes suspects.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband
reinforced this by saying the British government was determined that arrest
threats against visitors of Ms Livni's stature would not happen again.
"Israel is a strategic partner and a close friend of the United Kingdom. We
are determined to protect and develop these ties," he said. "Israeli leaders
– like leaders from other countries – must be able to visit and have a
proper dialogue with the British government."
Livni is not even a
serving minister. And far from apologizing for the slaughter of Gazans a
year ago, this odious individual declared: "I would make the same decisions
all over again." For decent people she is beyond the pale and unwelcome.
Nevertheless, the attorney-general has told the world that the
government intends to protect high-ranking Israeli officials from arrest in
the UK. Speaking at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Baroness Scotland
said Israeli leaders should not face arrest for war crimes under the law of
universal jurisdiction. "The government is looking urgently at ways in which
the UK system might be changed to avoid this situation arising again.
Israel's leaders should always be able to travel freely to the UK."
Why? There can be no hiding place for those accused of genocide, crimes
against humanity, extra-judicial executions, war crimes, torture and forced
States that are party to the Geneva Conventions –
there are 194 of them, including Israel itself – are obliged to seek out and
either prosecute or extradite those suspected of having committed "grave
breaches" of the conventions and “bring such persons, regardless of their
nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in
accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons
over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such
High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case."
The Geneva Conventions are treaties, solemnly entered into, that contain
universal rules limiting the barbarity of war. "Grave breaches" means
willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, the causing of great
suffering or serious injury to body or health, and other serious violations
of the laws of war. Israel is well practised in all of these.
"Brown and Miliband, 'cabbing' like fury,
are happy to dismantle our obligations under international
law in order to save their unsavoury friends and allow
Israel’s worst thugs to walk the streets of our capital."
Brown and Miliband, “cabbing” like fury, are happy to dismantle our
obligations under international law in order to save their unsavoury friends
and allow Israel’s worst thugs to walk the streets of our capital.
“Cabbing” for Israel even extends to making light of the theft by Mossad
agents of the passport ID of several British citizens in a mission to
assassinate a Hamas operative in Dubai. It was not the first time this sort
of thing has happened. Mr Miliband announced the expulsion of an unnamed
individual on the Israeli embassy staff. This feeble slap on the wrist was
not nearly enough to wipe the smirk off Ambassador Ron Prosor’s face.
George Galloway MP called for a more robust response – the closing of
the embassy. “Every British citizen travelling in the Middle East has been
endangered by the actions of Mossad operating from the Israeli embassy in
London. Protecting British citizens abroad demands nothing less than closing
that centre of espionage at home."
That’s more like it.
Miliband’s and Brown’s friends are not my friends – or anyone else’s as far
as I can see. The idea that Israel and the gangsters who run it have any
value to us as strategic partners, is a figment of their tiny imagination.
George Washington’s warning of years ago seems all the more appropriate
today: "The nation which indulges towards another a habitual fondness is in
some degree a slave ... a passionate attachment of one nation for another
produces a variety of evils."
Who , if they had any integrity, would
"cab" for a regime that thieves, murders, assassinates, carries out ethnic
cleansing and shows utter contempt for international law, human rights, UN
resolutions and the normal codes of human conduct?
Who would “cab”
for a regime that, by using overwhelming military might, has systematically
impoverished its neighbours and resorted to starvation tactics to make them
Who, if they had a shred of honour, would "cab" for a regime
whose leaders are wanted for war crimes?
Be warned, you parliamentary
candidates, when you come a-knocking for my vote. The first question will be
“Are you cabbing for Israel?”
Stuart Littlewood is author of the
book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians
under occupation. For further information please visit
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