Shai Masot and Jeremy Newmark with Israeli ambassador Mark Regev speaking at an event at Labour party conference in 2016 (Al Jazeera)
No Mrs May, the matter is not closed
Regev must be sent home
By Mike Cushman, FSoI
January 08, 2017
Al-Jazeera has done what all the US spy agencies have so far failed to do: produced conclusive proof of a foreign state trying to undermine the democratic processes of another country.
The Americans have responded to suggestions that the Russians tried to say the presidential elections in favour of Donald Trump by expelling 35 diplomats and complaining long and hard. What has the UK Government done when Shai Masot was found with his hand far down in the cookie jar? Very, very little except say, ‘Move along, move along. Not much to see here’. It’s not as though it was only Israel’s attempts to destabilise the Labour Party that have been brought to light, which you cannot expect a Conservative government to lose much sleep over. The Israelis were targeting senior Tories and it seems the Tories do not even want to look after their own.
Mark Regev only had to say, ‘Nothing to do with me, guv’ and the Foreign Office rushed to applaud his prompt action in doing nothing. This is the same Mark Regev who, before he was accredited to the Court of St James’s, toured the British media lying on behalf of Benjamin Netanyahu as his personal spokesman. His reception, even by some usually credulous journalists, was one of disbelief and fascination that anyone could be so brazen.
In the 17th Century Sir Henry Wotton famously said, an ambassador was “an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country” little has changed in 400 years except that in the case of Regev we seem to have a dishonest man sent to do the job.. Regev would have to have been singularly incompetent not to have known what Masot was doing and, whatever his other faults, Regev is not incompetent.
Are we expected to believe that when Regev sat beside Shai Masot and Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, Jeremy Newmark, at the Labour Party Conference he did not know what was going on?
A former Conservative minister has told the Daily Mail:
“British foreign policy is in hock to Israeli influence at the heart of our politics, and those in authority have ignored what is going on.
“For years the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) have worked with – even for – the Israeli embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK government policy and the actions of ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights.
“Lots of countries try to force their views on others, but what is scandalous in the UK is that instead of resisting it, successive governments have submitted to it, take donors’ money, and allowed Israeli influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of ministers.”
The eruption of allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party has long been suspected of having been orchestrated from Tel Aviv. The extensive trawling of historic twitter and Facebook accounts required the resources of state actors – it was far beyond the ability of amateurs. We now have the proof that Israel’s London embassy was actively engaged in discrediting, on the basis of flimsy or totally false evidence, anyone who questioned their right to occupy Palestinian land and oppress the Palestinian people.
The Jewish Labour Movement has been vigorously stirring the pot and pressing the Labour Party to take ever more extreme action against those they disagree with. They must be forced to disclose details of all their links with the Israeli Embassy and publish all the briefings and information they have received. It is well known they act as agents of their affiliates, the Israel Labor Party, inside the British Labour Party. Now it is apparent they are also agents of the Israeli state.
What the Israelis have been doing is far worse than anything the Russians and Trump have been accused of. The Russians worked on their own account and fed information to a compliant media. Their hacks were not conducted with the active assistance of the Trump team. In the UK the Israelis had the active connivance of British politicians, it was a joint effort and the subversion was deeper and longer.
The British spend billions on the security services. Were they asleep on the job, did they not notice this avalanche of subversion? Or were they co-operating with their friends in Mossad with whom they have close working relationships in setting up this treachery?
There are many questions to be answered and Emily Thornberry and Alex Salmond are to be congratulated in speedily calling for a full investigation. But more is needed.
Media notice from Free Speech on Israel
January 09, 2016
• New revelations expose dubious links between Israel and British politicians
• Campaigners call for withdrawal of accreditation from Israeli ambassador
• Tory and Labour ‘Friends of Israel’ must account for close relationship with embassy
London, 8 January – Campaign group Free Speech on Israel (FSOI) has called for the withdrawal of credentials from Israel’s ambassador to the UK and demanded that pro-Israel politicians account for their close ties to the Israeli embassy.
FSOI says in a statement that covert meetings between Israeli official Shai Masot and Tory and Labour politicians, revealed in an investigation by Al-Jazeera, are evidence of a concerted campaign to undermine pro-Palestinian currents in both parties.
“These latest revelations vindicate the case that Free Speech on Israel has been making for many months. There can now be no doubt: Pro-Israel advocates in the UK have been working with representatives of the Israeli state to undermine their political opponents,” the statement says.
FSOI rejects the UK Government’s assertion that the matter is closed following an apology from ambassador Mark Regev, who achieved notoriety on British TV as spokesman for the Israeli government during its deadly assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014.
FSOI says: “The whole story of the dubious relationship between the Israeli government and British politicians must come out into the open. And Ambassador Regev, who has presided over this infiltration policy, needs to be told that he is no longer welcome.”
Spokesman Glyn Secker said: “The UK government just last month said it would adopt a highly politicised ‘definition’ of antisemitism favoured by pro-Israel lobbyists. Disturbingly, Labour supported the move. This looks more and more like the handiwork of pro-Israel sympathisers among UK policy makers. A spotlight needs to be shone into these dark corners of our political system.”
Free Speech on Israel (FSOI) was founded as a predominantly Jewish campaign group in Spring 2016 to counter the manufactured moral panic over a supposed epidemic of antisemitism in the UK.\
There can now be no doubt: Pro-Israel advocates in the UK have been working with representatives of the Israeli state to undermine their political opponents.
Free Speech on Israel statement on the hidden relationship between the Israeli government and British politicians
News of covert meetings between an Israeli diplomat and Tory and Labour politicians is evidence of a concerted campaign to undermine pro-Palestinian currents in both parties. These latest revelations vindicate the case that Free Speech on Israel has been making for many months. There can now be no doubt: Pro-Israel advocates in the UK have been working with representatives of the Israeli state to undermine their political opponents. The Labour Party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, has been a particular target.
Evidence exposed by Al-Jazeera shows that the Israeli government has ‘infiltrated’ both the Conservative and Labour parties via its embassy in the UK, using secret cash and covert support.
Masot chats up Labour MP Joan Ryan offering her an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel. Photo from Al Jazeera
Film footage shows intelligence expert Shai Masot joking with senior Labour MP Joan Ryan about having obtained ‘more than £1 million’ to pay for sympathetic Labour MPs to visit Israel. He was also filmed discussing with Maria Strizzolo, senior aide to Conservative Education Minister Robert Halfon, how to “take down” Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan, a supporter of a Palestinian state.
Robert Halfon, education minister and Tory MP for Harlow, Essex and seemingly for Israel too.
Halfon and Ryan are leading members of their parties’ respective ‘Friends of Israel’ lobby groups.
Strizzolo has since resigned, Masot is reportedly to be relieved of his Embassy job, Israeli ambassador Mark Regev has apologised and the UK Foreign Office has stated: “The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.”
This is a blatant attempt to close down the affair. But a scandal of this magnitude needs to be exposed to full public scrutiny. The whole story of the dubious relationship between the Israeli government and British politicians must come out into the open. And Ambassador Regev, who has presided over this infiltration policy, needs to be told that he is no longer welcome.
Al Jazeera’s revelations throw new light on Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s extraordinary public contradiction last week of US Secretary of State John Kerry speech criticising expansion of Israel’s settlements; extraordinary because Kerry’s position coincides precisely with that of the British government. This reads like UK policy being distorted in the Israeli interest.
We also note that Shai Masot accompanied ambassador Regev and Jeremy Newmark, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, at meetings during the 2016 Labour Party conference. Newmark’s JLM has been instrumental in promoting allegations of rampant antisemitism on the Labour Left, through which supporters of Palestine have been systematically targeted.
We urge grassroots members of the Labour Party, trade unions, Momentum and other progressive, antiracist organisations to insist that their leaders dissociate themselves from pro-Israel lobbyists and defend those victimised without due cause.
Free Speech on Israel supports the call by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry for a government inquiry into “improper interference in our democratic politics”.
However certain other actions are needed. FSOI calls upon:
• the UK government to withdraw the accreditation of the Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev who has presided over this grave intrusion in the country’s democratic processes
• MPs Robert Halfon, Joan Ryan and any others whose names emerge from this Al-Jazeera investigation to give a full public explanation of their relations with Israeli state representatives
• Friends of Israel organisations in British political parties, and the Jewish Labour Movement, to account for their relationship with the Israeli Embassy and other state institutions, including all financial transactions
• the Labour Party leadership to sever links with groups where evidence emerges that they have placed support for the interests of the state of Israel above democracy in the party
Note (updated 10.01.17): Al Jazeera Investigative Unit’s series “The Lobby” can be viewed in four episodes at 10.30 pm on Wednesday January 11, Thursday January 12, Friday January 13 and Saturday January 14. The series will also be available online . These broadcast times are several days earlier than originally scheduled.