Labour Friends of Israel in the House

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, March 21, 2005

The Labour Friends of Israel has become a powerful lobbyist for Zionist and Israeli interests in the UK. This article is an introduction to the new Spinwatch Profile, telling a hidden story of power and influence. The OrganizationLabour Friends of Israel (LFI) is a Westminister based pro-Israel lobby group working within the British Labour party. It is considered one of the most prestigious groupings in the party and is seen as a stepping stone to ministerial ranks by Labour MPs. LFI boasts some of the wealthiest supporters of the party, and some of its most generous donors, such as Lord Sainsbury of Turville, Michael Levy, Sir Trevor Chinn and Sir Emmanuel Kaye[1]. The committee wields considerable influence in Westminster and is also consulted routinely by the Foreign Office and Downing Street on matters relating to the Middle East. Tony Blair is known to consult its members over Middle East policy[2]. The body also has Tory and Liberal Democrat sister organizations. Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody, chairman of the Commons transport select committee, is the life president of LFI, while David Mencer is its current director.

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Building years of hatred

From the Fanonite

Only last week I had posted Alison Weir’s harrowing account of the strip-searching by Israelis of Palestinian women and children — some as young as 7-10 years of age. Despite its outrageous treatment of the Palestinians, Israel always manages to escape censure thanks to the diplomatic cover provided by the Euro-American alliance. Here the Guardian reports a British diplomat receiving a taste of the same treatment they have frequently defended as long as the victims were Palestinians.

Janet Rogan, who is Britain’s consul general in Tel Aviv, was with a delegation of British Treasury officials, led by Ed Balls, the economic secretary to the Treasury, earlier this month. They arrived at the Jerusalem office of the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, ahead of a meeting with his chief of staff and his political adviser. The names of the visitors had been given in advance, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said yesterday.

But security guards ordered Ms Rogan to undergo a physical search, the paper said. She refused and presented her diplomatic identity card. However, she was then made to step behind a partition and to undergo a physical search, which included removing her blouse. The Yedioth described the search as a “prolonged, needless and humiliating process” and said the diplomat was visibly upset.

Members of the Labour Friends of Israel – the powerful British lobby group best known for the exploits of its financier, Michael Levy – also received a taste of Israeli hospitality during a trip to the Occupied Territories:

One of its visiting members got a first-hand glimpse of IDF tactics when he got shot at in Rafah even though he arrived in a clearly marked UN vehicle. The three British MPs, surrounded by 20 children got shot at in the presence of UN officials, which led to a demand for investigation by the MPs into the IDF’s “outrageous behaviour” bordering on “lunatic”. One of the MPs, Crispin Blunt, concluded “If they are prepared to do this to people who come out of two clearly marked UN cars, what do they do when there is no one there?” He added “They are building up levels of hatred that will take decades, if not centuries, to erase.”