Now that the United Kingdom has a new misleader in the Conservative Party's David Cameron, it pays to revisit journalist Peter Oborne's pioneering expose The Pro-Israel Lobby in Britain (13/11/09) at opendemocracy.net. To whet your appetite, here are just two extracts from his lengthy investigation into Britain's Zio-Conservatives:
Don't mention the war (crimes)...
"Every year, in a central London hotel, a very grand lunch is thrown by the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). It is often addressed by by the Conservative leader of the day. Many members of the shadow cabinet make it their business to be there along with a very large number of Tory peers and prospective candidates, while the Conservative MPs present amount to something close to a majority of the parliamentary party. It is a formidable turnout. This year's event took place in June, with the main speech by Tory leader David Cameron and shadow foreign secretary William Hague in attendance. The dominant event of the previous 12 months had been the Israeli invasion of Gaza at the start of the year. So I examined Cameron's speech with curiosity to see how he would handle that recent catastrophe. I was shocked to see that Cameron made no reference to the invasion of Gaza, the massive destruction it caused, or the 1370 deaths that had resulted. Indeed, Cameron went out of his way to praise Israel because it 'strives to protect innocent life'. I found it impossible to reconcile the remarks made by the young Conservative leader with the numerous human rights abuses in Gaza. Afterwards I said as much to some Tory MPs. They looked at me as if I was distressingly naive, drawing my attention to the very large number of Tory donors in the audience. But it cannot be forgotten that so many people died in Gaza at the start of this year. To allow this terrible subject to pass by without comment suggested a failure of common humanity and decency on the part of the man most people regard as the next Prime Minister. To praise Israel at the same time for protecting human life showed not merely a fundamental failure of respect for the truth but also it gives the perception, rightly or wrongly, of support for the wretched events that took place in Gaza. That is not to condone or excuse the abhorrent actions of Hamas, but to overlook Israel's culpability is undoubtedly partisan. It is impossible to imagine any British political leader showing such equanimity and tolerance if British troops had committed even a fraction of the human rights abuses and war crimes of which Israel has been accused. So that weekend, in my weekly Daily Mail political column, I criticised Cameron's speech to the CFI, drawing attention to his failure to mention Gaza and his speaking of Israeli respect for the sanctity of human life. Soon I received a letter from Stuart Polak, the long standing CFI director: 'Peter, the snapshot of our lunch concentrating on the businessmen and David's alleged comments was really unhelpful'. The CFI political director, Robert Halfon, wrote saying that my letter was 'astonishing' and accusing me of making a 'moral equivalence between Israel and Iran..."
The best pro-Israel policy money can buy:
"The CFI is beyond doubt the best connected, and probably the best funded, of all Westminster lobbying groups. Eighty per cent of Conservative MPs are members. The leader of the Conservative Party is often expected to appear at their events, while the Shadow Foreign Secretary and his team are subjected to persistent pressure by the CFI. CFI's director Stuart Polak is a familiar face in Westminster and well known to everyone in the Tory establishment. Robert Halfon, the CFI's political director and Tory candidate for Harlow, is sometimes regarded as the brains of the operation. Both are well liked by Tory MPs. One Tory MP has told us that, before he stood in the 2005 election, he met Stuart Polak who put Israel's case to him strongly at a social event. Towards the end of the meal, Stuart Polak asked if his campaign needed more money. Sure enough, weeks later two cheques arrived in the post at the Conservative office in the constituency. Both came from businessmen closely connected to the CFI who the Tory MP says he had never met before and who had never, so far as he knew, ever stepped inside his constituency. Another parliamentary candidate fighting a marginal seat told us that he had gone to see Stuart Polak, where he was tested on his views on Israel. Within a fortnight a cheque from a businessman he had never met arrived in his constituency office. On studying donations to Conservative constituency offices before the 2005 election a pattern emerges. A group of donors all with strong connections to pro-Israel groups, (almost all are on the board of the CFI) made donations of between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds either personally or through their companies to the constituency offices of certain Conservative candidates."