Channel 4 News

Inside Channel 4’s Conspiracy Factory


This is  a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman

Chas Newkey-Burden said it:

The official remit for Channel 4 states that it should “exhibit a distinctive character” and “appeal to the tastes and interests of a culturally diverse society”. [John] Snow’s denial of Hamas’s crimes and Ahmadinejad’s Christmas message appeal to the tastes and interests of only the worst bigots of our society.

Peter Oborne’s Dispatches program this evening, “Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby”, could only have appealed to the same people. The deliberate conflation of bloody bodies and Jews eating dinner was an early low. Full of familiar innuendos and stereotypes, it was an agenda-driven and unprofessional piece of work from its inception, as the numerous Jewish organisations it has targetted have discovered in recent weeks. Oborne was unable to prop up his prejudices, so he resorted to desperate nudge-nudge wink-wink tactics to try and create an impression of sinister secretiveness where there is none. The overall implication he made was that his failure to find anything genuinely scandalous was because of a fear, rather than because there’s nothing there.

Because where is this all-powerful Israeli lobby? Why did it not manage to convince the UK to veto the Goldstone report at the UN? How did it fail to stop the UK from starting an arms embargo on Israel? How did it allow our Foreign Minister to attack Operation Cast Lead as ‘disproportionate’, or the UK to finance the Breaking The Silence organisation? As for media activism, if the Israeli lobby had the power it is ascribed, it would have stopped the widespread and routine distortions years ago. Oborne couldn’t find an all-powerful lobby, so he tried to create a false impression of one. It’s the same make-believe world [John] Snow inhabits with his “pretty pathetic” Hamas rockets.

So what did Oborne’s programme amount to?  “A row of beans” would be an exaggeration. The lack of substance was amply demonstrated by the people who were prepared to go ‘on the record’ – namely the usual as-a-Jew suspects accompanied by representatives of the Guardian, the (ex)BBC and the Foreign Office. Tony Lerman of course (and the folks at CiFWatch asked me to say “thanks for the plug, Peter, the cheque from the World Zionist Conspiracy is in the post”).  Liberal Rabbi David Goldberg; Avi Shlaim; David Newman; Alan Rusbridger (without daughter Bella, understood to still be under the floorboards where she crawled on Friday); a guy called Charlie Beckett who is ex-BBC, now at LSE; and Sir Richard Dalton (Director General, Libyan Business Council, Former UK Ambassador  to Iran and Libya – could he be an Arabist I wonder….).

What did the programme say? Well there were the allegations about money of course – no conspiracy is complete without some filthy lucre and if there is an Israel connection – so much the better.  After all, that was where all the Lehman Brothers cash went before it went belly-up, wasn’t it Peter? Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) members were said to have given £2m in eight years to MPs (on their Register of Interests). And “all CFI members and their businesses” were said to have given “more than £10m – more than to any other lobby”. There is no way of verifying this figure which seems to have been plucked out of thin air – for a start, the membership of CFI is not published. And “more than to any other lobby”? Have the Channel Four researchers really totalled the funding of every single lobby in the UK? – give me a break.

Then we had the ‘arguments by assertion’. Oborne for example told us that the “Conservatives have a surprisingly soft line on Israeli policies”. Well, they say they would have voted against Goldstone in the UN General Assembly – in what way is that “soft”? After all 18 countries opposed it, including Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and the United States.

And the purely irrelevant – the value of Poju Zabludowicz’s London house! And Oborne asked David Goldberg if he knew Poju Zabludowicz, Chairman of BICOM. When he said he did not, this was brandished by Oborne as some kind of negative reflection on PZ. If Goldberg took any kind of interest in Israel advocacy in the UK then of course he would have heard of PZ.

And we had the downright untruths. Let’s number all ten of them.

1. It was stated (I think by Michael Ancram MP, who is stepping down at the next election and who thinks the UK should talk to Hamas) that the reason Lord Levy did not draw a salary as Tony Blair’s Middle East adviser was so that his negotiations could remain secret! There is no substance to that allegation whatsoever. Disclosure of government matters bears no relation to whether the relevant officials are or are not paid.

2. The settlements were said (by Oborne and David Newman) to be illegal. That is not established and the most important country in the world, the US, does not believe it.

3. Then there was David Newman. He suggested that BICOM is “blindly supportive” of Israel. This is nonsense – they simply provide information and arrange trips for journalists – they have no political line.

4. And Avi Shlaim, who recently shared a platform with Shlomo Sand and Jacqueline Rose, told us that the UK Jewish Community is ‘split’ on Israel (it isn’t – there is a tiny minority who did not support Cast Lead) and that the leaders are ‘blindly pro-Israel’ (they aren’t – Simon Hochhauser for example – the President of the United Synagogue – said that the views of Avigdor Lieberman were appalling’) and that the leaders have a ‘narrow rightwing agenda’. This is pure ignorance: Vivian Wineman – the President of the Board of Deputies – is a former chairman of the New Israel Fund and former Chair of British Friends of Peace Now.

5. Of course we had (from Rusbridger and Oborne) the lie that critics of Israel are branded “antisemitic”. As usual no example was given – it never is.  It is antisemites who are branded as antisemitic.

6. Another distortion came from Oborne. In his anxiety to denigrate CFI he said that Kaminski “refused to apologise to Jews for what happened to them in Poland in World War Two”. It was the massacre of hundreds of Jews in Jedwabne in north east Poland in 1941 that Kaminski did not want to apologise for. Oborne’s version made it sound as if Kaminski sympathised with the Nazis.

7. Now to Charlie Beckett who told us about complaints to the BBC. The pressure works, he said, “because the BBC has no choice but to respond”. Ask anyone who has complained to the BBC about anti-Israel bias if they were satisfied with the response. No-one ever is. The pressure demonstrably does not ‘work’.

8. About Jeremy Bowen (who was found to have breached BBC standards on impartiality and accuracy) Beckett said “the BBC was forced to investigate” [by ‘the Lobby’]. No it was not ‘forced’ to investigate. There were complaints and the BBC followed the same procedure as for all other complainants. No ‘forced’ about it. (Or are complaints about anti-Israel bias somehow worth less than complaints about other topics?) What he then said was utter nonsense: “The BBC would not have investigated Jeremy Bowen without Israeli pressure”. Again – these were ordinary complaints, the same as the BBC gets about foul language, nudity and any manner of topic.

9. Shlaim said that in his testimony to the BBC Trust’s investigation of Bowen earlier this year “I could not fault the BBC”. Well let’s look at the Trust’s judgment. Unfortunately for Shlaim it puts the lie to what he said last night on Channel 4.

Here is what Bowen wrote on the BBC Website:

“the Israeli generals…had been training to finish the unfinished business of Israel’s independence war of 1948 for most of their careers.”

And here is what Shlaim said about it to the BBC Trust:

“It’s not accurate – the unfinished business of the 48 was capturing the West Bank…in 48 could have captured the West Bank…Ben Gurion said no – he didn’t want lots of Arabs in the state. It was true some of the right wing generals Weitzman, Sharon Za’evi…these were expansionist and waiting for the opportunity. But that was not true of the army…they had plans for all eventualities…[Jeremy Bowen] goes too far in implying the Israeli Army was planning and plotting to capture the West Bank – it’s not true…”

10. Finally Oborne turned to the BBC’s refusal to show the DEC Gaza appeal. Beckett of course blamed the “Lobby” for this but of course produced no evidence. Here is BBC Director-General Mark Thompson’s explanation of the decision.  There were a number of other considerations – for example the fact that the footage in the DEC Appeal was not shot by the BBC itself so it could not guarantee its authenticity.

For Beckett to somehow blame the supporters of Israel was a very fitting end to an hour of innuendoes, unproven assertions and untruths….

PS I did like Oborne’s book on Basil D’Oliveira, though. It completely vindicated the boycott of the MCC cricket match which I instigated at school in 1969. The “D’Oliveira Affair” – now that was a genuine conspiracy!

60 replies »

  1. The BBC is at the forefront of what is called the “unhappy dramatic fiction syndrome”.When a subject gets too uncomfortable,treat it like a fiction story and invent facts and create an end-game scenario that suits you.

  2. Rusbridger’s limp little spot was remarkable. ‘We don’t get all this trouble for our coverage of other countries – only Israel’ he whined. It clearly hadn’t occured to him that that is because their coverage of Israel is so peculiarly bad and full of distortion and hatred. Absolutely zero self-awareness – well done!

  3. I think it an irony that BICOM is held up as a pro-Israel lobby when its daily news digest embraces Eurocentric and ‘leftist’ terms of reference and reflects the in-built bias of the Guardian and others. BICOM already routinely ignores the suffering of half the Jewish population of Israel – just try doing a website search on Jewish refugees from Arab countries and you will only get two references – the rest is stuff on Palestinian refugees. The BICOM has no background information available on the million Jews who fled, were expelled and were dispossessed from Arab countries, most of whom were resettled in Israel. This is a major omission for a pro-Israel advocacy organisation.

    BTW, great work, Jonathan and Chas!

  4. Remembering that Channel 4 is apparently in competition with the BBC, one can only congratulate the BBC on getting such a programme aired by their competitors. Obviously it couldn’t appear on any BBC channel – that would look like the BBC produces it’s own pro-BBC anti-Israel propaganda!

    So 1 0 to the antisemites (I mean anti-Zionists) in TV broadcasting. When it comes to the anti-Israel bias, antisemitism and the blood libel, other differences can be put aside. Last night’s Dispatches was a low blow – but when it comes to the Jews and Israel, you cannot expect everyone to play according to the Queensbury Rules can you?

  5. Can you use your formidable influence to get this excellent post published in the msm, pelase!
    Could you address one issue you do not deal with in this comprehensive response, and is one that is niggling enough viewers: The fact that a report by Bowen using the same words complained of appeared and is still up, on the JC site.

  6. Excellently analysis Mr’s Hoffman and Newkey-Burden.

    A couple of other observations if I may:

    – When comparing Gaza to Lebanon, Oborne neglected to mention that Lebanon was in a state of civil war and had been since the mid 70s. Lebanon was in desperate need of outside humanitarian assistance after 7 years of infighting and destruction. Not really comparable to Gaza, which had suffered 20 days of war and received plenty of humanitarian assistance throughout.

    – When describing the “enormous pressure” from the Israeli lobby to stop the BBC showing the DEC appeal, he forgot to tell us that Muslim anti-Zionists violently stormed the BBC Scottish HQ to try to force them to show it. Pressure comes from all sides and in various forms.

  7. Jonathan: I was quite gratified for a moment to think that my repeated complaints to the BBC about bias and factual inaccuracies had put such unbearable pressure on the organisation that it was forced to bend the other way. But you are right of course that this was just one of Oborne’s fantasies, which you have done an excellent job in pinpointing.

  8. If I remember rightly, the piece by Jeremy Bowen in the JC was one of a considerable number of pieces presented side by side as expressing different points of view on the Six Day War. Whereas on the BBC website it was presented as the only truth by the BBC’s Middle East Editor.

    If I were Poju, I would be deeply insulted – his house is surely worth more than £3 million.

  9. Amie

    Bear in mind that Bowen’s JC article was commissioned and published under the previous regime. I doubt it would have happened under the new editorship.

  10. Addendum to my piece, on the BBC’s refusal to show the DEC Appeal:

    http://blog.muradqureshi.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/resignation-from-bbc-appeals-advisory-committee.doc

    Niaz Allam – who resigned from the BBC Appeal Advisory Committee over the DEC Appeal decision – completely missed the point last night. Commenting on the fact that the appeal was shown on Channel 4 and ITV, he said “No-one questioned their impartiality”.

    But unlike the BBC, Chanenl 4 and ITV are not 100% public service broadcasters and therefore do not have the same rigorous rules on impartiality to meet. He can’t have it both ways.

    He might also have noted that SKY also refused to show the Appeal.

  11. In a way, I’m glad that I missed this Dispatches documentary. I hate to think what it would have done to my blood pressure!!!! But hearty congratulations to Jonathan Hoffman for his analysis. Unfortunately, he’s preaching to the converted; Israel’s enemies – Lerman, Goldberg, Goldstone, Rose and that whole group of Israel/Jew-loathing Jews and quislings as well as the Israel/Jew-loathing goyim like the Rushbridgers, Bowen and Oborne – are unlikely to even read this piece far less be influenced by it. You must remember that these people are such great intellects that they cannot possibly be wrong; after all, this is the story they’ve been buying into for the past 40 years.

    Sadly those of us who love Israel – but don’t necessarily condone or agreed with the actions of the various governments over the years – have only themselves to blame for this state of affairs. We have sat back and allowed our enemies to preach their propaganda without trying to counter it – other than by ‘quiet diplomacy’ which has proved to be a total failure – until it was too late. Today, it’s rare to see positive media coverage of any aspect of Israeli life or negative media coverage of any aspect of Palestinian life.

    Well, we can fight back, but it’s going to take money as well as determination and a well-conceived marketing campaign. Sadly, too many of those who have the money seem to be unwilling to part with it for such a purpose; better it should go with them to Bushey. People who built their fortunes by cleverly marketing products and services seem to refuse to believe that this tactic can work for Israel and invest the funds needed.

    In the 1960s, Coca-Cola had such a dominant share of the USA soft-drinks market that it decided it no longer needed to spend money advertising and promoting the product. Along came Pepsi who invested millions of dollars and grabbed nearly 50% of CC’s market which the company has never recovered. There’s a lesson there for anyone who wants to learn it.

    Because of this lack of investment, I believe that it’s getting to the point where we are faced with two options – to sit back and watch the slow but steady destruction of Israel or start hitting back. And I think it’s about time we hit back!!!!!

  12. Brilliant, Chas & Jonathan.
    Rusbridger just doesn’t get it, does he?!
    The LJS rabbi, while a thoroughly decent chap and all that, seems to be in a time warp, of the “Gentlemen of the Mosaic Persuasion” versus all those loud-mouthed Ostjuden out there …
    The appearance of Avi Shlain leads me to note that the pernicious influence of academics in high places who happen to be Jews is becoming a topic of growing concern. I don’t just mean the “useful idiots”. I mean the people dedicated to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish State and its replacement with one state for two peoples. I don’t know enough about Avi Shlain to know what makes him tick; in fact until last night’s programme I’d never heard of him. . But there’s a certain university in the Midlands, a long-established one, whose head of Jewish Studies is a follower of Ilan Pappe and signs statements (emanating from both here and abroad) and writes reviews highly deleterious to Israel’s existence. While fully accepting the principle of academic freedom and realising that there’s a wide spectrum of opinion within the Jewish community regarding Israeli policy, the fact that proponents of such an extreme position at universities is alarming, for it prompts the question “What is being taught to students?”, especially in the area of Jewish Studies.

  13. Amyisraelchai

    Note that there was an excellent Israel conference in Oxford on Sunday. Shlaim does not have it all his own way there by any means.

  14. Oborne is a hack reporter. His bias is well known. He does not care about the truth. He is a propagandist. The good news is that his documentary is so boring nobody can sit through it.

  15. Channel 4 = a channel 4 slander? Aren’t they like a Guardian TV channel?

    CifWatch’s remit is to turn the spotlight on the Guardian’s CiF and expose its antisemitism and relentless anti-Israel propaganda. When you try to widen the field and expose antisemitism in British society generally, you’re bound to fall short; and in any case, there are other organisations who are already active in combatting the scourge of antisemitism. Why disperse your efforts in all directions? Stick to what you do best!

  16. What a shame plucky little Osborne was born too late to place his material in Der Sturmer. That’s the stuff Nazis liked, after all they were fighting against the mighty international Jewish lobby too.

  17. @newmoniker

    “Unhappy Dramatic Fiction Syndrome”

    I like!

    Try “Fictionionalized Unhappy Dramatic Syndrome”, or “FUDS”.

    As in- “Fuds me, I’m famous!” 😉

  18. That’s “Fictionionalized Unhappy Drama Syndrome”. If I’m bantering, I might as well be accurate.

  19. I’m not giving odds that this offering on CiF will get further than the first ‘moderator’ so I’ll stick it up here instead. You never know, there might be some CiF moles reading your forum! ;o)

    ……………………………………

    Dear Grauniad,

    My my, you moderators are somewhat touchy when people voice a legitimate POV that doesn’t gel with the Grauniad’s fluffiness towards the Palestinian question aren’t you? The fact that the Egyptians built a wall to keep the Gazans out (or in) not deemed PC for you then?

    ”This comment has been removed by a moderator.”

    Wouldn’t have been ‘BellaM’ by any chance? No, she’ll still be hiding under a rock somewhere I suppose.

    Anyhoo… Mr.Oborne, your programme last night was highly risible featuring little factual evidence for your theories other than innuendo, nudge-nudge, wink-wink eh?

    The problem you faced was similar to that which faced the anti-racism bogeymen who not being able to find any firm evidence for institutional racism in various police forces (because it was non-existent) hit on the formula of ‘Eureka! We’ve found it!’ … ‘But we can’t actually tell you where it is’

  20. Thanks, Jonathan and Amie …
    (Saw you a while ago on Press TV, Jonathan, as a panellist facing the baying fanatics! It’s great to know there’s a Jewish leader who’s not afraid to be pro-active, despite all the flak you get from the Softly Softly Brigade).

  21. The words of Norman Cohn from his 1967 work ‘Warrant for Genocide’ seem appropriate at this time –

    “As I see it the deadliest kind of anti-semitism, the kind that results in massacre and attempted genocide, has little to do with real conflicts of interest between living people or even with racial prejudice as such. At its heart lies the belief that Jews – all Jews everywhere – form a conspiratorial body set on ruining and then dominating the rest of mankind. And this belief is simply a modernized, secularized version of the popular medieval view of Jews as a league of sorcerers employed by Satan for the spiritual and physical ruination of Christendom.”

  22. Jonathan and Chas – well done yet again.

    I wonder if Oborne’s self promoting little film will go very far – unlike the Dispatches that dealt with radical Islamist preachers, this one was ‘only’ about Jews so will it have ‘legs’ or will the fuss die down very quickly.

    Bonnie Prince Charlie- I am 100% in agreement and live around 5 miles from Bushey, so if you want to get together and hatch a strategy together, I am happy to put the resources of my graphics studio at your disposal.

    Its way past time to hit back as our elected and unelected leaders are treading too softly for my taste, too!

  23. On The Guardian’s front page there is a link about Rusbridger resigning from the PPC (Press Complaints Committee) seeimgly because a ruling didn’t go his way.

    It hasn’t been a very good week for Rustbucket has it?

    Live long and keep exposing the truth.

  24. When bbc didn’t show the Gaza appeal, I and many others knew straightaway that this would play right into the hands of anti-Semites who are always on the look out for examples of Jewish skulduggery.

    Who would have known then that Mr Oborne would be amongst them?

  25. Thanks for this, Jonathan. Rather like Bonnie Prince Charlie above, I was afraid for my blood pressure so switched channels when I heard the usual example of the pits of shlock journalism masquerading as “fact” – “…We have it on good authority that….” (No mention of sources of course just the usual magical thinking rubbish that if they say it then it must be true).

    It seems to me that this shower have great difficulty with the notion that Israel and Jews are able to defend themselves; indeed they believe that this should never be the case.

    The Theobald-Jews, of course, are terrified at the prospect that honest Jews can and will defend themselves inside and outside Israel, literally and in print and in the media. They should take their lesson from what happened to the Jewish kapos in the concentration camps, who thought they could save their skins by running to do the Nazis’ dirty work for them but were still looked on as untermenschen and were put onto the last transports to be gassed alongside the people they had so wronged.

    I wish no physical harm to Theobald-Jews. It’s a pity, though, that Judaism no longer has the cherem in place, which would ostracise them from decent society forever.

  26. PeterParker, can you give us further and better particulars of the decision which led to Rustbucket’s resignation from the PCC?

  27. http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/D/dispatches/israel/proisraellobbypamphlet.pdf

    The pamphlet they produced to accompany the programme has some classic howlers. For example – look at this convoluted and internally contradictory sentence:

    “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.”

    In other words:

    1. Take an accusation
    2. IN THE SAME SENTENCE forget it’s an accusation and assume it’s true
    3. Make point.

    You couldn’t make it up …

  28. Osborne and co., are slowly but surely inciting the mass of viewers, who are basically ignorant of facts and incapable of critical analysis, towards the next step in the all too familiar demonization of the Jews.
    The deterioration in the media’s behaviour should be very worrying for Jews, initially, and after they came for …

  29. canadaneil, can you explain what you mean by Jews becoming the “new freemasons?”

    Cynic, you are of course correct, but this is not new and the Guardian and CiF are in the forefront of it and feeding the haters what they think they should eat.

    Not sure what you mean in your final sentence though.

  30. What is terrifying is the anti-intellectual nature of this Israel discourse. (Robin Shepherd pointed it out too in his new book).

    Intelligent people are prepared to put their names to logical errors, innuendoes, unproven assertions and falsehoods to which they would never put their name in any other type of discourse – only Israel.

    It is this – more than anything else – which drives one to the inevitable and awful conclusion that this discourse is motivated by sheer blind prejudice.

  31. I see the article has exited stage left from the Grauniad’s online site. However, I did find this illuminating little piece of historical revisionism on there. Enjoy!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/1948/may/15/israel

    The Jewish state born

    * The Guardian, Saturday 15 May 1948 15.18 BST

    The Jews yesterday proclaimed in Tel Aviv the new State of Israel. It was formally recognised last night by the United States.

    In Jerusalem firing began as soon as the Army and the police left and increased steadily as the Jews began to take buildings in the central zone and to hoist the Zionist flag on them.

    The High Commissioner, General Sir Alan Cunningham, left Jerusalem yesterday morning for Haifa, where he embarked without incident on a British cruiser which left at midnight for Britain. Although the Arab countries are still full of rumours of military preparations, no facts are yet available. Martial law has been declared in the Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt, and the Egyptian Premier, Nokrashy Pasha, has been appointed military governor of the country. In a broadcast at midnight he said:

    Orders have been given to the Egyptian armed forces to enter Palestine, with the object of restoring security and order in that country and putting an end to massacres perpetrated by terrorist Zionist gangs and against humanity.

    An Egyptian Government newspaper in a special edition issued late last night said that two Egyptian columns were advancing into Palestine on a wide front. They are said to have occupied a point inside Palestine about thirty miles south of Rafaa, which is the coastal frontier town. All this area is part of the Arab State under the partition plan and they will thus meet with no opposition at present.

  32. Jonathan, so low has the calibre of journalism sunk that making it up is exactly what they do, and they drip feed their own biases into the willing minds of the intellectually-challenged who tune in, but as facts. Many in their audience cannot tell that they are being manipulated.

    More sinister by far, though, is that people like Oborne deliberately set out to do this and there seems to be no way to bring them to account via their allegedly “professional” bodies.

  33. Jonathan, this sort of input from the Dispatches programme is from the “gut” level, and intellectualisation and gut level feelings are mutually exclusive – the gut always overrides the intellect when the perpetrators of this sort of wonky thinking feel under threat.

    So distorted is their thinking that they easily get carried away by their own suppositions, which they turn into specious and spurious “facts” in order to try to shore up their tenuous position.

    It is said that a liar is worse than a thief; a liar has to keep on lying.

  34. serendipity:
    Thought it was obvious, but you may know that the Freemasons have been accused in the past of having malign, covert influence at senior levels of government and the establishment. Indeed C4 have broadcast documentaries on the freemasons in the past.

    Sensationalist rubbish. Substitute Jew or Zionist or Israel supporter for Freemason, and you have the recycling of age-old conspiracy theories….

  35. The only way to deal with this is not to jump up and down and spit out your dummies – but to insist very openly – maybe through this blog – that Channel 4 does a similar programme on for example how Saudi money influences what gets taught in British universities, investigate exactly what Saudi money has paid for in this country and how much is paid to Saudi organisations by Muslims in this country, in order to fund terrorism. How about a programme on Muslim lobby groups.

    Remember the British Aerospace affair?

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×3708062

    and this?

    http://www.markpack.org.uk/conservative-party-faces-investigation-over-controversial-donations-from-said-family/

    Now that would be an idea subject for Oborne to stick his nose in.

    Let’s have a Parliamentary register solely for ALL foreign interest groups, of which the Israel Lobby is one, where every donation is recorded with the name of the donor, and details of exactly what the donation is for – also a cap placed on all donations. This should take care of any seemingly undue influence various lobbying groups may have, and who exactly is giving what to whom. This would put an end also to the sheer greed of our politicians.

    I am totally against any lobbying whatsoever in this country on behalf of another country’s interests, and any attempt to buy changes in British foreign policy.

  36. Forgive me canadaneil, I’ve had a weird day….

    Actually you’ve reminded me of a Jewish joke from, I think, “The Joys of Yiddish:”

    The scene is one of the Nuremberg Rallies in Nazi Germany. Goebbels is on the podium doing his thing, frothing at the mouth in his hatred of the Jews. At the rear of the arena are two Jews who have managed to sneak in:

    Goebbels: Who is responsible for all this country’s disease, difficulties and woes?

    The crowd is silent.

    First Jew shouts: The bicycle riders!

    Goebbels: Why the bicycle riders???

    First Jew shouts: Why the Jews?

  37. Bobby, I was not aware that anyone here has been jumping up and down or spitting out dummies – far from it, the debate here has been very measured and the article led the way in that. Well done, Jonathan!

    Having said that, I agree that all foreign interest groups should be regulated – our politicians being as morally challenged as they are – and yes, let’s have another programme by Peter Oborne about the influence of the Saudis on the Foreign Office and on our universities.

    If Oborne wants to convince us that his programme last night was not born of antisemitic conspiracy theory this is the best way that he could do it.

  38. I have little time for the preposterous hyperbole of Jonathan, Hawkeye and many others on this website.

    But I certainly agree re. the torrent of hateful comments on the two CiF threads.

    The poster TruthBeToldToAll says Israel’s “citizenry are predominantly European migrants”.
    a) That’s BS even counting people descended from European immigrants.
    b) This would suggest that the poster considers e.g. black and Asian Brits to be “migrants”. I’ll be bringing this up tomorrow …
    c) He’s since (after I challenged him) changed his tune to “How would you describe the ethnic origins of the majority of people migrating to Israel?”

    This really is desperate stuff.

  39. @pretzelberg

    I’ve been removed entirely from the Oborne thread, for posting (in its final version, after removing reference to another airbrushed commenter) this:

    “It looks odd to me that anti-Israel posters on here, who it seems are in a vast majority, regularly claim that they are silenced by a professional force of lobbyists represented by a handful of contributors who don’t believe Israel is automatically evil. What silencing where?

    As for the pressure on Mr Rusbridger, shown in the programme, it doesn’t seem to have caused him to change anything in the paper. So Gerald Ronson said he’d ‘crossed the line’? It didn’t make him pull any articles, change editorial policy, or instruct Cif moderators to let only pro-Israel comments through. Unless you have evidence to the contrary?

    I’d expect editors in the national press to have enough backbone to stand up to the barrage of PR, complaints, political attacks and the like that must arrive every day. I’m sure Mr Rusbridger can take care of himself.”

    Is there anything, repeat anything, wrong with that? I guess I could keep posting it until the moderators or I run out of patience, but I can’t figure out what the objection is.