Jenny Tonge & the Hamas Lobby

A guest post by Hadar Sela, a freelance Anglo Israeli writer

Jenny Tonge (far left) with Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh (third from left)

The recent tirade by Baroness Jenny Tonge – which resulted in her removal from the Liberal Democrats Party – included one of her more recurrent themes; the so-called ‘Israel lobby’.

Tonge said that Americans would tell “the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough” and accounts by those present at the event report that:

“Tonge, who describes herself as an “ethnic Christian” started by telling the audience to beware of the Israel lobby because “once they have decided to go for you, they will go for you. I bear the scars”. She cited the notorious writings of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, which have been widely discredited for effectively alleging a Jewish conspiracy – a charge that the authors have strenuously denied.”

This, of course, is not a new theme for Jenny Tonge. In 2006 she opined:

“The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western World, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a certain grip on our party”.

It is therefore interesting to note that on Baroness Tonge’s newly updated profile page on the House of Lords website she declares two overseas trips within the last few months, both paid for by the Council for European Palestinian Relations.

Visit to Cairo and Gaza, 20-25 November 2011; travel expenses and accommodation paid by Council for European Palestinian Relations (based in Brussels)

Visit to Qatar, 8-10 January 2012, for discussions with Crown Prince; cost of accommodation and travel met by Council for European/Palestine Relations (based in Brussels)

The Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) declares itself to be an “independent non-profit and non-partisan” organization registered in Belgium (BE 0828.629.725) and with an office in London.

It appears on the Transparency Register of the Joint Secretariat of the European Parliament and European Commission (no. 60576433-83). According to that register we see that in the financial year 2010/2011 the CEPR had a total budget of 155,000 Euros, all of which came from donations, although no information is available as to the identity of the donors.

The CEPR declares on the register and on its website that:

“The CEPR is funded by individual donations from around the world in compliance with Belgian and UK legal requirements. It does not accept funds from any individuals or bodies whose objectives are inimical to the interests of peace and justice.”

So far, the CEPR perhaps sounds like any other lobbyist body, but the interesting aspects of this organization begin to come to light when one takes a look at the personalities behind it.

The Director of CEPR is Dr. Arafat Shoukri (aka Arafat Madi Mahmoud Shukri).  Shoukri is also Operational Director with the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) – a Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood affiliated organization based in London which is outlawed in Israel due to its clear links to Hamas.

Several of the PRC’s senior figures are Hamas activists who found refuge in the UK. Founded by Salman Abu Sitta in 1996, the PRC was born out of rejection of the Oslo Accords, denial of Israel’s right to exist and the agenda of ‘right of return’ for millions of Palestinian refugees to Israel, effectively annihilating the Jewish state. Its funding is not transparent.

Other PRC board members are connected to charities linked to the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Union of Good’ umbrella organization – illegal in Israel and the United States due to its fundraising activities for Hamas. Several prominent PRC activists took part in the infamous ‘Durban Conference’ in 2001.

Since 2003 the PRC has organized an annual ‘Conference of Palestinians in Europe’ which is attended by figures from Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood along with representatives of their supporting organisations. Ismail Haniyeh – unable to travel to the conferences in person due to a European travel ban – has on several occasions addressed the conference by video link.

Arafat Shoukri is also chair of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) which was established by the Muslim Brotherhood’s European arm – the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) in 2007 and shares the same London offices as the PRC. The ECESG is one of the coalition of groups which organizes the various flotillas aimed at breaking Israel’s maritime embargo on Gaza which was established in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons to Hamas. Jenny Tonge is a “supporting VIP” of the ECESG.

Here is Shoukri being interviewed in his ECESG capacity prior to the tragic 2010 flotilla:

The CEPR website is registered to ‘Save Gaza’, which was the address of the apparently now defunct ECESG website still promoted on the ECESG Facebook account.

Arafat Shoukri attended the recent ‘Conference for the Defence of Al Quds’ in Qatar, (also attended by Yusuf Qaradawi of the Muslim Brotherhood) which came to the conclusion that “the Israelis have no heritage in Al-Quds”.

Assistant to the Director at CEPR is Ramy Abdu (aka Rami Salah Ismail Abdo) who at least until 2011 was (and may still be) also the ECESG spokesman. In 2009 Abdu left his native Gaza (where he acted as spokesman for the pro-Hamas ‘Popular Committee Against the Siege’) and moved to Manchester to study at MMU. He also became an ECESG co-ordinator. Here is Abdu being interviewed in his previous role with the PCAS. 

James Tuite is the Parliamentary Officer of the CEPR and as such is active at the European Parliament in Brussels and presumably in initiatives such as this.

Dimitris Bouris is the CEPR Research Assistant. Examples of his writing and research can be seen here and here.

Stuart Reigeluth is Communications Officer for the CEPR. He holds a Master’s degree in Palestinian poetry from the American University in Beirut and also writes for several outlets including the Gulf News, the Daily Star, the Palestine-Israel Journal and Electronic Intifada.

 Unsurprisingly, Reigeluth has also contributed articles to the antisemitic ‘Palestine Telegraph which is run by Sameh Habeeb (aka Sameh Akram Subhi Habib – also originally from Gaza) who is also connected to both the Palestinian Return Centre and the ECESG, having acted as the latter’s spokesman during its 2009 aid convoy. Jenny Tonge was patron of the Palestine Telegraph until she resigned after it posted a David Duke video.

Julian Memetaj is listed as Communications Assistant on the CEPR website. In this recent article (written together with Reigeluth) he states that “Jewish Israelis are xenophobic towards Arabs”.

Ayman Abuawwad (also Abu Awad) is not listed on the website, but is sometimes described as Information Officer in press releases and articles put out on behalf of the CEPR. He is also apparently connected to the ECESG.

Further indication of the close level of co-operation between the CEPR and the other organisations with which so many of its staff are involved can be seen in their joint projects.

In 2011 the CEPR and the PRC together took a group of Parliamentarians from Britain and Europe – lead by Sir Gerald Kaufman – to Lebanon where they met representatives of the PFLP-GC and Osama Hamdan of Hamas. (Both these organisations are proscribed terror groups in the EU). Majid al Zeer of the PRC (a known Hamas operative) and Arafat Shoukri of the CEPR were also present in the delegation.

Also in 2011 a joint CEPR/ECESG project took a group of 50 Parliamentarians to Gaza, where they met with Ismail Haniyeh among others.

Whilst it is unsurprising to say the least that Jenny Tonge would collaborate with such a thinly veiled Hamas lobby as the Council for European Palestinian Relations, some of the many other members of both Houses of Parliament who have taken part in CEPR trips might care to ask themselves exactly where the money for their travel expenses originated and whether or not their allowing themselves to be lobbied by an organisation with such clear links to a terrorist organisation their own government has proscribed is appropriate.

The European and British Parliaments – which allow the CEPR to lobby on their premises – would also be wise to verify that organisation’s claim that it “does not accept funds from any individuals or bodies whose objectives are inimical to the interests of peace and justice”.

18 replies »

  1. Thanks for this very revealing summary of Tonge’s closeness to the Muslim Brotherhood’s tools.

    I was disgusted that the BBC4 Radio 4 Today programme on Friday morning gave her a platform to present herself as really having pretty mainstream moderate views which were misrepresented.

    Even worse, in introducing the item, the presenter remarked that “the whole Jewish community from the Chief Rabbi to…..” had been outraged by the remarks about Israel for which she refused to apologise and ended up resigning the LibDem whip in the Lords, as if it was only Jews and all Jews who were outraged. They put on Robert Halfon to oppose her–the event was thus presented as mud wrestling between Tonge and the Jews.

    You can hear a clip of the interview here, but it doesn’t include the outrageous intro. But you get the flavour of the respectful and lengthy platform she got. And get her reference to “this state which angers everyone” and a whole other bunch of lies.

    And she’s still in the Liberal Democrat party. And she’s still going to be sitting in the House of Lords for the rest of her life, thanks to the action of the LibDems in putting her there in the first place, despite her already having made her outrageous speech about how she would have been a suicide bomber if she’d have been a Palestinian.

    • Always the BBShit. When will decent, ethic journalists DEMAND the release of the Balen report by BBC? Or such type or journalist doesn´t exist anymore?

  2. Great piece – should be published in the Guardian!

    I don’t feel sorry for Jenny Tonge at all, but I think it is a tragedy that a physician could be so completely oblivious to the pathology that is her Jew hatred. Like substance abuse or other types of psychological and/or medical issues, one would normally expect her colleagues to offer some help or at least identify the problem. Sadly, she is too far gone to be helped, and many of her colleagues, medical and political, are afflicted with the same problem anyway.

  3. “Ethnic Christian”?

    The phrase actually makes sense in some contexts.

    When you’re talking about the ‘Israel lobby’, it invariably invokes classical anti-Semitic rhetoric.

  4. ““once they have decided to go for you, they will go for you.”

    Those pesky Jews. Once apon a time they just used to lie back a take what people like Tonge dish out, but now that they have their own country they have the cheek to answer back.

    I don’t know what the world is coming to.

    • You’ve nailed it, that’s exactly her problem.

      Once upon a time, Jews were hated for being cowardly and not fighting.
      Now we’re hated for fighting back.

    • Judy above has linked to Jihad Jenny in ‘full flow’ on a BBC interview. (Voice only). It has some interesting points. She mentions that many had great hopes for Israel in the beginning. How many times have I heard that from the radical left. Israel’s basic sin is that it has discarded rampant socialism, developed a highly successful market driven economy and become very close to the American people. Further, she says that after the 1948 war, Israel should have offered ‘help to the Palestinians’. She is intimating to ROR and clearly has no real understanding of Muslim mentality and inability of Muslims to accept a Jewish state on ‘Ummah’ land.

      She also smudges heavily over her ‘clapping’ after her colleague, O’Keffe spat out his hatred.

      She is a moral degenerate. She has lost all sense of ‘right and wrong’. She sat there smiling when O’Keefe was pouring out his hatred. A morally sensible person would have spoken up and even left the meeting while trying to disassociate themselves from what had been said there.

  5. “Ethnic Christian” does not make sense in any context. Ethnicity is something you can’t change and it relates to genetically inherited peoplehood. You can of course be a non-ethnic Jew if you convert. But that’s because Jews are an ethnic group, as well as being a religious affliliation. There are plenty of Jews who are ethnically Jewish but have no involvement with (and sometimes outright hostility to) Judaism. Tonge may have been brought up Christian, and now have no relationship to Christianity, but it still doesn’t make her ethnically Christian. Presumably she wanted to avoid saying she’s ethnically English. But, yes, it is amazing that someone who once qualified as a doctor can come out with nonsense like that.

  6. The LibDems and Clegg in particular are not rehabilitated as far as I am concerned, at least not yet. They should have expelled the monster ages ago, when she was waxing lyrical with blood libels. Is Clegg only doing something now because the LibDems are in a coalition, perhaps subject to pressure by their partners? Just wondering.

    @Judy: I missed the introduction on Today, but the presenter was none other than Humphrys, who’s struggling to suppress his venom (the BBC undoubtedly expects us to be grateful that he is trying, whether or not he is succeeding). I wonder whether it was his decision to invite the lady.

  7. Brilliant and very revealing research, Hadar. Duvidl has always thought Poison Tonge was in bed with Hamas and thinks it time for a reprise of his song composed last week for the “global march to Jerusalem” thread:

    Shlep to Jerusalem
    (after “Jerusalem”. Hat tip: William Blake and CH Parry)

    And did Hamas in modern time
    Screech of a shlep to Israel;
    And did Baroness Tonge resign.
    In the head she is none too well.

    Do not heed her toy-boy Haniyeh.
    Keep stealth bombers in neutral gear.
    They’ll never reach Jerusalem.
    They’ll drown in Tonge’s verbal diarrhoea.

    DS Al Coda

  8. Does anyone monitor what is being said about Israel and Palestine in the House of Lords? On last nights ‘Today in Parliament’ on Radio 4 I caught words such as Zionism, occupied territories, Palestinians not free to move around (presumably into Israel), education of Palestinian children ‘different’ (not explained but clearly meant to be not satisfactory) to that of Israeli children. The absence of freedom of movement for Palestinians was given as a reason why they lack wealth and jobs and aid should therefore continue.