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Matthew Gould provides another glimpse into delusional British attitudes towards Israel


The following essay was written by Hadar Sela, and published at The Commentator.

How much does Matthew Gould’s speech reflect the institutionalised views of the FCO?

Recently, The Commentator offered some insight into attitudes towards Israel within the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Further illumination was available this week when Matthew Gould, the British Ambassador to Israel, spoke at a sub-committee meeting in the Knesset in Jerusalem.

There is much in the Ambassador’s speech (which, obviously, reflects the attitudes of those he represents rather than his own opinions) to raise quizzical eyebrows, but insufficient space here to address all the points.

Not the least bizarre was the statement that last year the British government allocated £2 million for security in Jewish schools — without addressing the rather obvious follow-up question of why Jewish schools in the UK (and only they) are in need of security in the first place.

No less bizarre is the following claim:

“…[T]here is indeed a small group of people in the UK – as in many other countries – who are determined to promote a fundamental assault upon Israel’s very legitimacy.  They represent a small minority, but they are active, loud and hugely dedicated. 

They try, and sometimes succeed, to marshal civil society organisations to their cause. These people are on the margin of political life, but they have made occasional inroads into mainstream politics.”

One can but speculate as to how Palestine Solidarity Campaign patrons such as Jeremy Corbyn MP and Baroness Tonge will react to the knowledge that the FCO considers them to be ‘on the margin of political life’.

Equally, one wonders how the 17 trade unions affiliated to the PSC – representing, according to their own claims, 80 percent of the members of the 6.5 million-strong TUC – became a ‘small minority’. And, according to the Ambassador’s theory, apparently the Church of England can also now be classified as a fringe group.  

But among all the claims made in the speech, there are two in particular which merit further discussion. The Ambassador – again, presumably reflecting FCO accepted wisdoms – stated that:

“There is an important battle for public opinion to be had in the UK, but it is not the one at the far fringes of political life.  Rather, it is for the centre ground, where the issue is not delegitimisation but a genuine concern about the absence of progress towards peace, about settlements and the occupation. 

“By contrast, progress towards peace will further discredit the delegitimisers and allow Israel’s supporters to shift their energy away from extinguishing fires to embracing Israel positively.”

Notably, this view places the onus entirely upon one party involved in the conflict: Israel. It completely ignores the many efforts –and sacrifices – Israel has made over the years in order to try to achieve a settlement to the conflict.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

8 replies »

  1. Sometimes the Jerusalem Post publishes opinion pieces from Gould trying to explain to the readers exactly the same what he tried to explain in the Knesset last week. His articles are full of distortions and omissions, when readers post questions describing the contradictions between the real situation and his assertions his answer is absolute silence. When asked about “Gaza is an open prison”Cameron, Kaufmann, Corbyn, Tonge, Lord Ahmed, BBC, judiciary etc. he pretends that these persons and institutions are insignificant street corner politicians/organisations, they have no influence on British politics at all and he keeps very silent about the rampant anti-jewish atmosphere in British trade unions, academy etc. He can’t be so dumb that believes himself so the only option to consider that he’s doing his job as a professional lying FCO employee. Asked about the continuing employment of Rowan “f**ng Jews” Laxton at the FCO Gould babbled that he can’t say anything because the case is under investigation – two and half years after the events and the conviction of Laxton by the court.

  2. Our very wonderful and totally unelected Jewish Leadership Council puts over exactly the same point of view as Gould–no wonder the FCO now regularly consults them. They claim to speak in the name of the British Jewish community. I wonder if the FCO consults the Board of Deputies on the same basis.

  3. This is a good post. I was absolutely incredulous at Amb Gould’s very, very narrow definition of what constitutes a problem for Jews in Britain. He stuck to the Antony Lerman guide for identifying Antisemitism as primarily a problem of the right or as exemplified by extreme hate-speech or vandalism. Hardly a word was said about anti-Zionism as an expression of Jew-hatred.

  4. “[T]here is indeed a small group of people in the UK – as in many other countries – who are determined to promote a fundamental assault upon Israel’s very legitimacy. They represent a small minority, but they are active, loud and hugely dedicated. They try, and sometimes succeed, to marshal civil society organisations to their cause. These people are on the margin of political life, but they have made occasional inroads into mainstream politics.”

    Nothing glaringly wrong with that. Certainly nothing “bizarre” about it.

    Oh – unless, like the author, you interpret reasonable criticism of the Jewish-only settlements on the occupied West Bank as a “fundamental assault upon Israel’s very legitimacy”.

  5. Nothing glaringly wrong with that.
    Nothing but that it is an outright lie.

    Certainly nothing “bizarre” about it.
    Correct. Why should be called bizarre when the representative of the FCO – an organisation tolerating from its high ranking employees open antisemite hate speech and continue employ a criminal condemned by by a British court for inciting racial hate – tells outright lies?

    And criticising the “Jewish only” settlements without any mention of the constitutionally Jew-free Arab countries is exactly what I speaking about: distortions, omissions and lies.

    • If we were talking about the horrible anti-Jew policies of many Arab nations, then of course I would and do condemn that.

      What “distortions, omissions and lies” are you talking about? You – who calls all Guardian staff Nazis?

      • What “distortions, omissions and lies” are you talking about?

        Maybe you should read my post and you won’t ask stupid questions…

        You – who calls all Guardian staff Nazis?

        You learnt from Goebbels pretzel. If you repeat a lie enough times somebody will believe it.

  6. The headline refers to “delusional British attitudes”.

    Yet another example why this website will never be taken seriously.