The British Ambassador in Israel’s TV interview – and some home truths.

In recent weeks, Israelis have had to put up with the ‘evaporation’ of their capital city and the placing of rather revealing pictures supposedly portraying their country on the Olympics-dedicated pages of the BBC website. 

In addition, they discovered that the organisers of the London Olympic Games – whilst lacking the backbone to stand up to the IOC’s refusal to include a minute of silence for the 11 Israeli athletes murdered in Munich – did manage to weave a tribute to their own losses to terror into the opening ceremony and that a ‘mood of reflection’ was – appropriately – possible after all. 

Obviously feeling the heat, the UK government seems to have attempted some sort of rather bizarre damage control by sending its ambassador in Israel to an interview with Channel 10 news which was broadcast on the prime-time main news slot on August 2nd

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Somewhat uncharacteristically for an Israeli journalist, the interviewer failed to challenge the ambassador’s swift side-stepping of the BBC scandal, allowing him to fabricate the impression that the British government (and in particular the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) has no input into the BBC and that soft diplomacy is not part of the remit of certain arms of the corporation. 

Apparently attempting to deflect the embarrassment caused by the highly publicised BBC website row, the ambassador launched a classic FCO-style assault – thinly veiled with passive-aggressive pseudo pathos – ostensibly aimed at saving his Israeli audience from themselves by mirroring British attitudes towards them. 

In stark contrast to the statements made during his recent speech in the Knesset, the ambassador informed Israelis that “support for Israel is starting to erode and that’s not about those people on the fringe”. Less than a month ago, when the same ambassador was trying to drum up Israeli interest in academic and economic co-operation with recession-struck Britain, Israel’s detractors were described as being “on the margin of political life”. Now all of a sudden, the same ambassador speaks of “members of Parliament in the middle; the majority”. 

Predictably, the onus of responsibility for “lack of progress towards peace” which Gould cites as a cause of “growing concern” was placed exclusively at Israel’s door, with – according to him – British patience being tried by “a stream of announcements about new building in settlements” and anti-Israel sentiment growing as people “read stories about what’s going on in the West Bank” and “read about the restrictions in Gaza”. 

However, home truths can work both ways and it therefore must be said that it is highly regrettable that the British Ambassador refrained from honestly evaluating the role of his own government and the media in his own nation in propagating exactly the kind of stories to which he refers as affecting “majority” opinion. 

As the ambassador correctly states, the British people are by no means “stupid” but they, their politicians and apparently also their diplomats, are fed a constant largely monotone diet of one-sided and chronically misleading coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict by media organisations such as the (partly UK government-funded) BBC, the Guardian, the Independent and others, which nourishes the “Israel as Goliath, Palestinians as David ” myth. 

(And as if on cue, Harriet Sherwood was quick to use the ambassador’s interview to add further oxygen to the bubble of mutually assured myth.)

No less importantly, the blind eye deliberately turned by the UK government to lobbying, fund-raising and campaigning by organisations linked to Hamas and other terror groups and their supporters on British streets and even inside the British parliament – in many cases with Charity Commission approval and resulting tax exemptions – needs to be included  in any honestly compiled list of factors affecting British public opinion. 

And of course the fact that successive British governments have donated vast amounts of money to NGOs engaged in the delegitimisation of Israel (and continue to do so) also contributes to the adoption of warped views of the conflict, as do the decidedly undiplomatic activities of some of Mr Gould’s colleagues

In other words, the big stick carried by Britain’s soft-speaking ambassador contains no small amount of British wood. 

Israelis know exactly how much they have sacrificed in the quest for an elusive peace. They have thousands of graves to remind them of the pre and post-Oslo victims of the Palestinian refusal to come to terms with Jewish existence in the Middle East. They have many more thousands of neighbours and family members injured, maimed and disfigured in terror attacks or uprooted from Sinai and Gush Katif to remind them of the price paid by the living. Millions of Israelis live daily with the threat of terrorist missiles and attacks from Gaza in the south or Hizballah in the north. 

As a diplomatic guest in Israel, the British Ambassador should be aware of these painful testimonies to Israel’s numerous attempts to advance peace. He should be capable of recognising the fact that the responsibility for the failed outcome of  those attempts to date cannot be laid exclusively at Israel’s door and indeed that his own country has a long-standing tradition of contributing much to past and present failures. 

One would think that after almost a century of somewhat inglorious history in the Middle East, the FCO would finally have grasped that its traditionally imbalanced and inaccurate assessments have done no favours to the region. 

Some recognition on its part of the fact that whilst the Israelis are committed to pursuing peace with their neighbours, they are also very well acquainted with – and realistic about – the factors preventing that hope from materializing, would contribute significantly more to bringing about positive change than such anachronistic – if all too predictable – patronising  finger-wagging from Westminster.  

30 replies »

  1. Blistering, Hadar and well-deserved by the pompous undiplomatic diplomat.

    How surprising that he didn’t threaten us with a gunboat unless we obey his orders.

    • Excellent, but of course, disturbing piece.
      I do wish to object to one portion of your essay, though:
      “Somewhat uncharacteristically for an Israeli journalist…”
      Actually, this, is precisely what the Israeli press does(severely tilted to the left, as we all know), and especially “Channel 10”.
      They’ve recently been embroiled in libel scandals, both against PM Netanyahu, and Adelson; which cost them dearly, all due to their partisan and biased coverage.
      It should come as no surprise, therefore, that they would sincerely wish to sidestep the spree of anti-Israel reporting by the BBC(A public corporation, under the auspices of HM Government), the blatant pro-Hamas, PSC(implicated with Holocaust Denial) stances of Labour MPs(are those the Parliamentarians Gould referred to?), and continued undermining of Israel-UK-European relations by the FCO(Not to mention, like you poignantly listed, the British gov.’s penchant, at the expense of their taxpayers, for financing fringe, radical groups, within Israel), All for the chance to rouse mass-hysteria in the public(as suits their preconceived notions).
      Journalistic integrity, responsibility and credibility won’t stem, I am afraid, from the Israeli press; which, after all, like the Guardian, Independent, &c, has an editorial line to keep. Too bad, the former and the latter, match.

    • He couldn’t threaten anybody with Her Majesty’s Navy after the world witnessing the heroic surrender of the Royal marines to the Iranian motorboats in the Persian Gulf in the presence of a much stronger British naval force and their shameful show in Iranian TV.

        • I hope you know perfectly well what you can do with your feelings and I don’t have to give you a detailed list…

        • Never tought that you have any sense Nat.
          And FYI If I wanted an European passport I could have one easily – simply filling out an application at the Hungarian Embassy.

  2. If the reporter had the slightest idea about the Foreign Office or had any balls at all then the first question he should have asked is the opinion of this clown about his beloved colleague Rowan “fuck the Jews” Laxton (attention our international lawyers! a criminal convicted for racially aggravated harassment) continued employment by the same FCO.
    But considering that Gould is a British diplomat he’s doing what they used to do in the last 75 years – lying.

    • My mistake – googleing Laxton it became clear that he has been acquitted on appeal. So maybe the reporter should have asked that how it is possible in the oh so righteous UK that when a nobody drunk stuttering racist remarks on the bus goes to prison and a high ranking officer of the FCO screaming antisemite slurs in public goes free and remains a good colleague of theis moral cretin (just using the Guardian style-guide)

    • But considering that Gould is a British diplomat he’s doing what they used to do in the last 75 years – lying.

      The usual full thumbs-up for this stupid post.

      I get it: British diplomats are liars, while their Israeli counterparts tell the truth.


      Says a lot about the world of delusion BTL posters here live in.
      It also explains a lot of the bigotry.

  3. Lets be honest “the token jew”sorry i mean the ambassodor didnt get where he is today by being a staunch ally of Israel

  4. Notice that Hadar Sela says something that we all take for granted that people will know

    ” Israelis know exactly how much they have sacrificed in the quest for an elusive peace”

    I think that it’s forgotten by the rest of the world, set aside, rather embarrassing. Palestinians constantly proclaim their victimhood, happily sacrifice (others) for their cause of getting rid of us, and we are left being the strong silent types, constantly blamed. The UK FO and the media, especially the Guardian, are leaders in this field.

    It wouldn’t be bad if they stuck to fact, but the embroideries and the acceptance of the Palestinian versions enthusiastically marketed by Harriett are insults and frequently libellous.

  5. I’m not one to typically quote Jabotinsky, but this is an apt quote:

    “We constantly and very loudly apologize…. Instead of turning our backs to the accusers, as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to, we swear again and again that it is not our fault… Isn’t it long overdue to respond to all these and all future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly and calmly answer with the only argument that is understandable and accessible to this public: ‘Go to Hell’?”

  6. Britain’s new ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, a Jew, has finally taken to heart the accusation of dual loyalty leveled at him in November 2011 when Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West, said ambassadors to Israel had not previously been Jewish “to avoid the accusation that they have gone native”.

    Mathew Gould is another Jew has now undertaken the dirty work of the anti-Semites at the Foreign Office

    Hey Mathew – What took you so long?

    • Mathew Gould is another Jew has now undertaken the dirty work of the anti-Semites at the Foreign Office

      What are you talking about?

  7. What is clear is that, presumably because of the Arabist Foreign Office, the Brit’s deal with Israel with an ideological hostility unseen with their relationship with any other State. They don’t fund anti-Pakistani groups for instance (another country founded for religious reasons from their former territory). A logical conclusion is that they never expected their Jordanian (British trained and commanded) armies to lose in 1948 and have been dealing with the consequences ever since (including making London a major home of Islamism). They have a clear anti-Israel agenda they used their state-broadcaster the BBC to enforce almost single-handedly changing the truth of the tiny Israel surrounded by hostile states into the Israeli Goliath bullying the “can do no wrong and never are accountable for their actions” Palestinians.

  8. Quite frankly, considering that the “Palestinian problem” was created by the British betrayal of the terms of the Palestine Mandate they obtained from the League of Nations, the UK should make itself a lot more discreet.
    They were mandate to free the indigenous people colonized by the Ottoman Empire after WW1 and re-create a Jewish National Home in Palestine.
    Of the people they were to free
    -The UK gifted all of Nedj and Hadj to the Saudi tribe, thereby displacing 90% of the Arabic peninsula Bedouins
    -The UK reneged on the Balfour declaration and their engagement to the League of Nations, by separating Palestine into Transjordan and Cisjordan and, under the guise of insuring a home to the Palestinian Arabs, gifted the Hashemi tribe (cousins of the Saudis and with no historical attach to the region) with all of Transjordan (2/3 of Palestine). This move caused the exile of the Jews who had lived there for over 2000 years, as well as uprooted the actual indigenous Arabs who, still nowadays, live as apatride refugees (the Palestinians).
    -The UK further betrayed the mandate of creating a Jewish Nation Home, by giving out more of the Cisjordan Jewish allocated portion to Arabs, until the 1948 State of Israel was no more than a mere 10% of what the LoN has allotted the Jews.
    -The UK created a situation in which the re-created state of Lebanon became a de-facto “protectorate” of the re-created state of Syria. A situation which has caused no less than 2 civil wars, 4 regional wars, and the durable implantation of terrorist groups in Lebanon.
    – Finally, instead of freeing the Kurdish people, they parceled out Kurdistan to the 5 neighboring countries (Turkey, Syria, Iran, Irak and, yes, even Armenia has a little portion of that territory)
    I am not, however, surprised by the GB Ambassador’s attitude. His chutzpah is typical of the psychological make-up of the British Intelligentsia which still proceed on the Rudyard Kipling “white man great burden”, deliberately forgetful of the fact that nowadays, their country lives on the EU charity and of the great harm they did the world when they were indeed leading most of it. There isn’t a place at war that wasn’t, at some time, under British (mis)management.

  9. Good article Hadar.

    Let’s face it, there will be no change in the Foreign Office attitude to Israel while the UK (and much of Europe) is being kept afloat financially on a sea of Arab money. The banks, the institutions, the government departments, even the Olympics have been built and maintained on sovereign debt and those ‘sovereigns’, mainly wear Arab clothing.

    It’s why Hague, Cameron and now Gould, put the onus on Israel to find a way out of the mess that is Middle Eastern politics. It’s why UK arms and ‘advisors’ have found their way to the Arab spring states, urged on by the Arab league, whose own armies are only good at internal repression.

    Until Israeli scientists come up with a viable alternative to oil, and please may it be soon, the oil dollar trumps every other argument, regardless of its ethics, morality or decency.

  10. the ambassador launched a classic FCO-style assault – thinly veiled with passive-aggressive pseudo pathos – ostensibly aimed at saving his Israeli audience from themselves by mirroring British attitudes towards them.

    What a ridiculous statement.

    And please let’s have less of the amateur psychology.
    “Thinly veiled with passive-aggressive pseudo pathos” – what a hoot!

    And referring to “British attitudes towards [Israelis]” is just childish.

    Get an effin’ grip.