UKMW prompts Daily Mail to remove word “tentacles” in reference to pro-Israel group in UK

An article by Andrew Pierce published in the Daily Mail (Out of the shadows, the powerful fixer behind Priti Patel’s downfall, Nov. 9) profiled the “influential and shrewd political operator”, Lord Polak, the British Jew who reportedly set up Priti Patel’s meetings with Israeli political figures last August.

Polak, honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel, is characterised by Pierce as “a smooth talker” who turned CFI “into one of the most powerful and influential lobbying groups in the history of the Tory Party”.

Pierce then added:

It has tentacles in every corner – it’s believed that as many as 80 per cent of Tory MPs are members – but he has done it by operating behind the scenes

Though this was not the first media outlet to contextualise the Patel row in terms of the dangerous influence of the pro-Israel lobby on British politics, we tweeted Mr. Pierce and lodged a complaint with Daily Mail editors over the word “tentacles”, a word which evokes classic antisemitic tropes and imagery accusing Jews of trying to control the world.

As CST has explained, examples of this imagery include Nazi propaganda cartoons, such as this one from 1943 showing Jewish tentacles wrapped around Britain, America, Russia and China:

The term is also still fused by right-wing extremists, such as David Duke – typically as in “Zionist tentacles” controlling the US.

However, it’s not just found on the right. Some may recall that, in 2010, Martin Linton MP, chair of Labour Friends of Palestine, was forced to apologise after having suggested that the “long tentacles” of Israel was undermining British elections.

Yesterday, we received a reply from Mr. Pierce, apologising for using the word, explaining that he was unfamiliar with its antisemitic associations and assuring us the word would be removed from the op-ed.  Indeed, this morning, the word “tentacles” had been removed and replaced with the inoffensive word, “connections”.

It has connections in every corner – it’s believed that as many as 80 per cent of Tory MPs are members – but he has done it by operating behind the scenes.

We sincerely commend Mr. Pierce and the Daily Mail for their positive response to our complaint.

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12 replies »

  1. I would accept the apology at face value. Unless he does something similar in the future.

    The Daily Mail is not an anti Israel media. Not like The Guardian and the BBC.

  2. A Leopard doesn’t change its spots.

    “Following the 1930 German federal election, in which the Nazis won 107 out of 577 seats, Rothermere wrote in the Mail that Hitler’s party “represent the birth of Germany as a nation”. This was at a time when Hitler had made clear his hatred of Jews and belief in racial supremacy in his book Mein Kampf.

    The Mail was rewarded with exclusive access, publishing several interviews with Hitler throughout the 1930s.

    In March 1933, Hitler’s party won 288 seats and 44 per cent of the vote.

    Welcoming the result in an editorial the Daily Mail wrote that if Hitler used his majority “prudently and peacefully, no one here will shed any tears for the disappearance of German democracy”.

    After the June 1934 “Night of the Long Knives” in which Hitler murdered more than 100 political opponents, the Daily Mail report began: “Herr Adolf Hitler, the German Chancellor, has saved his country”. In December that year Rothermere and his son Esmond were the guests of honour at a dinner party hosted by Hitler.

    The Mail also welcomed Hitler’s remilitarisation of the Rhineland, in contravention of the Treaty of Versailles.

    In the early 1930s, Rothermere was so close to Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists that Daily Mail staff began to mimic their dress – wearing black shirts to work, Wainewright reports.

    The nadir of this period was a Daily Mail article headlined: “Hurrah for the blackshirts” which concluded with a direct call for young men to join Oswald’s party.”

        • jeff21st. Yes people and papers sometimes can change.
          But when the same paper that is today using a classic anti-Semitic trope in the recent past supported Hitler in Germany and the Blackshirts in Britain, it is a cause for concern.

          Consider also jeff21st that Andrew Pierce, the author of the piece, is one of the Editors of the paper, not just a correspondent.
          And the paper is still owned by the same family.

  3. Whether or not they use the obvious antisemitic trope, “tentacles,” the characterization of Israel’s influence on the UK as somehow shady and malign is the problem. The characterization is itself malign.

  4. I ADMIRE AND RESPECT you so much for keeping an eye on the media, definitely including the so-called national media like NYT and WAPO. Why they think its necessary to post poorly-edited (to be charitable!) or most likely definitely intentional slurs on Israel is hard to understand. What do they think it brings them?
    FACTS are easily located and put forth, thanks to hard-working CAMERA staff.You don’t miss much!
    Am Israel Chai!!!!