UK Media Watch

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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