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New York, Friday, January 18, 2002

of Noteworthy Items in the Press

British Magazine Raising Specter of "Zionist Lobby"

Forward correspondent

LONDON -- In what some see as a pattern since September 11, a leading British weekly has raised the specter of Jewish control over the media and government.

The cover story of the January 14 edition of the New Statesman, a respected liberal weekly, is headlined "A Kosher Conspiracy?" and features a gold Star of David appearing to pierce a Union Jack.

The story purports to investigate whether there is a "Zionist" plan to sway the British press to the side of Israel and to minimize Palestinian grievances. It also assesses the extent to which Jews influence British politics.

"That there is a Zionist lobby and that it is rich, potent, and effective goes largely unquestioned on the left," writes Dennis Sewell. "Big Jewry, like big tobacco, is seen as one of life's givens." Journalists who dare to speak out against the "Zionist lobby," Mr. Sewell adds, are harassed, threatened and eventually muted.

As an example, the article points to Robert Fisk, the pro-Arab correspondent of the Independent, a left-leaning British daily. According to the article, Mr. Fisk "complains that he has been the victim of an anonymous smear campaign seeking to link him with the notoriously anti-Semitic historian David Irving."

At the center of this "Zionist lobby," the article alleges, is a network of individuals and organizations coordinated from the Israeli embassy in London and "greased" by the profits made by a sinister arms trader named Shlomo Zabludowicz, an Auschwitz survivor with a Finnish passport who died in 1994. Key figures in the conspiracy, according to the authors, include Conrad Black, the owner of the conservative British publications Daily Telegraph and Spectator as well as the Jerusalem Post, and his wife, "the enthusiastic Zionist columnist" Barbara Amiel.

As for the Zionist effect on British politics, the New Statesman article reports that a recent meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Yasser Arafat was "no more than a public relations exercise designed to placate the Arab world. It served to disguise Blair's support for the Zionist project and his role as Ariel Sharon's closest ally in Europe. Little of this has been reported in the mainstream media."


THE New Statesman article is only the latest example of what some say has become a wide expression of anti-Semitism in Britain since September 11.

BernardIn December, Ms. Amiel told her Daily Telegraph readership about "the ambassador of a major EU country" -- later reported to have been France's ambassador to London, Daniel Bernard -- who "politely told a gathering at my home that the current troubles in the world were all because of 'that shitty little country Israel.'"

Ms. Amiel's disclosure, however, created trouble only for herself. Writing in the left-leaning The Observer, Richard Ingrams said that Ms. Amiel "betrayed the confidences of the dinner table" by revealing the diplomat's remarks. In the same paper, Euan Ferguson suggested that "Ms. Amiel is apparently as welcome now in the chic salons of north London as a fatwa in a sauna."

In her January 14 column in The Daily Telegraph, Ms. Amiel repeated her first column's assertion that there seemed to be a resurgence of permissible anti-Semitism in Europe. "The ambassador would not have described the Jewish state as a 'shitty little country' in different times, just as he would not use the words 'nigger' or 'wog' in polite society today," she writes.

In November, meanwhile, The Observer seemed to lend an anti-Semitic spin to a debate between geneticists. In an article published in the British journal Human Immunology, a Spanish geneticist set out to prove the close genetic links between Palestinians and neighboring population groups, including Israeli Jews. But when the article was retracted for factual errors in the historical narrative, The Observer cried foul. It claimed that the retraction was a result of pressure from Jews who were angered because the authors' scientific research "challenges claims that Jews are a special, chosen people and that Judaism can only be inherited."

To be fair, Mr. Sewell acknowledges that some "younger correspondents" get carried away, holding Israel "to account for every action and reaction, while excusing Palestinian excesses on the grounds of poverty and a general victim status."

But is it the writers or their editors? A recent test case came up in the article and broadcast of journalist Sandra Jordan, whose eyewitness account of Hamas in Gaza was published in the New Statesman and aired on British television January 11.

The magazine article focuses primarily on the suicide bombers and their cult following among the Arab population. The broadcast, by contrast, investigates the more complex issue of the rivalry between Hamas and Fatah and its subsequent casualties. The broadcast makes it clear that the Arafat administration wants to hide its internal problems behind the uniform picture of Arab desperation. The editing of the same story in the New Statesman is more sympathetic to Mr. Arafat's aims.

"The denial of British racism goes so deep that many in England seem not even to realize what anti-Semitism is," writes Tom Gross in the January 10 issue of the conservative American magazine National Review. "There have been one or two admirable exceptions to this pattern, notably Andrew Sullivan (a British commentator who has been based in the U.S. for over two decades) and the Anglo-Jewish writer Melanie Phillips." (Ms. Phillips explored the new acceptance of anti-Semitism in the December 24 issue of the Wall Street Journal Europe, in an article titled "British Polite Society Has Found a Not-So-New Target.")

"For every Sullivan or Phillips, there seem to be many among London's 'chattering classes' that actually find attacks on Jews rather amusing," continues Mr. Gross. "Since Bernard's remarks were reported, there have been over a dozen fresh anti-Semitic incidents in France. Only last weekend, attackers firebombed a synagogue in the northern Paris suburb of Goussainville. A few days before that, gasoline bombs were hurled into a Jewish school in the southeastern Paris suburb of Creteil, setting a classroom on fire. On the same day, another synagogue was torched.

"Fortunately, no one was injured in these particular incidents. But it can only be a matter of time before someone is. Have the French and English learned nothing from the 20th century?"


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