Our View: That Lobby

Our View: That Lobby

While the United States has been shaken by allegations that Russia tried to disrupt our presidential election, the United Kingdom has its own scandal involving foreign influence in domestic politics.

Al-Jazeera, the Qatari-financed news network whose American wing failed, recently broadcast a four-part exposé based on a six-month undercover investigation aimed at revealing a great evil working within British politics: the Jews.

Of course, it’s not presented in those terms. Instead, through two hours of captioned videos backed by ominous music and tense narration, the Al-Jazeera series purports to expose the work of the Israeli Embassy in London to undermine democratic processes. Echoing “The Israel Lobby,” a vile 2007 book alleging that U.S. foreign policy was in thrall to Israel, Al-Jazeera named its investigation “The Lobby.”

And what did “The Lobby” reveal?

  • Israeli diplomats meet with politically active Britons and encourage their involvement in Israel advocacy, even offering logistical support for pro-Israel organizations.
  • Britons who work for the Israeli Embassy sometimes move to jobs with political organizations.
  • Israel notices which government officials criticize it.

Al-Jazeera’s hidden camera captures one embarrassing conversation over drinks during which an embassy functionary laughs with a member of the Conservative Party about unseating the British deputy foreign secretary. You have to view the scene in the most negative light to see it as anything serious, let alone sinister, but it is undiplomatic. Israeli’s ambassador to Britain apologized, and the embassy employee was fired.op-edcartoon-1-27-17

Nothing else Al-Jazeera found violates laws or customs or is different from the operations of many other diplomatic corps. And nothing was done in secret.

Embassies and consulates build relationships with people who have influence and cultivate friendships with those who might support the interests of their countries. But when Israel does it, its foes are all too eager to fire up conspiracy theories about Zionist plots to control the world. Apparently the U.N. Security Council missed the memo.

The Al-Jazeera series was not an effort at good journalism in the interest of British democracy. It was a transparent hatchet job by the same Qatari rulers who fund Hamas, and it was designed to chip away at support for Israel. Perhaps it was just a side benefit for the Qataris that the series fueled anti-Semitism — even Al-Jazeera was shamed enough to disable the hateful comments posted on the videos on YouTube — and provided cover for the Labour Party’s well-documented problem with anti-Semitism.

The scariest part of “The Lobby” isn’t the reminder of how much oil money Qatar is happy to spend to smear Israel or how willing many people are to believe the worst about Israel and about its supporters in the Diaspora. It’s that Al-Jazeera’s laughable investigation wasn’t close to the worst outrage to come from Europe in mid-January.

That honor goes to the ruling by a German appellate court that an attempt to firebomb the synagogue in the city of Wuppertal in the summer of 2014 was not an act of anti-Semitism, but a political protest of Israel’s actions in Gaza. Somehow, in the court’s view, blaming Jews in Germany for the actions of a foreign government led by Jews is not an expression of Jew-hatred.

All of which is a reminder why the Jewish people must have Israel as our one guaranteed haven in the world.

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