jew-nazis scurry for cover

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) denies funding from Israeli spy
Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada, Jul 17 2019

Alex Richardson, (L) laughing with Joan Ryan and
Shai Masot, and (R) in the BBC Panorama film.

In a panicked response to increased scrutiny, LFI on Tuesday denounced Al Jazeera for its undercover investigation The Lobby. The Israel lobby group is attempting to discredit the documentary despite how Britain’s official broadcasting regulator threw out all complaints of bias against it. The four-part film broadcast in 2017 exposed the covert activities of LFI among other Israel lobby groups in the UK. The film led to the expulsion from the UK of an Israeli diplomat who was caught secretly plotting to “take down” a British government minister. That same diplomat, Shai Masot, was also caught discussing Israeli government funding for junkets to Israel with the head of LFI. Masot was a spy apparently operating under diplomatic cover. Al Jazeera made a similar film exposing covert activities by Israel and its lobby in Pindostan. However it was never broadcast due to a massive Israel lobby campaign against the Qatar-based network. The film was leaked and published by EI last year. Amongst many insights, the 2017 UK film shows definitively that LFI has operated as a front for the Israeli embassy in London. Some of the subjects of the film lodged complaints with Ofcom, the UK’s official regulator which has the power to sanction broadcasters if they breach rules on fairness and accuracy. The complainants alleged that the program was anti-Semitic and misleadingly edited. But after a months-long investigation, Ofcom cleared the film on all counts. The regulator threw out the charges of bias and ruled that it did not consider that “a critical analysis of the actions of a foreign state constituted anti-Semitism.” Ofcom rejected every single one of the complaints lodged against Al Jazeera’s film. So why is LFI now issuing denials about a film broadcast more than two years ago?

The answer lies in last week’s broadcast of an more and more discredited episode of Panorama, the BBC’s flagship investigative news program. Titled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”, the episode features two key antagonists who were filmed undercover for Al Jazeera’s program: Ella Rose and Alex Richardson. Not only does the BBC fail to disclose their affiliations with Israel lobby groups, they are not even named. In fact, Rose is on the executive of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), a group staunchly opposed to left-wing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Like LFI, JLM has deep ties to the Israeli embassy, where Rose herself once worked. She was one of the people who complained to Ofcom after Al Jazeera exposed her activities. In contrast to her tearful appearance on Panorama, Rose is seen in the undercover Al Jazeera footage wishing critical activists and journalists would “die in a hole” and claiming she could “take” Jewish anti-Zionist Jackie Walker using Krav Maga (an IOF combat technique). Alex Richardson was an aide to Joan Ryan, an MP and the LFI chair who quit the Labour Party in January over Corbyn’s alleged “hatred for Israel.” In a damning sequence, in Al Jazeera’s film, Ryan and Richardson are seen fabricating an instance of anti-Semitism by a party member, despite Richardson privately admitting that “nothing anti-Semitic was said.” Yet remarkably, Rose and Richardson are portrayed by Panorama as unnamed, sympathetic Jewish victims of alleged anti-Semitism, rather than as the partisan pro-Israel activists of Labour’s right wing that they really are. But this pretense seems not to have fooled many in Labour’s grassroots. On social media, supporters of Labour and Corbyn began to point out that Rose and Richardson also feature in the Al Jazeera film. It was this renewed interest in The Lobby that seems to have prompted The Jewish Chronicle to run an article accusing anyone who relied on the evidence in the film of being a “conspiracy theorist.” It also led to LFI’s panicked response in a Twitter thread:

Labour Friends of Israel claims that the Al Jazeera film amounts to “a combination of lies, insinuations and distortions” that “attempted to construct a vast conspiracy involving hidden power, money and improper influence, typical anti-Semitic tropes.” The lobby group also alleges that the film “has now been weaponized by anti-Semites” to attack the “brave” participants in Panorama. Al Jazeera’s investigations unit responded that the group’s attack was “shamefully dishonest, but an inevitable backlash from speaking truth to power.”

Labour Friends of Israel also claims that the infamous £1m of funding offered by Israeli embassy spy Shai Masot was “totally untrue and utterly ridiculous.” But in the footage below, Labour Friends of Israel chair Ryan can be heard asking Masot, in an apparent reference to persons who were to be sent on a junket:

What happened with the names that we put into the embassy, Shai?

Masot responds:

We’ve just now got the money! It’s more than £1m! It’s a lot of money!

Ryan replies:

I know! It must be!

When Masot says the money has been approved but not yet transferred from Israel, Ryan jokes:

I didn’t think you had it in your bag!

The video also shows that Richardson was party to the conversation, which perhaps contributed to his wide recognition by Labour activists after he appeared on Panorama. Despite this filmed exchange, Labour Friends of Israel said in a tweet Tuesday:

LFI now also claims that the funding being discussed was for “a visit for young people” rather than the usual trips for MPs the group is known for organizing:

It says the embassy asked it to recommend potential participants. “The ‘names’ discussed in the program refer to this,” the group says:

This appears to be the first time Labour Friends of Israel has denied the delegation was for members of Parliament. As the Tweet below shows, the lobby group did not deny it back in 2017.

It claimed then and now that the delegation was “openly arranged” and “advertised” but did not reply when asked where and when it was advertised.

Regardless of who was to go on the junkets, this was an exercise lavishly funded by the Israeli government to influence the Labour Party and British opinion more broadly.  The Al Jazeera documentary reveals that Masot was also attempting to engineer a “grassroots” pro-Israel organization for Labour youth, an tactic known as astroturfing to create the illusion of organic support. The effort to manufacture a “Young LFI” group ultimately collapsed, mainly because Masot foolishly entrusted it to “Robin,” who turned out to be Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter.

In the video above, LFI’s parliamentary officer Michael Rubin cautions “Robin” to be careful “that we’re not to be seen as Young Israeli Embassy,” since it would harm the effort’s credibility. He tells “Robin” that in his efforts to found Young LFI, he should be “keeping Shai up to date.” Rubin explains:

Publicly, we just try to keep the LFI as a separate identity to the embassy, (which) allows us to reach out to people who wouldn’t want to get involved with the embassy.

In other words, Rubin is explaining how LFI covertly operates as a front for the embassy to enable a foreign government’s messaging and influence to reach further. Rubin says of the embassy:

We work really closely together, but a lot of it is behind the scenes.

According to Rubin, Ryan, the lobby group’s chair, was coordinating closely with the Israeli embassy:

We work with the ambassador and the embassy quite a lot. So she’ll speak to Shai most days.

Masot was also caught by Al Jazeera plotting to “take down” a British government minister, the immediate cause of his expulsion from the UK. Boris Johnson, then the UK’s foreign minister, accepted “a very full apology” from Israeli ambassador Mark Regev, saying that “whatever he may exactly have been doing here, his cover” was “well and truly blown.” Official Israeli documents examined by EI indicate that Masot was likely an agent of Israel’s Ministry of Strategy Affairs, Israel’s semi-covert global agency tasked with fighting the BDS movement. One veteran Israeli intelligence correspondent says that the ministry is engaged in “black-ops” against the Palestine solidarity movement. Many of these covert tactics and dirty tricks were revealed in Al Jazeera’s film on the Israel Lobby in Pindostan. And as EI revealed last year, Ella Rose privately admitted that the JLM also coordinated closely with Masot. she admitte:

We work with Shai. We know him very well.

At the time, Rose was employed as JLM’s director. One of the positive unintended consequences of the BBC’s Panorama hatchet job is increased and much-needed scrutiny on the activities of the Israel lobby.

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