Tentacles, lobbies and the election

April 13th, 2010 by Dave Rich

Last week we and several others reported on Martin Linton, Labour MP for Battersea, Balham and Wandsworth and Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine, who claimed that “There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends.”  Linton subsequently apologised for using the word ‘tentacles’ – “I’m sorry if a word I used caused unintended offence because of connotations of which I was unaware” – but stood by the substance of his claim about pro-Israel money distorting British politics.

Now Yvonne Ridley has taken up the ‘tentacles’ theme, in an article on the website of Middle East Monitor (MEMO). The article is also on the Cageprisoners website, of which Ridley is a patron, but is dated two days later than the MEMO version. The Director of MEMO is the MCB Deputy Secretary General Daud Abdullah. Discussing the recent trials of anti-Israel demonstrators in London and Edinburgh, Ridley writes:

For too long have we allowed the long, poisonous tentacles of Zionism and Islamaphobia to twist and weave their way into British courts. Ordinary, law-abiding citizens of faith and no faith have had enough of seeing our courtrooms hijacked by those who believe some are more equal than others when it comes to freedoms and liberties.

The next few weeks and months are going to be interesting, as groups led by the Stop the War Coalition demand justice in the courts. And we will get justice in English courts because more and more people are beginning to sit up and take notice.

There has already been a fair and just ruling over the border in Scotland which shows there’s no place for Zionist meddling in the judiciary. The charges of “racially aggravated conduct” laid against 5 members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign were thrown out by Sheriff James Scott at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday April 8.

Now that the evils of Zionism have been kicked out of Scotland let’s see that it is wiped out of the English courts as well.

There is no room for Zionist influences in our legal system just as there is no room for Islamaphobia or racism.

Of course, Ridley offers no evidence whatsoever of “Zionist meddling in the judiciary”, because there is none to offer. This is nothing more than another sordid conspiracy theory.

The antisemitic provenance of the ‘tentacles’ image is very clear. Here is just one example, a 1943 cartoon from the Nazi magazine Lustige Blätter, showing a Jew with his tentacles wrapped around Britain, America, Russia and China:

LB tentacles2

First it was Martin Linton’s “long tentacles of Israel” and Gerald Kaufman with his talk of “right-wing Jewish millionaires” owning part of the Conservative Party; now Ridley’s “long, poisonous tentacles of Zionism” in the British courts; and Lord Ahmed used a debate in the House of Lords on the final day of Parliament to demand, “It is time that Her Majesty’s Government stopped appeasing the Zionist lobby” over Israel. It may be concidence that this talk of Jewish or Zionist lobbies, tentacles and the rest seems to have intensified as the General Election campaign has got underway, but it is a worrying trend nonetheless. There is a history of allegations of this kind, and it is one which any self-respecting politician or journalist should want to avoid. This blog will be on the lookout for any more examples of this kind of discourse during the election campaign.