My last post anticipated an outbreak of British Media Zionist Conspiracy Derangement Syndrome following the latest stories about irregular donations to the Labour Party by an all too obviously off-beam eccentric millionaire who also happens to be Jewish and a supporter of Jewish and Israeli causes. Of course, the fact that he also supports the Alzheimers Society and various pensioner causes seems to provoke no speculative headlines about shadowy geriatric mental health lobby groups or revealing photo opportunities with international elderly power brokers.
After a week of continuing attention to Mr Abrahams and recycling of the same innuendoes, not one scrap of evidence has yet been produced by anyone anywhere of Mr Abrahams succeeding in influencing any aspect of Labour Party policy in any field. On the contrary, much has been made of his presence in Labour Friends of Israel, although none of even the most heated has offered any significant evidence of anything he achieved in that organization, let alone anything that LFI itself has achieved of any real significance in influencing British foreign policy in directions which it was not already interested in taking.
Last week, though, we had a textbook case of British Media Zionist Conspiracy Derangement Syndrome. It should not be missed, since it managed to cobble together a farrago of toe-curling innuendoes and leaps of speculative fantasies, most of which are built firmly on out and out errors.
Take a look at Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's column in the Independent. It's a virtuoso display of the Syndrome, complete with all the typical symptoms of thoroughly bad journalism.
Ms Alibhai-Brown seems to have the same overblown view of her own significance which she takes so seriously in Mr Abrahams
For an easy life, some things, you learn, are best left unsaid. Nervous, am I? You bet. But these questions will not stand aside or lie down. They have been bothering me since the Labour party donor row broke last week. They are raised here in good faith. I have no wish to bring the wrath of Moses upon me and I can already hear the accusations of anti-Semitism because I dare to raise the question: Can someone explain what exactly is the role of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) in our political life?
Hmmm, the wrath of Moses, eh? Wonder what that's meant to imply? Clearly, she sees herself as heroic, as a daring raiser of questions no one else will ask, blithely ignoring the countless columns of endless attribution of almost boundless political influence to LFI across the British media and even more vociferously by bloggers and their anonymous commentators.
She mentions that there's a Conservative Friends of Israel too. But of course solid journalistic work on discovering exactly what Parliamentary Friends groups do and don't achieve is much less fun and a great deal less sensational than just ignoring the evidence and making up a good few blood-chilling innuendoes about hidden hands pulling the political strings. Especially as the evidence will demonstrate easily how very little real influence such groups have in practice.
Ms Alibhai Brown is silent on the existence of the Liberal Friends of Israel. That group has been singularly unsuccessful in influencing the policies of the party towards Israel. The very fact that Jenny Tonge, apologist and advocate for Palestinian suicide bombing, was still nominated a Baroness by the Liberals and remains under the Liberal whip, even after she suggested that "the pro-Israel lobby" had "got its grips" on the finances of the Liberal Party, should be enough to demonstrate how little practical effect they have.
The fact that the Conservative Friends of Israel, with its much larger membership, did not dissuade David Cameron and other senior Tory politicians from condemning Israel's response to Hezbollah's attacks from the Lebanon as "disproportionate" doesn't register on her horizon. Still less did she consider the implications of the many similar condemnations of Israel from Labour ministers, and to the widely circulated suggestions that Tony Blair's refusal to issue similar condemnations was one of the reasons why his Labour Party colleagues finally pushed him into standing down as Prime Minister. If LFI is such a powerful shadowy organization, how did it fail to prevent all of this?
All Ms Alibhai-Brown seems to think she needs to do is use words like "infamous" (as in "Mendelsohn is a passionate Zionist and infamous lobbyist, described by the Jewish Chronicle as "one of the best-connected power brokers" and display the powers of her own fantasy-driven imagination to make her case. Oh, and let's recognise too that she did phone up two Jewish friends who are senior Labour Party members. Of course, you could say this is a slightly more sophisticated update on the old line of "Some of my best friends are Jews". But so what? Why should the fact that the friends are Jewish lend any credence to her arguments? It's clear that the fantasies are her own.
She refers to Mr Abrahams as a "shape-shifter", invoking David Icke's absurd fantasies that Jews are behind the supposedly reptilian shape shifters who control the world. Mr Abrahams, she tells us, was Mr Big in Labour Friends of Israel. Wrong. Mr Bean, maybe. It's of course worth noting that the term "Mr Big" is usually used as a stereotype name for the hidden boss of an organised crime syndicate. Isn't she trying to imply that Labour Friends of Israel is a criminal organization? He was once its treasurer. So what? How much power or influence does the treasurer of any lobbying group have? And in any case, as she acknowledges, he was actually pushed out of LFI.
A brief look at the people actually involved at the top of LFI makes it clear enough that none of them are funders, and all are either MPs or members of the House of Lords. Most have them have in fact been involved at a senior level since long before Mr Abrahams came on the scene.
Secretive organization? It's odd that the Independent headline refers to the "shadowy" role of LFI when there's a web site which tells you exactly who they are and what they do. And that's primarily to act as an organizing group for Israel-supporting members of Parliament and the House of Lords. Their very limited effectiveness can be gauged by their reference to work with the trade union movement in the UK. Trade union after trade union has adopted policies strongly hostile to Israel, including support for boycotts of Israeli academics and Israeli goods.
Ms Alibhai-Brown mentions a similar Parliamentary lobby group for Muslims, but is silent about the much more significant Council for Arab British Understanding, financed by the Arab League, which has been doing the same job for the Arab world as LFI does for Israel, for forty years.
She appears to end her article with a token reference to worrying about the power of all lobbying groups. So why is it that she starts and fills her column with no more than a roll call of Jews, who are or have been connected with the Labour Friends of Israel?