A rare snapshot of how the Israel lobby tries to manipulate media coverage has been provided by a blogger known as Guido Fawkes.
He has published details of an email sent earlier in September by Lorna Fitzsimons, head of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM). It gives details of contacts she has made with senior journalists and editors to try and cajole them into giving a pro-Zionist line.
Fitzsimons says, for example, that she briefed Jonathan Ford, an editorial writer with The Financial Times as he was preparing a leader for the paper’s 13 September edition. Ford seems to have been amenable to Zionist propaganda. The article in question listed four principles that “must underpin” the creation of a Palestinian state. One of them was that Palestinian refugees would receive a payment “for not exercising the right to return.”
That point was similar to one made by Fitzsimons in an opinion piece published by The Guardian last month; she wrote, “there cannot be a mass return of Palestinian refugees to [present-day] Israel.”
Making apartheid respectable
Another principle advocated by the FT was that a future Palestinian state would have to recognize Israel’s “existence and security.” In the absence of clearer guidance, it can only be assumed that the paper’s editorial writer wants Palestinians to accept Israel as a state where Jews have more entitlements than everyone else. And so apartheid is being given a veneer of respectability from the paper most commonly read by top-level businesspeople and politicians.
The FT is not the worst culprit in whitewashing Israel’s crimes. Its readers were reminded this week of a salient fact that is frequently overlooked: “the biggest single enlargement of the settlements took place in 1992-96, at the high-water mark of the peace process under Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, when the number of settlers grew by 50 per cent, or four times the rate of population growth inside Israel.”
One of the great travesties of modern times is that Peres, now Israel’s president, is fêted internationally as a peacemaker, despite how he has always been a grubby arms dealer. His enthusiasm for extreme violence has remained undiminished. After Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, he penned a column celebrating how Israeli scientists were using nanotechnology to develop miniscule weapons of the future.
Free trade fantasy
Peres even has a “center for peace” called after him. And a few days ago, I received a new paper from the Aix Group, which is closely linked to that center. It recommends that a future Palestinian state should sign a free trade agreement with Israel.
Tellingly, the paper was compiled with “generous support” from the World Bank, an institution with a largely unrivalled reputation for increasing the hardship endured by the world’s poor. The idea that a free trade agreement between a future Palestinian state and Israel would bring benefits to most ordinary Palestinians belongs to the realm of fantasy. Recent history has shown repeatedly that a poor country pays a terrible price when it liberalizes its trade with a richer one. Two million farm jobs have been lost in Mexico as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), primarily because its corn farmers haven’t been able to compete with imports from the US.
Peres and his acolytes tend to harp on about how they are fostering cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis. This does not lead to peace – at least if you accept Martin Luther King’s definition of peace as not being the absence of war but the presence of justice. Peres is no peacemaker; he is a thug who just happens to fit well into the suits of a statesman.
·First published by The Electronic Intifada, 22 September 2011.