Wednesday, 23 March 2016
Regev, israel’s official state liar becomes Zionist State’s ambassador to London
Remember the last time Israel’s official state liar, Mark Regev, told us the problem started with Hamas’ rockets, turned out there wasn’t any
A closer look reveals it to be a war room-style map of Britain, with Scotland still holding its pole position of “enemy territory”; flags and pins mark the locations of “enemy forces” across the Scottish landscape. Such a moniker has been earned because Scotland is regarded as a hotbed of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and pro-Palestine activism, reinforced by the Scottish government which has recognised Palestine as a state (unlike the British government in Westminster, which abstained in the vote at the UN).
Another hotspot on the embassy map is Brighton, where pro-Palestine activists are well-known supporters of BDS. Back in 2012, the then settlement-based company SodaStream failed in its attempt to open and run a flagship store – EcoStream – in the seaside town to sell home carbonated drinks machines and accessories. This was targeted immediately by activists from Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) who staged noisy protests every Saturday outside the shop, running a gauntlet of Sussex area pro-Israel activists to do so. EcoStream soon closed and its demise was followed by an announcement from one of Britain’s biggest retail stores, the John Lewis Partnership, that it would remove SodaStream products from its shelves.
The latter action has earned the London branch of the PSC a place on the same map alongside some of the UK’s leading university campuses, which have recently run events as part of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). York University holds special notoriety for the embassy; it is where Tommy Corbyn, son of Labour Party leader Jeremy, is studying electrical engineering. Corbyn junior heads a pro-Palestine student group which played an active part in the recent IAW programme.
Among the colour-coded highlights on the map are all of the branch offices of the Scottish PSC and those constituencies where Westminster-based MPs in the country have signed up to Scottish Friends of Palestine. The latter are all members of the Scottish National Party, which took 56 of the 59 British parliamentary seats in Scotland at last year’s General Election. Labour Friends of Israel is struggling to hold its once significant influence in the ranks of the party now being led by Corbyn, while many BDS supporters are said to be part of the leader’s inner circle.
The map is the brainchild of the softly-spoken Yiftah Curiel, who adopted a military-style strategy to combat the growing popularity of the BDS movement. He has also charted and mobilised supporters within the Friends of Israel political lobbies in the Westminster parliament, where strategic players and politicians are being lured by travel freebies on so-called educational tours of the Zionist State.
Prolific networker Curiel was educated at Tel Aviv University and has degrees in law, political science and the arts. He worked as a journalist for the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz before joining the ministry of foreign affairs, where he has held positions working on nuclear non-proliferation, culture and communications. It is no secret that the foreign ministry has thrown millions at Curiel’s charm offensive, which has resulted in the emergence of more than 40 pro-Israel organisations across Britain; they too are highlighted on his map.
If Curiel is the brainchild of the project then the overall architect, according to my man who dusts down the ambassador’s desk inside the heavily-guarded embassy at Number 2, Palace Green, is Eitan Na’eh who, as stand-in ambassador, set out to impress Tel Aviv with his flip charts, flag pins, maps and laser pen.
The appointment of smooth-talking Regev is perhaps an indication that the BDS battle is not being won in Britain, despite the lavish amount spent by Israel on trying to secure the hearts and minds of Westminster MPs, local authority councillors and other people perceived to have influence in British society. Bizarrely, the charm offensive has even been extended to the pro-Palestine lobby, with some supporters being invited to Palace Green to enjoy the hospitality at Israeli Embassy social gatherings. Softer targets have been identified and invitations sent; all part of the war for hearts and minds.
Someone who has worked tirelessly for his Israeli masters is Bedouin diplomat Ishmael Khaldi, although since his home village of Khawaled is still denied even basic infrastructure by Tel Aviv one has to wonder what rewards go with his job serving the Apartheid State. Both he and Curiel were shouted down and heckled at Glasgow University when the latter made his first trip to Scotland. Khaldi has finished his tour of duty now, and when he returned to Khawaled he was neither heckled nor greeted; according to eyewitnesses he was simply shunned by his fellow Bedouins.
Last weekend was the Spring Conference of the Scottish National Party, which is being tipped to sweep the board in the May elections and win every seat in the Scottish Parliament. One of the exhibition stands at the conference was run by SNP Friends of Palestine; convenor Andy Murray confirmed that of the 56 MPs who went to Westminster last year, 34 have already signed up to the group and he is optimistic that the remaining 22 will also offer their support.
“We have 34 Westminster MPs who’ve become members of SNP Friends of Palestine but we are now shifting our focus to Holyrood [home of the Scottish Parliament] and the local authorities throughout Scotland,” he told me. Asked if he had heard about the “war room map” at the Israeli Embassy in London he said, “I knew we were seen as a bastion of support for the Palestinian cause in Scotland but I find the existence of such a map both hilarious and alarming in equal measures.”
Elsewhere in Scotland, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign was celebrating another victory following a weekly demonstration outside the main Edinburgh branch of Barclays Bank. SPSC has held a weekly rally outside the premises in Princes Street since learning that one of the bank’s investment portfolios includes Raytheon, which has a factory based in Glenrothes. Raytheon supplies hi-tech switches and components to the Israeli military for weapons, including its drone programme and the 500lb so-called smart bombs which were dropped on Gaza during the last war.
With two giant, scythe-bearing “Grim Reapers” looming large on either side of the bank’s entrance, Police Scotland officers threatened to arrest protestors recently, claiming that the two figures were scaring children. Since such sights are commonplace during the Hallowe’en period and giant figures are used during the Edinburgh Festival and other street events, SPSC believes that any prosecution will collapse, and maintains its right to protest unhindered.
“Apparently Barclays complained that customers were scared and intimidated by our Grim Reaper figures,” commented SPSC founder Mick Napier, “which begs the question, what do they think smart bombs operated by Raytheon components do to the children of Gaza?”
One of the SPSC members is a Palestinian Scot who lost 11 members of his family when Israel attacked the Gaza Strip. “They were brutally wiped out in the Israeli massacre in Gaza in 2014,” explained Napier. He pointed out that the SPSC is working on plans to extend its campaign to Barclays’ branches in Glasgow and Dundee. The Barclays investment in Raytheon has reduced over the years to $25 million, and as the SPSC steps up its weekly campaign targeting the bank there are hopes that it may divest altogether.
What does Mick Napier think of the Israeli Embassy “war room”? “It is telling us very loudly that the international BDS movement is regarded as ‘an enemy force’ which can only mean that the Israelis feel bound to constrain its efforts through our activities,” he replied. “What we do know is that to weaken the Palestinian call for BDS, the Israeli Embassy has even tried to invite softer elements in the pro-Palestine camp to use them as a stick against the more ‘extreme’ elements — those who support Palestinian civil society’s call for BDS. Suffice to say, I was specifically excluded from the invitation list.”
Somewhat amused by this, he suggested that perhaps the SPSC should get its own war room with a map charting out all activities. “While we’re happy to be seen as Israel’s Enemy Number One we’d be very happy to be replaced by someone else in the frontlines, although it is gratifying to have the opposition put us first.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to be outraged by the growth and success of Britain’s BDS movement to the point where he picked up the phone to his counterpart David Cameron on hearing that hundreds of anti-Israel posters had been displayed on the London Underground. Tel Aviv’s new ambassador is under orders to ensure that there is no repeat of the poster campaign but there could be grim days ahead for His Excellency should Mark Regev decide to venture north of the border. When asked about a possible increase in hostile activity with the arrival of Netanyahu’s much-valued former spokesman, the SPSC’s Mick Napier just grinned and said, “Bring it on.”River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian