Israeli diplomat schemed to ‘take down’ UK’s Deputy Foreign Secretary because he slammed settlements

US Politics
on 29 Comments

Something is happening in the UK that is not happening in the U.S.: Al Jazeera is about to release a four part investigative series titled “The Lobby,” on the influence of the Israel lobby in British politics.

Over the weekend, AlJazeera published one of the more damning findings: that an official of the reigning Conservative Party conspired with an Israeli diplomat in London about how to create a scandal so as to “take down… the Deputy Foreign Minister,” Sir Alan Duncan, for being critical of Israeli settlements. Duncan is a member of the same Conservative Party that the conspirator is from.

Al Jazeera characterizes its investigative series:

The Israeli government is in the midst of a brazen, covert influence campaign in Britain, a six-month undercover investigation by Al Jazeera will reveal.

When is a mainstream news organization going to undertake such a project in the U.S.? (The New York Times has the revelation on page A3 today.)

The Israeli government has now apologized, saying that it rejects the comments and the scheme; and the British Foreign Secretary has accepted the apology.

Here’s how Al Jazeera describes the undercover incident:

Israeli consular official Shai Masot, in the Al Jazeera video

Israeli consular official Shai Masot, in the Al Jazeera video

Robin [alias for an Al Jazeera journalist] posed as a graduate activist with strong sympathies towards Israel who was eager to help combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement prominent in Britain… Robin secretly filmed the moment at a London brasserie when Shai Masot, a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy, asked Maria Strizzolo, who was then chief of staff to MP Robert Halfon, the deputy chairman of the ruling Conservative Party: “Can I give you some MPs that I would suggest you take down?”

 In response, Strizzolo said: “Well you know, if you look hard enough I’m sure that there is something that they’re trying to hide.”

“Yeah. I have some MPs,” Masot replies.

“[Strizzolo] knows which MPs I want to take down … The Deputy Foreign Minister.”

Masot was referring to Sir Alan Duncan, the foreign office minister.

Strizzolo later hinted that “a little scandal” might see Duncan dismissed.

Duncan said in 2014 that while he fully supports Israel’s right to exist, he believes settlements on occupied Palestinian land represent an “ever-deepening stain on the face of the globe”. He also likened the situation in Hebron in the occupied West Bank to apartheid.

Halfon is a Jewish member of Parliament, per Wikipedia. The Daily Mail  is reporting the revelations as shocking and outrageous and says that some Conservative ministers have called for a government inquiry into the matter.

Here is BBC’s characterization of Duncan’s views on settlements:

Sir Alan launched a scathing attack on Israel in 2014, when MPs backed Palestinian statehood, deeming Israeli settlements as an “act of theft”.
“Occupation, annexation, illegality, negligence, complicity – this is a wicked cocktail which brings shame on Israel,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme.

A British friend informs us: “Sir Alan Duncan is the second-most important British diplomat. If anything happened to the Foreign Secretary, Sir Alan would – temporarily, at least – become the most senior representative of British interests abroad. Sir Alan happens also, of course, to be a veteran parliamentarian democratically elected to his seat [in Leicestershire] in successive elections and one of too few senior Conservatives prepared to call-out Israel over the settlements’ enterprise and over its treatment of Palestine and the Palestinians.”

This friend says that the coverage in Britain has been disappointing. “This story should be major news in Great Britain. Regrettably, I don’t expect the story will hit the top MSM headlines and I doubt, despite opposition calls for one, that there will be a full enquiry or that the diplomatic fall-out will be anything like as serious as it ought to be.”

AJ says that Strizzolo advised Robin on her methods at shifting the discourse for Israel:

Strizzolo… revealed that she had a strategy of manipulation to ensure Israel remains at the top of the UK’s foreign policy agenda.

“If at least you can get a small group of MPs that you know you can always rely on, when there is something coming to parliament and you know you brief them, you say: ‘You don’t have to do anything, we are going to give you the speech, we are going to give you all the information, we are going to do everything for you’,” she said.

Strizzolo has has now stepped down in wake of the revelations. She said that the conversation with Masot was chiefly “gossip” of a purely social character.

More on discourse manipulation, from the AJ piece:

While in Israel with the Conservative Friends of Israel parliamentary group in 2014, [Strizzolo] persuaded MP Halfon to question the prime minster in public over three missing teenagers believed to have been kidnapped and murdered “to get a response from the government”, Strizzolo said.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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29 Responses

  1. Marnie
    January 9, 2017, 12:07 pm

    I want this to happen in the united states :(

  2. ErikEast
    January 9, 2017, 12:54 pm

    It was all over the MSM yesterday, today nothing. Hopefully, when Al Jazeera screen their four-part doc. there will be more coverage. According to Al Jazeera, the majority of their documentary will focus on the efforts to dethrone the pro-Palestinian/pro BDS leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. Can’t wait.

    • Marnie
      January 10, 2017, 1:47 am

      Interesting that what’s all over the MSM yesterday and today was Meryl Streep vs tRUMP. If I didn’t know better I’d say this is designed for nothing more than distraction. Also can’t wait for al jazeera’s doctumentary!!

      • Misterioso
        January 10, 2017, 10:37 am

        “tRUMP”

        I love it!!

    • Bumblebye
      January 10, 2017, 4:05 am

      Just read that the Al Jazeera documentary has been brought forward – will now be broadcast this week on 11, 12, 13 and 14 Jan.

  3. amigo
    January 9, 2017, 2:44 pm

    Is this indicative of all out desperation by Israel or just plain arrogance. Given Israel,s endless calls for other nations not to stick their noses in Israel,s internal affairs this sure smacks of hypocracy.

    Hopefully Harry and Harriet will get wind of the methods Israel is willing to use to usurp British sovereignty and how many traitorous British pols are acting in Israel,s interests at the expense the interests of their own nation.Maybe the discussion can rightly be directed from the fake claims of antisemitism in the Labour party to the treachery that is rife in the Conservative establishment.

    This will not go away as easily as some might wish.It sells papers.

  4. Ossinev
    January 9, 2017, 2:53 pm

    Definitely gone quiet in the MSM today. Probably because Hasbara Central are in a bit of a tizz over what to instruct their MSM poodles to do. They can`t scream “Anti-Semitism” “Anti Israel bias” or “Delegitimisation of Israel” as even a half brain dead Zio must realise that they have been caught with their pants down on this one. The UK Foreign Office are obviously keen to bail out poor old long suffering Israel with a FO spokesman describing the matter as “closed” – this in advance of the full Al – Jazeera investigation screenings which presumably they haven`t yet seen. There is also the Catch 22 of criticising the screening in advance which will serve to bring attention to it. If as suggested the majority of the documentary focuses on the Israeli Lobby efforts to dethrone/delegitimise Corbyn I do hope that the Labour Leader will get off his backside and start firing meaningful ammunition. As you say can`t wait.

    • amigo
      January 9, 2017, 5:06 pm

      0sssinev , speaking of critising the AJ articles , check Haaretz—Anshell Pheppher (sp) he has a screed ripping the article apart .He isn,t waiting to see what it says.

  5. JLewisDickerson
    January 9, 2017, 3:10 pm

    ALSO SEE: “Israeli diplomat who plotted against MPs also set up political groups” | by Ewen MacAskill and Ian Cobain | TheGuardian.com | 8 January 2017
    Masot is filmed covertly as he boasts about establishing several groups, at least one intended to influence Labour policy
    LINK – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/08/israeli-diplomat-shai-masot-plotted-against-mps-set-up-political-groups-labour

  6. Amar
    January 9, 2017, 4:33 pm

    Yes, this is a big story. But seems like Israel and their operatives in the MSM are making a massive effort to keep it out of the news. It was front paged on BBC, Daily mirror when story broke, now its gone, as if it never existed. Now imagine if it was Russia or an Arab state trying to influence or ‘take down’ an MP or govt. official, it would be screaming headlines for days if not weeks.

  7. Citizen
    January 9, 2017, 4:43 pm

    Meanwhile, in US, Trump has appointed the juvenile Zionist Jared Kushner as his senior Advisor in foreign affairs.

    • gamal
      January 9, 2017, 6:15 pm

      “the juvenile Zionist Jared Kushner as his senior Advisor in foreign affairs.”

      This young man is his son-in-law? thats odd

      and to be fair a warm sandwich could formulate and implement American “foreign policy”, it’s simple and brutal and will lead to catastrophe for all of us.

      Who is the president hardly matters any more, America has mounted the world and is fomenting war everywhere, its going to be spectacularly bad, it already is. I am genuinely surprised how the destruction of the Arab world and the wars all over Africa have been so easily normalised in American, what, political awareness, discourse or whatever, its all so 18th brumaire with an added heart of darkness/darkness at noon/ladder of bones aspect, these have become interesting times, there is no social basis for resistance in the “west” may be the Africans and Arabs will save you.

  8. Eva Smagacz
    January 9, 2017, 6:49 pm

    Guardian is pursuing the story, but seems to be the only national newspaper that is:

    “Israeli diplomats in London issued a warning that attempts to “operate” British Jewish organisations from Jerusalem could be unlawful several months before an embassy official was caught on film talking about “taking down” MPs and setting up political groups in the UK.

    In a cable to the Israeli foreign ministry, the diplomats also cautioned that operations being run by the country’s strategic affairs ministry could be dangerous and counterproductive.

    “The strategic affairs ministry must understand that ‘operating’ organisations directly from Jerusalem by email and telephone isn’t good for their health,” warned the cable from London. “It’s not clear that the strategic affairs ministry understand the local law with regards to the activities of charities.”

    Shai Masot, an official at the Israeli embassy in London, was caught on film boasting about setting up several political organisations in the UK, whose links to Israel he had apparently tried to obscure.”

    More in: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/09/israeli-diplomats-cautioned-against-operating-british-jewish-organisations

  9. Ossinev
    January 10, 2017, 6:37 am

    @Amigo
    Happy New Year. You must be referring to an Anshel Pfeffer ? I have not come across him before. Can`t locate the article you mention. All I can find is a a weird tweet from him affixed to a Haaretz article on the story as follows :
    “Temporary employee at London embassy about to be thrown out on his ear promoted by Daily Mail to senior diplomat”.

    Do you perchance have a link ?

    • amigo
      January 10, 2017, 11:20 am

      0ssinev, Happy New Year to you also and thanks for the reply.

      Below is the link to the article and note you should read past the first 3/4 paras to get to the meat of Pfeffer,s article..

      EI also has some in depth coverage with link to an article by Jonathan Cook .

      http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.763768

      • Rashers2
        January 10, 2017, 6:43 pm

        …so that’s all alright, then. It’s all the fault of the Israeli government’s underfunding of the Israeli legation in London, nothing to do with the “professional” diplomats there and not even down to Al Jazeera’s inherently anti-Semitic bias. That’s really good to learn and I’m sure Sir Alan, Mr. Corbyn and other elected representatives will sleep more easily in the knowledge that they’ve been the targets of maverick nonentities acting solely on their own account. Anshel Pfeffer must think we all floated “up the Lagan in a bubble” as Ossinev so delightfully put it.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 10, 2017, 6:48 pm

        “maverick nonentities acting solely on their own” ? ah, have you looked into the guys history? that really doesn’t add up.

      • Rashers2
        January 11, 2017, 3:05 am

        Annie, I was being sarcastic….. I don’t for a second buy Pfeffer’s cr*p in Haaretz about junior ‘loose cannon’. Hopefully, the upcoming screenings themselves will make it impossible for the MSM in the UK not to give this a bit more space altho’ I don’t expect them to look properly at the underlying issues of the pro-Israel lobby in Britain; or why the GoI tries to control everything except the behaviour which provokes such as Sir Alan Duncan’s criticisms.

  10. Bandolero
    January 10, 2017, 8:32 am

    Craig Murray has some background about the Israel lobby MP Robert Halfon – long post, but interesting to see the link to the Fox/Werritty scandal:

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2017/01/israeli-spy-shai-masot-not-expelled/

    Richard Silverstein says Masot worked for the Strategic Affairs ministry headed by ambitious Likud pol, Gil Erdan, that is mostly about fighting BDS:

    https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2017/01/10/israeli-uk-embassy-scandal-officer-sought-destroy-tory-leader-worked-strategic-affairs-ministry/

    • Maghlawatan
      January 10, 2017, 9:27 am

      They can’t stop BDS. They always ask Palestinians to choose non violence

  11. Ossinev
    January 10, 2017, 12:55 pm

    @Amigo
    Many thanks .Have seen the comments. So basically Masot was some sort of “rogue” junior temporary employee in what is basically/normally whatever a highly professional and moral Israel Embassy in London and poor old Regurgitev was basically blindsided/unaware ( too many cans of Fosters Lager over the festive season perhaps ? ) and being the pro that he is he will soon sort it and make sure that nothing of the kind will be caught on camera again sorry I mean will happen again.

    “Do you think I came up the Lagan in a bubble” as they say in Belfast.

    • amigo
      January 10, 2017, 1:22 pm

      ( too many cans of Fosters Lager over the festive season perhaps ? ) 0ssinev

      Yup , Mark (let me be clear ) Regev apparently has problems assimilating and sticks to Fosters instead of a chunk of cheese and a few pickled onions and bread , washed down with a mug of ale.I guess he doesn,t have the intestinal fortitude for such fare.Odd, for a guy who laps up the sight of slaughtered Palestinians. Contemptible little swine that he is.

    • RoHa
      January 10, 2017, 6:19 pm

      “Don’t come the raw prawn with me” is a translation that Regev should understand.

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