While it is certain that US critics of the Iraq war welcomed the news that Britain would hold an inquiry into the UK’s decision to join the Bush administration in launching the war on Iraq, the news that two British historians who supported the Iraq war and written favorably of Zionism seems a guarantee that any reference to the influence of the UK’s pro-Israel lobby on Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision will not be part of the inquiry. The historians’ appointment to the British panel was questioned, somewhat slyly, in the Independent by Sir Oliver Miles, former UK ambassador to Libya.
Rather less attention has been paid to the curious appointment of two historians (which seems a lot, out of a total of five), both strong supporters of Tony Blair and/or the Iraq war. In December 2004 Sir Martin Gilbert, while pointing out that the "war on terror" was not a third world war, wrote that Bush and Blair "may well, with the passage of time and the opening of the archives, join the ranks of Roosevelt and Churchill" – an eccentric opinion that would se em to rule him out as a member of the committee. Sir Lawrence Freedman is the reputed architect of the "Blair doctrine" of humanitarian intervention, which was invoked in Kosovo and Afghanistan as well as Iraq.
Both Gilbert and Freedman are Jewish, and Gilbert at least has a record of active support for Zionism. Such facts are not usually mentioned in the mainstream British and American media, but The Jewish Chronicle and the Israeli media have no such inhibitions, and the Arabic media both in London and in the region are usually not far behind.
All five members have outstanding reputations and records, but it is a pity that, if and when the inquiry is accused of a whitewash, such handy ammunition will be available.
Those not familiar with the names of Gilbert or Freedman should imagine what their reaction would be if, for example, a similar commission was set up in the US which included Alan Dershowitz. The advocacy of both of these men for the war should have disqualified them but it a tribute to the power of the UK’s pro-Israel lobby that it didn’t, much as it was the power of America’s pro-Israel lobby that kept Israel from being identified by name in the Iran-Contra hearings.