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Jews, Israel and Zionism: The “Israel lobby”:
Although like any other state – and indeed many organisations worldwide which are not states – Israel does have a lobby, the phrase is frequently, in fact we would submit in a vast majority of cases, used in a manner which ascribes completely disproportionate power and influence to Israel, and has either a completely or partially anti-Semitic motivation. In the UK, organisations such as Labour or Conservative Friends of Israel, or the Zionist Federation, are indeed dedicated mainly to providing political support for the flourishing of a state of Israel within secure borders, even if at times they may be critical of some current Israeli policies (recently LFI, for example, have been very critical of the Netanyahu government).
The problem comes, in our opinion, when the phrase is used in too general a sense, stretching the meaning beyond what is actually accurate. Some organisations are supportive of Israel’s right to exist within secure borders, but have many other functions besides. These could be said to include not just Jewish or predominantly Jewish organisations such as the Jewish Labour Movement, the Community Security Trust and the Board of Deputies, but also successive British governments, the main political parties and countless others. In our experience, many of the people who talk of the “Israel lobby” are using the expression in this wider sense, which stretches it effectively to breaking point.
This is shown in the example below: Baroness Tonge attributed the Tory victory in the 2019 General Election to the ‘pro-Israel lobby’, following Chief Rabbi Mirvis’s call for people to vote against Labour because of its antisemitism problem. There are two issues here. First Rabbi Mirvis was speaking explicitly on behalf of British Jews about their concern about antisemitism in Britain, completely separately from any views he might hold on Israel. Second, the votes of British Jews, or the opinions of the wider public about Labour antisemitism, were certainly not major factors in the election result. To state therefore that the ‘pro-Israel lobby’ ‘won the ‘election’ is definitely antisemitic, playing into tropes of excessive Jewish power and conspiracy.
We deal in Example 36 in the Conspiracy Section with the issue of the ‘Israel lobby’ in the wider world.