At the time of Jenny Tonge’s organ-harvesting outburst I told my former constituency MP that her boss (Nick Clegg) should get rid of Doc Tonge. However, she wasn’t very responsive. In fact she was off on an all-night ‘vigil for Gaza’, and the expression on her face as she made for the door clearly conveyed what she was thinking. That I was bonkers. Why am I telling you this? Because of CAABU, and its pernicious influence, particularly it seems, on your Lib Dems.
Damian Thompson is on the case:
"I’m all in favour of banning the adjective “swivel-eyed” – unless we’re talking about the one party that merits it. I refer, of course, to the Liberal Democrats. This week Sir Bob Russell MP equated the plight of the Palestinians with the Holocaust. And this just after David Ward compared Israelis to Nazis. What is it about Lib Dems and Jews? Remember Baroness Tonge suggesting they were harvesting organs? They go for non-Jewish conspiracy theories, too: Norman Baker, transport minister, has loopy views on the “murder” of Dr David Kelly. What weirdos. Swivel, swivel, swivel. If you look closely, you can see their contact lenses popping out during PMQs."
A few weeks back Daphne Anson wrote extensively about the early days of the organisation on her website. Since its inception in the ‘60s CAABU has managed to seduce a number of British MPs and other prominent UK persons. and seems to have the knack of turning otherwise rational people into romanticising, sentimentalising Arabists who loathe Israel and accordingly espouse varying degrees of antisemitism. They then go forth and multiply, proliferating in UK schools, colleges, academia, parliament, and most perniciously, our mainstream media.
“Funded by Arab money, CAABU was established in the immediate wake of the Six Day War”, the acronym CAABU stands for Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding.
They achieved their stated objective - to reverse the pro-Israeli climate that once prevailed in Britain - with remarkable rapidity, although, given the underlying antisemitism and suspicion of Jews that has long-since simmered away in the background in this country, I doubt this venture was the uphill struggle they would have us believe.
The exceptional post-war circumstances - the holocaust, the pioneering spirit of the Israelis, and the ‘plucky little Israel’ image that briefly prevailed immediately after the six-day war, meant Jews were, for the time being, perceived as underdogs. But that soon evaporated. Predictably, public opinion reverted to type; a natural pattern, rather than a massive struggle against a stubbornly pro-Israel scenario.
CAABU’s director Chris Doyle:
“Caabu has a distinguished history of working to change the pro-Israeli atmosphere in British politics in the 1960s and 1970s. Much has changed since then, and the plight of the Palestinians is now widely recognised.”
“A core function of Caabu is to lobby parliament. “At a time when so much is going on the Arab world, British politicians need an organisation which can synthesise everything into an easily understood coherent narrative, so that we can explain the main trends of what is happening in the region.”“Caabu regularly takes delegations to the Arab world. It took 19 members of parliament to Palestine last year, and the members saw for themselves what it is like. They themselves felt the impact of the colonies, and the blockade of Gaza among other irritants
Another Lib Dem MP, Sarah Teather, upon returning from a Caabu delegation to Palestine proclaimed:
“I would recommend to any colleague that they go and see the situation in Israel and Palestine with Caabu. Caabu’s excellent contacts meant that we were able to meet Israelis and Palestinians, and gained access to Gaza with the UN. “The trip had a huge impact on me. I could not have understood the impact of settlements on the peace process without seeing the situation for myself, and no amount of reading reports could have done the conditions in Gaza justice.”
From Daphne Anson again, this really gripped me:
In the following words, Christopher Mayhew (1915-97; created a life peer as Baron Mayhew in 1981),a Labour MP until 1974, and from then a Liberal, began a speech on 27 July 1977 in a committee room at Westminster to mark the tenth anniversary of CAABU's foundation.
"Those who founded CAABU, at a meeting here in the House of Commons ten years ago, took on a formidable task - to challenge the deeply held beliefs about Palestine of the overwhelming majority of the British people.An opinion poll just published by the Sunday Times had shown that only 2% of the British people supported the Arabs. It was almost universally agreed that the 1967 war had been planned and started by the Arabs with Russian support; that the Arabs were racialists who aimed to drive the Jews into the sea; that the Palestinian refugees had left Israel in 1948 and should resettle elsewhere in the Arab world; that the refugee camps were kept in being by the Arab Governments as a political weapon against Israel; that Israel, a small country surrounded by numerous enemies, had no designs at all on Arab territory unless, reasonably enough, to secure her own security; and that, in general, after the appalling sufferings of the Jewish people, Israel was entitled, on moral, legal and historical grounds, to the wholehearted support of the civilised world.
The truth at last? Not on your nellie. It’s as if Sir Christopher Mayhew was a flat earther attempting to ridicule the crazies who thought the world was round by reiterating their beliefs in a sarcastic manner. More fool him. This is what he actually believes:
“To make things worse, these opinions were shared at that time by almost all newspaper proprietors and editors, almost all the directing staff of the BBC and ITV, almost all MPs, and almost the entire publishing and film industries.They were also supported, with enthusiasm and sincerity, by the great bulk of Britain's large, lively and influential Jewish community, many of whose members were totally dedicated to Israel's cause and were willing to make great sacrifices of time and money to support it.'"None of the founders of CAABU, I feel sure, expected to enjoy the experience of challenging the Zionist lobby ... but it was plainly a job that had to be done by someone. Moreover, there are always compensations in supporting wildly unpopular causes. To begin with, nobody joins you for a beer, so that your companions tend to be people of genuine conviction. Moreover, in a situation where everyone desperately needs mutual encouragement, personal relations tend to flourish. There have been notably few resignations or quarrels in CAABU during the past ten years. Sadly, death has removed some of our most vauled colleagues. We remember, for example, Arnold Toynbee, Tom Little, Will Griffiths and Nevill Barbour."
Sir Christopher doesn’t like the Jewish Lobby, eh? Q) Because it’s a lobby or because it’s Jewish?
A) He obviously approves of the lobby in principle, as he’s inaugurating one. It must just be the Jews he doesn’t like.
'It is extraordinary, looking back, to see how many statements about the Middle East that are now uncontroversial were considered, ten years ago, not merely wrong but wicked. In June, 1967, a Guardian report of a meeting of the Labour Party's Foreign Affairs Group contained the following passage"Bitterness came to the surface when Mr Mayhew began to speak .... the interruptions began when he argued that it was wrong to talk in terms of racial extermination by the Arab forces .... he was almost shouted down when he went on to claim that the existence of the Palestinian refugees was the root of the crisis".If the same speech were made today, the audience, instead of shouting the speaker down, would gently fall asleep.".... There are still some aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict which cannot be freely discussed in the press or on radio or television. For example, the proposition that Zionism is racialist, or that Zionists have dual loyalties; but these propositions, though true and important, are not central to the basis argument. Other criticisms of Zionism and of Israel appear quite frequently nowadays in the media....”
This advance was, of course, only partly due to the pressure of CAABU and its supporters.
Remember when the Grauniad was the Manchester Guardian? Those were the days my friend I thought they’d never end but they did.
Long after achieving their goal CAABU keeps on going, onwards and upwards. It seems like only yesterday that the BBC treated us to Chris Doyle’s latest opinion on the Syrian crisis.
An interview took place on Friday 14th June, which was mentioned by Craig in the relevant week’s worth of PMs:
“Paul Woods talked to Carolyn (Quinn) about where the Syrian conflict stands at the moment, before Carolyn moved on to talk to two experts - BBC favourite Shoshank Joshi of RUSI and Rim Turkmani, a disheartened member of the Syrian opposition (based, inevitably, in London).”
Rim? Rim Turkmani? Yes, that Rim. The Rim who’s married to one of the BBC’s experts on Syria, Chris Doyle, director of CAABU.
I didn’t hear the programme, but Craig summed up her contribution thus:
“Rim, as might be expected, slagged off the Assad regime for its "huge atrocities", but favours diplomacy as she thinks the Assad regime will remain stronger than any section of the fragmented opposition. She thinks military aid to the rebels will be unhelpful and fears al-Qaeda.”
Perhaps the Doyles are not quite sure which side to apologise for.
Mrs Doyle, Dr. Rim Turkmani, is a Syrian. Her family has ties to the Assad regime. The Doyles may not wish to align CAABU with either side; not the government and certainly not the Islamists who appear to make up the majority of the rebels that most of the world deems beyond the pale. The Doyles are torn between a rock and a hard place, but the one uniting certainty that can be relied on thanks to the likes of CAABU, is the almost universal denigration and hatred of Israel.
Things have moved on in Syria, and the Doyles aren’t the only ones who are bending with the wind. but the BBC presents them both as ‘experts’ when they are in fact both members of an active anti-Israel lobbying movement, and the audience should be made aware of that when they’re brought in as advisors, just so we know. After all, CAABU is a lobby group and proud of it, whereas the mere mention of “The Jewish Lobby” or the “Israel Lobby” is enough to provoke outrage and disgust at the very idea that such a thing should exist. Or for that matter that such a country as Israel should exist.
David Ward MP was recently rebuked for suggesting that the Holocaust should have ‘taught the Jews’ enough about atrocities to insure they would never inflict the same thing on others. As if they were inflicting an actual Holocaust upon the Palestinians. And Lib Dem MP Sir Bob Russell, whoever he is, has demonstrated that expressing anti-Israel sentiment in public is nothing to be ashamed of.
“Russell, who was speaking at a debate on the national curriculum in the House of Commons on Monday said, "On the assumption that the 20th century will include the Holocaust, will he give me an assurance that the life of Palestinians since 1948 will be given equal attention?”An insinuation that smacks of CAABU-influenced antisemitism from a Lib Dem which somehow passes with little shame or embarrassment, and ill-informed antisemites just lap it all up.
The BBC, so keen to label anything it disapproves of - think “right-wing think tank” - would probably, should they stumble upon it, call this entire blog a ‘little hate-site’ to Biased-BBC’s ‘Hate Site’ (as in the big and little Satans.) It seems fair, and obligatory for an impartial organisation, that everything, the good, the bad and the Prebble, should come with a label, for 'context'. If so, they should label the Doyles “lobbyists” and CAABU “ A pro-Arab anti-Israel Lobby Group”, and Lib Dems “ill-informed antisemites.”