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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Important new JCPA study on anti-Israel UK groups

Mapping the Organizational Sources of the Global Delegitimization Campaign against Israel in the UK is a new study by Ehud Rosen and released by JCPA. It shows in great detail the major groups in Great Britain that are aiming at delegitimizing Israel and who is behind them.

The paper discusses how these often marginal groups make themselves appear to be mainstream. For example:

The best way for small and rather marginal groups, such as those mostly engaged with Israel’s delegitimization campaign, to gain exposure is through the media. Britain today is a major capital for world media, and serves as the base for the BBC, the largest global media network, for important economic papers such as the Financial Times, and for the popular Guardian’s website’s open platform “Comment is Free” (CiF). This is in addition to being the capital for international Arab media outside the Middle East. In the last few years, other leading Islamist outlets were also established in the country, such as the Al Jazeera English channel, the aforementioned Al Hiwar TV channel, the Iranian English channel Press TV, and more. Leading Brotherhood figures make use of all these channels, have written articles on CiF for a long time, and are regularly interviewed by different outlets of the Arab and Islamist media. The far left, on the other hand, is represented in main papers such as The Guardian and The Independent, and sometimes in other papers and channels such as the BBC that are not automatically identified as leftist or liberal.

Activists from both groups appear and engage in debates, usually describing themselves as human rights, welfare, or community representative bodies. Thus, marginal groups such as the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC UK), featured in the 2007 report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, are frequently invited to attend BBC discussions on relevant issues, as organizations aiming to “empower” Muslims in the country. The BBC also uses Abdel Bari ‘Atwan (see “The academy”) as commentator on Middle Eastern issues. However, as far as anti-Israeli and other joint “red-green” activities that might be perceived as controversial are concerned, usually the Islamists give interviews to the Arab and Islamist media while the far-left activists turn to Western outlets.

In addition, activists from both sides widely use new-media outlets, opening notice boards, Facebook, and Twitter pages, and often also give interviews to news websites.

The paper also touches upon Israel's failures at addressing these threats:
Notwithstanding the delegitimizing tendencies that have developed against Israel, it does not appear that Israel itself has formulated a coherent strategy to tackle these tendencies. There is insufficient understanding of the British and European civil society structures, and hardly any official use of new-media outlets. Instead Israel seems to stick to military measurements such as threat assessments and the like. The best case study for this claim is Israel’s treatment of the May 2010 Freedom Flotilla. Despite the fact that the main organizers of the flotilla openly spoke about their intentions, no official Israeli bodies have either exposed them or dealt with the identities of the organizers, and their affiliation with the far left and the Muslim Brotherhood. As uncovered by Israeli sources, media outlets that accompanied the flotilla did not include any major, “mainstream” agencies.

It was only Israel’s military action that brought worldwide interest in the flotilla, and even then the flotilla participants were mainly described as “peace” or “humanitarian” activists. A simple search, for example, would have found that the Free Gaza Movement (affiliated with the International Solidarity Movement, ISM) has received a large donation of 300,000 Euros from the Perdana for Peace Global Movement, established by the anti-Semitic/anti-American, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.