CST Blog

MEMO: "Creating New Perspectives"...or reycling old ones?

2 December 2010

Middle East Monitor (MEMO) is a pro-Palestinian activist group that recently took a small delegation of MPs and journalists to “the West Bank and Israel”, including Labour MPs, Jeremy Corbyn and Andrew Slaughter; and Seumas Milne (columnist and Associate Editor of the Guardian).

MEMO’s website describes itself as

...an independent media research institution founded in the United Kingdom to foster a fair and accurate coverage in the Western media of Middle Eastern issues and in particular the Palestine Question.

Under its name, MEMO carries the strap-line / mission statement

Creating New Perspectives

To be clear, CST is not engaged in the super-heated debate as to whether or not the media fairly and accurately portrays “the Palestine Question” but when the powerful antisemitic motifs that say“Jews control the media”, and “Jews control the politicians”, are evoked by the modern charges of “Zionists control the media”, and“Zionists control the politicians” (either by design or by coincidence), we do take a very strong interest indeed.

MEMO fails on these counts. We believe that makes it an organisation that is unsuitable for Labour MPs and senior Guardian personnel to work with.

MEMO’s most recent failure lies in its publishing a report by Interpal chairman and pro-Palestinian Islamist, Ibrahim Hewitt, of George Osborne MP’s address to the 250th Anniversary gala dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

During those 250 years, the Board has suffered significantly more than its fair share of antisemitic conspiracy charges. It has been the lightning rod for such allegations: powerful proof that antisemitism is about the Jew of the antisemites’ imagination.

Today, there are plenty of anti-Zionists, but nobody who is anybody is antisemitic anymore. Nevertheless, the Zionist of the anti-Zionist imagination retains a striking resemblance to the Jew of the antisemitic imagination.

So, today’s charge is not that the Jewish Board of Deputies of British Jews runs British politics and media on behalf of World Jewry. Rather, it is that the Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews runs British politics and media on behalf of Israel (or, on a bad day, Global Zionism). Enter Ibrahim Hewitt on the subject of George Osborne’s speech to the Board of Deputy’s 250th celebration. He begins with this:

It is heartening that a senior British politician can still find the time to attend a minority community function to offer praise and support for its contribution to British society. What made George Osborne's speech at the Board of Deputies of British Jews 250th Anniversary Dinner on 23 November a bit different is that this was nothing out of the ordinary. It is almost de rigueur for politicians to pay homage at the court of the Board of Deputies and, in the process, pledge allegiance to, sorry, support for the State of Israel.

Note what Hewitt does here. He says how good it is that a senior politician would back a minority community, but then turns that on its head, stating

What made George Osborne's speech...a bit different is that this was nothing out of the ordinary.

This was not merely a relatively rare and therefore welcome speech by a senior politician to a minority. It was far deeper, far more revealing than that

It is almost de rigueur for politicians to pay homage at the court of the Board of Deputies and, in the process, pledge allegiance to, sorry, support for the State of Israel.

In this context, the word“almost” seeks to soften Hewitt’s claim. It is not entirely“de rigueur for politicians to pay homage at the court of the Board of Deputies”, just “almost de rigueur”. Perhaps Hewitt wanted to avoid casting the accusation at Jeremy Corbyn MP and Andrew Slaughter MP, or perhaps he just didn’t want to look like a complete conspiracy nut. Only he will know, but he certainly knows the purpose of the exercise. It is to:

pledge allegiance to, sorry, support for the State of Israel

As with “almost de rigueur”,here we have “pledge allegiance” and“sorry, support”. Again, Hewitt isn’t a total conspiracy nut, he’s having his (nut-free) cake and eating it too.

Then, a wink-wink check list of how successful the Board is

The Board of Deputies is, of course, an institution that stands as an example for other minorities in Britain to admire; strong, active, wealthy and close to those in power, regardless of which party they happen to belong to.

Nothing anti-Zionist (far less antisemitic) here, move along folks. Next, Hewitt notes how  

Mr. Osborne’s opening remarks included rabbi-like humour

Hewitt recounts Osborne’s (very funny) jokes, concluding

They were probably rolling in the aisles by this stage. Osborne had the audience in his pocket. Or maybe it was the other way round.

Was/is George Osborne in the pocket of the (Zionist) Jews? Hewitt doesn’t labour this somewhat important point, but its there, hanging.

The bulk of Hewitt’s article ensues. It follows Osborne’s points about antisemitism and providing safety, but finds space for snide digs at every turn, mostly standard anti-Israel fare of no concern to CST. One, however, goes too far, where Hewitt abuses the Holocaust when recalling his seeing tear gas canisters when visiting Israel in 1988

The [tear gas] canisters' labels were explicit that they should not be fired in confined places otherwise they turn the room into something akin to a gas chamber.

There are not many things“akin to a gas chamber”. Still, at least Hewitt avoids saying "The so-called Holocaust" as he does in his booklet, "Blood on the Holy Land", published after his above 1988 trip. (He wasn't denying the Holocaust as such, saying "so-called" in the context of it being "oft-cited as the raison d'etre for the existence of the Zionist state...[but] those who were persecuted at the hands of the Nazis [are] now in the role of persecutors"

Remember MEMO’s mission statement? “Creating new perspectives” it said. This is why Hewitt’s article ends with the following appeal to George Osborne

Mr. Osborne. Perhaps you need a visit to Gaza to see for yourself and come to the table with a balanced and informed view instead of the Zionist-inspired narrative that you have swallowed to-date along with the no doubt very tasty kosher food at the dinner on Tuesday.

MEMO have been here before and so has CST Blog. In September 2010 we wrote about their alleging dual loyalties around the appointment of a Jewish UK ambassador to Israel. Worse, and directly relevant to Hewitt’s article about the Board dinner, we also wrote in November 2009 about their response to the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary that examined the influence of the “pro-Israel lobby” on British politicians. This included

Last night’s report has certainly laid the ground work...it probably only touched the tip of the iceberg...it completely underplayed the role of the Board of Deputies of British Jews for instance...Perhaps the next step is for a larger more exhaustive study to be undertaken...which will finally expose the size and power of the pro-Israel lobby in Britain.”

The picture that MEMO chose to illustrate this with, showed Israeli money controlling the Houses of Parliament, which are held in the palm of a hand that is either Jewish, Zionist or Israeli.


As noted in CST’s Antisemitic Discourse Report 2009, the montage is a modern spin on this British Nazi cartoon (slightly cropped to fit), showing British politicians grovelling before the Jewish money whip.

free britain crop

Senior politicians and “Zionist-inspired narrative...swallowed to-date along with the no doubt very tasty kosher food”. Is it really a “new perspective” that MEMO are promoting – or is it simply a recycled old perspective about Jews running the media and Jews running politicians?

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