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February 10, 2010

Zionist Jews, pushing Britain to invade Iraq

Scott Stockdale

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Accusations of undue Israeli influence have surfaced at Britain's inquiry into the Iraq War.

The Iraq Inquiry, led by former civil servant John Chilcot, was set up by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in June 2009 in order to “identify lessons that can be learned from the Iraq conflict”. It began its deliberations in November.

On November 22, 2009 Oliver Miles ignited a storm with his article in the Independent on Sunday newspaper exposing the fact that Martin Gilbert and Lawrence Freedman - two out of the five Iraq Inquiry Committee members – are Jewish and strong supporters of Tony Blair and the Iraq War; and Mr. Gilbert has an active record of support for Zionism.

Subsequently, The Times wrote a scathing attack on Mr. Miles, describing his comments as “disgraceful.” A week later, Richard Ingrams responded in the Independent, writing that he wondered if the Zionist links to the Iraq invasion would be brushed aside.

He added that he also wondered whether some prominent U.S.  neo-cons' involvement with Israel would be investigated.

“It is equally legitimate to ask if at any point the panel will investigate or even refer to the US neo-cons and their links to Israel. Call me snide if you like, but I very much doubt they will,” Mr. Ingrams said.

Most such controversies would have ended soon thereafter, but on January 28, 2010, BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme reported that Martin Gilbert, whom it described as a “proud practicing Jew and Zionist”, had expressed “deep unease” at the previous November’s articles by Miles Oliver and Richard Ingrams.

Radio 4 broadcast extracts from an interview given by Mr. Gilbert, to an internet radio station run by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, in which he described Oliver’s and Ingrams’s articles as “really unpleasant”. He referred to people who questioned the wisdom of including pro-Israel activists in an inquiry, as “these anti-Semites”.  And he said that “more leading figures” should “speak out against” what he described as the “crude anti-Israel feelings” in Britain.

This attack is becoming all too familiar a response to those who criticize Israel. Is it difficult to see why some people may be concerned about two outspoken Israeli supporters sitting on the British inquiry into the Iraq War, which may be examining the role of Israel lobbyists and agents of influence, in the Anglo-US invasion of Iraq in 2003?

If Israel lobbyists played a part in pushing Britain to join the U.S. aggression against Iraq – as some critics allege - will the Israeli committee members, who comprise 40 per cent of the panel be objective in their assessment of Israeli officials' conduct?

Scott Stockdale is a freelance writer living in Toronto.

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