Labour Lords push govt on BBC, hostages and IRGC proscription

LFI Lords chair Baroness Ramsay

LFI’s chair in the House of Lords, Baroness Ramsay, said with regard to the BBC’s reporting of the the conflict between Israel and Hamas: “Saying that Hamas is designated a terrorist organisation was a weasel-worded way of getting out of the fact that they were not going to call it terrorist at all. This was shameful.”

She continued: “The other thing I have been hit with is the way in which anti-Zionism has become a way of being anti-Semitic without appearing to be anti-Semitic. There is no doubt in my mind that anti-Semitic is what it is. Not all Jews are Zionists; we know that. Not all Zionists are Jewish, as a very nice little museum in Jerusalem shows. It shows people who have been part of the Zionist movement who are not Jewish. It is important to stop these misshapen views of history, which only feed prejudice.

A former Chief Rabbi said about anti-Semitism that, in the Middle Ages, Jews were attacked because of religion. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Jews were attacked because of race. Now, he said, they are being attacked because of their state. I think people need to take a cool look at what is being said, how it is being said and who is saying it.

Finally, I ask the Minister: why, oh why, when the fingerprints of Iran are all over the horrible event on 7 October, have we not yet proscribed the IRGC?”

LFI parliamentary supporter Lord Turnberg, who co-chairs the Britain-Israel APPG, said: “I fear that there is a dangerous myth that the horrendous activities of Hamas on 7 October were the entirely understandable actions of an oppressed people crushed under the boot of Israel. It is the myth that seems to allow some in our media to excuse unspeakable acts of terror as merely those of militants.”

He continued: “But Hamas is not the oppressed; it is, in fact, the oppressor of its own people. When it was formed in 1987, its founding charter was based firmly on the principle that Israel and the Jews must be destroyed and thrown out of the Middle East, from the river to the sea. In 2005, when Israel removed all its settlements with every Jew from Gaza, it did so in the belief that the huge number of greenhouses and agricultural equipment that they had left behind would allow the Palestinians to have a basis on which they could build a viable state. It even left them plans for a harbour and an airport, but Hamas immediately destroyed the vacated houses and greenhouses and began to remove the representatives of its rival faction, Fatah—some, it threw off their rooftops to make the point.”

“Hamas has shown that it has little concern for its own oppressed Palestinian people. Far from protecting them, it does not allow them to enter the security of its myriad tunnels; it has not allowed its fellow citizens access to the hoard of fuel and food it has stockpiled; and it has prevented its own hospitals receiving medical supplies it has stored away. There is evidence of all that. Hamas has done all it can to prevent Palestinians from leaving the northern parts of Gaza so that it can callously use them as human shields while some of its leaders are living it up in Beirut and Qatar.

This is not a popular uprising of an oppressed people; it is the murderous activities of a malign organisation that cares little for the suffering of its own people as it pursues its aims, and it should be called out as such. For the BBC and, I fear, the Financial Times to persist in calling it a militant organisation is shameful and dangerous, as it feeds into the growing anti-Zionism—that anti-Semitism by another name—that we begin to see on our streets. They should think carefully about how their messages are taken.

If there is any good for Israel and the Palestinians that can come out of this horror story—and we must try at least to find something good—it can come only when the capacity of Hamas to create harm is removed. We will not get rid of the Hamas ideology by military means—it will pop up somewhere else. However, if it no longer has the capacity to create havoc in Gaza and against Israel, we might have an opportunity for something better.”

LFI parliamentary supporter Lord Mendelsohn reminded colleagues that Israel is still under the threat of “constant” attacks from Hamas, concluding: “The central unarguable point is that Hamas is the problem, and everyone has to choose which side they are on: peace or conflict. People must understand that Hamas is not the Palestinians. Those who argue in the media, at demonstrations or elsewhere, who provide succour or support for Hamas, its methods or policies, who justify or explain away its actions or even recite or chant the politics and phrases from its hateful charter do nothing for peace. I fear the reality is we have to accept that when we talk about a horizon for peace, after the war, or commitments to two states, all of which I profoundly agree with, it is unlikely to be feasible unless Hamas can be reduced to the husk that ISIS is. We need the right coalition of willing partners to make that happen.”

LFI parliamentary supporter Lord Liddle condemned protestors celebrating Hamas’s actions on the streets of the UK: “Nothing can excuse that kind of slaughter. I cannot bear the people in Britain who seem to think that this is something the Israelis brought on themselves. That is an appalling view. I agree with all those who criticised the demonstrations at the weekend, because the whole tone was fundamentally against the very existence of the State of Israel. After what happened in the Second World War and the Holocaust, we all had a moral responsibility to provide a Jewish homeland. It has the full right to defend itself.”

Lord Reid said: “We should constantly remind ourselves and others that it is not a war between Jew and Muslim. It is not even a war between Israeli and Palestinian. It is a war between the State of Israel and a terrorist group called Hamas, the former fighting for its very existence and the latter fighting to completely eradicate the former. That is the real dividing line between those sides. Whatever our misgivings about the political track record of recent Israeli Governments—and I have many—none of them excuses the terrible activities of Hamas, which have been commented on by everyone.”

You can read the full debate here.