Put on your kippahs and grab yourself a menorah: the Israeli government is controlling British politics! Well, not really. But judging by the reaction to Al-Jazeera’s undercover sting that allegedly revealed how the Israel Embassy is influencing our political system, you’d be forgiven for thinking so.
In Al-Jazeera’s sinisterly named ‘The Lobby’, an undercover reporter filmed Shai Masot, an adviser to the Israeli Embassy in London, explaining how he wants to ‘take down’ certain MPs who are hostile to Israel. He also boasts about organising several pressure groups dedicated to influencing Labour Party policy, particularly against the BDS movement.
Edited and produced in a manner similar to conspiratorial YouTube documentaries, the clip was met with shrieks about an ‘Israeli plot’. Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry labelled the footage ‘a national security issue’ and called on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to launch an investigation into the influence of Israeli officials in UK politics. A Conservative MP suggested an investigation should be launched into the embassy’s links with both Labour Friends of Israel and Conservative Friends of Israel.
A glance at the video clip reveals just how out of proportion these reactions are. Masot isn’t sitting in an underground bunker surrounded by evil-looking villains planning the UK’s downfall. He doesn’t whip out a Filofax and darkly explain how he’s going to top every single MP who supports BDS. Rather, the clip shows Masot sitting in a restaurant with a glass of wine, whining about a few politicians he deems to be stupid – something a great many of us do every weekend.
Since when did we take the obtuse ramblings of a political nobody as evidence of a political coup? Even Labour Friends of Israel commented that Masot was ‘exaggerating his role’ in pro-Israeli politics. The embassy, too, has distanced itself from Masot’s claims and has sent him back to Israel. It emphasised that Masot didn’t speak for Israel – a statement so obvious it beggars belief it had to be said.