30 December 2010

MEMO CommentaryMedia reports about the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) being “designated” by Israel have come sooner than expected. They follow closely on the heels of the two besmirched reports written in Israel which described London as the global hub of “delegitimization” of the Zionist state.
The media cite Israeli claims that the PRC is an arm of Hamas and is engaged in “violent activities”; this is a British registered company operated by British citizens being threatened by Israel and its supporters, remember. This takes on a deeper meaning when we consider that the theses of the two “independent” reports have been supported and adopted by Israel’s Ministry of Defence. 
This has to be a matter of grave concern and the British government should act decisively to protect its citizens and civil society bodies, enabling them to go about their lawful business in a peaceful and democratic manner within the framework of the law. Such official action is essential, especially after the Israeli secret services used fake British passports to murder a political opponent in Dubai almost a year ago. Indeed, the activities of all those linked to the two reports which have come out of Israel should be monitored very closely.
There are many questions about the Reut Institute’s report, which can only be answered by its authors or supporters; they should be made to do so. The motive of the report is clear; in the introduction, it says; “The objective is simple: Delegitimizing delegitimization.”[2] More precisely, the authors urge the Israel lobby to “focus on negatively branding the other side”. [52] It is no surprise, therefore, that a few days after its release there is a story in the right-wing, pro-Israel media, led by the Daily Telegraph, making wild allegations about the PRC. Its conferences and academic publications are, in the fantasy world of Israeli propagandists, transformed into “violent activities”.
The Reut report calls for a division of roles in this propaganda offensive, between the “Israeli diplomatic missions”, in this case the London embassy, and “local leadership” of the Jewish community; this is of critical importance. [50] “All parties,” says Reut, “will have to leave their comfort zones: Israel will have to let Jewish communities lead the counter-attack in places, such as London, that require nuance and cultural sensitivity; and Jewish institutions will have to allow for innovative thinking, new tools, and aggressive experimentation that usually takes place outside of the established community.”[3]
Britain’s police forces should enquire exactly what is meant by “aggressive experimentation”, especially which has taken place “outside the established community”. Even a generous observer would say that this looks and sounds extremely sinister and is intended to create inter-communal strife in Britain in order to protect the already damaged reputation of an alien state.
Reading the latest Israeli missive denouncing a legitimate British organisation, one might think that these are shadowy groups working in underhand ways. Far from it; pro-Palestinian organisations in the UK, including the PRC, have never functioned below the radar of Britain’s security and anti-terrorism authorities, government and charity regulator. They are well-known organizations led by well-known people; they host high-profile conferences and seminars in the Houses of Parliament with cross-party support; they participate in demonstrations and organise lectures; and it is precisely because of such openness that they have gained popular support not only in Britain but also in Europe.
The Reut blueprint claims to offer an operational strategy to address what it claims is the UK-based delegitimization challenge. Its panacea notes, “The effort should be led and conducted by the [Government of Israel], ideally in coordination with the British government. (This section is not for public disclosure).” [53] Too late. Reut’s devious proposals are in the public domain so that we can see them for what they really are. 
Reut claims elsewhere that so-called delegitimization cannot be made to disappear by PR or policy alone; it requires a systemic, structured response but it does not elaborate. Significantly, though, it says, “Effective response will require continuous learning and adaptation based on extensive experimentation, which usually takes place on the edges of the system outside of the traditional institutions.” [48] 
The best investment for fighting delegitimization on campuses is, according to the Reut Institute, in hiring outside “movers-and-shakers” to coordinate mobilization work. Who are these outsiders? Again, this is very sinister given that the ultimate goal is to “frame” as criminals and terrorists the pro-Palestinian organizations being targeted.  
The Reut Institute report and the allegations against the PRC have to be taken seriously by the British government, although not in the way intended by the Israel lobby. Reut is apparently linked to the Israeli intelligence and military establishment, both of which have questionable records when it comes to human rights and respect for the laws and sovereignty of other countries.  
It is obvious that this latest Israeli propaganda campaign and its associated wild allegations against legitimate organisations in Britain are intended to scare pro-Palestinian activists to go on the defensive and reduce their lawful activities. This will not work, nor will it deter the growing number of supporters on campuses, in trade unions and across British society. On the contrary, it will strengthen their resolve and inspire them to work even harder for the just cause to which they have dedicated their lives.   
Nevertheless, it remains incumbent upon the British government to look at these reports and see with open eyes the coded threats aimed at British citizens. Then it should take every measure to call to account these who seek to inflame tensions and unrest in British society on behalf of a foreign country, Israel.

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