AIPAC is hoping to turn UK politics into a carbon copy of the US Congress, where the powerful lobby group has long quashed virtually all open criticism of Israel’s violent suppression of Palestinian rights.
The final episode of The Lobby, Al Jazeera’s groundbreaking investigation of the Israel lobby’s activities in the UK, casts light on the extent of AIPAC’s transatlantic ambitions.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK’s main opposition Labour Party, has called on the government to investigate Israeli interference in the British political system.
Episode four of The Lobby, which can be viewed above, shows Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter attending a meeting of City Friends of Israel, a group established with the help of Israeli embassy agent Shai Masot to build support for Israel within London’s financial district.
The meeting was coordinated with AIPAC and is addressed by Joe Richards, the lobby group’s “Wall Street director,” who explains how it focuses on building relationships with lawmakers.
“The real strategic goal is to get the UK to behave more like the US than Europe, when it comes to Israel, pull them, tug them into the US sphere,” another of the US attendees at the meeting explains to Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter.
The embassy’s Shai Masot also tells the undercover reporter that he took a delegation of dozens of donors from “rich families” in the UK to AIPAC’s conference in Washington, DC.
The donors to Conservative Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Israel met with AIPAC’s head of strategy to glean “ideas for Britain.”
Zionism on campus
Adam Schapira and Elliott Miller, two pro-Israel activists, reveal in the first episode of The Lobby that AIPAC provided them with funding to set up the Pinsker Centre, an advocacy group to promote Zionism on UK campuses.
Schapira made an unsuccessful bid to be elected president of the Union of Jewish Students, which has received funding from the Israeli embassy. Miller spent a year working at the Israeli foreign ministry’s division that handles relations with the US Congress, which put him in close contact with AIPAC.
In October, Miller was filmed being violent and abusive during student protests against a speech by a former Israeli army officer at University College London.
Videos online show Miller using Islamophobic abuse against students. “It’s a violent religion,” he shouts at one protester.
When the Pinsker Centre was launched last March, Miller marketed it as “vibrant and grassroots.”
One of its first activities was hosting a talk on the theme of “libelous myths of Israeli war crimes.”
It also led a delegation to AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington, and plans more such trips in the future.
Corbyn demands inquiry
The revelations in The Lobby have roiled pro-Israel advocates in the UK, who have gone into damage control mode.
The Israeli ambassador has apologized for Masot’s role in the plot revealed in The Lobby to “take down” UK lawmakers, including a deputy foreign minister deemed too critical of Israel.
The Israeli government has also made implausible claims distancing itself from Masot and attempting to portray his activities, clearly coordinated with his colleagues, as those of a loose cannon.
Masot was particularly focused on trying to engineer “grassroots” support for Israel within the main opposition Labour Party, while encouraging pro-Israel activists to lodge complaints against supporters of Palestinian rights who have been falsely accused of anti-Semitism.
The UK government has tried to downplay the revelations in The Lobby by accepting the ambassador’s apology and declaring the matter “closed.”
But on Friday, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May to call for a full investigation.
“Many members of Parliament and the public will be extremely concerned at this evidence of attempts to undermine the integrity of our democracy,” Corbyn says in a letter to May released to the media.
“This is clearly a national security issue,” Corbyn adds. “I would therefore ask that you treat the matter as such and launch an inquiry into the extent of this improper interference.”
All four parts of The Lobby can now be viewed online.