by Tom Mills
Today in the House of Commons Britain’s leading neoconservative organisation the Henry Jackson Society hosts the UK launch of the Friends of Israel Initiative. This new organisation is the latest of a number of well connected advocacy groups in the UK seeking to deflect criticism of Israel’s illegal occupation and repeated human rights abuses.
The Friends of Israel Initiative says it ‘aims to create a network linking private and public figures who agree with the idea of an Israel fully anchored in the West’. This network will not have to be built from scratch; rather Friends of Israel will be able to integrate itself into extremist networks already well established in UK politics.
The Friends of Israel Initiative is an international operation and was first launched in Paris on 31 May – the same day that Israeli soldiers boarded the Mavi Marmara in international waters and killed nine activists. The organisation was reportedly established by Dore Gold, an American born Israeli who heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and was formerly an adviser to Ariel Sharon and the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Gold also has links with UK politicians. In January 2007 he led an Israeli delegation at a conference at the House of Commons debating possible measures against Iran. The conference resulted in an Early Day Motion signed by 68 MPs urging ‘the British Government to put forward a resolution at the United Nations Security Council demanding President Ahmadinejad be brought to trial on the charge of incitement to commit genocide’. The Motion was introduced by the neoconservative MP Michael Gove, a signatory to the Henry Jackson Society’s Statement of Principles and now a Cabinet Minister.