Israel goes to war, and Levy goes . . . on bail
WHILE a bunch of us were out demonstrating in Whitehall last night, demanding that the British government condemn Israeli actions in Gaza instead of effectively backing them, two new developments happened.
First, responding ostensibly to an attack on its forces by Hezbollahi guerrillas, aimed at showing solidarity with the Palestinians, Israel opened a new war front by bombing Lebanon, and sending tanks over the border. Some 22 people were killed, including one entire family of 12. This brought further Hezbollah retaliation, with katyusha rockets fired into northern Israel, killing one woman in Nahariya, and wounding 12 family members.
The Israeli offensive is not being limited to supposed "Hezbollah targets". They have bombed Beirut international airport and are attacking electric power installations, and threatening a naval blockade. Not content with Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, both Israeli and United States government spokespersons have blamed the Syrian government for sheltering Hizbollah and Hamas.
The onslaught on little Lebanon could be aimed at pulling Syria into the war so as to launch the march on Damascus for which American neo-cons, learning nothing from the bloody mess in Iraq, have been openly calling. If the British government has appeared so feeble in refraining from criticising Israel's brutal and inhuman war on the Palestinians in Gaza, it could be because it is in on the bigger conspiracy, just as it must have been on the earlier Israeli raid on Jericho (when British officers supposedly overseeing the Jericho prison were suddenly withdrawn less than half an hour before Israeli troops stormed the building and abducted Palestinians they wanted).
The latest escalation must also shed harsh light on the European Union's acquiescence if not complicity with US-Israeli policy, whether by witholding funds from the Palestine authority, maintaining Israel's privileged trade status despite breaches of EU rules, or remaining silent over recent Israeli actions, including the seizure and detention of the vice president of the Euro-Med assembly. France has long claimed an interest in Lebanon, its ex-colonial protege. This may not have been much use when needed, but last year the French government joined the US in declaring its sympathy with the Lebanese people over the assassination of ex-president Rafik Hariri, and pressing for Syrian withdrawal. Now Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz says he will "bomb Lebanon back twenty years". What will France, and the EU, do to stop the Israelis?
The second piece of news was that in the course of their investigations into Britain's loans-for-peerages affair, Scotland Yard have arrested and bailed Tony Blair's top fundraiser, Lord Levy, a former pop music promoter whom he made his Middle East envoy, despatched on several missions to Arab states, including Syria. With no known background in either international politics or diplomacy, except some links with the Israeli Labour Party (whose leader now heads the Israeli Defence Ministry), Lord Levy's role aroused suspicion not just among Arab regimes but in the Foreign Office. Robin Cook had no time for him, it is said, but it was Cook who went not Lord Levy.
It makes me think of Harold Wilson's coterie, his private fund and the so-called "lavender list" for honours. Only, reversing the famous aphorism about history repeating itself as farce following tragedy, this is serious.
Fellow-blogger Dave Osler was one of the first journalists to look at Blair's rich associates and how they funded the New Labour project in his book "Labour Party plc", from which he has provided extracts on line at Dave's" Part: Taking it on trust, part one
Dave's Part: Taking it on trust, part two:
Dave has been invited to record and interview for BBC News at Ten tonight, and for Channel Four. (and here's me just hoping my letter has made it into the Camden New Journal). I'll leave you with what his book said about Lord Levy's Middle East missions: "In a region perpetually on the brink of war, we need to hope that the man who brought Alvin Stardust to the nation's youth can now save us all from Armageddon."
Frightening, isn't it?
PS - For admirers of British freedom. We were not allowed to demonstrate outside the Foreign Office last night. Furthermore, police are saying they now require at least six days notice of demonstrations in central London. We had an impromptu public meeting in Whitehall at 18.00, (with speakers including Jeremy Corbyn MP, Stop the War's Lindsey German, and Dan Judelson from European Jews for Just Peace, but I could hardly hear the speakers above the rush-hour traffic, since we were not allowed to use any amplification, even loudhailers. (Some people have been charged with using these on the demonstration on May 20) Israeli prime minister Olmert has sent his aircraft nightly making sonic booms saying "none shall sleep in Gaza", whereas Tony Blair is determined none shall disturb the slumber of Westminster.