Israel,  Israel/Palestine,  Media

Channel 4 program will focus on UK’s “pro-Israel lobby”

On Monday night, the Dispatches program on the UK’s Channel 4 will look at Britain’s “pro-Israel lobby.”

Now I suppose it would be wrong to prejudge the program without seeing it, but for some reason the theme from Hitchcock’s “Psycho” kept going through my mind as I read this from the Channel 4 website:

Dispatches investigates one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel.

Despite wielding great influence among the highest realms of British politics and media, little is known about the individuals and groups which collectively are known as the pro-Israel lobby.

Political commentator Peter Oborne sets out to establish who they are, how they are funded, how they work and what influence they have, from the key groups to the wealthy individuals who help bankroll the lobbying.

He investigates how accountable, transparent and open to scrutiny the lobby is, particularly in regard to its funding and financial support of MPs.

The pro-Israel lobby aims to shape the debate about Britain’s relationship with Israel and future foreign policies relating to it.

Oborne examines how the lobby operates from within parliament and the tactics it employs behind the scenes when engaging with print and broadcast media.

Poju Zabludowicz, chairman of the pro-Israel group Bicom, raises concerns about the program in The Jewish Chronicle:

Channel 4 commissioned this Dispatches episode some five months ago but only approached the pro-Israel groups in the last week or so. The producers refused for days on end even to tell us their specific allegations.

This week they have written a series of letters to communal leaders and journalists with whom we work. They insinuated that a cabal of wealthy Jewish businessmen secretly fund the pro-Israel lobby and they advised the journalists in particular that the programme will expose them as being in the pocket of that lobby group. Our fears increased when the JC reported their desire to expose the “tactics it [the pro-Israel lobby] employs behind the scenes” when “it works in support of the interests of foreign powers”.

Do they not think that journalists who oppose Israel’s position — many of whom we have taken to Israel — would not have jumped at the chance to undermine Bicom if they considered us sinister?

For those who don’t know Bicom, we are a British pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-two-state solution organisation that works with British journalists to give them a better understanding of Israel and the Middle East.

Over the past two years we have taken more than 60 journalists to Israel and the PA, working with at least 50 more regularly. Foreign editors, correspondents and leading commentators regularly attend our events, rely on us for information and, after joining our delegations to Israel, regularly recommend that colleagues do the same.

Journalists engage with us because we have credibility and we do our job well. We put journalists in front of a wide range of different voices — Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Arab, Left and Right — because we have confidence that the more journalists see of Israel, the more they will see a people desperate for peace but living under constant threat.

I don’t live in the UK and therefore won’t be able to see for myself. But I hope others will watch and comment.

(Hat tip: IsraeliNurse)

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