This is a crosspost by Just Journalism
In today’s Independent, one of its regular features included an extract from an open letter by the Middle East Monitor Online (MEMO), a media watch dog and lobby group fronted by Dr Daud Abdullah, Deputy Secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain. The MCB, a lobby group that seeks to represent Muslims in the UK, had its ties with the government severed by then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, due to its refusal to distance itself from Dr Abdullah. Ties with the MCB have been restored, but the Government continues to refuse contact with Dr Abdullah himself.
‘As the world sees it’ is a column in The Independent’s Opinion & Debate section, which consists of a series of extracts from media outlets, predominantly foreign, on different topical news stories. Mainly these will be extracts from the editorials of foreign broadsheets such as The Washington Post or The Times of India, but have also recently included quotes from prominent UK bloggers such as Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes.
Today’s extract, under the subject of ‘The UK and Israel’ is from an ‘Open letter to the Secretary of State for Justice and the Lord Chancellor, the Rt.Hon.Jack Straw MP’ that appears on the MEMO website, and can be read in full here. The extract is as follows:
‘According to the Jewish Chronicle you are meeting today with representatives of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and, separately, Labour Friends of Israel. There is one item on the agenda: the proposal to change the law on universal jurisdiction so that Israelis – even those for whom there is strong prima facie evidence of their involvement in war crimes – will be free to travel to Britain without fear of arrest.
As our Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, your prime consideration has to be the best interests of Britain and British citizens before all else, and there is no doubt that your professional and political status will make you want to protect the independence of Britain’s judiciary. Interference from groups lobbying on behalf of an alien state for changes to our laws that will give concessions to politicians from that state is surely unacceptable.’
The inclusion, for the first time, of an extract from MEMO is noteworthy for two reasons. Firstly, unlike broadsheet editorials and individual bloggers, MEMO is not an outlet whose primary function is to offer opinions and views – it is an explicit lobbying group. As it states on its ‘About Us’ page:
‘MEMO seeks to go one step further [than existing media monitoring networks]; to reach out to opinion makers and decision makers in a deliberate, organized and sustained manner.’
Secondly, the Director of MEMO is Dr Daud Abdullah, who attended the 2009 Istanbul Conference, where, as the BBC’s Bill Law reported, Hamas leader Mohammad Nazzar declared:
‘There will be no agreement with Israel… only weapons will bring respect. Don’t worry about casualties.’
Dr Abdullah also signed the accompanying Istanbul Declaration, a pro-Hamas document that called on Muslims to attack the British Navy if it tried to prevent arms being smuggled into Gaza:
‘8. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation. This must be rejected and fought by all means and ways.’
Dr Abdullah has never recanted his support for the document or the conference. At a ‘World Against War’ rally, organized by the Stop the War Coalition and held in London in January 2009, Dr Abdullah said: ‘Not since the great Nakba of 1948 have we seen such bloodletting. And what is worse is that those who carry out these crimes, today they call for a bigger Holocaust in Gaza.’ [0.13 seconds into the YouTube clip below.]
Given its open lobbying nature, and ideological connection to a foreign Islamist organisation that is officially viewed as a terrorist group in the UK, it is troubling that The Independent has chosen to highlight the view of MEMO, especially on the topic of ‘groups lobbying on behalf of an alien state’.