The Gould Werritty Investigation Continues 175

An MP has been refused by the Commons Table Office when they tried to table a question asking how many meetings Gould had held with Werritty and/or Fox. The Table Office say the question has already been answered – even though we know for certain that the answer given was untrue.

This was the untrue – or at the very least radically unfull – answer cited by the Table Office:

Adam Werritty
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings HM ambassador to Israel has had with the Secretary of State for Defence (a) in Israel, (b) in the UK and (c)
31 Oct 2011 : Column 374W
elsewhere since May 2010; whether Mr Adam Werritty was present on any such occasion; and which (i) other officials and (ii) other people were present on each occasion. [76970]
Alistair Burt: All meetings which our ambassador to Israel has had with the former Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox) since May 2010 are set out in the Cabinet Secretary’s report of 18 October 2011. Our ambassador to Israel was also invited by the former Defence Secretary to a private social engagement in summer 2010 at which Adam Werritty was present.

It is remarkable rule of parliament that apparently once a minister lies about something, parliamentarians are never allowed to ask about it again.

Meantime I have submitted a Freedom of Information request about a Freedom of Information request! I have asked for any notes, minutes, emails or correspondence relating to the handling of my FOI request for the Gould-Werritty correspondence. You may recall that my request was declined on grounds of cost, and dealt with in the remarkable time of just 76 minutes, the answer ebing received at 11.31 pm!

Finally the editor of the Jewish Chronicle has declined to publish the following article, which I submitted to him as a comment piece covering the JC’s promotion of the charges of anti-semitism against Paul Flynn for pursuing the Gould/Werritty issue. This is a shame, because the JC used to give space to liberal views, and because I believe a serious percentage of their readership would have been interested in the other side of the story.

There is a genuine argument that it was not wise to appoint Matthew Gould as Ambassador to Israel, and the accusations of anti-Semitism levelled at MP Paul Flynn MP by Dennis McShane, and reported by Martin Bright in the JC, do not address that argument.

Of course being Jewish does not in any way disqualify Matthew Gould from being a British ambassador. We are fortunate in the UK to have many brilliant Jewish diplomats. Jon Benjamin in Santiago is an example of an absolutely first rate ambassador with whom I was once privileged to work.

But Israel/Palestine remains, beyond dispute, a scene of unresolved conflict. The Israeli government, for example, recognises that conflict by invoking the San Remo Agreement to justify its naval embargo of Gaza. The San Remo agreement only applies in times of armed conflict. The dispute is also witnessed not just by events on the ground, but in diplomatic terms by the whole paraphernalia of Middle East peace negotiation, including the post of Quartet envoy occupied by Tony Blair.

So the situation surrounding Israel is not normal and involves conflict. That is, of course, by no means unique. Nearby Cyprus is subject to a dispute that has many parallels. I was Head of the FCO Cyprus section for three years, and tried hard but failed to make progress in resolving the “Cyprus question”. Winning trust was extremely difficult; it would have been well nigh impossible had I been ethnically Greek or Turkish. For the Head of the FCO Cyprus section, or for our Ambassador in Nicosia, to be ethnically Greek, Turkish or either shade of Cypriot just would not be practically useful. I hope nobody will accuse me of being anti-Greek or anti-Turk for saying so.

Similarly, it is just not helpful to have an Ambassador in Tel-Aviv who is Jewish or Palestinian. It just isn’t practically wise. This is not a matter of high policy. There may be Jews or Palestinians of such exceptional personal qualities they could rise above any suspicion of partisanship and be effective. But Matthew Gould has proven himself not to be that talented.

Matthew’s frequent declarations to the Israeli media of his personal commitment to zionism are neither helpful nor necessary for a diplomat. Take for example this from the Jerusalem Post of 29 May:

“British Ambassador Matthew Gould declared his commitment to Israel and the principles of Zionism on Thursday”
That really is a very peculiar thing for a diplomat, who is supposed to have just the one national commitment, to say. I was dismissed as an Ambassador – by FCO ministers including Dennis McShane – for too strong a personal commitment to human rights. A personal commitment to zionism is by comparison a good thing, apparently.

We also cannot pretend that in 2011 to declare oneself a “zionist” in political terms merely has its 19th century meaning of somebody who believes in the existence of a state of Israel. The readership of the JC knows that the term “zionist” has accrued baggage of support for settlements and a greater Israel, for the annexation of the whole of Jerusalem, and of links with the non-Jewish foreign policy neo-Cons both sides of the Atlantic. who also declare themselves ardent zionists at every opportunity.

It is also worth noting that, of the entertained guests who have passed into Gould’s Tel Aviv residence, a disgruntled British Embassy source tells me that well less than 5% of invites have been to Israeli Arabs who constitute 20% of the population.

Finally, we have to consider the extraordinary relationship of Gould with Adam Fox and Liam Werritty. It has been shown that the trio met at least seven times, including several meetings before the election, according to Gus O’Donnell’s replies to Paul Flynn at the Public Administration Committee. The FCO refuses point-blank to say how many times Gould met Werritty without Fox, and refused within the hour (at nearly midnight!) my emailed Freedom of Information request for the Gould/Werritty correspondence.

No other official was ever present at any of the Fox-Gould-Werritty meetings – one of many strange facts about them. Gus O’Donnell’s report mentions only two of what we now know was a much larger series of meetings. We really need to know what Gould, the “committed zionist”, was doing with the two extreme Atlanticist neo-cons – and why the government is so anxious to hide it..

That is a genuine question, and to scream “anti-semite” at anyone who asks it devalues the term.

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175 thoughts on “The Gould Werritty Investigation Continues

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  • Arsalan

    It isn’t just the British Army that is used to fight Israel’s wars.
    The British economy is also used to prop up Israel’s.
    That needs to be mentioned.
    Even though mentioning it will be shouted down by the word ‘Anti Semitism’!

  • anno

    I was saying some such thing to a customer in the back of the limo I used to drive a few years ago, adding that God would not accept the persecution of Islam without delivering a bit of punishment and that great wealth usually resulted in dysfunctional family life. He was a corporate director for a global construction company. Sometimes one can go too far, and get sacked for one’s pains. So following from that:
    If you get shot down for speaking your truth, you would be better changing the company you keep to people who agree with you. My bits of Jewish DNA, do not stop me from commenting on any behaviour I find gives me a problem, from any race or religion including Islam.
    An estate agent with wonky eyes told me my house wouldn’t sell because the outside wall was leaning out about 15 degrees. It was actually my neighbour’s retaining wall that was leaning in, not mine. I wanted to ask him which eye he was looking with, but politeness got the better of me. You can’t always be telling people that they are prejudiced against Islam, but many are, even in my own family. Nil bastardibus carborundum est.

  • CheebaCow

    Fucking hell, more arguments about trolls on the blog, just what the site needs. It seems to be a variant of Godwin’s law, any on-line political discussion that isn’t a circle jerk, will inevitably result in cries of ‘troll’. I tell ya what, calling people trolls (whether they are or aren’t), never improves the discussion, it only makes it worse.
    Personally I think only the mods and Craig should be allowed to label others as trolls. Unless Craig or the mods are certain/willing to do this, everyone else should shut the fuck up. If someone else calls another user a troll, they should be banned for 1-3 days. Yeah I know it won’t happen, but I can dream.

  • Azra

    CheebaCow, I 100% agree with you, it seems we have more comments about trolls, than anything else. Everyone here is entitled to their own opinion, the site does not ban the pro-Israels or Zionist or anyone else. We can respond to any comment in an adult way. We can agree to disagree but insulting others and name calling is childish and like you I wish there would be a penalty for it. Believe me there are times when all I want to do type few insults at someone whether it is this blog or elsewhere, but instead I just leave the site/computer alone for a little while and cool down!

  • John Goss

    Mark_Golding, the twisted metals and experiments by the Canadian, Hutchinson would support what you say about ‘jellyfying’ but assume the ‘microwaving’, it’s about the best I can do to get my head round this, was increased to an intensity that ordinary scientists cannot yet produce? Could that not cause the girders to turn to dust?

  • James Dickins

    US Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has just made the clearest statement yet by any US politician in support of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians:

    However, no mainstream British politician seems prepared to speak out against what is now a clear agenda for ethnic cleansing.

    In 2007, Ahmedinejad said: “Imam [Khomeini] said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” (“Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from)”). There was massive condemnation from Western politicians, all of whom used the mistranslation “Israel must be wiped off the map”. Iran is a fairly weak state, riven by conflicts at centre of government, and poses no threat to Israel (despite the barrage of propaganda claiming it does).

    When a leading US politician – who may by 2012 be American President – makes remarks supporting the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, no Western politician says anything, despite the fact that the process of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from most of the West Bank is already well underway

  • Azra

    James Dickins: what did you expect when 80% of Conservative MPs have been purchased by Israel least on this instance the dogs are not biting he hand which feeds them!

    But regarding Iran being a weak state, depends what you mean, from military point Iran is very powerful, if you research the subject you will find out that Iran is well capable of defending itself as well as delivery blows to the attackers, but the government is weak as it is a government within a government!

  • ingo

    If Newt Gingrich is declaring Palestininas as cannon fodder for IDF guns, then Obama has risen to the new hight of global ex/determinator general. His utterance in Australia, not just for their fascist Government, but also for those Zionists he would like to vote for him again, at home.
    China and Asia isd next on his list of ‘evil countries’, all it needs is a false flag attack in Tokyo, or Shanghai, that would be enough to carry on this elf perpetuating show.

    It seems that war is now an established economic regulator, maybe it should be listed on the NYSE.

    Cheebacow, what should you call trolls instead? How would you deal with someone who uses your name to post their rubbish?

  • Ken

    Azra..[we should revolt!! ]

    We should,as it is clear that the people who re supposed to represent us do not. I am all for a revolution.

  • ingo

    [Mod/jon – removing discussion about past disagreements]
    Newt Gingrich should realise that he’s merely an interloper, a usurping foreigner in, what he calls, his country, before he opens his trap.
    There have never been white Caucasians living in North America until Leif Erikson took it upon himself to discover the continent. Since then the rape, pillage, murder and, of late, alcohol, has left the indigenous population ravaged and without much hope in their own country.

  • CheebaCow

    Ingo: Yeah it’s tricky to deal with trolls. But in my many years wasting time on the net, I have never seen the label ‘troll’ stop anyone from trolling. If anything it encourages them because they can see people reacting to them. It also just leads to an argument about whether the person is a troll or not, in no way does it advance an interesting argument. The solutions to dedicated trolling that I have seen that work are:
    1 – Ignore them, but it usually fails because someone always takes the bait.
    2 – Slashdot style user voted moderation system.
    3 – Mods start banning.
    4 – Enforced courtesy, because it stops the worst of the trolling and the worst of the reactions to trolling.
    However personally, I see the term thrown around here so often it has become largely meaningless. Sure there are trolls here, but just as often it is simply people who don’t see eye to eye and can’t imagine that people could possibly reach a different conclusion to themselves.

  • Fedup

    When in the West we are faced with multi-polarity of a government, ie a coalition government, or a government “elected” through proportional representation, then everyone lauds these as the ultimate expression of democracy, and the existence of checks an balances. In Iran it is a sign of “weak” government, or “government with a government”.
    Iran’s lot is to get denounced regardless of he actualities. Whilst we are debating the “selected” representatives, whom are based on a mysterious rites of passage are first tapped and then shoved into parliament, with clear instructions as to whom and what they should support, it is “democracy”, however when the same process although more transparently is carried out in Iran, well that is just the way dictators do things then in’it?

  • ingo

    I don’t like the term troll either, Cheebacow, still leaves oneself open to pisstakers though, thanks for your answer.

  • Azra

    Fedup, I agree with your sentiments regarding democracy, but unfortunately in Iran main power is not elected. The Assembly of experts are 5 so called religious leaders who yield more influence than the elected government, and that is one of the biggest challenges in Iran, there is split loyalties, which does not do us any good. I totally believe and from what I have heard from many, that the actual government has lot of support, but it is the big mullah (Khamenei), who is not willing to stay out of politics.
    “Iran’s lot is to get denounced regardless of the actualities”, you are absolutely right there, everything gets twisted in the media here, they report what they have been told to report otherwise there would be more of the “occupy movement” in the press, their numbers in USA is greater than the number people who were in Red Square, and they have been battered, sprayed at, yet our media is deaf and dumb.

  • rose

    Crab at 1.46am – Since there is no recommend button round yer – just to say how much I loved your comment. A crustacean after my own heart.

  • angrysoba

    James Dickins: US Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has just made the clearest statement yet by any US politician in support of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians:
    Did you actually watch that video clip? It was hardly a blood-curdling appeal for ethnic cleansing. Rather he was just saying that it was only comparatively recently that the Arab population living in the area known as Palestine started to identify themselves as “Palestinians” rather than as “Arabs”. I don’t know if the claim is correct, although I have read recently that it wasn’t until the twentieth century that the first document written by someone identifying themself as a Palestinian appears.
    The claim made by Gingrich is one that can be backed up or falsified by looking at the historical record.
    That said, did you also get into a tizzy like this when Shlomo Sand produced his book, the Invention of the Jewish People? I think he appeared at the Frontline Club to promote his thesis hosted by the LRB.
    Azra: Seems that Newt Gingrich was clutching at the last straws! his campaign is well and truly over!
    Azra, that’s an old news story. His campaign did indeed seem dead and buried about six months ago, but he’s soaring in the polls now, unfortunately:

  • crab

    ‘It was hardly a blood-curdling appeal for ethnic cleansing.’

    Just a blood chilling snipe on a violently occupied peoples’ historical right to their own name.

  • CheebaCow

    It seems like a very weak argument to me. For one it is just a slight variation on the position put forth by Joan Peters in ‘From Time Immemorial’, a book that any serious scholar accepts is utter trash.
    Secondly, it wasn’t until recently that anyone would identify as an Australian aboriginal. That doesn’t mean what the British did do Australia’s indigenous population is ok. Land was still stolen, people still killed. It’s just using semantics to minimise a terrible crime.

  • angrysoba

    Crab: Just a blood chilling snipe on a violently occupied peoples’ historical right to their own name.

    It doesn’t affect their right to their name at all.
    Cheebacow: It seems like a very weak argument to me. For one it is just a slight variation on the position put forth by Joan Peters in ‘From Time Immemorial’, a book that any serious scholar accepts is utter trash.

    I’m not sure what “argument” you are talking about and I’ve never read that book. If you are talking about my reference to the historical use of the term then I don’t see why that should be controversial. Of course, I suppose EVERYTHING Israel/Palestine-related is controversial, as we know. The Guardian suggests that the term came into use in 1834 during a revolt against the Ottomans and also says that historians generally agree on that. Even if this were true, it wouldn’t make the term any less “invented” would it? Looking into this, I discovered that I am in agreement with Rashid Khalidi who has written a book on the subject:
    By the way, I don’t mean by saying that a national identity is invented then that makes it any less real. It wouldn’t mean that the Palestinians have no right to statehood.
    I am in favour of a two state solution. Now, whether Newt Gingrich believes in this and whether he is in favour of a Palestinian state is something I don’t know and something that he probably should be questioned about.

  • CheebaCow

    The argument I was referring to was that because Palestinians are a ‘recent’ creation, it minimises their claims to the occupied territories and also the damage done to them when Israel was formed.
    “Even if this were true, it wouldn’t make the term any less “invented” would it?”
    No it wouldn’t, but then all national identities are equally ‘invented’. All states, especially powerful states, take great care to foster a national conciousness. Humans don’t naturally form national identities, they naturally form much more localised identities, it is only through the creation of state structures and the weakening of local structures that a national identity can be formed. England is no less invented than Israel or Palestine.
    “Now, whether Newt Gingrich believes in this and whether he is in favour of a Palestinian state is something I don’t know and something that he probably should be questioned about.”
    Whatever he really believes, I think his comments on the Palestinians were a pretty obvious example of dog-whistle politics. Even if Gingrich doesn’t believe what he said, the comments are still very damaging to the efforts to end the Israeli occupation.

  • Komodo

    When embarrassing friends attack…
    “It’s not good for Israel to be a partisan issue,” says Mr. Rosner. “When something becomes a partisan issue then you cannot get the kind of votes that Israel is getting in Congress, where 300 Congressmen vote for Israel. If Israel wants to remain a powerful, agreed-upon asset for the US, something that is not debated, it cannot be satisfied with a situation in which the mentioning of Israel is a partisan issue in every election cycle.”

  • angrysoba

    Cheeba Cow, I agree with you completely on all counts especially the “dog-whistle” politics part. I agree that when anyone talks of an “invented” people there is usually an underlying meaning there. Anyway, at that Republican debate almost all of them were trying to outdo their opponents on how many times they can say “Our ally Israel”, “Shoulder to shoulder with Israel” and “Bibi”.

    P.S It’s amusing, in a way, that Michelle Bachmann’s big experience in Israel was living on a kibbutz considering that kibbutzim are generally organized on the farthest left system of economic organization there is.

  • Komodo

    Just for interest, Angry, I note you support the idea of a two-state solution. Where would you like to see the Palestinians located?

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