The Appalling Sir Daniel Bethlehem 101

This is Sir Daniel Bethlehem, a man who is to me an embodiment of the appalling moral vacuum at the heart of the British establishment.

Sir Daniel in a public international lawyer who has specialised in Middle eastern issues, and has always found it to be his genuine and considered legal opinion that the law supports the neo-conservative agenda for the Middle east.

Bethlehem first came to the attention of the general public as the man who advised the Israeli government that it was legal to build their “security” wall slicing through the West Bank and disrupting Palestinian communications and access to fields and water resources. Bethlehem was then the counsel to the Israeli government at the resulting case before the International Court of Justice.

The International Court of Justice – along with the vast majority of reputable international lawyers – disagreed with Daniel Bethlehem, and Bethlehem and the Israeli government lost the case. The Israeli government however disregarded the court’s judgement and continued its illegal activity.

Nowhere can I find evidence that Bethlehem has condemned the Israeli government for flouting the authority of the court before which he appeared. His commitment to the institutions of public international law appears somewhat partial.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a department of Legal Advisers who are closely integrated and involved in virtually everything the FCO does; I must have consulted them at least 60 tims in my own career. They are extremely distinguished individuals and a major source of scholarly articles on all aspects of public international law. They include some of the most respected experts in international law in the world.

The FCO legal advisers – of whom there are approximately 20 – agreed unanimously that the proposed war in Iraq would constitute an illegal war of aggression. As Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw’s response was to push for the removal of the chief Legal Adviser, Sir Michael Wood (the No. 2, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, resigned in disgust). Straw then, against all precedent, recruited a chief Legal Adviser from outside the FCO corps, one of the few public international lawyers in the UK prepared to argue that the Iraq invasion was legal.

Who did Straw choose? The Israeli Government’s trusty adviser, Daniel Bethlehem. Forget that his arguments for the Wall of Terror had been dismissed by the ICJ, the important thing for Straw was that Bethlehem was On the Right Side. He was prepared to argue the Iraq War was legal; that made him better qualified than any internal candidate.

Inside the FCO Bethlehem continued to be On the Right Side. This fascinating document contains the following extract of a minute from Matthew Gould, Private Secretary to Straw and Adam Werritty and Mossad’s point man in the FCO, to Daniel Bethlehem. The intention is to bolster Bethlehem’s attempt to keep from the UK courts the details of the torture by the CIA of Binyam Mohammed, and British complicity therewith.

Discussions of 12 May 2009
[Email note of meeting by Matthew Gould, Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign
Secretary, addressed to Daniel Bethlehem dated 13 and 14 May 2009. The note of 14 May
responded to a request for clarification.]
Note of 13 May 2009
“1. On 12 May the Foreign Secretary raised the Binyam Mohamed legal case with Hillary
Clinton. Clinton was accompanied by Dan Fried (Assistant Secretary, State Department)
and Tobin Bradley (NSC); the Foreign Secretary by Nigel Sheinwald, Ian Bond and me.
2. The Foreign Secretary said that the Court had questioned the continuing non-release of
the US documents in the case given (1) the arrival of the Obama Administration, and (2) the
release of the 4 DoJ memos. The Court had said it could not see how, in the light of the
publication of these memos, anything in the US papers could be regarded as sensitive.
3. The Foreign Secretary said that the British Government would continue to make the case
that it continued to be an inviolable principle of intelligence co-operation that we did not give
away other peoples secrets, and that doing so would cause serious harm to the UK/US
intelligence relationship.
4. Clinton (who was clearly well aware of the case and the associated issues) said that the
US position had not changed, and that the protection of intelligence went beyond party or
politics. The US remained opposed to the UK releasing these papers. If it did so it would
– 4 –
affect intelligence sharing. This would cause damage to the national security of both the US
and UK.
5. Bradley said that this was also the position of the White House. They appreciated that this
left the British Government in a difficult position…

It is worth noting that yet again Bethlehem advised that the law supported the perpetrators of the most vile abuses of human rights, and yet again the most senior courts were to disagree with him.

It comes therefore as no great surprise that, having now left the FCO, Bethlehem is currently Legal Adviser to the vicious despotism of Bahrain. Sir Daniel Bethlehem – pillar of the British Establishment and a serial servant of evil. Sir Daniel Bethlehem advises that the invasion of Iraq was legal, the cover-up of complicity in the torture of Binyam Mohammed was legal, the Israeli Wall was legal, and the repression in Bahrain is legal.

Young lawyers take note; if you want to have a sword rested on your shoulder by an odd horsey woman, make sure your view of legal right never supports the oppressed, never defends the victim. There is a fat living in evil.

101 thoughts on “The Appalling Sir Daniel Bethlehem

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  • Clark

    Craig and others, if you don’t want to edit Wikipedia yourself, you can help by submitting authoritative sources to reference here so that others can use them. Government documents are ideal. Mainstream news articles are also considered “reliable sources” (yes, I know the mainstream news isn’t neutral, but that’s the rules…).

    Remember folks; bland, neutral. Bland, neutral.

    (I’m pissing into the wind, aren’t I? Since when has anyone been bland and neutral on this blog?)

  • Clark

    Sorry, another afterthought. You can’t just cut-and-paste text from “reliable sources” (except Wikipedia itself), as you’ll fall foul of plagiarism / copyright infringement, for which the penalty is, again, removal of your contribution. You have to write your contributions in your own words, and cite the source that you got the facts from.

    You CAN cut-and-paste from Wikipedia because everything is licensed under free(dom) licences. When you submit stuff, you’re agreeing that it is being published under the following licences. From then on, its duplication cannot be restricted:

    Now, I really must go. God speed you good contributors.

  • Anon

    Tinfoil hats on time – extra thick meteor proof variety. Just in case there are any other little brothers of DA14…

    Just about 6 hours to closest approach.

    Nothing to worry about. Probably 🙂

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    re Daniel Bethlehem : well, if my posts have led to the creation of an English language entry for the aforesaid individual then I’m well pleased. He certainly deserves one.

  • nevermind

    Just this O?T reply to Jay, re: Denis McShane’s blog and his missives on Europe, designed for public consumption.

    “Protectionism is not just controls on trade. It is a whole ideological and governmental approach to relations between states. When William Hague says the Euro is like the sunken Italian cruise liner he is not just giving in to his penchant for crude anti-European jokes. He is revealing deeper isolationist-protectionism linguistics of part of the Tory Party which really does believe the UK would be better off out.”

    Hague is wrong on so many accounts and Denis does not want to see it.
    1. US/UK relations demand to have a EU base in this currency wear raging. Limited protectionism, looking at the current horse/donkey?/Kangaroo? meat scandal, the fact that Halal and Kosher meats cannot be guaranteed will make limited protectionism inevitable and the French will not like it, nor will the Dutch. Hague will eventually do as he is told.

    “There are rafts of new rules around the corner on banking, fiscal, financial sector, trade and tax aspects of transnational policy. Despite cracks by Hague and the rise of nationalist responses to the present economic crisis we are not going to create a beggar-my-neighbour Atlantic or global economy. The Eurozone is not going to collapse.”

    He has written this well before talks of a US EU trade pact were sanctioned by Ms.Merkel and Cameron in principal. The US has realised that new trade regulation and tax regimes will favour those within the EU, all those outside, bar Switzerland, will have their payments increased for trading within the EU, my guess, and those outside be subject to taxes that can only be carried by low cost producers like China and Vietnam. I think that this move for a common trading pact between the US and the EU will stifle our freedoms, and be to the detriment of the EU’s precautionary principles, dare I say GMO’s here, we will see our food chains obese’d’ and small independent traders bought out or busted with cheap competition.

    “The Germans will come round to ECB quantitative easing (like the Fed and BoE) as their political class realises that the disappearance of the Euro will unleash intra-European protectionist retaliations and a new DeutschMark will make German exports uncompetitive.”

    This is were I believe Denis is wrong as Germany’s phobia and its innate fear of inflation is stronger than in any other EU nation, Germany, cutting off the feeding stragglers from its nipples, would take a couple of years to get back on track, with or without the Deutschmark/ new World currency, but its modernisation and competitiveness is an evolutionary process, always modernising to guarantee market shares and up tom date technology is something they do well and we don’t, hence the imports of quality products, which will get more expensive if we extract ourself from the centre and leave.

    Just sayin’

    ‘Triumph of the will’ now happily twinned with ‘the Gate keepers’

  • Mary

    ‘Tory MP reveals eating disorder’.

    I thought this was going to be about Eric Pickles or Toby Baldry. No it’s Brooks Newmark when he was 17. A BBC non-story if ever there was one. He is a Conservative Friend of Israel incidentally and last went to Israel in 2006 under their auspices

    Then we jear Nadine Dorries’ expenses are being investigated. She’s a Con Friend of Israel and went to Israel there last year under their auspices.

    A quick trawl through the latest update to the Members’ Register of Interests reveals:

    Mr Andrew Percy’s visit to Israel under the auspices of the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange. That’s a new one!

    Name of donor: Australia Israel Cultural Exchange
    Address of donor: Suite 838, St Kilda Road Towers, 1 Queen’s Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia
    Amount of donation (or estimate of the probable value): £1,416 Destination of visit: Israel and the Palestinian territories
    Date of visit: 7-10 January 2012
    Purpose of visit: participation in the Australia Israel UK Leadership Dialogue.
    (Registered 30 January 2012)

    On the same trip to Israel there was Debbie Abrahams, Michael Dugher, Louise Ellman, Jack Lopresti, Anne McGuire and John Spellar.

    The CFoI paid for Robert Halfon Officer CFoI to have 4 nights at the Tory Conference.

    SOAS paid for Duncan Hames to visit Israel as they did for Dai Havard.

    The entries above only cover the period 18 Jan to 4 Feb. Imagine what the annual record looks like.

    The CFoI website. I think that is Iain Dale in the photo.

    The Labour FoI website consists of one page with links. This is the Wiki page

    and bringing up the rear

  • Mary

    Nevermind Surely MacShane is an irrelevance now that he is a busted flush? In his time, he was a leading light in Labour FoI of course.

  • Mary

    Having demonstrated just one tiny fragment of the ‘machine’, I can agree with these words of David Ward MP, recently under attack.

    ■”There is a huge operation out there, a machine almost, which is designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism. And that comes into play very, very quickly and focuses intensely on anyone who’s seen to criticise the state of Israel. And so I end up looking at what happened to me, whether I should use this word, whether I should use that word – and that is winning, for them. Because what I want to talk about is the fundamental question of how can they do this, and how can they be allowed to do this.”

    Gilad Atzmon writes.

  • Clark

    Here’s a link to the German Wikipedia page on Daniel Bethlehem:

    Habbabkuk, you seem enthusiastic; would you translate that and add it to the English Wiki, please? There isn’t very much.

    Mary, we could really do with some of your digging…

    From the article’s history, it seems like we’re already getting help from other Wikipedians.

  • Mary

    Poor old David Ward. Now he’s getting it from Jennifer Lipman on the JC. John Hilley writes here. He is a tremendous Scottish activist for Palestine, and against Trident. He has been hauled off at demos at Faslane. He is also a fine writer and frequently contributes to Medialens.

    Jewish Chronicle’s ‘little detail’ problem in attacking David Ward
    Posted by John Hilley on February 15, 2013, 5:05 pm

    Not that I’m ever free from making the odd, elementary mistake, but there’s quite a bit at stake here with regard to careful use of language…

    JC’s ‘little detail’ problem in attacking David Ward

    There may be a certain reddish face just now at the Jewish Chronicle following a piece by JC writer Jennifer Lipman entitled, ‘Lib Dems could remove whip from ‘the Jews’ MP David Ward’.

    In the article, Lipman continues to berate Ward:

    The MP wrote on his website this week that he was a victim of “political and media hounding”.

    In the statement, he said: “Whatever lack of qualification or carelessness in his words, were we really to believe that [he] meant or implied that all Jews were/are responsible for Israel’s repressions?”

    The post added that Ward had linked the Holocaust and the situation in Israel only “in the obvious sense that the Holocaust was used as a part of the Zionist agenda for occupying another people’s land”.

    It said his “real ‘mistake’, as far as the Zionist lobby and many liberal commentariat are concerned – and as his Liberal colleague Jenny Tongue also found out to her cost – was to criticise Israel at all.”

    Alert readers to my own humble blog may recognise those words attributed by Lipman to Ward. In fact, they’re mine, not Ward’s at all, a detail that the most cursory examination of the piece and its footed source at Ward’s site would instantly show.

    The error – shall we be kind and not suggest calculated distortion – by Lipman was realised by fellow JC writer/blogger Matthew Harris in his piece: ‘David Ward blog post written by John Hilley’.

    Generously, Harris calls the gaffe “an intriguing PS” to Lipman’s “very interesting article”. Oddly, the words “careless” or even “carelessness in her words” didn’t seem to occur.

    An ironic omission, some might say, from someone who, like Lipman, shows no interest in letting up on David Ward’s own careless use of language – for which he’s apologised – or the essential points he’s been trying to make on Palestine-Israel.

  • nevermind

    Good talk Craig, Thanks for rattling the cage, see what you mean about Carter Ruck…

    Mary, yes my thoughts exactly, but he had his finger on the pulse, the arch champagne socialist, MacShane could have been married to Barbara Castle, she liked to drive up in a Roller at the working man’s club.

    @ Craig, have you crossed swords with D. Bethlehem?

    according to his German Wiki side he worked at the International Tribunal of the Sea in Hamburg, in the Hague at the International court, in Luxembourg at the European court, worked for Malaysia, Israel and his ‘Heimatland’ England, were he was born. Educated in South Africa’s Witwaterstrand university 1981, were Apartheid schooling to the tune of the 1959 act was still in force, extending apartheid policy into higher education, right up to 1983 when a quota system bill was adopted, amending the act.

    So we can say with some security that his education was framed by Apartheid scholars, in a period of fervour when apartheid had hardened its factions and was under serious attack.
    It was the year when the Sprinbook tour outed Muldoon and his Government as Apartheid supporters and busted the Gleneagles agreement, when Golda Meir published her book ‘They must leave’ crystallising Israels Apartheid with slogans such as ‘there are no such people as Palestinians, they are all terrorists.’

    Just to paint a picture of the cauldron bubbling at that time, which no doubt helped to form young Daniel’s political ideas as well as his repressive future nature. He got a Ba in Politics at Witwaterstrand and I’m curious whether he studied under the ‘Blacks’, Coloured’ ‘Indian’ or ‘white’ label put on people between the years of 1980-83.

  • nevermind

    forgot my rider, sorry

    ‘Triumph of the will’ now happily twinned with ‘the Gate keepers’

  • Mary

    New York Times


    Drones, Kill Lists and Machiavelli
    Published: February 13, 2013

    To the Editor:

    I am deeply, deeply disturbed at the suggestion in “A Court to Vet Kill Lists” (news analysis, front page, Feb. 9) that possible judicial review of President Obama’s decisions to approve the targeted killing of suspected terrorists might be limited to the killings of American citizens.

    Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours? That President Obama can sign off on a decision to kill us with less worry about judicial scrutiny than if the target is an American? Would your Supreme Court really want to tell humankind that we, like the slave Dred Scott in the 19th century, are not as human as you are? I cannot believe it.

    I used to say of apartheid that it dehumanized its perpetrators as much as, if not more than, its victims. Your response as a society to Osama bin Laden and his followers threatens to undermine your moral standards and your humanity.

    Aboard MV Explorer, near Hong Kong Feb. 11, 2013

    The writer, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town.

    The article Bishop Tutu linked to –
    I have just checked his age and what the ship is. He is 82. He has amazing energy and joie de vivre.

  • Cryptonym

    Thanks for the Gilad Atzmon link, Mary, always interesting to read.

    I would take issue with some of his points

    “The Holocaust was an historical abomination, an unquestionable genocide, which sought to eradicate an entire race of people, the Jews.”

    That might have been the rhetoric, but a physical impossibility as the second biggest group of Jews was in the US, by 1945 an estimated 15 million (when world Jewish population was from Jewish sources given as only 12 million in 1932!) I’d question too whether a religious grouping, effectively a cult, could ever claim to be a ‘race’.

    “The Holocaust formed a central ideological, political and militarist agenda in the Zionist formulation and creation of a Jewish state.”

    The offical Zionist formulation of a Jewish state in Palestine pre-dated the Holocaust by half a century, or longer if the inculcated ‘longing’ to return to a homeland that never was, is counted, this or that holocaust had nothing to do with it at all, the homeland idea was granted by Balfour against the wishes of the existing population in Palestine, again long pre-dating the holocaust. Given that homeland, no-one hardly from the world’s Jewish population wanted to go there after all, even concentration camp survivors on the whole had no interest in relocation to Palestine, but were misprepresented by a vocal few.

    Atzmon says (twice) “Anyone who seeks to deny or misconstrue these basic facts is either peddling lies, misinformed or uninterested in the truth.”

    Well, I do, I’ve enjoyed the honesty of much of his writing on this subject, but there is some dishonesty in the item linked which must be called out.

    With the same dishonesty, it could be said Hitler and the Nazis persecuted the Zionists.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Craig re Daniel Bethlehem :

    here is a translation for you and others. I have no idea how to put something onto Wikipedia, so somebody else will have to do it. Feel free to improve my English and tweak the terminology.

    “Daniel Bethlehem was born in London in 1960 and grew up in South Africa, graduating from Witwatersrand University (Johannesburg) with a BA in political science and international relations in 1981. After returning to the UK he studied jurisprudence and took an LLB at Bristol in 1985 and an LLM at Queen’s, Cambridge.

    After spending several years working for an investment bank he was admitted to the Bar in 1988. From 1990 to 2006 he worked as a lawyer specialising in international law, first with Forrester Norrel and Sutton in Brussels until 1992 and in private practice in London thereafter. During this period he plead for the UK at the International Court of Justice and the International Law of the Sea Tribunal. He also plead for Malaysia, Belgium and Israel at the International Court of Justice, for Turkey at the International Court for Human Rights and for the USA at the Iran-USA Claims Tribunal.

    Daniel Bethlehem taught international law at the LSE from 1992 to 1998. From 1998 to 2003 he was Deputy Director and from 2003 to 2006 Director of the Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law at Cambridge; during this time he was also a Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge.

    From 2006 to 2011 he was the Principal Legal Adviser, with the rank of Director General, at the Foriegn and Commonwealth Office. He re-entered private practice on leaving the FCO. He was the founding director of the consultants firm Legal Policy International. The Times included him in its list of the 100 most influential British jurists in 2008 and 2009.

    Daniel Bethlehem took silk in 2003 and was knighted (KCMG) in 2010. He is also a bencher of the Middle Temple.”

    There you go!


    La vita è bellissima (per il Sir Daniel)!

  • Joshua

    Sir Daniel won’t be perturbed by your drunken ramblings, you old goat.
    He doesn’t dye his hair.

  • Villager

    “knight of the round table”!

    LOL got any more jokes to tell, you geriatric banker?

    The thing that gets my goat is when is see old fogies like you without an ounce of wisdom. Hopeless.

  • Clark

    Habbabkuk, thank you, and thanks for being one of the more on-topic contributors to this thread. I’m off to have a look at the Wikipedia article now.

    Any who wish to contribute: I feel that I may have put some of you off. I know that I wrote “bland, neutral” and posted a lot of warnings. All your contribution has to be is factual, backed by reliable sources. You can add a section describing how he strangled puppies so long as it’s backed up in at least, say, the Daily Mail. And you can cut-and-paste short sections verbatim, so long as they seem pretty significant; that’s regarded as “fair use” under copyright law. And verbatim quotes of his own words can be added, too.

  • Jemand

    Does anyone else see the frightening potential of the following call from DB? Really, what are the chances of getting a lawyer with no connection or sympathies with Israel? And to then have such a person within a PM’s inner circle influencing decision-making or leaking information. Am I being overly suspicious?
    – – –
    5 June 2012
    A former legal adviser at the Foreign Office has said that legal issues are not addressed as effectively as they might be at the heart of government because the Prime Minister does not have a lawyer among his immediate circle of advisers.

  • Mary

    I always like to see the face behind the name. This is the cold hearted stooge Goran Rudling.

    Nasty stuff on his latest inc a photoshopped picture of Craig as Pinocchio.

    Ben has got in a good riposte.

    Ben on February 15, 2013 at 11:09 am said:

    ‘This article is simply horrible because it descends into the most childish form of personal insults. You don’t have to look beyond doctored pictures to see that; and it is a shame because some of your points are (probably, because I don’t know) factual corrections of oft-repeated details of the case.

    Getting facts right is important. But everybody also makes inferences based on facts, and providing that process is made explicit, it is perfectly justified and necessary. Thus Murray is quite correct to write: “Wilén had had long term relationships with men. It is improbable she found semen on the bedsheets unusual, yet alone disgusting.”

    Finally, I don’t think even Craig Murray’s political opponents in Britain regard him as dishonest. His unusual honesty about his sexual feelings should be to his credit, and not trigger a string of abuse.

    You would be better off arguing your points, rather than penning poisoned diatribes against those who get things wrong or with whom you disagree.’

  • Mary

    Sorry that was on the wrong thread. So many this morning, I can’t keep up! Not complaining though.

  • Julian Kavanagh

    Craig, what has Princess Anne done to deserve your calling her ‘an odd horsey woman’? She didn’t make the decision to knight Bethlehem.

    But then reading your bizarre website, it’s clear she’s got off lightly. You’re clearly mad.

  • Andy

    It seems that Mr Murray’s ‘bizarre website’ provokes you enough to respond to it. I was previously unaware of Bethlehem’s unenviable history so maybe you could add ‘informative’ to any future descriptions regarding this site. Incidentally, he didn’t blame Princess Anne he merely described her as an ‘odd horsy woman’…. What’s the problem with that?

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