Many of you will recognise one of the faces in this photograph, Mark Regev. He is Israel’s new Ambassador to London and of course was the Israeli government spokesman who justified the massacre of more than 600 women and children in Gaza, and the murder of peace activists aboard the Mavi Marmara.
The other face of evil is Simon McDonald, head of the UK Diplomatic Service. You probably now think I am indulging in hyperbole. But no, I am not.
Simon McDonald was the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s Private Secretary at the time of the implementation of the British government’s extraordinary rendition and intelligence from torture programmes. When I became the only member of the UK’s senior civil service to make formal objection to these programmes, it was Simon McDonald who managed Jack Straw’s response in continuing to use torture.
I have indisputable documentary evidence of this, plain despite redactions by the British government censors (redactions which primarily remove all references to the CIA).
It is put to me frequently that people like McDonald, who were merely implementing a policy of torture, are not evil. That of course is the age old “only doing my job” defence. As somebody who was sacked for refusing to go along with torture, I think I have walked the walk and can describe him as evil. It is also worth noting that, while McDonald meets all new Ambassadors to London, he went far further with Regev than with anybody else. He tweeted out their photo with the message “Happy to see Mark Regev newly arrived Israeli Ambassador, an old friend from Tel Aviv ten years ago.”
Ten years ago, when they were friends in Tel Aviv, was of course the year in which Israel invaded Lebanon and Mark Regev was the chief Israeli spokesman justifying that attack, with its mass civilian casualties. Regev also defended the bombing by Israel of a United Nations observation post.
It is hardly surprising McDonald and Regev became friends at this time, as Gordon Brown’s government were doing everything possible behind the scenes to assist the Israeli invasion. As I wrote at that time
I have just watched on television sixty bodies being buried in a mass grave in Tyre, victims of Israeli bombing. At the same time I saw the odious Kim Howells, Foreign Office minister, arguing that a ceasefire would not solve the problem.
British diplomats at the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York – people I know personally – are putting massive effort into working against a ceasefire. They have the ultimate weapon that they and the US can veto any resolution at the Security Council, but are bending their backs into heading the subject off the agenda.
I hope they are proud of their succesful efforts. For every hour they prevent a ceasefire, on average two more Lebanese children are dying. Israel claims now to have killed 100 Hizbollah fighters. Even if true, that means they are killing two children to every fighter.
McDonald and Regev. Torture meets child-killing. Don’t they make a lovely couple?