In a clip which you can view here (together with useful transcripts), taken from a recent BBC News Channel review of the papers, several tendentious points are made in response to reports that some Jewish donors are turning against Ed Miliband in the wake of his criticisms of Israel’s actions in Gaza and support for recognition of a Palestinian state. First of all former Lib Dem spin doctor Jo Phillips refers to the “Jewish lobby”, and then the presenter, Tim Willcox, leaps to a quite unearned assumption about other possible motives for Jewish donors to turn against Labour:
“Yeah and a lot of these prominent Jewish…ah….ah….faces will be very much against the mansion tax presumably as well.”
This is immediately challenged by Willcox’s other guest, Nigel Nelson of the Sunday People, who points out that non-Jewish donors would be equally likely not to favour the tax. Willcox did backtrack, when challenged, but the problems don’t stop there. Jo Phillips implies that there is some kind of special taboo on criticism of Israel.
“…but it is this terrible thing if, you know, you’re not supposed apparently to say anything anti-Israeli. Ahm…and if you attack Israeli political…ahm…policies or the government policies then, you know, this is what you get.
It’s interesting that she does not simply say that one is not allowed to criticise Israel’s policies – but that one is not allowed to ‘say anything anti-Israeli’ when there is an important difference between criticising an entire country, or its people, and criticising a particular government or action. For more responses to this broadcast see Marcus Dysch’s article in the Jewish Chronicle.