Gaza, Agencies - Former British foreign secretary Jack Straw told a gathering in the House of Commons last week that AIPAC’s “unlimited” funding and intimidation of American politicians is one of the main barriers to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Straw, who has been sharply critical of Israeli foreign policy, also said Germany’s “obsession” with defending Israel was another impediment to peace, according to former MK Einat Wilf.
Straw was foreign secretary under prime minister Tony Blair, and he announced at the end of last week that he would not seek reelection to Parliament.
His comments came during a round table discussion hosted by the Global Diplomatic Forum, a British nongovernmental organization, on October 22. The event was not videotaped or recorded and a spokeswoman for the forum was unable to provide a summary of the discussion by press time.
Straw’s office did not respond to requests for comment and an employee of the Israeli Embassy in London who also attended the event declined to answer questions.
A spokesman for the British Embassy in Tel Aviv said it would have no comment.
The news of Straw’s comments spread on social media after Wilf posted a photo on Facebook and discussed Straw’s statements. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Wilf said Straw argued that the intransigence of the Israeli government was an impediment for peace.
“He talked then about the unlimited amount of money available to Jewish organizations and to AIPAC to divert, I think was his words, American policy,” Wilf said. “He talked about Germany’s ‘obsession’ [with] defending Israel.”
Wilf said she “found the choice of words very interesting. He could have talked about Germany’s obligation to defend Israel. He could have talked about Germany’s sense of duty to defend Israel. But he chose to talk about Germany’s obsession.”
When asked whether she found the comments anti- Semitic, Wilf said that “there’s a whole discussion of how European anti-Semitism has mutated into this anti-Israel view.
“You take anti-Semitic classic kind of attacks about Jews controlling the world, and Jews manipulating politics behind the scenes, about Jewish money [used] to divert public will, and you just put it in the Israel context,” she said.
Straw, both in his cabinet position and as a member of Parliament, has criticized Israeli policies, particularly regarding military action in the Palestinian territories.
In 2001, he called the Israeli Forces action in the town of Beit Jala “excessive and disproportionate,” when they took over civilian residences and engaged in firefights with Palestinians who were indiscriminately firing at the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. In 2002, he called on the government to withdraw from the West Bank. During the 2004 Operation Days of Penitence, Straw said the IDF was “causing civilians death and injuries and unnecessary suffering.”
Most recently, he told BBC Radio4 in June that Israel has an “extensive” nuclear weapons program but has “no territorial ambitions apart from stealing the land of the Palestinians.”