Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

News & Supplemental  

The Hamas, MI6, BBC axis

by Melanie Phillips

In the past few days, the BBC appears to have turned itself into a mouth­piece for Hamas. From a steady pro­ces­sion of talk­ing heads has issued a stream of Arab pro­pa­gan­da, along the lines that what has hap­pened in Gaza is an inevitable out­come of the Israeli/western col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment of Pales­tin­ian vot­ers for demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly choos­ing a par­ty of which the west dis­ap­proves, along with the Israeli/western refusal to ‘engage’ with Hamas, a sit­u­a­tion which must now be reme­died forth­with. If we look a lit­tle more close­ly at these inter­vie­wees, how­ev­er, it seems that such a con­sis­tent line may not be alto­geth­er coin­ci­den­tal. The casu­al lis­ten­er and view­er has been led to assume that all these ‘experts’ are ran­dom, if well-informed, observers of the Mid­dle East scene. But a rather dif­fer­ent pic­ture emerges if one joins up some of the dots.

Guid­ed by a cou­ple of eagle-eyed blog-posters, I have been doing just that. Dis­cussing events in Gaza on suc­ces­sive evenings last week, BBC TV News­night had on William Sieghart, Azzam Tami­mi and Alas­tair Crooke.

Azzam Tami­mi is a self-pro­claimed Hamas sym­pa­this­er — who, inci­den­tal­ly, once screamed at me on BBC Radio Four’s Moral Maze that he was per­son­al­ly rewrit­ing the Hamas Char­ter to remove its endorse­ment of the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion (it’s still there), because even some Hamas types can see that this isn’t exact­ly great PR.

Alas­tair Crooke is a for­mer MI6 agent who con­tro­ver­sial­ly act­ed between Israel and Hamas and Islam­ic Jihad as a go-between until MI6 recalled him, and who ever since has argued pub­licly for ‘engage­ment’ with Hamas. In 2004, he wrote about Islamists and the west in the Guardian:

We do diverge on a few val­ues, but the over­whelm­ing bulk of Islamists and Mus­lims sup­port elec­tions, good gov­er­nance and free­dom (more so than in some Euro­pean states, the polls show).

Explain­ing the think­ing behind the group he had just found­ed, Con­flicts Forum, he wrote:

We need to recog­nise the ‘oth­er’ and acknowl­edge that Mus­lim val­ues do not pose a threat to the strate­gic val­ues of west­ern soci­ety. Mus­lims do not hate our val­ues. They hate our poli­cies. We need dia­logue at all lev­els.

William Sieghart, the founder of var­i­ous arts events, a home­less­ness char­i­ty and a gov­er­nor of the British Insti­tute of Human Rights, was instru­men­tal in invit­ing Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad to the Guardian Hay on Wye Book Fes­ti­val. Those who might won­der quite how the Chair­man of the Arts Foun­da­tion hap­pens to have the phone num­ber of the Hamas offi­cial spokesman in his Roladex might be enlight­ened to learn that Mr Sieghart also turns out to be chair­man of For­ward Think­ing.

For­ward Think­ing is a char­i­ty found­ed in April 2004

to address the grow­ing social iso­la­tion of Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties in Britain and to pro­mote a more inclu­sive peace process in the Mid­dle East.

This is its team.

Oliv­er McTer­nan is co-founder and direc­tor of For­ward Think­ing. He was respon­si­ble for ini­ti­at­ing the first post-con­flict talks between NATO and the for­mer Yugoslav gov­ern­ment. He was a Vis­it­ing Fel­low of the Weath­er­head Cen­ter for Inter­na­tion­al Affairs at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty and is a Senior Asso­ciate Fel­low of the UK Defence Acad­e­my.

McTernan’s fel­low trustee is Chris Don­nel­ly. For­mer­ly the senior polit­i­cal advis­er to four suc­ces­sive Sec­re­tary Gen­er­als of NATO, he is direc­tor of the Insti­tute for State­craft & Gov­er­nance and the Senior Fel­low at the Defence Acad­e­my. He worked for 20 years at the Roy­al Mil­i­tary Acad­e­my, Sand­hurst, ini­tial­ly as an instruc­tor in Russ­ian and Sovi­et stud­ies, and from 1973 as a mem­ber of the Sovi­et Stud­ies Research Cen­tre, which body he head­ed from 1979 until 1989.

The third trustee is Lord Hyl­ton, described on the web­site as hav­ing a ‘dis­tin­guished par­lia­men­tary career on mat­ters relat­ing to con­flict and civ­il rights’. Lord Hyl­ton is also a mem­ber of the Arab lob­by, hav­ing been a mem­ber of the Coun­cil for the Advance­ment of Arab British Under­stand­ing since 1993.

This is how For­ward Think­ing describes its Mid­dle East ini­tia­tive:

The objec­tive of the Ini­tia­tive is to focus on bring­ing lead­ers who have hith­er­to been exclud­ed from the ‘dia­logue com­mu­ni­ty’ into a process of inter­nal exam­i­na­tion of con­tentious issues out­stand­ing between the sides, and to pro­vide them with the tools and knowl­edge to engage in a con­struc­tive bilat­er­al process… Along­side its many achieve­ments, a main short­com­ing of the Oslo agree­ments was a stead­fast fail­ure to recog­nise the neces­si­ty of includ­ing reli­gious and ide­o­log­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tives on both sides in the peace process… For­ward Thinking’s Mid­dle East Ini­tia­tive is based on our belief that as long as the voic­es of non-con­vinced con­stituen­cies are not includ­ed in the dia­logue process between the sides, no long-term and sus­tain­able solu­tion can be reached. The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, in which par­ties pre­vi­ous­ly exclud­ed from dia­logue process­es – and specif­i­cal­ly reli­gious­ly moti­vat­ed polit­i­cal lead­ers – are gain­ing pow­er, rep­re­sents a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage with them and bring them into con­struc­tive dia­logue chan­nels.

Reli­gious and ide­o­log­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tives on both sides’ who have been exclud­ed? But Israel’s gov­ern­ment is a coali­tion includ­ing the reli­gious par­ties. They have not been exclud­ed from any­thing. The only exclud­ed ‘reli­gious and ide­o­log­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tives’ For­ward Think­ing are try­ing to include would appear to be… Hamas.

So to dis­cuss Hamas, the BBC put on in quick suc­ces­sion a) a Hamas sym­pa­this­er b) a for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cer pro­mot­ing the view of the For­eign Office and intel­li­gence world that Israel and the west must talk to Hamas; and c) the chair­man of a char­i­ty which pro­motes talk­ing to Hamas and whose direc­tor and fel­low trustee are asso­ci­at­ed with the mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence com­plex.

Now scroll for­ward to the BBC Radio Four Sun­day Pro­gramme yes­ter­day morn­ing. This fea­tured an inter­view with Bev­er­ley Mil­ton Edwards, described mere­ly as a pro­fes­sor of Islam­ic stud­ies at Queen’s Uni­ver­si­ty, Belfast. Prof Mil­ton Edwards described Hamas in glow­ing terms as a ‘Mus­lim nation­al move­ment’ which was try­ing to bring law and order in Gaza by crack­ing down on anti­so­cial and unIs­lam­ic men­aces like drug or alco­hol abuse, and which pro­mot­ed the rights of Mus­lim women, includ­ing talk­ing about the dan­gers posed to them by the ‘Israeli occu­pa­tion’ (which is of course fin­ished in Gaza, but let that pass). The pro­gramme did not chal­lenge this account, nor did it have on any­one to point out that Hamas is not only com­mit­ted to the destruc­tion of Israel but impos­es such tyran­ny upon the hap­less pop­u­la­tion under its con­trol that Pales­tini­ans are flee­ing into Israel to escape it.

What the pro­gramme also failed to tell us was that Prof Mil­ton Edwards was a co-founder and (for­mer) direc­tor of Con­flicts Forum — the organ­i­sa­tion set up by none oth­er than the ubiq­ui­tous Alas­tair Crooke, and which boasts on its board of advis­ers none oth­er than the equal­ly ubiq­ui­tous Azzam Tami­mi (whose most mem­o­rable pub­lic aper­cu was that he would con­sid­er becom­ing a ‘sui­cide bomber’). Its web­site reveals that it stands for rather more than mere­ly ‘engag­ing’ with Islamists such as Hamas. It actu­al­ly pro­motes them as fine and upstand­ing peo­ple:

The over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of Islamists are striv­ing to cre­ate just soci­eties and bring about polit­i­cal reform in a region entrenched with inequity, that has long suf­fered t
he over­bear­ing influ­ence of for­eign pow­ers… Con­flicts Forum’s aim is to engage and lis­ten to Islamists, while chal­leng­ing West­ern mis­con­cep­tions and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the region’s lead­ing agents of change.

The Islam schol­ar Daniel Pipes has this dev­as­tat­ing account of Crooke’s atti­tudes and the activ­i­ties of Con­flicts Forum on his web­site:

Con­flicts Forum has sev­er­al advan­tages, start­ing with the fact that what it terms the ‘pre­vail­ing West­ern ortho­doxy’ is – as not­ed above – quite soft. The group’s founder and leader, Alas­tair Crooke, 55, was a rank­ing fig­ure in both British intel­li­gence and Euro­pean Union diplo­ma­cy, some­one who hob­nobs with insid­ers, gives upbeat speech­es at pre­mier venues (‘It is Essen­tial to Nego­ti­ate with Ter­ror­ists’ at the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics,’ ‘Can Hamas Be A Polit­i­cal Part­ner?’ at the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions), and enjoys a fawn­ing press. But Crooke’s true iden­ti­ty came out in a clan­des­tine meet­ing he held with the Hamas lead­er­ship in June 2002, at a time when he still rep­re­sent­ed the Euro­pean Union. We have an account of the meet­ing pre­pared by Hamas (which Crooke claims is inac­cu­rate). It deserves read­ing in full for an insight into Crooke’s amoral, craven, appeas­ing, and dhim­mi-like men­tal­i­ty.

•He recounts to Hamas hav­ing insist­ed to two high-rank­ing Euro­pean politi­cians that ‘the sta­tus of Europe in the eyes of the Pales­tini­ans has start­ed to dete­ri­o­rate’ because Europe did not ade­quate­ly sup­port the Pales­tini­ans.
•’The main prob­lem [in the Mid­dle East] is the Israeli occu­pa­tion,’ which is music to Hamas ears.
•‘As for ter­ror­ism, I hate that word,’ he tells lead­ers of a lead­ing ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, going on to imply that he instead sees Hamas oper­a­tives as ‘free­dom fight­ers.’

This last fits Crooke’s rou­tine pub­lic dis­missal of ter­ror­ism as a threat. The West, he says, faces not ‘ter­ror­ism’ (his quote marks) but a dis­tinct­ly less nasty ‘sophis­ti­cat­ed, asym­met­ri­cal, broad-based and irreg­u­lar insur­gency.’ And his Con­flicts Forum, dubbed by jour­nal­ist Patrick Seale ‘a club of dis­af­fect­ed diplo­mats and intel­li­gence offi­cers,’ engages in a pleas­ant form of per­son­al diplo­ma­cy that dimin­ish­es the hor­ror of Islamist ter­ror­ism.

Thus, at a Con­flicts Forum meet­ing last month in Beirut with the lead­er­ship of four Islamist ter­ror­ist groups, includ­ing Hamas and Hizbul­lah, the mood and the food were too good to allow this incon­ve­nient sub­ject to intrude. Stephen Grey, a jour­nal­ist cov­er­ing the event, lat­er reflect­ed on it: ‘Invit­ed to din­ner with the par­tic­i­pants in the Beirut talks, and shar­ing jokes with the Hamas men over tiger prawns, avo­ca­do, pas­ta and cher­ry toma­toes, I won­dered pri­vate­ly how one would explain all this inti­ma­cy to the moth­er of a child killed by a sui­cide bomber.’

I gath­er that Prof Mil­ton Edwards is no longer asso­ci­at­ed with Con­flicts Forum. The fact remains that she helped found it, that var­i­ous arti­cles she wrote with Alas­tair Crooke remain on its web­site, and that she believes there is a ‘com­mon plat­form’ between the west and Islamists bent on its destruc­tion. In 2005, this web­site not­ed:

An Al Jazeera news seg­ment Tues­day report­ed on report­ed on an ‘unprece­dent­ed meet­ing’ in Beirut between lead­ers of the two ter­ror­ist groups and a new U.K.-based con­sult­ing firm, Con­flicts Forum. Par­tic­i­pants were said to include ‘Amer­i­can per­sons close to Amer­i­can deci­sion-mak­ers.’ The Forum’s co-founder and direc­tor, Bev­er­ley Mil­ton-Edwards, speak­ing in Eng­lish, had this to say to Al Jazeera:

I think the impor­tance of this meet­ing, as the speak­er from Hezbol­lah point­ed out this after­noon, is that this isn’t actu­al­ly about enmi­ty between the peo­ple from Islam and Mus­lims and those in the West. In fact, the idea here is to end this disconnection–for peo­ple to under­stand that there is a com­mon plat­form between the peo­ples of Islam and the West. So this is a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for opin­ion for­m­ers in North Amer­i­ca and Europe to hear that enmi­ty is not on the table.

At the very least, the Sun­day Pro­gramme should have told its lis­ten­ers that Prof Mil­ton Edwards had a his­to­ry of pro­mot­ing the inter­ests of Islamist ter­ror­ists. The fact that it did not does not sug­gest a BBC con­spir­a­cy, any more than the dis­grace­ful pro­ces­sion of Hamas apol­o­gists being inter­viewed on TV with­out any kind of chal­lenge or health warn­ing sug­gests such a thing either. The much more like­ly expla­na­tion is scarce­ly less dis­turb­ing. It is that a group of peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing both Hamas and its west­ern apol­o­gists in the British mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence world have been push­ing them­selves for­ward to the BBC as informed and dis­pas­sion­ate com­men­ta­tors on events in Gaza — and the BBC edi­tors and pro­duc­ers have not seen ft to check them out because of a com­bi­na­tion of igno­rance, slop­pi­ness and — most lethal of all — the fact that they main­ly agree with the appease­ment of geno­ci­dal ter­ror that these pro­pa­gan­dists are pro­mot­ing.

Just to remind you: this is (in part) what the Hamas Char­ter says:

For our strug­gle against the Jews is extreme­ly wide-rang­ing and grave, so much so that it will need all the loy­al efforts we can wield, to be fol­lowed by fur­ther steps and rein­forced by suc­ces­sive bat­tal­ions from the mul­ti­far­i­ous Arab and Islam­ic world, until the ene­mies are defeat­ed and Allah’s vic­to­ry pre­vails. …The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Mus­lims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Mus­lim! there is a Jew hid­ing behind me, come on and kill him!

The ene­mies have been schem­ing for a long time, and they have con­sol­i­dat­ed their schemes, in order to achieve what they have achieved. They took advan­tage of key ele­ments in unfold­ing events, and accu­mu­lat­ed a huge and influ­en­tial mate­r­i­al wealth which they put to the ser­vice of imple­ment­ing their dream. This wealth [per­mit­ted them to] take over con­trol of the world media such as news agen­cies, the press, pub­li­ca­tion hous­es, broad­cast­ing and the like. [They also used this] wealth to stir rev­o­lu­tions in var­i­ous parts of the globe in order to ful­fill their inter­ests and pick the fruits. They stood behind the French and the Com­mu­nist Rev­o­lu­tions and behind most of the rev­o­lu­tions we hear about here and there.

They also used the mon­ey to estab­lish clan­des­tine orga­ni­za­tions which are spread­ing around the world, in order to destroy soci­eties and car­ry out Zion­ist inter­ests. Such orga­ni­za­tions are: the Freema­sons, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, B’nai B’rith and the like. All of them are destruc­tive spy­ing orga­ni­za­tions. They also used the mon­ey to take over con­trol of the Impe­ri­al­ist states and made them col­o­nize many coun­tries in order to exploit the wealth of those coun­tries and spread their cor­rup­tion there­in. As regards local and world wars, it has come to pass and no one objects, that they stood behind World War I, so as to wipe out the Islam­ic Caliphate. They col­lect­ed mate­r­i­al gains and took con­trol of many sources of wealth. They obtained the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion and estab­lished the League of Nations in order to rule the world by means of that orga­ni­za­tion. They also stood behind World War II, where they col­lect­ed immense ben­e­fits from trad­ing with war mate­ri­als and pre­pared for the estab­lish­ment of their state. They inspired the estab­lish­ment of the Unit­ed Nations and the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil to replace the League of Nations, in order to rule the world by their inter­me­di­ary. There was no war that broke out any­where with­out their fin­ger­prints on it…

Their scheme has been laid out in the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion, and their present [con­duct] i
s the best proof of what is said there… With­in the cir­cle of the con­flict with world Zion­ism, the Hamas regards itself the spear­head and the avant-garde. It joins its efforts to all those who are active on the Pales­tin­ian scene, but more steps need to be tak­en by the Arab and Islam­ic peo­ples and Islam­ic asso­ci­a­tions through­out the Arab and Islam­ic world in order to make pos­si­ble the next round with the Jews, the mer­chants of war.

This is the dement­ed and geno­ci­dal creed of the peo­ple with whom our military/intelligence estab­lish­ment is now telling us we must ‘engage’ and whose inter­ests it is ruth­less­ly push­ing, cour­tesy of an intel­lec­tu­al­ly and pro­fes­sion­al­ly bank­rupt BBC. If the British Par­lia­ment still counts for any­thing at all, it should call time on this mon­strous appease­ment of evil.


No comments for “The Hamas, MI6, BBC axis”

Post a comment