Dispatches criticised by leading Jews

By Jessica Elgot, November 17, 2009
The Conservative Friends of Israel Director Stuart Polak, here with David Cameron, has criticised the Channel 4 Dispatches programme.

The Conservative Friends of Israel Director Stuart Polak, here with David Cameron, has criticised the Channel 4 Dispatches programme.

A row over the Channel 4 flagship investigative programme Dispatches, which examined the influence of the Israeli lobby, has erupted after the programme was broadcast last night.

The programme, Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, had already attracted criticism for the antisemitic comments posted on the Channel 4 website.

Zionist Federation co-Vice Chairman Jonathan Hoffman denounced the programme on the website CiF Watch, claiming: “The lack of substance was amply demonstrated by the people who were prepared to go ‘on the record’ – namely the usual as-a-Jew suspects accompanied by representatives of the Guardian, the (ex)BBC and the Foreign Office.”

Melanie Phillips, who wrote a response to the programme in The Spectator, said: “After watching Peter Oborne’s ‘Dispatches’ programme on the power of the Israel lobby in Britain, the scales have fallen from my eyes.”

“I now see things in an entirely different light. I now realise that the power of this unique cabal is so vast and unprecedented in its truly demonic power – a power given to no other lobby – that both the Labour government and Tory opposition slavishly and unquestioningly support Israel’s military actions and that the Guardian and the BBC have found themselves totally unable to publish or transmit anything other than wholehearted support for Israel.”

The Community Security Trust also criticised the programme on its blog and the antisemitic feeling it claimed the programme would stoke. It reads: "[Presenter Peter Obourne's] stern admonition that “there is no conspiracy” remains a case of shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted – one hour of innuendo about “pro-Israeli” moneybags controlling the Conservative and Labour Parties; “pro-Israeli intimidation of British media; premeditated “pro-Israeli” abuse of antisemitism; and sinister music accompanying photos of “pro-Israelis” blurred across Israeli and British flags."

The Liberal Jewish synagogue chairwoman Rita Adler has distanced herself from comments that the synagogue’s Emeritus Rabbi David Goldberg made in the programme, claiming he was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the synagogue.

The director of the Conservative Friends of Israel told the Guardian newspaper that the programme’s claim that CFI donated £10m to the Conservatives over the last eight years was “deeply flawed”.

Stuart Polak, CFI Director said: "It is fictitious, misleading and damaging to the reputation of CFI and its supporters.

"CFI as an organisation has donated only £30,000 since 2005. Each of these donations has been made transparently and publicly registered. In addition to this £30,000, it is undoubtedly the case that some of our supporters have also chosen, separately, to donate to the party as individuals."

Last updated: 5:27pm, November 17 2009