Martin Bright

Anti-Israel views on billionaire website

By Martin Bright, December 3, 2009

A Middle East news website owned by one of Britain’s richest men has become a new source of anti-Zionist and pro-Iranian polemicism.

Middle East Online (MEO), in which the Iraqi-British billionaire Nadhmi Auchi has a controlling stake, is a news service which doubles as a vehicle to promote the activities of its owner, who was ranked at 32 in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List. Its editor is Dr Haitham el-Zobeidi, an Iraqi national who jointly owns the site with Mr Auchi.

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Community urges Jews against mosque demo

By Martin Bright, December 3, 2009

Leading Jewish organisations have called on members of the community not to attend a demonstration against the building of a new mosque in west London. The demonstration is intended to highlight the growing influence of Islam in Europe.

The Board of Deputies and the Community Security Trust issued strongly-worded statements after the organisers, Stop the Islamisation of Europe, urged Jews to bring Israeli flags to the demonstration and march at Harrow Mosque on December 13.

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Britain's Chile ambassador: The FCO's not Arabist

By Martin Bright, November 26, 2009

Britain’s new man in Chile, one of the UK’s most senior Jewish diplomats, is keen to scotch the idea that the Foreign Office is a nest of Arabists. Jon Benjamin, who begins his posting in Santiago next month, has worked at the Foreign Office since he left university a quarter of a century ago and says he does not recognise the Lawrence of Arabia characterisation of the FCO.

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MP Andrew Dismore fights back over expenses

By Martin Bright, November 26, 2009

Labour’s Andrew Dismore, MP for Hendon in north-west London, has fought back against claims that he abused the parliamentary allowance system.

Speaking exclusively to the JC, Mr Dismore said he was the victim of a smear campaign targeting members of the Commons Standards and Privileges committee, on which he serves.

The Daily Telegraph claimed the Hendon MP claimed for 5,360 miles of car journeys (the equivalent of three return journeys a day). It is also alleged that Mr Dismore split £65,000 of second home allowances between two properties in London.

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Analysis: Easy for Cameron to say

By Martin Bright, November 26, 2009

David Cameron may find it more difficult than he imagines to ban Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

He is right that it is a deeply unpleasant organisation committed to the destruction of western democracy and its replacement with a totalitarian system based on “sharia law”. Many young Muslims have been persuaded by this warped version of Islam.

Mr Cameron is also right that there is a strain of antisemitism running through the rhetoric of HT that should not go unopposed.It should certainly not receive government funding.

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Peerage for Muslim Council of Britain head?

By Martin Bright, November 25, 2009

The government is preparing to give a peerage to the head of the Muslim Council of Britain, even though government links with the organisation are officially suspended.

Ministers are keen to find a prominent Muslim to enter the House of Lords as a way of balancing the peerage given to Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks earlier this year.

It is understood that the name of Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was proposed at a meeting in Downing Street earlier this week to discuss relations with the Muslim community.

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Kaminski: The Saga Continues

By Martin Bright, November 22, 2009

I have been told that Michal Kaminski, the Tories' controversial Polish ally in the European parliament has given an interview to Polish television in which the following exchange about the Jedwabne massacre took place.

Journalist: "Perhaps you would not have been in trouble if you hadn't given some interviews? For example, you said to the Jewish Chronicle that Poland
could apologise for Jedwabne if the Jews apologize for collaboration with the Soviets."
Kaminski: "I never said that, these are not my words. But even if I had said it, it wouldn't have been anti-Semitic."

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We must lead fight against extremists

By Martin Bright, November 19, 2009

I recently had the pleasure of addressing an audience of well-informed, liberal and politically committed Jews on the rise of radical Islam in Britain. I suggested it was a tragedy that east London, for so long associated with Jewish immigration and the fight against fascism, had now become the home of the Islamist extreme right.

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Dispatches Israel lobby film: The reaction

By Martin Bright, November 19, 2009

Jewish organisations have reacted angrily to a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary claiming to expose an “Israel lobby” working to buy influence with UK politicians and journalists. The Board of Deputies has raised concerns that the programme has already sparked a slew of antisemitism.

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BNP 'will take its first council' at next election

By Martin Bright, November 19, 2009

The British National Party is poised to win control of its first council in Britain to add to its success in the European elections earlier this year.

The Labour Party high command has been told that activists in east London believe Barking and Dagenham Council may well fall to the neo-fascist party in local elections next year.

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BellaM and Melanie Phillips

By Martin Bright, November 16, 2009

Following our story on the spat between Ed Husain and Melanie Phillips, Cif Watch revealed that the moderator on the Guardian's Comment is Free website known as BellaM , is Alan Rusbridger's daughter, Isabella Mackie (Rusbridger's wife is the journalist Lindsay Mackie).

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Melanie Phillips and Ed Husain fall out over Israel

By Martin Bright, November 12, 2009

On the one side stands a courageous former Muslim extremist who abandoned the path of violent jihad to preach tolerance; on the other, a bold and controversial Jewish columnist who has built a reputation as the scourge of the liberal left. Between them they have written two of the most powerful books on radical Islam in Britain.

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Whitehall in turmoil over Muslim advisers

By Martin Bright, November 12, 2009

An ideological battle has broken out in Whitehall over the advice given to ministers on Islamic radicalism.

A series of recent changes of personnel and promotions at key departments has led to concerns that the government is moving away from a policy of dialogue with moderates towards a policy of engagement with more radical groups.

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Gordon Brown's bid to fix rift with UK Jews

By Martin Bright and Simon Rocker, November 12, 2009

The government is to launch a charm offensive to rebuild the trust of the Jewish community in response to the anger unleashed by the Goldstone Report on Gaza.

Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis met senior representatives of the community on Tuesday to reassure them about last week’s decision to abstain in the UN General Assembly on a resolution endorsing the findings of the controversial report. Judge Richard Goldstone found that Israel and Hamas should be investigated for war crimes during the conflict.

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Interview: Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich

By Martin Bright, November 5, 2009

The rabbi at the centre of the row over the Conservative Party’s alliance with the controversial Polish MEP Michal Kaminski has issued a fierce condemnation of the MEP’s refusal to support an official apology for Polish involvement in the notorious wartime Jedwabne massacre of Jews.

However, Michael Schudrich, chief rabbi of Poland, confirmed that Mr Kaminski had been a staunch supporter of Israel in recent years and had spoken out against antisemitism in the Polish parliament.

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Analysis: On Goldstone, UN plays semantics

By Martin Bright, November 5, 2009

So in the end it all hinged on semantics. As the 192-nation UN General Assembly met on Wednesday to debate the Goldstone Report on the Gaza war, the central issue for the UK government was whether the resolution under discussion was to be “welcomed”, “endorsed” or “noted”.

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BNP praises Israel minister on foreigners

By Martin Bright and Anshel Pfeffer, November 5, 2009

The British National Party has leapt on comments by Israel’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, to suggest that the extreme-right party shares a common immigration policy with Israel.

Mr Yishai claimed that foreign workers brought diseases into Israel and that their presence threatened the Jewish and Zionist identity of the state.

He also attacked cabinet colleagues who were in favour of allowing the children of illegal foreign workers to remain in Israel.

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'Hardcore' Islamist gets top anti-terror post at Home Office

By Martin Bright, November 5, 2009

A “hardcore” Islamist has been given a key Home Office job to tackle terrorism and divert fellow Muslims from the path of violence.

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Goldstone: Franco-British initiative

By Martin Bright, Political Editor, November 3, 2009

Britain and France have today delivered a new proposal to the United Nations calling on Israel and the Palestinians to launch an immediate inquiry into allegations of war crimes during the war in Gaza.

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UK's tactics over the report could hurt Obama's MidEast mission

By Martin Bright, October 22, 2009

Who would have thought that white phosphorous would become the issue to unite Gordon Brown and David Miliband, after a year of tension between Downing Street and the Foreign Office?

But the two rivals have found common ground over Israel’s use of the controversial smoke-producing substance during the war in Gaza earlier this year.

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