Martin Bright

Analysis: Will Straw toe line?

By Martin Bright, January 7, 2010

As the government swirls in a blizzard of plot and counterplot, most commentators agree that two key members of the Cabinet have risen above the fray — Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

There is, therefore, no excuse for them not to get down to business over the issue of who it is within this country’s judicial system who can issue arrest warrants for visiting foreign politicians accused of war crimes: local magistrates or the Attorney General. But can Mr Straw be persuaded to overcome his resistance to new legislation?

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Analysis: This stuff really matters to the Labour government

By Martin Bright, December 17, 2009

If Tzipi Livni is a war criminal then she should stand trial at the International Criminal Court. Israel is not beyond judgment for its actions. If crimes against humanity were committed in Gaza by Israeli troops, then the war cabinet in which Ms Livni served as Foreign Minister should be held to account. The British government understands that and — although this may come as a surprise to some people — so does the Israeli government.

Ms Livni suggested as much herself in a speech on Tuesday following the news that she cancelled a trip to Britain for fear of arrest.

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Anti-Israel attacks spread across web

By Martin Bright, December 17, 2009

Anti-Zionist activists are increasingly turning their attention to a web-based de-legitimisation campaign against Israel rather than high-profile public protests against individual politicians.

The Community Security Trust is particularly concerned about the organisation Redress, which highlights alleged injustice across the Middle East via its website and social networks Facebook and Twitter.

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Livni arrest warrant will be last, insists Miliband

By Martin Bright, December 17, 2009

The government has confirmed it will act to prevent Israeli politicians being vulnerable to arrest in Britain.

The move follows a furious reaction from Israel and the British Jewish community at attempts to arrest the Israeli opposition politician Tzipi Livni, who was forced to cancel an appearance at the Jewish National Fund conference she was due to attend last weekend.

Pro-Palestinian lawyers had obtained an arrest warrant for Ms Livni’s involvement in the Israeli war cabinet decision to authorise Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

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Government split over Gaza war 'line'

By Martin Bright, December 10, 2009

Two government departments have clashed over official policy on the last Gaza conflict.

The Foreign Office was forced to intervene to stop a Department for Communities and Local Government initiative to reassure the Muslim community that the British government did not support Israel’s actions in Gaza, the JC can reveal.

The DCLG, which is responsible for the government’s Prevent programme to tackle violent extremism, was keen to emphasise that the British government had serious reservations about Israel’s Cast Lead operation.

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Campaign builds against Harrow mosque demo

By Martin Bright, December 10, 2009

Home Secretary Alan Johnson, local politicians and religious leaders of all denominations have joined the Jewish community in urging people to stay away from a demonstration against the building of Harrow mosque planned for this Sunday.

Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE), the organisation behind the demo, said it would press ahead with its protest against the building of the mosque and attacked Jewish leaders for opposing the demonstration.

A previous demonstration on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks ended in violence as Muslim youths chased SIOE demonstrators from the area.

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Ed Miliband: Climate change can unite religions

By Martin Bright, December 10, 2009

The issue of global warming has the capacity to unite faith communities in a common cause and challenge sectarianism, according to Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband.

Speaking to the JC on the eve of the UN talks on climate change in Copenhagen, Mr Miliband said it was reassuring to him that leaders from religious groups, including the Jewish community, had embraced the cause.

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Muslim chief blasts Islamic group for its 'Zionist support'

By Martin Bright, December 3, 2009

A prominent spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain has criticised the moderate Muslim organisers of a demonstration against extremism for attracting the support of Zionists and supporters of Israel.

Inayat Bunglawala of the MCB defended his attacks on British Muslims for Secular Democracy because leading members of the organisation opposed the wearing of the hijab and believed drinking was permitted in Islam. The chair of the organisation is Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

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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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