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Contracting – Then and Now!

A group of cleaners at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been put under disciplinary investigation by their employers after raising the issue of their low pay in a letter to the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond.

“Foreign Office cleaners disciplined after writing to Philip Hammond for pay increase”
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/19/foreign-office-cleaners-interserve-living-wage

While being perfectly within their rights to seek better remuneration, it could be said that the way they went about it was by no means the best.

They should have first tried to handle with their employer, rather than go outside the company. This is true for two reasons:- a) both their employer and the contracting company would expect it to be handled that way, and b) the contracting company would not expect to take any action unless it could be shown that their employer was at fault.

In this case, the result was very bad for the contract workers.

Airbus A300This reminded me of a spell in Hamburg, Germany, in 1976, when I was working on contract for MBB, Finkenwerde. There was a group of us Brits working on contract there, but the group was split between two different agencies:- Premmit Associates, and Bothwick International. Premmit was the more experienced agency by far, which soon became apparent.

Payment was into a local bank in Finkenwerder every 14 days against signed time records. The problem with Bothwick was that they didn’t seem to be aware of the fact that public holidays in Germany were different to those in the UK, and several times this resulted in a non-availability of money in the bank. Representations were made to Bothwick, who promised to improve, but in fact didn’t. The situation reached a crisis point on one weekend when I had planned to visit my family in England, but had no money with which to do it!

Others suffered similar crises, especially families with children, who would suddenly find they had no budget for the weekend, as the payment had been delayed.

Of course, the people on contract with Premmit, had no such problems whatsoever, as Premmit was organised properly.

This presented a solution to the problem as follows:-

I requested an interview with the Personnel Dept. at MBB, (the client company), explained the situation, and explained the measures that had been taken to correct matters. The Personnel Manager was very understanding, and even offered to lend money to those left in dire straits until a permanent fix to the problem was available.

The fix was to remove Bothwick International from the list of approved agencies, and to allow all contractors who had been working with them to transfer to Premmit.

For the Germans it was simple enough. They did not want disgruntled contract staff on the premises – it would interfere with the work schedule. And time was always tight!

airbus-finkenwerder

As I had no intention of staying longer than the initial 6-month contract, I didn’t make the transfer, but most of the others did. The type of work we were doing was aircraft wiring diagrams, which was technically a long way below my normal work on computers. I couldn’t stay there too long without a permanent penalty in employment prospects, even though the salary was attractive.

(In spite of that, we found out that the German permanent staff workers were on a higher salary than we were, and they didn’t have the inconvenience of working in another country.)

In general, the agencies were not trusted by the working population. They were regarded as greedy swine who were taking an exorbitant rate out of our salaries just for being in the right place at the right time, or knowing a little bit more than the rest of us.

This made it almost compulsory to find out exactly how much of a rake-off they were getting from the client company, and anyone that took too much off the top soon found they were having trouble to find recruits. Word soon got around on the jungle telegraph, and greedy so-and-so’s were black-listed.

Agencies do have value, but not if the costs are too high. Agencies working with people abroad should be able to manage comfortably with a 21% mark-up. If working solely within the UK, the mark-up should be no more than 15%. If you find yourself working with an agency that is charging more than that, ask for a better rate. If you don’t get it – MOVE!

Enlightened agencies will have realised that to keep their clients happy, they have to look after the staff they supply. This is borne out by the present situation resulting from the Hamburg episode above – Premmit Associates, and Bothwick International.

You can find Premmit Associates at http://premmit.co.uk/index.html
The company still exists, some 40 years later, with the same man still in charge – Reginald Gourgey. The nature of the company may have changed, but its success depends on the vision and capability of this one man.

Bothwick International, on the other hand, no longer exists. See https://companycheck.co.uk/company/01148576/BOTHWICK-INTERNATIONAL-LIMITED/financial-accounts
where you will find that the company has been dissolved, and there are no accounts available.

Knowing the people involved, I find that this is no surprise at all!

TTIP is a ‘revolution against international law’, says UN Expert

This item is by Nick Dearden, 16 October 2015, and is available at http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/blog/2015/oct/16/ttip-‘revolution-against-international-law’-says-un-expert

Permission to re-blog has been requested.

Alfred-Maurice de Zayas

“Globalization cannot be allowed to become the grand global casino where investors rig the system to guarantee that they always win.” UN human rights expert Alfred-Maurice de Zayas doesn’t mince his words when it comes to the new generation of trade deals like TTIP.

He believes the corporate court system at the centre of the deal, which allows foreign companies to sue governments in secret “is tantamount to a revolution against law, it is retrogression in terms of legality and predictability, a no-man’s land of arbitrary arbitrations.”

De Zayas was speaking to the UN Human Rights Council and his transcript is well worth reading in full. He believes the privileges which big business is gaining through trade agreements like TTIP “constitute an attack on the very essence of sovereignty and self-determination, which are founding principles of the United Nations.”

The ‘corporate courts’ system is “a Trojan horse” threatening “a privatized system of dispute settlement, outside and contrary to … the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

And there’s more.

“Experience shows that many of the 608 arbitration awards that have become known, have overridden national law and hindered States in the sovereign determination of fiscal and budgetary policy, labour, health and environmental regulation, and have had adverse human rights impacts, also on third parties, including a “chilling effect” with regard to the exercise of democratic governance.”

Officially known as Investor State Dispute Settlement or ISDS, corporate courts bring us closer to a private international system of law which threatens the whole basis of human rights and democracy. De Zayas says:

“An international order of sovereign and equal States … must not be undermined by private attempts to replace it with an international order ruled by investors, speculators and transnational enterprises lacking democratic legitimacy.. international investment agreements are usurping State functions as if the only rights were the rights to trade and to invest.”

What can we do about all of this? We’re constantly told by the British government that hundreds of such courts already exist and we’re trying to defy history. De Zayas disagrees:

“termination of international investment agreements may be a complex task, but much less problematic than, for example, dealing with armed conflict. The world economy has had to adjust time and again to advance the cause of human dignity.

“So it was with the prohibition of the lucrative slave trade, the abolition of slavery and decolonization, which were replaced by other economic models. … eventually investor–State dispute settlement will be recognized as an experiment gone wrong, an attempt to hijack constitutionality, resulting in the retrogression of human rights.”

To start off, de Zayas lays down straightforward guidelines for the British and other governments contemplating deals like TTIP. First, “ISDS should be abolished” as it has no place in a democratic world. He believes states must defy corporate court decisions that violate human rights and even suggests appealing to the World Court to prove “the invalidity of ISDS awards that are arbitrary and manifestly ill-founded.”

Second, government need to “conduct human rights, health and environmental impact assessments” and give maximum transparency to the negotiations which “must not be secret or ‘fast-tracked’”. Deals must not involve “unreasonable ‘survival clause’”, something which surely covers the 20 years it would take a government to withdraw from TTIP.

Finally de Zayas urges states to work together against this corporate coup, because a “democratic and equitable international order can only be achieved by States in international solidarity”.

Why the British Establishment Wants Jeremy Corbyn Buried

By Graham Vanbergen
Global Research, September 30, 2015
TruePublica 30 September 2015

This item was originally posted at http://www.globalresearch.ca/why-the-british-establishment-wants-jeremy-corbyn-buried/5478905

and is re-blogged with permission of the author.

Flag_United_Kingdom

The term “the establishment” refers to leading politicians, senior civil servants, senior barristers and judges, aristocrats, Oxbridge academics, senior clergy, the most important financiers and industrialists, governors of the BBC, members of and top aides to the royal family to mention most, but not all.

The term in this sense is sometimes mistakenly believed to have been coined by the British journalist Henry Fairlie, who in September 1955 in the London magazine ‘The Spectator’ defined that network of prominent, well-connected people as “the Establishment”, explaining: “By the Establishment, I do not only mean the centres of official power—though they are certainly part of it—but rather the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised”.

Corbyn

Following that, the term, the Establishment, was quickly picked up in newspapers and magazines all over London, making Fairlie famous. Today, the term ‘the establishment’ is used generally in a negative sense and it’s easy to understand why.

“The British public has become deeply cynical about the political class at Westminster”, states a recent Financial Times editorial.

“Bankers feel they have an ethical duty to steal from taxpayers” – another reads

“Why are we subsidising the royal family at a time of gross inequality” says another headline.

There has been a rising tide of contempt and anger towards bankers, property speculators, hedge fund bosses, politicians and even religious leaders and the royal family.

For instance, membership of Britain’s unelected upper house, the House of Lords has soared from 666 peers in 1999 to nearly 850 today, well in excess of the House of Commons. The Lords is now the second largest parliamentary chamber in the world behind only the Chinese Peoples Congress. Whilst their chamber is 3.5 times larger, it’s population is 18 times the size of ours. The House of Lords is clearly an expanding repository of political patronage for the prime minister and is no longer fit for purpose or for a modern democracy.

It appears that those who lecture the working and middle classes about financial and moral belt-tightening are the very ones up to their necks in corruption and scandals of all kinds, including sex and paedophile rings to name but a few. The Establishment is now under fire.

In the past, these scandals were kept under wraps. They closed ranks to protect themselves. Top judges and police chiefs covered up for wealthy and powerful friends, including politicians. After all, they were from the same social class, shared the same clubs and sent their children to the same private schools, a grotesque example highlighted recently with David Cameron and Lord Ashcroft’s ‘Piggate‘ revelations.

In recent times, the rich have become much wealthier and everyone else poorer. Tories, Liberal Democrats and New Labour fell over themselves to please their friends in the City of London, a gang of speculators who stripped the nation of its prosperity and then paid themselves huge bonuses for having got away with it.

David Cameron is currently at the centre of this group, financed by the rich and super rich who was described in the commons “a dodgy prime minister surrounded by dodgy donors”, who turned a blind eye to tax avoidance by the rich and big business.

In order to keep the reigns of power, the establishment is frightened of one thing and one thing only – Democracy.

Extending real voting options to the poor would obviously present risks to their position. For instance, Conservative statesman Lord Salisbury told parliament in 1866, Giving working-class people the vote would, he stated, tempt them to pass “laws with respect to taxation and property especially favourable to them, and therefore dangerous to all other classes”. Today, you can hear exactly the same narrative against the new labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a scathing attack by media barons and corporate executives along with politicians and even military generals.

The establishment is characterised by those with ideas that legitimise and protect the concentration of wealth and power in very few hands. The establishment do not want democracy at all but a veneer of democracy must be provided.

It is because the establishment is made up of politicians who devise our laws, police to enforce those laws, corporate entities who are increasingly dominating economic performance (unpaid taxes for instance) and a smaller band of media barons who also set the terms of debate and the result of that debate that we see a closed shop network construct itself.

A conflict of interest of epic proportions. It is here that we find a common psychology and shared understanding.

The scandal surrounding the money laundering and tax evasion operations at HSBC exposes the links between a corrupt banking elite and a rotten political establishment. Lord Green, former head of HSBC, was at the centre of this tax dodgers’ row. He chaired HSBC until December 2010, when he became a Conservative trade minister and was given a peerage by David Cameron. You can see a major conflict of interest here unless afflicted with total sensory deprivation.

Lord Green was then given staunch backing by the Church of England. Needless to say, these preachers of great moral fortitude have a long tradition in protecting their own. Lord Green, a millionaire banker is a devout Christian and ordained Anglican priest. The archbishops of Canterbury and York said they were grateful to the former HSBC boss for his “contribution and expertise”. One could easily assume this to be a clan of hypocrites that have attacked politicians for failing to provide a “fresh moral vision”, but then act no differently.

Another religious entity, The Vatican, has large investments with the Rothschilds of Britain, France and America, with Credit Suisse in London and Zurich with Morgan Bank and Chase-Manhattan Bank and others in the US and UK. All of these organisations have been involved in global, anti-social criminality adopting fraud as the basis of its profit centres, especially in London.

The Catholic church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence. She is a greater possessor of material riches (such as property and gold bullion) than any other single institution, corporation, bank, giant trust, government or state of the whole globe. With covering up sex crimes, inappropriate behaviour among prelates, political infighting and the existence of a clandestine gay cabal at the highest levels, the Catholic Church has a long shameful history and is the epitome of the establishment.

The crimes of the establishment are racking up at an alarming rate. However, if you get caught without paying your TV licence fee, laws designed to catch terrorists are used by the BBC to ensure your good behaviour.

In the meantime, one can take the example of how the establishment works when it blames society for all it’s troubles as a diversionary tactic. The media have managed to make the British population believe that 27% of social security money has been fraudulently gained when the figure is actually 0.7%. The media barons, and there are only five of them in Britain who own 80% of printed media outlets, don’t live in Britain and none pay tax in Britain but they want to continue pillaging Britain and get away with it.

This same tactic provides cover for the government to impose austerity that has caused the biggest transfer of wealth from the vulnerable, the poor, working class and middle classes directly in a route north.

The establishment are largely responsible for a neoliberal ideology that is so damaging to society as a whole – It’s the business model that fits. They use the term ‘economic freedom’ as if this is to somehow benefit us all, which it rarely does. For example, almost universally, this philosophy is used to transfer state assets to profit driven business (privatisation) that has enriched the few and made everyone else pay.

If the political system remains committed to the type of capitalism that exists in Britain today, it will always end up justifying a system that produces a mega-rich and privileged elite. Hence, why Jeremy Corbyn is such a threat to the establishment.

Jeremy Corbyn looks like the first senior politician who will not be corrupted by the establishment. Bankers will not be funding the party. He will not support war. He doesn’t support Israel, He is not religious and doesn’t believe in the monarchy. He will be the first prime minister (if elected) for decades that does not, and probably will not support the establishment.

So frightened of Corbyn, the establishment is now mobilising their entire resourcefullness at him, evidenced by a threatened military coup – not quite akin to Chile in the 1970’s but an extreme tactic to say the least, one spawned from desperation for sure.

The crisis of extreme, out of control ‘capitalism’ simply exposes the rottenness of the system. British capitalism has become casino capitalism, based upon property speculation, banking and financial services. In fact, the services sector now provides 80% of business activity in Britain leaving millions without meaningful work or income.

Extreme capitalism means a concentration of wealth at one pole, and poverty and degradation at the other with the bit in the middle being eviscerated. This is where the establishment languish. Jeremy Corbyn does not fit in. The stakes are very high.

Copyright © Graham Vanbergen, TruePublica, 2015

The Greens – Was it a Surge, or a Bubble?

The so-called Green Surge has expended its energy without having achieved anything of significance other than moving a point on a graph up a few points – only for it to crash down to a lower position than it occupied before the surge started!

The fact that the choice of party leader is not the optimum is only one of the factors affecting this outcome.

There has been a concerted effort to make the choice of a Green candidate available in as many constituencies as possible. This has spread resources so thin that new resources have had to be generated by crowd-funding. The constituencies newly offering a Green candidate will continue to consume resources until the election is over. I ask whether it would have been better to concentrate on a more focussed approach as outlined below (from http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/james-blog/2393165/where-next-for-the-green-surge).

“If I was a Green Party member, and I’m not, I’d want to see a strategy for securing 15 per cent of the vote and a credible set of tactics for winning at least three seats and being competitive in plenty more.”

Having listened to some of the available interviews with Natalie Bennett on Youtube, I am appalled at the sheer ineptitude demonstrated. Not only is her speaking manner very bad, it is patently obvious that she does not know the subject matter in sufficient detail – to put it bluntly –
She doesn’t know what she is talking about!

For anyone being interviewed in the public domain, that would be a severe indictment indeed, but for a person that purports to lead a political party, it is political suicide. And if the party insists on continuing to support that person, the negative effects will spread much wider.

We have indeed seen this happen. The Green surge has dissipated, leaving hardly a trace behind it.

There is still some time before the election to make some amends, and I strongly recommend that the following approach be at least considered.

a) Immediately put Amelia Womack in charge of the party – if she is willing to take it on.
b) If she can’t handle it, find someone who can, and is willing!
c) Ask Caroline Lucas to do any TV debates that may be scheduled – she is the only one with the experience to handle that!
d) Take Natalie Bennett out of main stream altogether. She should not be one of the candidates in the coming election!

There is a significant advantage for taking these steps before the election. It is good to admit openly that a failure has been made, and has been corrected. It will generate trust, a valuable commodity for any political party, and will demonstrate that you are not afraid to take corrective measures when necessary.

The alternative is to do nothing, and then after the election has been totally lost, you can blame everyone for your own failures! This option is totally unconvincing, and is likely to send the Green party into political oblivion for a number of years.

Bite the bullet! Make the change now!

PS. I am curious. If you get the opportunity, find out what Natalie Bennett’s views on racism in Australia are. The only exception to the generally appalling treatment of the indigenous population seems to be if they are good at tennis!

The “Follower” problem.

For those of you running a straight blog, with no fancy technical additions, there will actually be no problem visible, for the simple reason that you don’t have one.

If, however, you have had the temerity to aspire to the next Geek level, and have added your Twitter feed to your WordPress blog, you will be seeing the same problem as I do:-

The Follower count is never updated!

What happens when the two systems are merged is that the Follower count for the blog is added to the Follower count for Twitter, and the combined count is displayed.

For Twitter users, the Follower count is quite dynamic. I am seeing increases of up to 10 per day, only to be followed by a decrease of 5 the next day, for example. You would expect the combined account to follow the same pattern, but it doesn’t:- it remains completely static as the count calculated when the two systems were merged.

The problem has been reported, and I am awaiting developments.

In the meantime, if you are absolutely desperate to display the burgeoning number of your followers, you can always disconnect Twitter, and then reconnect it – at which time your follower count will be updated to the latest status.

Just for the Record – 2!

The dictionary defines “War of Attrition” as ‘one whose outcome depends on which side can last longer’. In the case of Israel and Palestine, it is patently obvious that Israel, with its overwhelmingly superior forces, and virtually unlimited financial resources, (including those that it steals from the Palestinians), will be the eventual winner.

And to the people that have not yet realised it, I say that although the open warfare may have ended at last August’s cease-fire agreement, the war of attrition has never stopped!

Soldiers Uproot Farmlands In Nablus, Invade Hebron Communities
Torture Of Palestinian Detainees By Israeli Investigators Rises Sharply
Israel kills fisherman and reduces Gaza’s fishing space by 2 miles: Union
On International Women’s Day: 20 Palestinian Woman Still Held Captive By Israeli Occupation
Firing zone used to expand settlements, demolish Palestinian homes
Crushing Flowers: A Report Documenting Violations Against Palestinian Women #WomensDay
Israeli Terrorists Assault Elderly Palestinian Man In The Old City
Israeli Occupation Soldiers Attack Disabled Palestinian Teenager North of Jenin
The sadness of Gaza’s Swedish village
Gaza’s farmers on front lines of perpetual war
Israel demolished 50 Arab homes in the Negev since start of year
Gaza fisherman shot dead by Israeli naval forces
Israeli Occupation Forces Shoot 7-Year-Old Palestinian In Jerusalem
Israeli forces shoot, injure 5 teens near Ramallah
Israeli Occupation Navy Murders Gaza Fisherman
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinians in southern Gaza Strip
Gaza’s farmers on front lines of perpetual war
Settlers torch 2 Palestinian cars near Ramallah
Israeli authorities demolish Bedouin houses in Negev village
Israeli Occupation Forces Open Fire On Gaza Houses, Farmlands
Israeli Occupation Forces Shoot, Injure 2 And Abduct Three Fishermen From Gaza
Israeli Occupation Soldiers Setting Dogs To Attack Palestinian Youth Is Part Of Official Policy
Only five percent of pledged aid reaches Gaza
Displaced Palestinians living in uncertainty in schools
Gaza’s Power Plant shuts down due to fuel shortage
Murder holes and hooligan chants: images of Israel’s war crimes
Israeli forces arrest two shepherds in the South Hebron Hills
Israeli forces shoot, injure 2 fishermen off Gaza coast
Israeli Occupation Naval Gunboats Continue To Target Gaza Fishermen Offshore
Israeli Occupation Denies PLO Officials Entry To West Bank From Gaza
Israeli Occupation To Ethnically Cleanse Bedouin Naqab Village
Israeli Occupation Seals Off Palestinian Stone-Cutting Factory Near Hebron
Israeli Occupation Naval Gunboats Continue To Target Gaza Fishermen Offshore
Absurd! Israeli Occupation Forces Arrest Palestinian Student For Possession Of Geometric Compass
PA pays limited salaries as Israel withholds taxes
Israel police destroy Bedouin agricultural crops in Negev

The above list could have been much longer if I was really looking. In all truth, the plight of the Palestinians is dire, while their oppressors, the Israelis, get away with crimes on a massive scale with no effective restraining influence anywhere in the world.

The situation requires radical action. The occupation of Palestinian land must immediately cease, the freedom of the seas be reinstated, and the theft of Palestinian off-shore resources stopped. Move all Israeli settlers back off Palestinian land, and give the houses to the Palestinians.

It is to be expected that Israeli settlers would violently oppose such a move, extremists that they are. I propose a special area for them – in Antarctica, where they can cool off!

Notes:-
1. There were at least 329 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 2014, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
2. More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
3. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.

Just for the Record – 1!

PalestinianReturnsHomeGazaOPE

50 Days of Death & Destruction: Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge”

The above site provides an excellent record of the atrocities carried out by the Israelis against Palestinians during that period. This will provide a starting point, for although the open warfare has been discontinued, the daily violations of ceasefire constitute a War of Attrition, which will be documented in more detail in the next post.

For further reference, see our recently released fact sheets Putting Palestinians “On a Diet”: Israel’s Siege & Blockade of Gaza and The Children of Gaza: A Generation Scarred & Under Siege, and our previously released fact check, Israeli Claims About the Assault on Gaza.

Palestinians Killed & Injured
According to the United Nations, between July 7 and August 26, at least 2131 Palestinians were killed in Gaza as a result of Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge.” According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, a total of 2168 Palestinians were killed, while the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) put the total number of Palestinian fatalities at 2191. (NOTE: Updated February 2015 to reflect revised PCHR figures)

According to the UN, at least 1473 of the dead were civilians, including 501 children and 257 women, with another 379 individuals yet to be identified. According to PCHR, 1660 Palestinian civilians were killed, including 527 children and 299 women, while Al Mezan reported that 1666 of the dead were civilians, including 521 children and 297 women. For further reference, see “Notable Incidents of Civilian Casualties” section in fact sheet here. (NOTE: Updated February 2015 to reflect revised PCHR figures)

According to the UN, at least 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members killed in a single Israeli attack, for a total of 739 fatalities (see here for more), and up to 1500 children were orphaned.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 11,100 Palestinians were wounded, including 3374 children, 2088 women, and 410 elderly people. The UN estimates that 1000 of the injured children will suffer a lifelong disability.

The UN estimates that at least 373,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support (PSS), while every child in Gaza has been affected by the crisis and will need some level of psychosocial support. (For more on the toll inflicted on Gaza’s children, see our recently released fact sheet, The Children of Gaza: A Generation Scarred & Under Siege.)

During the same period, 71 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, including 66 soldiers and four civilians, as well as one foreign worker from Thailand.

Homes Destroyed & Palestinians Displaced
According to the UN, 18,000 housing units were totally destroyed or severely damaged by Israeli attacks, leaving approximately 108,000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians homeless. Prior to this latest assault, there were 12,000 Palestinians still displaced from Israel’s 2008-09 attack, “Operation Cast Lead,” and a shortage of 71,000 housing units, according to the UN. (See here for UN Gaza Crisis Atlas, showing satellite images and geographic distribution of attacks.)
According to the UN, at the peak of Israel’s assault, an estimated 485,000 people (approximately 28% of Gaza’s population) were displaced.

Destruction of Civilian Infrastructure
Israeli attacks caused widespread damage to Gaza’s already frail and dilapidated electrical grid, run down and in disrepair after seven years of siege and blockade. Most notably, on July 29 Israel bombed Gaza’s only power plant, knocking it out of commission indefinitely, prompting Amnesty International to condemn the attack as an act of “collective punishment” against the entire population. (Israel previously bombed the plant during assaults in 2006 and 2008-09.) According to the UN, even following repairs to what remains of the electrical grid, most areas of Gaza continue to endure up to 18 hours of electrical outages a day.

Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s power plant caused the shutdown of water treatment plants, while Israeli tank fire put Gaza’s largest sewage treatment plant out of commission. Other Israeli attacks did extensive damage to Gaza’s water and sewage systems, also already in critical condition due to the siege and previous Israeli assaults, leading to the release of raw sewage into open pools, farmland, and the Mediterranean Sea, causing health concerns and affecting fishermen. On August 5, Oxfam warned that Israeli attacks damaging wells, pipelines, and reservoirs had caused the contamination of fresh water supplies, already heavily contaminated before the assault, and that 15,000 tons of solid waste had leaked into the streets of Gaza.

According to the September 4 UN Gaza crisis report:
450,000 people were unable to access municipal water systems due to infrastructure damage and/or low water pressure.
On average, 20% to 30% of Gaza’s water and wastewater systems remain significantly damaged.
According to the UN, 22 schools were destroyed and 118 damaged, and at least six teachers killed. As a result of the ongoing violence, schools being damaged and destroyed, and displaced people taking refuge in schools, nearly half a million children had the start of their school year delayed, from August 24 to September 14. As the UN noted in its September 4 Gaza crisisreport:

“The education sector was already overstretched prior to the crisis, suffering from a shortage of almost 200 schools, with classes running in double shifts… When schools open, children will face even more acute over-crowding and under-resourcing as a result of the collateral damage suffered.

“Additionally, with hundreds of thousands of children in need of psychosocial support (PSS), teachers and educational staff (many of whom have also experienced acute trauma) will be stretched to provide the appropriate support required to ease children back in to school and to provide ongoing support throughout the school year.”

Damage to Industry & Commerce
According to the Palestinian Federation of Industries, 419 businesses and workshops were damaged, and 128 totally destroyed by Israeli attacks.

The overall unemployment rate in Gaza prior to Israel’s latest assault was 45% (70% for those aged 20-24). According to the UN: “It is expected that labour market conditions in Gaza will further deteriorate following the conflict, exacerbating the impact of the blockade and the longstanding access restrictions imposed by Israel which have been preventing any meaningful economic activity.”
According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Gaza’s economy was in a “state of total collapse” even prior Israel’s latest attack, warning on September 3 of “grave consequences” if Israel’s siege and blockade aren’t lifted.

Damage to Agricultural & Fishing Sectors
Israeli attacks also caused severe damage to Gaza’s agricultural and fishing sectors, particularly in areas near Gaza’s boundary with Israel, which were subjected to intense bombardment and designated a no-go zone by the Israeli military during much of the assault. According to the UN:
“Hostilities forced farmers and herders to abandon their lands, and resulted in substantial direct damage to Gaza’s 17,000 hectares [42,00 acres] of croplands as well as much of its agricultural infrastructure, including greenhouses, irrigation systems, animal farms, fodder stocks and fishing boats. Access to the sea was also prohibited for most of the 50 days of hostilities; restrictions have been restored to the six nautical mile limit, but there have been reports of shooting at, and detaining, fishermen in recent days, reportedly for exceeding this limit.

“These losses come on top of an already fragile economy and livelihoods. Around 66 per cent of the population of Gaza was receiving food assistance prior to the crisis and the household food insecurity level or vulnerable to food insecure stood at 72 per cent of households.”
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, the poultry sector suffered $10 million in losses as a result of the Israeli offensive, which killed two million chickens and caused widespread damage to farms and agricultural structures.

Reconstruction
According to the Palestinian Authority, it will cost $7.8 billion (USD) to repair the damage caused by Israel’s assault, including $2.5 billion for housing, $250 million for the energy sector, and approximately $143 million for education. (For more on the costs of the most pressing humanitarian and reconstruction needs, see the UN’s Gaza Crisis Appeal, September 9.)

According to the UN:
“In addition to shelter solutions, the main priority for humanitarian agencies continues to be the repair and reconstruction and the restoration of essential services to affected communities, which effectively means the entire population of the Gaza Strip. However, this will not be possible without a more permanent agreement that will allow for the entry of the materials needed to re-build homes, schools and hospitals, to repair roads, electricity lines and water and sanitation networks and bring about transformational change in Gaza.”

Evidence of War Crimes Committed by Israeli Forces
Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented evidence of widespread violations of the laws of war committed by the Israeli military during “Operation Protective Edge,” including:
The reckless and disproportionate use of deadly force in densely populated urban areas.
Attacks on medical facilities and workers and UN schools sheltering displaced civilians.
Attacks on civilians and the targeting of civilian infrastructure and the homes of Palestinian political and military officials.

The Use of Reckless & Disproportionate Force
The Israeli military employs a strategy known as the Dahiya Doctrine, which calls for the systematic use of massive and disproportionate force, including against civilian targets, in order to defeat and deter enemies. The doctrine is named after the Dahiya neighborhood of Beirut, a stronghold of the Hezbollah movement, that Israel virtually destroyed during its assault on Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

During “Operation Protective Edge” the Israeli military used imprecise weaponry, artillery in particular, in densely populated areas, leading to huge civilian casualties. On August 15, Haaretz newspaper reported that up until that point, the Israeli army had fired at least 32,000 artillery shells into Gaza – four times the amount used during “Operation Cast Lead,” Israel’s devastating 22-day assault in the winter of 2008-09. On July 30, Amnesty International issued a statement condemning an attack on a UN school in Jabalia that killed at least 17 civilians sheltering from the violence, noting:

“It is inevitable that the repeated use of artillery in densely populated civilian neighbourhoods will lead to the unlawful killing and injury of civilians and destruction and damage to civilian buildings, regardless of the intended target. Israeli forces have used such reckless tactics before, including in Operation ‘Cast Lead’ in 2008/9, when some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, the majority of them civilians.”

Israeli forces destroyed entire neighborhoods in areas such as Shejaiya in central Gaza, Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, and Khozaa, and flattened high-rise residential buildings and shopping centers.(See here for video of Beit Hanoun being destroyed in the space of less than one hour.)
On July 28, UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon warned that Israeli attacks on Gaza raised “serious questions about proportionality.”
On July 23, Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, expressed deep concern over possible Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza, telling a special session of the UN Human Rights Council:
“The targeting of civilian homes is a violation of international humanitarian law, unless the homes are being used for military purposes. Attacks against military objectives must offer a definite military advantage in the prevailing circumstances, and precautions must be taken to protect civilian lives… A number of incidents, along with the high number of civilian deaths, belie the claim that all necessary precautions are being taken. People – particularly the elderly, sick and those with disabilities – are not given sufficient time to scramble out of their homes. When they do manage to run out into the street, there is nowhere to hide and no way of knowing where the next shell or missile will land.”

The vast majority (approximately 70-75%) of Palestinians killed by the Israeli military during “Operation Protective Edge” were civilians. In comparison to the 1473 to 1666 Palestinian civilians killed by Israel, only four Israeli civilians and one foreign worker were killed by Palestinians during the same period. The number of Palestinian children killed alone (approximately 500) exceeds the total number of Israelis, civilians and soldiers, killed by Palestinians in rocket and all other attacks over the past decade.
Over the course of its ground invasion, the Israeli military twice invoked the so-called “Hannibal Directive,” which calls for pouring heavy fire into the immediate vicinity and surrounding areas when an Israeli soldier is believed to have been taken prisoner, in order to prevent their capture:

On July 20, the Israeli military launched a bloody assault against the residential neighborhood of Shejaiya in Gaza City following the apparent capture of a soldier by Palestinian fighters, killing more than 66 people including at least 17 children, 14 women and four elderly people. In the space of less than an hour, the Israeli army fired more than 600 artillery shells into Shejaiya. Condemning the high civilian death toll, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Israel’s actions “atrocious.” In a press release accompanying an open letter to Israel’s attorney general on July 21, 10 Israeli human rights organizations expressed “serious concern” about “the legality of the operation, and in particular, the potential violation of the fundamental principles of the laws of war, specifically the principle of distinguishing between combatants and civilians.”

On August 1, the Israeli military killed between 130 and 150 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in Rafah in southern Gaza after an Israeli soldier was reportedly taken as a prisoner of war by Palestinian fighters (he was later declared dead by Israel). During the assault, Israeli forces fired more than 1000 artillery shells in the space of three hours.

Attacks on UN Schools Sheltering Civilians
On at least seven different occasions, the Israeli military attacked UN schools sheltering displaced civilians, killing approximately 43 people and wounding hundreds more in three of the incidents:
On August 3, an Israeli missile strike outside of a UN school in Rafah in southern Gaza killed at least 10 civilians, including at least one child, and wounded dozens of others. Condemning the attack, UN officials said that they had informed the Israeli military of the exact GPS coordinates of the school, where approximately 3000 Palestinians were taking shelter, 33 times in an attempt to prevent it from being bombed, the final time just an hour before the attack. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the Israeli attack a “moral outrage and a criminal act,” while a US State Department spokesperson declared “the United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling,” adding, “The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.” The incident was the third time an Israeli attack killed civilians taking refuge in a UN school in the previous 10 days.

On July 30, at least 17 people were killed, including four children, and almost 100 wounded when Israeli tanks shelled a UN school where more than 3000 internally displaced people (IDP) were taking shelter in Jabalia in northern Gaza. Condemning the attack, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared: “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children.” According to UN officials, they had given the Israeli military GPS coordinates for the school 17 times since July 16 in an attempt to ensure it wasn’t attacked.
On July 24, a UN school in Beit Hanoun where approximately 1500 IDPs were sheltering was struck by several Israeli missiles, killing at least 16 people and injuring 150 others. According to UN officials, they twice asked the Israeli military to allow a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from the school during the day, but Israel refused.

Attacks on Hospitals & Other Medical Facilities
At least 24 medical facilities were damaged and at least 16 health care workers were reportedly killed in Israeli attacks. Notable examples of attacks on medical facilities include:
On July 23, the Israeli military shelled the Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital east of Gaza City seriously damaging the building. Between July 11 and July 17, Israeli forces attacked the hospital on three occasions, injuring four patients and staff.
On July 21, Israel attacked the Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza, killing four people and injuring 40 others.
On July 12, an Israeli airstrike killed two residents of a special needs facility in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza and seriously wounded several others. The dead were 31-year-old Ola Washahi and 47-year-old Suha Abu Saada, who both suffered from severe mental and physical handicaps.
(See here for a more extensive list of attacks against medical facilities and workers.)

On August 7, Amnesty International issued a statement entitled “Mounting evidence of deliberate attacks on Gaza health workers by Israeli army,” which read in part:
“An immediate investigation is needed into mounting evidence that the Israel Defense Forces launched apparently deliberate attacks against hospitals and health professionals in Gaza, which have left six medics dead.”

“‘The harrowing descriptions by ambulance drivers and other medics of the utterly impossible situation in which they have to work, with bombs and bullets killing or injuring their colleagues as they try to save lives, paint a grim reality of life in Gaza,’ said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. ‘Even more alarming is the mounting evidence that the Israeli army has targeted health facilities or professionals. Such attacks are absolutely prohibited by international law and would amount to war crimes. They only add to the already compelling argument that the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court.’”

Attacks on Palestinian Civilians
Human rights groups have documented a number of cases of civilians being directly attacked by Israeli forces during “Operation Protective Edge.” In its August 21 daily Gaza emergency update, the UN noted:
“Human rights organizations have expressed serious concerns regarding incidents where civilians or civilian objects have been directly hit by Israeli airstrikes, in circumstances where there was allegedly no rocket fire or armed group activity in the close vicinity. Such cases raise concerns about the targeting of civilians, in violation of the principle of distinction.”
On August 4, Human Rights Watch released a report entitled “Israeli Soldiers Shoot and Kill Fleeing Civilians,” which read in part:
“Human Rights Watch investigated eight Israeli airstrikes that were apparent violations of the laws of war before the ground offensive that began on July 17, 2014. The findings and reports of numerous new civilian casualties heightened concerns for the safety of civilians during the ground offensive.”

“The attacks Human Rights Watch investigated include a missile attack that killed four boys on a Gaza City pier and wounded three others, multiple strikes over several days on a hospital for paralyzed and elderly patients, attacks on an apparent civilian residence and media worker’s car, and four previously documented strikes. In many, if not all, of these cases, Human Rights Watch found no evidence of a military target. Israeli forces’ failure to direct attacks at a military target violates the laws of war. Israeli forces may also have knowingly or recklessly attacked people who were clearly civilians, such as young boys, and civilian structures, including a hospital – laws-of-war violations that are indicative of war crimes.”

On July 16, Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled “Unlawful Israeli Airstrikes Kill Civilians: Bombings of Civilian Structures Suggest Illegal Policy,” which read in part:
“Human Rights Watch investigated four Israeli strikes during the July military offensive in Gaza that resulted in civilian casualties and either did not attack a legitimate military target or attacked despite the likelihood of civilian casualties being disproportionate to the military gain. Such attacks committed deliberately or recklessly constitute war crimes under the laws of war applicable to all parties. In these cases, the Israeli military has presented no information to show that it was attacking lawful military objectives or acted to minimize civilian casualties.”

Targeting of Homes of Palestinian Political & Military Leaders
The homes of Palestinian political and military officials and fighters were also targeted by the Israeli military, in violation of the laws of war, killing and wounding scores of civilians, including relatives of the intended targets. As noted by Amnesty International in a Q&A released on July 25: “Israel appears to consider the homes of people associated with Hamas to be legitimate military targets, a stance that does not conform to international humanitarian law.”

Targeting of Civilian Infrastructure
On July 29, Israel destroyed Gaza’s only power plant. Amnesty International condemned the attack as an act of “collective punishment” against the entire population, while Human Rights Watch issued a statement entitled “Widespread Impact of Power Plant Attack: Curtailed Sewage Treatment, Food and Water Supply, Hospital Operations,” which read in part:
“Damaging or destroying a power plant, even if it also served a military purpose, would be an unlawful disproportionate attack under the laws of war, causing far greater civilian harm than military gain.”

“The shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant has had an impact on the population far beyond power outages. It has drastically curtailed the pumping of water to households and the treatment of sewage, both of which require electric power. It also caused hospitals, already straining to handle the surge of war casualties, to increase their reliance on precarious generators. And it has affected the food supply because the lack of power has shut off refrigerators and forced bakeries to reduce their bread production.

“‘If there were one attack that could be predicted to endanger the health and well-being of the greatest number of people in Gaza, hitting the territory’s sole electricity plant would be it,’ said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. ‘Deliberately attacking the power plant would be a war crime.’”

Further Reference
Amnesty International
Mounting evidence of deliberate attacks on Gaza health workers by Israeli army (August 7)
Stop US shipment of fuel to Israel’s armed forces as evidence of Gaza war crimes mounts (August 4)
International Criminal Court key to breaking cycle of injustice for war crimes (August 1)
USA: Stop arms transfers to Israel amid growing evidence of war crimes in Gaza (July 31)
Attack on UN school in Gaza a potential war crime that must be investigated (July 30)
Israel/Gaza conflict: Questions and Answers (July 25)
Attacks on medical facilities and civilians add to war crime allegations (July 21)

B’Tselem
Israeli authorities have proven they cannot investigate suspected violations of international humanitarian law by Israel in the Gaza Strip (September 5)
Israeli human rights organizations B’Tselem and Yesh Din: Israel is unwilling to investigate harm caused to Palestinians (September 4)
Death Foretold: The inevitable outcome of bombing homes and inhabited areas in Gaza (August 12)
Families bombed at home, Gaza, July-August 2014 (initial figures) (August 11) 10 Human Rights Organizations in an Urgent Letter to Attorney General: Concerns Regarding Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law in the IDF’s Operations in Gaza (July 21)

Defence for Children International – Palestine Section
Death toll of Palestinian children spirals as Israel expands Gaza offensive (July 24)

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch Letter to US State Secretary: Suspend Providing Israel with Weapons Documented to Have Been Used to Commission War Crimes, Help UN Fact-Finding Mission into Gaza (August 11)
Gaza: Widespread Impact of Power Plant Attack Curtailed Sewage Treatment, Food and Water Supply, Hospital Operations (August 10)
Israeli Soldiers Shoot and Kill Fleeing Civilians (August 4)
Airstrike Deaths Raise Concerns on Ground Offensive: Unlawful Israeli Attacks Hit Hospital, Kill Children, Other Civilians (July 22)
Unlawful Israeli Airstrikes Kill Civilians: Bombings of Civilian Structures Suggest Illegal Policy (July 16)

Institute for Middle East Understanding
Expert Q&A: Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch on Being Denied Entry to Gaza (August 27)
Putting Palestinians “On a Diet”: Israel’s Siege & Blockade of Gaza (August 14)

UNICEF
No safe place for children in Gaza (July 28)

Note:- For background information you will need to visit the original web page, as not all links have been reproduced here.

No Wonder I’m Still Thirsty!

About a year ago, as part of the Blogging 101 course I was enrolled in, I revised my ‘About’ page. Shortly before that, I had decided to write the “Buy me a Beer” page, in the hope that happy readers would buy me a drink now and again. The idea of linking from one page to another was to make it easy for the reader, and hopefully increase the volume of donations.

It was a nice thought, but that’s all it was!

Why?

The link from the ‘About’ page didn’t work as I wanted – all it did was download another picture of a glass of Guinness to a new tab in the browser!

This morning, in response to a new Blogging 101 request to revamp my ‘About’ page, I checked it over – and discovered the problem that has been laying there for a year!

So, if you see one of these, guinessjust click on it, and you will land in the right place!

Tainted MP’s

For a member of parliament, real live experience of actual situations is extremely valuable, perhaps even more so when it touches on international trouble-spots, such as the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. To remain politically neutral, the MP, or prospective MP, would normally fund such a visit themselves, but to do so would involve extra risks, as the following extract illustrates:-

“On Friday, human rights activist and Labour Party political candidate, Mick Bowman, was beaten, tear-gassed and arrested by Israeli soldiers while protesting in the West Bank, just north of Ramallah.

Aged 57, Bowman was detained without charge for 24 hours, interrogated by various officials and military staff, and then released. His arrest is now being investigated by Israeli authorities who claim that his alleged treatment was “unacceptable” and “inappropriate.” He has, however, been banned permanently from the West Bank.”

More details of his treatment can be found at Tyneside campaigner Mick Bowman arrested in Palestine

For any candidates planning to visit Palestine or Israel in the coming months, there is a safer way to travel: members of Westminster’s pro-Israel lobbies will take you. And, if you’re lucky, pro-Israel donors might also drop some money into your campaign bank account shortly afterwards.

Simon Marcus PPC, the Conservative candidate for Hampstead & Kilburn, recently made one such trip. His constituency is a critical marginal seat, with Labour winning a tiny majority back in 2010. Marcus visited Israel in February 2014 on a “fact-finding visit” paid for by a pro-Israel lobby group called the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). Marcus has yet to declare the trip on his Electoral Commission expenses.

It is easy to estimate the costs however. In June, electoral records show that CFI paid £1600 for two other Conservative candidates, Craig Willliams and Afzal Amin, to visit Israel and selected areas of Palestine.

Another candidate, Lucy Allan – running in Telford – visited Israel in November 2013 at a cost to CFI of £2,000. Candidates Christopher Green and Royston Smith also attended this trip, again with all expenses paid. Following their visits, both Allan and Marcus wrote positive reviews of their experiences, for an annual magazine called Informed that is produced by CFI.

A copy of Informed was distributed at the lobbying group’s Annual Business Lunch 2014, which was attended by 600 business people, over 100 Conservative MPs, senior members of the Cabinet, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. The audience was addressed by Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub. The dinner was also attended by 37 Parliamentary Prospective Candidates.

In her piece, Allan described the tragic stabbing to death of a sleeping Israeli teenager on a bus, which took place on the third day of her trip. A heinous crime, to be sure – but there is no mention of the equally horrific punitive home demolitions, the thousands of political prisoners, or the daily humiliation of the Israeli occupation.

Marcus went further: “Israel… could not be any different from the ‘apartheid’ state that ill-informed, hardline anti-Israel activists would have you believe.” He added that he was “deeply grateful to CFI for the extraordinary opportunity they gave me.”

Another Conservative candidate, James Heappy, who also attended the November 2013 trip, later received £3,000 in cash from Henry Davis – who sponsored the CFI’s Annual Business Lunch last year. Davis donated the same amount to David Warburton, a candidate running for Somerset and Frome.

Sir Anthony Bamford, whose company JCB has been described as “complicit in war crimes” by the campaigning group War on Want, gave Heappy £15,000. He also gave candidate Graham Cox £10,000.

These might not sound like large amounts of money – but to prospective candidates, many of whom attract no direct donations at all – it can make all the difference.

A similar campaign was launched in the run up to the 2010 election, with seven Conservative PPCs invited to Israel in 2006, 20 in 2007, and five in 2009. Several of these candidates later received donations of between £2,000 and £5,000 from donors closely linked to CFI. All candidates either won or came close to winning their seats. In many cases, the CFI donors had never met or even stepped foot in the constituency of the candidates they chose to back.

Although the corresponding lobbying group for the Labour Party, Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), has tended to take elected MPs rather than candidates to visit Israel, similar efforts have been made recently. Candidates Nick Bent, Andrew Dismore, Peter Kyle and Joan Ryan were taken to Israel in December 2014, in a similar trip arranged and paid for by LFI.

In what may be seen as career-enhancing moves by young candidates, CFI and LFI also attract high-flyers within their respective parties. Home Secretary Theresa May and David Cameron have both addressed CFI events in the last year, while Chief Whip Michael Gove, Chairman of the Party Grant Shapps and former Chairman Francis Maude were present at the 2014 Business Lunch, alongside ten other Cabinet members. In 2013, the CFI Business Lunch was addressed by then Foreign Secretary William Hague.

On the Labour side, Ed Miliband has also given key note speeches to LFI events, most recently in June. The group also arranged for Miliband’s first ever visit to Israel in April last year. In September 2013, Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander addressed an LFI event held at the Labour Party’s annual conference. During the previous Labour government, MPs previously appointed as officers at the LFI very often went on to Ministerial roles.

There is nothing wrong with paying for young candidates to visit Israel and inviting them to grand lunches – indeed many other foreign interest lobby groups do the same – but LFI and CFI arrange by far the most trips of any of these groups. Over the election terms of 2001 – 2005 and 2005 – 2010, for example, the two lobby groups organised 13 per cent of all foreign trips for MPs and candidates.

Similarly, there is no suggestion that giving small donations after these trips is in any way illegal. It might however, contradict a standard mandated by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which states that: “Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.”

But, as journalist Peter Oborne put it back in 2009: “for a junior or a prospective MP to be taken on such a trip and granted access to which they are not accustomed can be a powerful and persuasive experience.”

Indeed, perhaps the best people to explain the importance of these trips is the politicians themselves. When David Cameron spoke at the 2010 CFI Annual Business Lunch, he commented that:

“What [CFI] do in terms of taking people to see Israel for themselves is absolutely invaluable. Seeing is believing. I will never forget the impression it made on me when you see the landscape turn from desert to fertile pasture, when you see the record of that country in turning poverty into prosperity, when you see the creativity, the energy, the dynamism and yes, the democracy. I will never forget being taken to the Lebanese border and knowing just how precarious Israel’s security is. It is an impression that has stayed with me and that I will never forget”

In November 2013, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers put it like this:

“Ever since my first steps into front line politics, I have very much valued the support and the advice of CFI and – of course – Stuart Polak [Director of CFI] who is such an important part of that.

Like so many other MPs, CFI took me to Israel so that I could deepen my understanding of the country and its people, and the other MPs on the trip included one Boris Johnson and George Osborne, so we certainly had a lively trip.”

And finally William Hague, at the time Foreign Secretary, addressing CFI in November 2013:

“As many of you know, CFI was the first political organisation that I joined as a teenager; in 1976, 37 years ago.

I have been supported and sustained by friendships within CFI, or overlapping with CFI, throughout my career in public life.”

To be sure, the moral decision about accepting expenses and donations from foreign interest lobbying groups is up to the candidate in question (and that applies whether it is from pro-Israel groups, or groups linked to any other country). But what’s clear from the quotes above, particularly the last two, is that – from a career point of view – getting cosy with CFI or LFI simply makes political sense.

And given the increasingly professionalised nature of British politics, it is therefore no surprise that so many young candidates are building strong relationships with the pro-Israel lobby right from the start of their political careers. For the lobby itself, the fruits of this labour will be borne in a few years, when some of these candidates rise up the party ranks and into senior decision-making roles. By then, their investment will almost certainly have paid off.

Note:- A trip paid for by an Israeli lobby group will not show the Palestinian side of the problem!

What does that all mean for us?

It means that any MP that has had a trip to Israel paid for by an Israeli lobby group is going to be biased in Israel’s favour, and that Palestinians are going to lose out as a result. Just like Cameron, their opinions are already tainted!

Don’t vote for tainted MP’s!

Source data for this post comes from:-
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/17006-how-britains-pro-israel-lobby-invests-in-young-parliamentary-candidates