"If I become prime minister, Israel has a friend who will never turn his back on Israel." Such was the pledge made by David Cameron early in 2009 at a lunch given by the Conservative Friends of Israel organisation. And true to his word, Cameron was at it again this week following Israel's disastrous attack on the flotilla bringing aid to Gaza. He might be critical of the raid but still he went out of his way to repeat that he spoke as a dedicated friend of Israel.
The expression has a double meaning in this instance, because being a friend of Israel can mean not just friend in a general sense but a signed-up member of a political lobby formed to promote links between the two countries. But either way, why would a British prime minister go out of his way to stress at every opportunity that he is the friend of a country that pursues an apartheid policy in land which it has illegally occupied by force, that thinks little of killing large numbers of innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza and engages in mafia-style raids and assassinations against its perceived enemies? It is not as if Britain derives any benefit from this friendship. Indeed the opposite. It merely makes us and our armed forces a target for Islamic extremists.
One possible explanation for Cameron's behaviour was put forward in a recent TV programme presented by the journalist Peter Oborne. This showed very convincingly that the Tory party's policy on the Middle East is largely dictated by the Zionist lobby with the help of generous donations to the party's piggy bank.
Politicians and their precious integrity
when politicians start talking about their integrity, we may be sure that humbug is in the air. I recall that when David Blunkett was caught out, Tony Blair insisted that he was a man of integrity. Likewise Alastair Campbell was keen to tell everybody that he emerged from the Hutton inquiry with his precious integrity intact.
Now Mr David Laws laments not only the loss of his cabinet post and his privacy but also what he calls his "perceived integrity", by which I assume he means that up till now we, the punters, perceived him to be a man of shining virtue. Though why he should assume that, when many of us had not perceived him in the first place before he was sacked, is hard to explain.
As for his privacy, Laws is resentful of the intrusion into his personal life which is why so many politicians now favour the introduction of some kind of privacy law to protect them. Not for the first time I commend the words of our greatest political journalist, William Cobbett: "No man has a right to pry into his neighbours' private concerns... but when he once comes forward as a candidate for public admiration, esteem or compassion his opinions, his principles, his motives, every action of his life, public or private, become the fair subject of public discussion."
No answers for Rachel Nickell's family
it was all a long time ago. So says the independent Police Complaints Commission explaining why no one will face any kind of disciplinary action following its report on the Rachel Nickell murder. Of the officers involved in this major fiasco, "they have all either retired or died", says the report.
The passage of 18 years would not stop the police from investigating a serious crime. And pursuing those responsible. But they themselves are different. You will note that the report refers to police officers or the Met but not a single officer (whether retired or dead) is mentioned by name. So not only are they spared disciplinary action, but they are even spared the indignity of having their names and possibly their photographs printed in the papers. Meanwhile, Rachel Nickell's former partner Andrew Hanscombe, who initiated the IPCC investigation, will have to be content with a letter of apology from assistant commissioner Cressida Dick.
A similar kind of letter was no doubt sent by the assistant commissioner to the family of Jean Charles de Menezes. Like the Nickell case officers, the men who shot him have not been named though neither of them, so far as we know, has either died or retired. More probably, like Commander Dick herself, they have been promoted, while Dick's superior Sir Ian Blair has just been given a peerage.