Firstly, in the interests of full disclosure – when it comes to British journalist and commentator Peter Oborne, HonestReporting has history. Back in 2009, Oborne presented an episode of the Channel 4 investigative program Dispatches. The broadcast examined “one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel”, directly attacking and smearing HonestReporting in the process.
Oborne and his cameraman even burst into HonestReporting’s Jerusalem office, with the camera rolling, looking for evidence of HonestReporting’s involvement in a shadowy “Israel lobby” operating in UK politics and media. Needless to say, Oborne’s conspiracy theories did not lead anywhere.
Oborne, however, continues his fixation with pro-Israel “lobby” organizations. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he goes after the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) group, affiliated with the UK’s ruling Conservative Party.
In it, he refers to briefing packs on the Iran deal given to Conservative MPs at a CFI luncheon as “propaganda.” Throughout his piece, Oborne portrays the efforts of legitimate organizations advocating for Israel as being of a malign and sinister nature:
As so often happens, British politics is following the United States, where the pro-Israel lobby would love to destroy the provisional deal that John Kerry has thrashed out with the Iranian foreign minister.
Inspired by the formidable American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), legislators in Washington are already planning to undermine the authority of the White House by inflicting fresh sanctions on Iran. The situation is so desperate that AIPAC has teamed up with its enemies in the Arab lobby – an unprecedented development – to wreck the deal.
Oborne’s obvious disdain for Israeli PM Netanyahu and the Likud party cloud his judgment. He appears to believe that both AIPAC and CFI advocate the “hardline position” of the Likud:
Yet the CFI – by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group – acts as if every Jew in the country is a Likud supporter. The same is true of AIPAC in the US. Personally, I suspect the deal struck on Sunday is far more popular among British and American Jews than the pro-Israel lobby is prepared to countenance – especially since its apparently blind support of Netanyahu is not even reflected within Israel itself, where his conduct has been widely condemned.
Perhaps Oborne doesn’t follow Israeli politics very closely. If he did, he’d know that the Iranian nuclear deal is opposed by parties from across the Israeli political spectrum as well as a significant proportion of the Israeli electorate. An Israeli Channel 2 poll found:
60 percent of Israelis consider the interim deal “endangers Israel,” as compared to 25% who do not, and 15% who had no opinion.
The same survey found 58% of Israelis believe Netanyahu’s criticism of the Obama administration over the accord is “justified,” while 28% consider the criticism “exaggerated” and 14% have no opinion.
On the issue of Iran in general, Oborne has been panned by Con Coughlin, the defense editor of his own newspaper, following the release of a book, “A Dangerous Delusion,” in which Oborne and his co-author argue that Iran hardly represents a threat at all:
Given the authors’ alarming ignorance about the rudimentary principles that underpin the current Iranian regime, it is a wonder that their warped interpretation of the facts ever made it into print. Certainly, the book’s title more aptly applies to the specious arguments advanced by the authors themselves than the way the West has attempted to handle the Iranian crisis during the past decade.
Oborne is clearly not the right person to comment on the dangers of the Iranian nuclear program and even less so when this gets mixed in with his obsession with the image of an all-powerful lobby even when this holds no water. Even Oborne himself concluded in his 2009 program that he hadn’t found anything even faintly resembling a conspiracy.
Fast forward to 2013 and all Oborne will find is the very legitimate fears of Israel when it comes to the Iranian nuclear threat and the very legitimate right of Israel and its supporters to express those fears to the international community.