The attack on Alan Duncan

April 14, 2024

The attack on Alan Duncan

Dear All,


The week before last, a senior Tory and former government minister, Sir Alan Duncan, spoke on LBC (London’s Big Conversation) radio about the links that his party has with Israel and the influence the group Conservative Friends of Israel exerts on this Conservative government. He called some senior ministers (including two former home secretaries) ‘extremist’ and was severely critical of these people for their “condoning Israeli settlements on the West Bank.” He said “I think the time has come to flush out those extremists in our own parliamentary politics and around it – some of whom are at the very top of government, or have been. They have never been called to account by journalists and the press.”

Duncan did not mince words in calling out members of his party who were acting as “cheerleaders for Israel,” and those who have long refused to condemn Israeli settlements despite this being a violation of international law. He insisted that Britain “should stop all arms sales immediately.” Retaliation was swift: the Tories announced that he was being investigated and now faced expulsion.

Alan Duncan has long been a thorn in the side for Israel. It was he who their diplomats and intelligence operatives spoke of as somebody who “needed to be taken down.” That was in 2017. This was revealed in an Al-Jazeera undercover investigation, The Lobby. A reporter infiltrated a group funded and sponsored by Israel which worked to further Israeli interests and was able to film many meetings secretly. In the fourth film of the series (called The Takedown) Israeli intelligence operative Shai Mazoot talks about the need to “take down“ Duncan who was at that time the foreign office minister.

Although the story featured briefly on the national news in Britain, it was soon buried and forgotten about even though, in effect, a foreign country had been recorded as plotting to smear and remove a British cabinet minister. Before that, in 2011 Duncan was put under extreme pressure to remove a video of himself accusing Israel of a land grab in the occupied territories. Duncan has been consistent in his criticism of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and its building of illegal settlements. In a 2014 speech at the Royal United Services Institute he said, “Just as we rightly judge somebody unfit for public office if they refuse to recognise Israel, so we should shun anybody who refuses to recognise that the settlements are illegal. No settlement endorsers should be regarded as fit to stand for public office, remain a member of a mainstream political party or sit in a parliament.”

The immense influence exerted by the Israeli lobby in Britain’s political landscape is becoming more and more apparent. In the Labour party, The Labour Friends of Israel is also extremely influential. It was instrumental in weakening and ousting Jeremy Corbyn and purging Labour of any party member who supported Palestinian rights and/ or criticised Israeli policy. It is not just the Conservatives who are compromised, the Labour under Sir Keir Starmer seems equally in thrall to the state of Israel.

To understand how all of this works I cannot recommend Al-Jazeera’s brilliant investigative films enough. These are a must-watch. They are informative and illuminating. And, of course, they are shocking because of what they reveal.

Despite the fact that Duncan’s stance on illegal settlements has been consistent for well over a decade, his words on LBC recently were still astonishing because they called out top Tory politicians so clearly. He criticised two former home secretaries - Priti Patel and Suella Braverman - for their blatant support of all Israeli policies and interests. He mentioned the clandestine trip to Israel by Patel which was not an official trip but had not been disclosed. To this date it is not known who funded the trip and for what purpose. He spoke of Braverman’s recent trip to Israeli as well, questioning what capacity she went in and why the Union Jack flag featured in her meetings. He added that Braverman’s statement, that there is no humanitarian problem in Gaza and there’s plenty of food there was “so repulsive, so repellent that I think she should immediately have the whip withdrawn.”

Duncan was also extremely critical of two influential leaders of the CFI in the House of Lords, Lord Pollack and Lord Pickles a “sort of Laurel and Hardy” (Pickles is noticeably overweight and bulky, Pollack is tall and thin). Duncan was of the view that Pollack “should be removed from the Lords because he is exercising the interest of another country not that of the parliament in which he sits.”

Everything Sir Alan Duncan said made sense and was in accordance with international law and parliamentary protocol. What will follow will probably be a smear campaign against him punctuated with accusations of anti-Semitism etc. It is amazing that this matter should have received so much attention and yet the case of the Tory minister who gave the numbers of his parliamentary colleagues to a blackmailer is now falling off the radar. He hasn’t even bothered to resign yet despite being party to a massive - potentially disastrous - security breech.

How all this plays out will have to be seen. In the meantime, one could watch all four episodes of The Lobby. It was made in 2017 yet is astonishingly relevant today.

Best wishes,

Umber Khairi

The attack on Alan Duncan