Jewish divided loyalty: the old lie

5 December 2011

8:21 PM

5 December 2011

8:21 PM

In all the furore over Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘joke’ about shooting strikers, people can be
forgiven for missing a second row over outrageous remarks made by a public figure.

Paul Flynn is Labour MP for Newport West and known as a reasonable man of the left. Flynn is a campaigning MP who has asked some difficult questions about the Werritty-Fox affair. He speaks
passionately about the Iraq War and UK intervention in Afghanistan, which he feels were terrible errors. Having read reports that Werritty and Fox met in Israel with Mossad in the presence of the
UK ambassador to discuss a military strike on Iran, Flynn became worried about a neo-con plot. What’s more, the ambassador, Matthew Gould, happens to be Jewish.

As a member of the Public Administration Select Committee, Flynn raised his concerns during the questioning of Sir Gus O’Donnell, head of the civil service, who conducted an inquiry into the
Werritty affair.

His remarks can be seen in the minutes of the hearing on Wednesday 23 November. The Welsh
MP, who proclaims himself a friend of Israel said:

‘I do not normally fall for conspiracy theories, but the ambassador has proclaimed himself to be a Zionist and he has previously served in Iran, in the service.’

Flynn said doubts had been raised about Mr Gould’s independence by two of his constituents who had been held in Israel in July during the ‘flytilla’ demonstrations over the
blockade of Gaza.

He was challenged on this by his Conservative colleague on the committee, Robert Halfon, who suggested that it was out of order to suggest that Mr Gould was working for a foreign power.

Mr Halfon later commented on the matter in an article in the Jewish Chronicle:

‘The subtext, of course is that Jews by nature are not loyal to the country that they serve but are working for foreign powers, This has been the habitual accusation of anti-Semitism
throughout the ages.’


Although Halfon said he did not view Flynn as an anti-Semite, he felt it was a shame he appeared to have fallen into the trap set by those who do hate Jews.

Having been alerted to Flynn’s remarks, I called the MP last week to ask him if he stood by what he had said to the committee. He said ‘absolutely’. Indeed he went further and questioned the
wisdom of a Jew holding the post of UK ambassador to Israel because of the risk of ‘going native’. His remarks caused outrage across the political spectrum and provoked the Jewish Board of Deputies
to issue a statement. We reported the whole sorry episode on the front page of the Jewish Chronicle
last week.

Flynn has used his blog to say that any suggestion that he is anti-Semitic is ‘ludicrous’. But he does not deny
making the remarks to me. People will have to make their own judgement. Owen Jones has written an
interesting piece
in the New Statesman from the perspective of a campaigner for the rights of Palestinians challenging Flynn to explain his comments. I don’t agree with everything he says but
he is right that further clarification is in order.

I think it is only fair that I describe the detail and context of my conversation with Paul Flynn. I called the MP’s office several times last Wednesday to ask for clarification of his remarks at
the select committee. After playing phone tag, we finally spoke towards the end of the day.  I suggested he might wish to issue a considered statement rather than talking off the top of his

But he explained that he stood by what he said in the select committee and believed he was doing the right thing in trying to get to the bottom of the Werritty affair. He said that Matthew Gould
had described himself as a Zionist and felt  that ‘as an ambassador he needs to take a more distant role’.

He told me he thought it was legitimate to raise the issue of a dinner attended by Werrity which took place in Israel in February at which Matthew Gould was also present. As it had been reported
that Mossad were also present, Flynn thought it was important to question whether anything untoward was going on, especially as Werritty was in receipt of money ‘from think tanks who take a neo-con
line who are fomenting war in Iran’. As an opponent of intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan he said he was worried about the UK being ‘sucked into a war in Iran’.

At this point I asked whether he was aware that Matthew Gould was Jewish and he said that he was. This was when he said:

‘In the past there hasn’t been a Jewish ambassador to Israel and I think that is a good decision: to avoid the accusation that they have "gone native".’

He then used the example of Denis MacShane, suggesting that the MP, whose father was Polish should never be considered as ambassador to Poland because of the risk of dual loyalty.

He explained that in the case of Israel the UK needed ‘someone with roots in the UK and can’t be accused of having Jewish loyalty’. He added that he wanted ‘to know if a neo-con organisation
in America used our Secretary of State to advance their agenda’.

He also expressed his frustration that the select committee had been ‘politicised by right-wingers’.

Finally, I asked Flynn if he knew anything about the constituents who had raised questions about Matthew Gould’s loyalty. He said he knew who they were. ‘I have accepted what they have told me,’ he

I asked if he knew that at least one of them had objected to being helped by British staff in Israel with Jewish names and he said he did not, but concluded: ‘I wouldn’t have thought they were

I happen to think that Paul Flynn’s comments in parliament mark a new low. A particular form of ill-informed anti-Zionist discourse has now become imbedded in mainstream politics. The matter has
now been referred to Labour’s Chief Whip, Rosie Winterton. She must act quickly to stop this poison spreading.

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Good view.

  • lucashyde

    People like Erica Blair have made me a Zionist.

  • daniel maris

    Of course it’s not antisemitic to point to potential divided loyalties. I think an Dublin born Irish catholic with nationalist parents who happens to be a UK citizen might have divided loyalties if he was appointed UK ambassador to the Republic of Ireland.

    I don’t expect or want the UK ambassador to Israel to be an enthusiastic Zionist any more than I expect or them to support the Palestinian nationalist cause.

    Please – get real! Remember a number of Jewish UK citizens went to Palestine in 1947 to fight against the British army. No different from now when a considerable number of British Muslims are prepared to go abroad to fight the British Army.

  • Georgina Orwell


    The Jews are a nation, whether in diaspora or in their state. They may take Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. There are a number of Jews who are British subjects or citizens of other countries. ( Jews are not allowed to be citizens of Saudi Arabia, or to live in other states. There are no more Iraqi Jews.)

    By the way, Britain allows dual citizenship and dual nationality. Presumably, this allow dual loyalty, which may not necessarily be conflicted, or divided, loyalty.

    National loyalty – patriotism – is deeply unfashionable in Britain, and considered to by Britons to be outrageous in Israelis. But not in “Palestinians”, who are not a nation at all.

  • lomasekto

    Erica Blair has it down.
    Georgina Orwell does not appear to know that Jew is a nationality. You can only have one of them. ‘British Jews’ is an (oxy)moronic notion.
    Gould should be sacked and replaced by a telephone.

  • revolution

    When people are facing prison for denying the second world war then you will have the answer?
    Flynn is a good man unlike most of the labour stooges who have ruined the once great Britain, while Tony the phony Blair is still free and still lying.

  • Georgina Orwell

    The history of notable British Jews’ conduct with respect to Israel is almost as shameful as that of notable gentile Britons’ and the British people’s. So often their anxiety at being accused of dual loyalty and lack of patriotism for Britain, and their fear of being considered not really British, have caused them to side with the enemies of Jews and the Jewish state and to approve of cruel perfidies against the Jews which run counter to standards of British decency. Jewish “dual loyalty” time and time again emerges as the betrayal of principle to support expedient political actions against Jewish interests and in furtherance of their enemies’. (See amendments to wording of Balfour Declaration by prominent Jews; Herbert Samuel’s tenure in office in Palestine). Insofar as British Jews are a collective, they should indeed apologize for unnecessary betrayals of Jews – individuals and as a nation – perpetrated in order to be British and feel at home in perfidious Albion.

  • John Edwards

    I note that the Jewish Chronicle has refused to publish a comment piece about all this by Craig Murray. Only one side of the argument allowed presumably.

  • James

    I have absolutely no problem with Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Israel being Jewish. Matters not a jot. I have a big problem with Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Israel being a fervent publicly-avowed Zionist. What would the reaction be if we sent a man or woman to Tel Aviv or, say, Amman who was outspokenly and enthusiastically in favour of a Palestinian State and/or an Israeli retreat to pre-67 borders? I suspect that the likes of Bright would go ballistic and speak of bias and prejudice against the Jews. He/she no doubt would be tarred with the “anti-Semitic” label and that paragon of liberal virtue Lieberman would protest strongly to the Foreign Office.

    (By the way, why must people – on BOTH sides – conflate Jew and Zionist? It is possible to be one and not the other. The Jews are a race; Zionism is a political position.)

  • stereodog

    I think that Paul Flynn is wrong about Mr Gould. As others have pointed out Mr Gould’s own personal views aren’t really what is important. He is a civil servant not a politician so his function is to carry out the will of his political masters. If his Zionism caused him to obstruct the foreign policy of HMG then there would be a problem but I haven’t seen any suggestion of that. We wouldn’t automatically say that a civil servant who votes Conservative is unable to loyally serve a Labour government.

    To respond to Erica Blair’s point about the Irgun I would suggest that we cannot make a judgement as we don’t know about the context. It is possible to express regret for ones actions to someone without condoning their actions. For example we do not have to condone the murders commited by Irish rebels to express regret about the behaviour of the Black and Tans. Also it is common to use the word ‘sorry’ to express regret. When I say I’m sorry you have a cold I do not mean it as an apology. It is human to express regret about about what must have been a source of hurt for Ms Livni regardless of the rights and wrongs of the case. As I say we weren’t there so we can’t judge thigns like the tone of the conversation.

  • David H


    OK, to address the anti-Semitism issue and whether the UK Ambassador to Israel should be Jewish. People (and perhaps Flynn also) seem to be confuse what is the Jewish religion, the Jewish state and varying degrees of Zionism. Clearly, religion or ethnicity should not exclude anybody from an Ambassador’s job. So Flynn was wrong to suggest that. And if that implied a slur on British Jewish war dead then that’s also wrong. But the Jewish religion, the Jewish state and the cause of Zionism are so closely related that there are certainly questions to be asked. Just like profiling a line of people at an airport for potential terrorists. When Gould describes himself as a “passionate Zionist”, what does he mean by that? That he supports the right of Israel to exist? Well fine, that’s UK policy. That he supports the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state that discriminates against non-Jewish citizens? Perhaps not UK policy. That he supports the rights of Jewish settlers to land in disputed territories? Also perhaps not UK policy. That he supports military action against Iran? Not yet UK policy.

    It’s the political loyalties, not the religion, that would make him unsuitable to represent us all. Same with being Muslim. A Muslim Ambassador is obviously no problem but one that supports Al Quaeda? And if you think I’m implying that all Muslims are terrorists then you are just not listening.

    Which brings us back to the meetings and just what policy was being unofficially discussed between Fox, Gould, Werrity and Mossad. The question needs to be asked and is being very suspiciously avoided. Are we going to trust these people to walk us into another war based on evidence from intelligence agencies that is not entirely public and not entirely credible? And on interests that are not entirely our own?

  • Katie

    I’m part Jewish, live in Newport – born and bred – and are, therefore, one of Paul Flynn’s constituents; yet he never bothered to apologize or even explain to us when invited to do so on a message I posted on the ‘your say’ section of our local newspaper website the Argus as to why he regards any of his constituents who cannot trace their ancestry back 360 years to be ‘foreigners’. Why do we not belong in our home city, Mr Flynn?/

    He obviously thinks more of the opinions of people in the middle east and London than he does of his own constituents in Newport, south Wales as he doesn’t think it politically useful enough to ‘slum it’ with the likes of us Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, black,, white or otherwise – yet he has the chutzpah to tell us we are the ones who don’t belong here!

    As for lack of loyalty to one’s country…does he close his eyes and miss all those Stars of David and Crescents on gravestones whenever he visits military cemetaries? As a self-serving politician who gets paid a salary most of us common folk constituents couldn’t even dream about merely for talking for a living – what’s he ever sacrificed for his country?

  • Erica Blair

    If Gould thought it was wrong for the Irgun to kidnap, torture and murder British soldiers, why should he apologise for the arrest of Irgun members who did just that.

    Why did he apologise, can anyone explain?

  • oceanside

    Erica, you haven’t dealt with the questions I posed in my post at 12.48 yesterday. I’m sure you’ve just missed them and will have a logical and reasoned answer to hand.
    You do appear to have veered off into an entirely different direction, and appear to be struggling with getting some basic facts straight. Why say that Gould sees nothing wrong with the kidnap, torture and murder of British soldiers, when he patently has said no such thing? What Gould did say in the Jerusalem Post article was “Most Brits accept Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, but that doesn’t mean that we sign on to every interpretation Israel has of self-defence”. That quote, Erica, would seem to suggest that your allegation of Gould being an extreme Zionist or extremely pro-Israeli is nonsense, wouldn’t you agree?
    It may be that you don’t actually know what you’re banging on about, or you’re lulling everybody into a trap before demonstrating your undoubted reason and intelligence. I look forward to finding out which it is!

  • Erica Blair

    I see cityca agrees with Gould that there’s nothing wrong with the kidnap, torture and murder of British soldiers.

    I can see where you’re coming from, but is that the view of all Spectator readers? It seems to be.

  • fergus pickering

    I can’t explain anything, Erica. My post has been removed by the management so I am not allowed to have an opinion about anti-semitism on the left. Sorry.

  • D. Singh


    Does this mean our sons can’t apply to join the marines?

  • Charlie

    David H,

    but when the issue is that an MP objects to the ambassador’s being Jewish and cast aspersions on the loyalties of British Jews, what issue is there to discuss, and how can one discuss it without mentioning anti-semitism?

    If an MP had objected to an ambassador being black, or Muslim, I’m not sure that it would only be the PC brigade objecting.

  • cityca

    David H, you’re missing the point. What Fox and Werrity got up to is an important but separate issue. What Martin Bright is focussing on are the extraordinary comments of Flynn regarding Gould’s suitability for his ambassador’s post, because he is Jewish.

    Erica Blair, I read posts from people like you, happy in the knowledge that your own poison will consume you.

  • Erica Blair

    Could Fergus explain why objecting to the kidnap, torture and murder of British soldiers is anti-semitism?

  • revolution

    Tell us when people will be jailed for denying the genocide in Rwanda or Cambodia to name just two?

  • David H

    Spectator people, you are being unfair. You are quick enough to object when the PC brigade act like idiots and shout “racist” and “sexist” at every opportunity. Now you are doing just the same with “anti-Semitic”. Grow up and address the issues!

  • Erica Blair

    “As to Erica Blair, when I read about people still fixated on the Irgun and Stern gang,”

    It was Gould who brought them up when he decided to apologise for the British defending themselves against the Irgun.

    Anyone here want to defend the kidnappers, torturer and murderers of British soldiers. And what a strange thing for a British Ambassador to do. Some may call it treason.

  • victor jara 67

    To continue from my last post. Fox , Werrrity and Gould met several times with Mossad and other high ranking Israeli’s without the usual presence of FO officials. This is contary to diplomatic protocol and was smoothed over by Gus O’donnel in his enquiry.

  • victor jara 67

    There is a story here Mr Bright. The source of which came from Craig Murray ex British Ambassador to Uzbekistan. Fox and Werrity (Who Mossad thought was his special advisor)met with Mossad and senior Likudniks several times during their visits with Iran on the agenda. Do you think they were discussing trade agreements?
    Fox, Werrity and Atlantic Bridge were running an alternative pro likudnik/Neocon British foreign policy. Why do you think Hague refused to answer Corbyn question on it in the House?. There is a story here and other journalists like Johnathan Cooke have picked it up.

    Your defence is first rate(Zionist conspiraciy thories) Hasbara and was used to critique Mershaimer & Walt The Israel Lobby

  • John Edwards

    This posting spectacularly misses the point.

    At the committee meeting in the House of Commons to which you refer, Gus O’Donnell confirmed that the Fox-Werrity-Gould “private dinner” was with Mossad. Also that Gould met Werrity many times more than the two listed in his “investigation”.

    It is now evident that not only did Fox, Gould and Werrity have at least five meetings while Fox was Secretary of State for Defence but also several meetings while Fox was in opposition.

    The question is why was a senior British diplomat holding a series of meetings with a shadow Defence spokesman and a lobbyist with no security clearance, paid by the Israel lobby?

    That is what Paul Flynn was trying to find out. The British Government has so far refused to answer and declined Freedom of Information requests.

    It is answers to these important questions which are required rather than the usual tedious accusations of “anti-semitism”.

  • Cityca

    Amazing that a man like Flynn cannot see the irony of his position. With antecedents presumably from Ireland, is he, by his reasoning, a fit and proper person o be an English MP, after all surely his sympathies are with Ireland?

    As to Erica Blair, when I read about people still fixated on the Irgun and Stern gang, it’s clear they are stuck in a time warp. Things have moved on since then dear, but clearly you haven’t. Still, if it livens up your nasty little life, who am I o deny you your regular cup of vitriol?

  • Erica Blair

    Oceanside, Gould is looking forward to going to Israel and becoming a citizen of that country. He also self-defines as a Zionist with all that implies for the Palestinians both inside and outside Israel.

    Spectator reader may be interested in the fact that Gould apologised to Tzipi Livni for ‘the fact that the British Mandate authorities had arrested her parents, Eitan Livni and Sara Rosenberg, both prominent Irgun members.’

    Yes the same fascist Irgun that kidnapped, tortured and murdered British soldiers, then booby-trapped their bodies. Yes, Gould apologised on your behalf for arresting people like that.

    As for Laurence, I think you’ve forgotten your medication.

  • David H

    With all this name calling, people seem to be missing the point. The role of Werrity has not been sufficiently explained and it’s legitimate to ask what he was doing with no security clearance in a series of meetings with the Defence Secretary, the Ambassador to Israel and Mossad. Giving a lobbyist that kind of access is surely quite irregular.

  • Laurence

    @ ‘Erica Blair’
    Even were this calumny true, It would be infinitely better to be loyal to the only democracy in the Middle East rather than to a Jew hating, mysogisistic, homophobic mediaeval, sand pit, the inhabitants of which are only indulged because they happen to possess oil. Ms Blair exhibits a peculiarity of the modern left in that their a priori loathing of the West, the USA and Israel in particular, positions them alongside those who wish for the systematic extermination of Jews, who champion the imposition of Sharia law, who would deny women the right to vote or, indeed, to drive, who ruthlessly censure and censor all opposition and who provide funds and succour for those who seek to detonate bombs on our streets. Pat Condell describes them as ‘useful idiots’. Oh, and whilst Mr Orwell, to whom your nom de plume alludes, was a second division writer, your use of Wikipedia as a means of substantiating your argument reveals you to be a third rate thinker. Shalom.

  • Komodo

    “We’ll add you to the list of casual antisemites, then, shall we? What makes you think that a publication as auspicious as the Spectator, with its rich history, would employ people to write for it for any reason other than quality?”
    The obvious agenda of the people who write for it?
    Let’s face it, none of you is Addison or Steele…

  • oceanside

    Sorry Erica, but based upon the extract of the interview I don’t see how you’ve reached the conclusion that he is an extreme Zionist, extremely pro-Israeli and that his loyalty to Israel is above his loyalty to UK. Maybe you can explain how you have actually reached those conclusions from the extract?

    What does seem clear, is that he’s looking forward to going there and speaks in favourable terms in so doing. Is it really surprising that in most situations an ambassador would speak positively about the Country he’s going to?

  • Erica Blair


    ‘Among some Jews, a man who has reached the age of 83 will customarily celebrate a second bar mitzvah, under the logic that in the Torah it says that a “normal” lifespan is 70 years, so that an 83-year-old can be considered 13 in a second lifetime. This practice has become increasingly common.’

    My point is that Gould’s Zionism and pro-Israeli bias was so extreme, The Jewish Telegraph questioned his loyalty.

    It seems to me he has no dual loyalty. His loyalty to Israel is above any other.

  • David H

    With all the name calling, we are missing the point here. The UK Defence Secretary and the UK Ambassador to Israel together had meetings with Israeli intelligence that also included this guy Werrity, close but unofficial adviser to said Defence Secretary, also funded by a charity with US links, also private traveller to Iran and supporter of the opposition there. And when the Defence Secretary resigns over the access he gave to this unofficial adviser, the resulting enquiry fails to address the possible conflicts of interest and ask whose policy the Defence Secretary and the Ambassador were following when conducting unofficial meetings with representatives of a foreign power. It’s fair that these questions are asked.

  • DavidDP

    “Is this the way an ambassador talks about any other country? I doubt it very much.”

    Read some memoirs, or even just Parting Shots. You will be more informed and less likely to look like an ass.

  • Craig Strachan

    It’s not uncommon for, say U.S. Ambassadors to Ireland to be of Irish descent. Would Flynn make the same point about them, I wonder?

  • ACuk

    @ Patricia Shaw: “Jews for the sake of it”?

    We’ll add you to the list of casual antisemites, then, shall we? What makes you think that a publication as auspicious as the Spectator, with its rich history, would employ people to write for it for any reason other than quality?

    Pretty shameful, on your part.

  • oceanside

    In answer to Pat Shaw’s questions:

    Who cares? Well presumably you do, otherwise you wouldn’t have felt the need to waste your time commenting.

    Why are Jewish issues at the core of the Spectator s coverage? I don’t believe they are, so on what basis have you reached that conclusion?

    As a final note, I think the apostrophe on your keyboard is broken:).

  • oceanside

    Erica, you’ve been a tad lazy with that cut and paste effort. You could have at least checked out the authenticity – I mean, come on “He even hopes to celebrate his barmitzvah in the Jewish state”. I would think that most reasonably well-informed people (irrespective of religious persuasion) know that a Bar mitzvah is celebrated at the age of 13, and I’m pretty sure that Mr Gould is some way past his early teens!

    Anyway, would people seriously suggest there may be a conflict of interest if we had a Catholic ambassador to Italy or Spain!?

  • Patricia Shaw

    Who cares? If we wanted to know we d read the JC. Why are Jewish issues at the core of the Spectator s coverage? Offensive Phillips, vapid Pollard, just Jews for the sake of it.



    What a strange article. How can you not see a conflict of interests. And do you not believe in freedom of speech?

  • Goodwin Sands

    ‘Martin Bright, the Zionist attack dog should have a word with the Jewish Telegraph.’

    One can’t help but feel that George Orwell, whose real name ‘Erica Blair’ purloins, would be tempted to spit in ‘Erica’s eye over that ‘Zionist attack dog’ fulmination.

  • Michael Cross

    I don’t recall any defamatory comments in Parliament or elsewhere when a senior civil servant named Anwar Choudhury was appointed high commissioner in Bangladesh a few years back. Everyone said his Sylheti birth made him the perfect man for the job; as far as I know they were right.

  • Erica Blair

    Martin Bright, the Zionist attack dog should have a word with the Jewish Telegraph.

    In their profile of Mathwew Gould
    they felt they had to say this,

    ‘However, I couldn’t help but wonder whether, as a Jew, Mr Gould would encounter any conflict of interest in his new post.’

    Why? Perhaps because of these earlier remarks,

    ‘He wants nothing more than to immerse himself into everything Israeli — as well as representing Her Majesty’s Government.

    “You cannot do this job without being a passionate Zionist,” Mr Gould said on a visit to the Jewish Telegraph’s Manchester office.

    “It is like making aliya — without actually making aliya.”

    Mr Gould, who will be the first British Jewish ambassador to Israel, says that’s a quote from Tom Phillips, Britain’s current man in Tel Aviv.

    And there is no masking his excitement about his new tour of duty, which should last four years.

    He even hopes to celebrate his barmitzvah in the Jewish state.

    Mr Gould, who has just returned from a brief visit there, said: “Israel is a fantastic country.

    “My wife Celia and I were sitting on the Tel Aviv beach front with all the vibrant things going on around us and we talked about how we cannot wait to be there permanently.” ‘

    Is this the way an ambassador talks about any other country? I doubt it very much.

    Gould also popped up at the Leeds Hasbarah (Zionist Propaganda) Centre

    How was this part of his diplomatic duties?