Advice For Tam Dalyell, by Paul Foot

Paul Foot’s column in the Guardian, 14 May 2003

Is Tam Dalyell anti-semitic? My first job as a young feature writer on the Scottish Daily Record 41 years ago was to interview the Labour candidate at a parliamentary by-election in West Lothian, an engag ing Old Etonian who lived in a castle. I liked him at once (and have liked him ever since) but was rather surprised when he told me a few months later that there was only one socialist country on earth: Israel.

Obviously, Tam has changed his mind since, and obviously he is wrong to complain about Jewish pressure on Blair and Bush when he means Zionist pressure. But that's a mistake that is constantly encouraged by the Zionists.

The most honourable and principled Jews, here, in Israel and everywhere else, are those who oppose the imperialist and racist policies of successive Israeli governments. It was a Palestinian Jew, Tony Cliff, who convinced me very early in life that the six-day Israeli war in 1967 was a war of conquest and occupation that woul d make it easier for US billionaires to keep their fingers on the region's oil.

When I wrote in this column not long ago about the discrepancy in reactions to UN resolutions against Israel and against Iraq, I was surprised to read a rebuttal from a rep resentative of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The Board was set up in 1760 to "protect, support and defend the interests and religious rights and customs of the Jewish community in the UK".

There are lots of Jews in Britain who are bitterly opp osed to the loathsome Israeli occupation of other peoples' countries and the grotesque violence it involves. Are their interests also protected and defended by the Board of Deputies? If not, are the deputies guilty of making the mistake for which they denounce Tam Dalyell?