Jewish Labour Movement Worked with Israeli Spy
by Asa Winstanley - Electronic Intifada
April 12, 2018
The Jewish Labour Movement acted as a proxy for the Israeli embassy, a document obtained by The Electronic Intifada reveals.
“We work with Shai, we know him very well,” the group’s director Ella Rose admitted to an undercover reporter in 2016, a transcript of the conversation shows. Shai Masot was the Israeli embassy spy forced out of the UK after an undercover Al Jazeera investigation last year exposed him plotting to “take down” a senior UK government minister.
In a transcript of a conversation Rose had with an Al Jazeera reporter who was using the pseudonym “Robin,” Rose admits to working closely with Masot both before and after she was appointed executive director of the Jewish Labour Movement.
The transcript contains material that was not broadcast as part of Al Jazeera’s January 2017 film The Lobby which exposed Masot and cast light on the activities of pro-Israel groups in the UK.
The transcript reveals that the Jewish Labour Movement brought an Israeli delegation to the 2016 Labour Party conference on behalf of the embassy.
The delegation was presented as a group of young, left-wing Israeli activists.
But the day after the conference closed, a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz alleged that Israeli agents had been “operating British Jewish organizations” in a way that could “put them in violation of British law.”
While the Haaretz report – which cites a cable from the Israeli embassy in London – does not name any of the groups, the transcript of the conversation between Rose and the undercover Al Jazeera reporter suggests that the Jewish Labour Movement may have been one of these organizations.
The transcript also reveals Rose deriding UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow finance minister John McDonnell.
Ella Rose did not reply to a request for comment.
In one sequence of the undercover Al Jazeera film, viewable above, Rose says her critics can go and “die in a hole.”
The film also shows that she had previously been an officer “at the [Israeli] embassy working with Shai.”
The Electronic Intifada was first to reveal her employment at the Israeli embassy. A few weeks later, Rose tweeted a photo of herself posing with Israeli ambassador Mark Regev, saying she was “proud” to have worked there.
In a statement broadcast in the film, the Jewish Labour Movement claimed to Al Jazeera that it “denies that it has worked closely with Shai Masot.”
But the September 2016 transcript, large parts of which are not included in the film, shows that Rose’s relationship with Masot and the Israeli embassy continued after she was hired by the Jewish Labour Movement in July of that year.
Despite denials, Masot appears to have been an agent for the Ministry of Strategic Affairs – a semi-clandestine organization that leads Israeli “black ops” against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Its minister is Gilad Erdan, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The ministry’s director-general is a former senior military intelligence officer, most of its employees – whose names are classified – are drawn from the ranks of Israel’s various spy agencies and it has a budget of tens of millions of dollars.
But as revealed in the Haaretz report, the Israeli foreign ministry got wind of how Erdan’s strategic affairs ministry was allegedly “operating” groups in the UK in violation of British law and was unhappy that what it perceived as its turf was being intruded upon.
“Off the record”
Robin had been encouraged by Masot to head up a new group which would be called “Young Labour Friends of Israel.”
In retrospect it looks like Masot must have then been taken to task by his superiors, and instructed to undo some of the mess he had created.
As this excerpt from the Al Jazeera film shows, towards the end of the 2016 Labour Party conference, Masot took Robin aside, and backed away from previous statements regarding the degree of control he wielded over Labour Friends of Israel and the effort to form a youth wing.
He said, “It’s an idea that I cannot implement because I am not a Young Labour Friend of Israel … I am just working in the embassy … it’s off the record … do you get it?”
The footage then shows him winking at Robin.
On the following day, Haaretz published the details of the feud between the ministries based on allegations of “operating” British Jewish organizations.
The paper reported that the foreign ministry urged rival minister Gilad Erdan’s advisers “not to pose as the embassy,” and that the advisers promised not to do so.
In retrospect, this reference to “advisers” almost certainly includes Masot.
The transcript also shows, in unbroadcast segments, that Rose discussed with Robin how he could get a job at the Israeli embassy.
She tells him that two possible positions, one to promote Israeli culture and another to monitor the BDS movement for Palestinian rights, had both been recently filled.
She reveals her intimate knowledge of the embassy’s hiring procedures. One of the candidates, she states, was “going through security at the moment.”
“I could’ve got you an interview as well,” Rose adds.
Rose also states she is close friends with two key figures in the embassy responsible for hiring, and that she had herself “put together half of the list” of candidates for the anti-BDS position.
She offers to help Robin, who was posing as an activist with Labour Friends of Israel, forge links with the Israeli embassy: “I’m more than happy, I can give you the email address if you want to send your CV.”
The transcript calls into question the Jewish Labour Movement’s previous denial that it is “an Israel advocacy organization.”
The Jewish Labour Movement is one of the main organizations within Labour promoting claims that the party under left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn has a major “problem with anti-Semitism.”
The group’s parliamentary chairperson Luciana Berger kicked off the current wave of the “Labour anti-Semitism” furore.
Rose herself has been running trainings on anti-Semitism to local Labour groups around the UK since 2016.
But many Jewish members of the Labour party do not accept the controversial definition of anti-Semitism offered in these trainings, which conflates hatred of Jews with criticism of Israel, or its state ideology, Zionism.
The Jewish Labour Movement declined to reply to emailed questions about the transcript. A spokesperson responded that the group would “not entertain wild conspiracy theories.”
The Jewish Labour Movement also stated that The Electronic Intifada’s journalism constituted “harrassment” and attached a copy of a letter that their lawyer had first sent to its reporter last year in an apparent attempt to intimidate the publication into ceasing its reporting.
A spokesperson for the left-wing group Jewish Voice for Labour told The Electronic Intifada that the Jewish Labour Movement’s funding is “completely opaque” and said that the new revelations show that there is a “blurred line” between the most senior officer of the Jewish Labour Movement and Israel’s London embassy.
Labour Friends of Israel
The undercover documentary revealed that Rose wrote to Robin saying she was “more than happy to support/help with the setting up of Young LFI.”
In the transcript, Rose again states she is “more than happy to help” and offers to provide Robin with “contacts or advice on anything.”
Rose’s comments in the transcript about knowing Masot “very well” came in the context of discussing an Israeli delegation she’d helped organize to the Labour Party conference in 2016.
Michal Biran, a Labor member of Israel’s parliament, and a group of activists from the Israeli Labor Party’s youth wing, came to Liverpool, headed by Biran and by Shai Masot.
Biran later posted video of her speech at Labour’s conference to Facebook, writing in Hebrew that she “went to the British Labour Party conference to do real Israeli hasbara” – the Hebrew word often translated as “explanation” or “propaganda.” This week, Avi Gabbay, the leader of Biran’s party, joined the assault on Jeremy Corbyn by cutting off ties with the British Labour leader over his alleged “hatred” of Israel and “hostility” to Jews.
“Michal Biran put Corbyn in his place at the Labour conference.” (Twitter)
Some of the Israeli delegation attended the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s fringe meeting at the conference.
One of them appealed during the event for “help” speaking against the BDS movement.
In this clip from the finished Al Jazeera film, Labour Friends of Israel activist Aaron Simons discusses with some of the delegation whether or not they should wear “Young Labour, Israel” T-shirts to a meeting of Labour Friends of Palestine.
“These are our spies,” he says, apparently light-heartedly,
“which is why you can’t wear that T-shirt, because then everyone will know.”
One of the Israeli delegation, Michal Zilberberg, then replies, apparently seriously: “Well you know I was an intelligence officer, a spy. For four years. I can get the intel for you, no worries.”
In the film, Zilberberg (now a lobbyist for the Israeli Labor Party in Europe) says that “Shai is the head of the delegation.”
However, in the transcript, Rose tells Robin, “I am the delegation” and that it was “a JLM delegation” and that her group had paid for everything and “ran all the logistics, set up all the meetings.”
But Rose confirms that the delegation had been Masot’s “idea originally, but he couldn’t own it because the embassy can’t do it now.”
In the transcript, Rose slams Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his close ally John McDonnell:
“As far as I’m concerned they’re not the Labour Party that I’m part of; they’re completely irrelevant to my life … they’re has-beens.”
A spokesperson for Corbyn declined to comment. A spokesperson for McDonnell did not reply to a request for comment.
After Masot’s plot to “take down” a British minister critical of Israel was exposed by Al Jazeera, Israeli ambassador Mark Regev apologized.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told Parliament that Masot’s “cover” had been “well and truly blown.”
It is a common practice for intelligence agencies to disguise their spies as diplomats.
MI5, Britain’s main domestic spy agency, defines espionage to include, “seeking to influence decision makers and opinion formers to benefit the interests of a foreign power.”
All the evidence points to Masot attempting to use the Jewish Labour Movement, Labour Friends of Israel and perhaps other groups to influence decision makers in the Labour Party for the benefit of Israel.
When the UK recently expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the poisoning in Sailsbury, Johnson said they were “probably spies masquerading as diplomats.”
Inadvertently or otherwise, the foreign secretary’s remarks in Parliament about Masot hint at the same.
With translation and research by Dena Shunra.