Guardian: Hidden words


The line between freedom of information and censorship is a narrow one. This week the information tribunal ordered the publication of an early draft of what would become the dodgy dossier making the case for war. That was openness. But one word was suppressed - the word "Israel". That, on the arguments advanced for its suppression, was craven and in any other context would resemble an act of censorship. We can only guess as to the reasons why the tribunal decided the word should be suppressed. It deliberated in secret and delivered a confidential judgment in respect of the excision. This was the opposite of openness.

The word "Israel" was written in the margins of the draft document by an unknown - but presumably senior - hand. It referred to a sentence which said of Saddam's Iraq: "No other country has flouted the UN's authority so brazenly in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction." The implied meaning of the margin note was well articulated by a senior Foreign Office official, Neil Wigan, in trying to argue for its suppression - that "the person who wrote it believes that Israel has flouted the UN authority similar to that of the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein".

It may well be embarrassing to have it revealed to the world that well-placed figures in Whitehall held such views in 2002, but it is a large step from that to ordering such a serious an act of concealment. The Foreign Office succeeded by exploiting one of the numerous loopholes that riddle the Freedom of Information Act. Mr Wigan argued in a statement that Israel would take a dim view of the Foreign Office; that the affair would attract a huge amount of embarrassing press coverage; and that bilateral relations between the UK and Israel would suffer. The statement paints a pained picture of the way in which Israel regularly kicks up a fuss with Britain over "far more minor matters".
Israel is a wonderfull country. Why not to mention it? Of course our Israeli and Jewish friends are modest and don't like to boast.

The Jewish community of Russia is worried over a rumor campaign by nationalist parties claiming that Dmitri Medvedev, President Vladimir Putin's handpicked successor, is Jewish.

Russian Jewish leaders declined to comment on the rumors officially, fearing to lend them credibility. Off the record, however, one said: "I pray it isn't true, because it would only make trouble, for him and for us."
Strange, our Jewish friends would be proud to have Jewish American president. But why it is not true in Russia?

Medvedev is reading Tora.
Great idea, Trigger; invade a country that was set up following the industrialised murder of some 6 million of their people, and so have a fairly robust idea of self preservation.

Oh, and nukes.

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