The Guardian's report on the Israeli government's efforts to smear the people they killed on the Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara, this time by describing them as potential suicide bombers, includes a quote from Colonel Richard Kemp of the Royal Anglian Regiment, who is the former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan. Kemp claimed there was an core of violent extremist activists on board and added that whilst most weren't intent on violence, "some of them were duped, and had no idea what they were getting in to."
Guardian reporter Harriet Sherwood may not know who Colonel Kemp is, but some of us will be unsurprised that he is currently in Jerusalem for a conference on counter-insurgency. Kemp has close links with the Israeli Defence Force and has been a repeated apologist for its actions.
In October, the colonel spoke in Geneva on behalf of UN Watch, a lobby group with strong ties to Israel, at the UN Human Rights Council debate on the Goldstone Report. There he claimed that during Operation Cast Lead, "the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare". Presumably Kemp discounts the use of white phosphorus against a UN school in Beit Lahiya, or the allegations of abuse of civilians made by the Israeli veterans group 'Breaking The Silence'. Here's the video of Kemp's speech:
Kemp has since been the guest of honour at events organised by Zionist organisations in London and Manchester and in February, he told the Zionist Federation's anniversary dinner that "dark forces" were exploiting the international media, that some criticism of Israel "is based on antisemitism" and that it had been a "privilege" to work alongside members of the IDF.
Kemp is therefore far from an impartial "expert", as the Guardian should have acknowledged. Indeed, the colonel may technically be retired, but more often than not it seems like he has instead taken a secondment to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
The journalist Max Blumenthal reports that, after being challenged, the IDF has retracting its lurid accusation that "Attackers of the IDF soldiers found to be Al Qaeda mercenaries" and now simply says that some of those on board the Mavi Marmara had no identification papers. The initial headline originated from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest advisors in Israel's National Security Council.