The British Council purports to be the “cultural diplomacy” arm of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). To that end, it claims to undertake extensive “cultural” and “educational” activities across the world.
But the British Council’s reputation has taken a blow after of one of its employees was convicted in Iran on national security charges.
Aras Amiri, an Iranian national with British residency, was convicted in May for collaborating with British intelligence services. She recently lost her final appeal against her 10-year prison sentence.
The Amiri case has focused attention on the covert side of the British Council’s activities. The Council is willing to go to extreme lengths to advance disavowed or unofficial British policies, even at the risk of creating a scandal.
In March 2016 it was revealed that the British Council had been working covertly to thwart the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The BDS works in support of Palestinian rights by isolating Israel on the international stage.
According to the Electronic Intifada, an online Chicago-based publication focussed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the pro-Zionist South African businessman, Nathan Kirsh, is a donor to the British Council’s little-known anti-BDS project known as BIRAX, the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership.
The fact that the British Council is willing to invest in the most controversial aspects of the Zionist regime’s policies, speaks volumes about Britain’s true position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Kirsh’s company, Magal Security Systems (which was founded in 1969 as a department of the Israel Aerospace Industries), reportedly won 80 percent of the tenders to install detection systems along 150 KM of Israel’s "Apartheid wall" in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in the Caribbean, the British Council was recently mired in yet another scandal.
The Guardian reported on July 01, 2018 that the Council was “embroiled in controversy” in the Bahamas where it was accused of “censorship” and running roughshod over local feelings.
The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas (NAGB) claimed that the British Council had caused “distress and disappointment” after trying to censor local artists’ work on “political” grounds.
It appears that the “political” issues concerned were both of a historical and contemporaneous nature, covering Britain’s past role in local slavery and China’s contemporary presence in the archipelago.
The NAGB’s director, Amanda Coulson, wrote to the British Council complaining that local artists had accused the organisation of “fiercely editing their thoughts and voices”. She wrote that a general feeling of being “silenced” and “exploited” is the consensus.
The local scandal in the Bahamas unfolded against the backdrop of a much bigger related scandal in Britain, the so-called Windrush scandal, where it was revealed that scores of Caribbean people had been wrongly deported from the UK.