I have a letter in today's Independent. Here is the background, and the letter itself reads:
'Influential friends' woo the parties
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (12 October) claims that "all three parties were lavishly entertained by the over-influential Friends of Israel" at the recent party conferences.
At the Liberal Democrat Conference, the Friends of Israel's sole gathering was a fringe meeting about President Obama's efforts towards Middle East peace. As at most fringe meetings, drinks and sandwiches were available, but nobody was "lavishly entertained"; had Yasmin attended what was essentially a symposium on the peace process, she might well have enjoyed it.
There are also groupings of Liberal Democrat Friends of India, Palestine and Pakistan – are they also to be described as "overly-influential"? I drank a glass of wine at the Friends of Palestine's meeting before asking some critical questions, but I don't consider myself to have been "lavishly entertained" or "over-influenced". The Friends of India's reception was at what sounds like an excellent Indian restaurant, but I don't hear Yasmin complaining that guests were "lavishly entertained" at this event.
Why can Friends of Israel not make a normal contribution to the foreign policy debate without being labelled "over-influential" by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown?