Colonel Richard Justin Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, and one of the world’s leading military and intelligence experts, has accepted an invitation to join the Honorary Advisory Board of the UK Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeisim. Col. Kemp also worked for the Joint Intelligence Committee and COBR and completed 14 operational tours of duty around the globe. Fittingly, the British military giant accepted the invitation on a day that he visited Har Hazeisim in Yerushalayim.
“We are extremely honored that a man of Colonel Kemp’s stature has taken such a strong interest in the security and welfare of Har Hazeisim,” said Avrohom Lubinsky, Chairman of the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeisim (ICPHH). Col. Kemp’s involvement further demonstrates the ties by the British to Har Hazeisim, Mr. Lubinsky added. Last summer,the UKCPHH was officially launched at a ceremony in the House of Commons, with the participation of Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia (a member of the Royal family), a representative of Prince Charles, MK Matthew Offord and diplomats from several countries. Princess Anne of Battenberg, the mother of Prince Philip is buried in the Catholic section of Har Hazeisim. She is also included in the Yad Vashem section on chasidei umos haolam for her role in saving Jews in Athens doing the Holocaust.
Kemp was attached to the Cabinet Office from 2001–2006, with a six-month posting to Afghanistan in 2003. At the Cabinet Office he worked for the Joint Intelligence Committee and the national crisis management group, COBR, during the period of the 2005 London bombings and a series of high-profile kidnappings of British nationals in Iraq and Afghanistan. While working at the Cabinet Office his responsibilities included Iraq, and he made several visits to Baghdad, Fallujah and Mosul. He was involved in devising and developing government strategies and policies on counter terrorism. He was promoted colonel in 2004, and retired from the army in 2006.
While in Afghanistan, Kemp set up and led an ad hoc joint counter-terrorist operations group comprised of forces from the US Marine Corps 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Antiterrorism) and the British Army, which achieved a number of successes against Al Qaeda-associated extremists in Kabul.
Kemp testified before the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, denying allegations that Israel engaged in war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Gaza War in December 2008 to January 2009. Kemp based his assessment on publicly available information from both sides, press reports and his 30-year experience of counter-terrorism operations and planning. In June 2009, Kemp wrote “Hamas, The Gaza War And Accountability Under International Law” for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. In this paper, Kemp accused Hamas of deploying women and children as suicide attackers, and wrote that “women and children are trained and equipped to fight, collect intelligence and ferry arms and ammunition between battles”.
In October 2009, Kemp made a presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Council in response to the Goldstone Report in which Israel and Hamas were accused of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the Gaza War. Speaking to the UN HRC on behalf of UN Watch, Kemp said: “Of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes…Based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in the combat zones than any other army in the history of warfare”.
Kemp also claimed to have relied on Israeli expertise in Afghanistan. He said he received help from an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) anti-suicide bombing expert and the Mossad, following the 2005 London bombings. Kemp was highly critical of the “automatic assumption that everything the IDF does is illegal.” He said “there is harsh criticism against the US and British army’s as well, but they are given the benefit of the doubt. Israel is always automatically condemned, no matter what. It’s a joke. Even the conspiracy theory that the one responsible for the 11 September attacks is not al-Qaeda but Israel refuses to die out, it’s unbelievable”.
Asked about his pro-IDF point of view, Kemp responded: “I consider myself as having an objective view of what’s happening over here. The IDF does not need me to defend them; they have proven it over the years,” he said. “It’s the dispassionate military perspective that I bring.” Regarding media bias, he said: “It was clear to me that there was a great deal of propaganda that was being generated against Israel, and then being exploited by people who didn’t understand military matters and didn’t want to question it, it suited their agenda to vilify Israel.”