David Cameron speaks during the annual United Jewish Israel Appeal dinner in London on October 15, 2012. Photograph: Getty Images.
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When Cameron was prepared to criticise Israel

Back in 2006 the PM attacked Israel's Lebanon offensive as "disproportionate". 

Even as the civilian death toll in Gaza has continued to rise (with a third UN school hit today), David Cameron has refused to criticise Israel, limiting himself to demands for an immediate ceasefire. But back in 2006, during the country's Lebanon offensive, the PM took a notably different stance. Speaking as leader of the opposition, he condemned Israel's actions as "disproportionate" and criticised Tony Blair for refusing to do so. 

"Elements of the Israeli response were disproportionate and I think it was right to say that, and I think the Prime Minister should have said that," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "I don't think it should be seen as an unfair criticism of Israel. It is just a statement of the fact. Britain is a friend of Israel, yes, and a friend of the US, but in both cases, we should be candid friends and we shouldn't be scared of saying to our friends when we think they are making mistakes or doing the wrong thing."

But today, in response to a far greater loss of life in Gaza, the PM has adopted Blair's quiescent stance as his own. By contrast, Ed Miliband has consistently condemned Israel's behaviour as "unacceptable and unjustifiable" and yesterday declared that Cameron's "silence" over "the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israel's military action" would be "inexplicable to people across Britain and internationally." 

Downing Street responded by accusing Miliband of seeking to "play politics", but by that logic Cameron was doing much the same in 2006. If the PM believed that Israel was behaving disproportionately then, he should explain why he doesn't now.  

Now ensconced in No.10, he may be unwilling to abandon the convention of British support for Israel. But Cameron is also likely to remember the Conservative response to his criticism of the country in 2006. Several major Tory donors threatened to withold money from the party (it's worth reading Fraser Nelson's column from the time on the subject), with one, Stanley Kalms, declaring: "Criticising Israel for being disproportionate without serious consideration of the alternatives merely mouths the buzzwords of the ignorant armchair critic."

With the general election just nine months away, and Labour outraising the Tories last year, Cameron can't afford to alienate his backers again. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.