Nigel Farage has attempted to end the controversy over remarks he made earlier in the week when he told LBC listeners that he believes that American Jews exert disproportionate political power and even appeared to agree with a claim that they have financial control over American politics.
After Campaign Against Antisemitism made a formal complaint to broadcasting regulator Ofcom, Mr Farage has now stated that a “Jewish lobby” did not wield influence over the outcome of last year’s Presidential election. He told a caller to LBC this morning that he rejected claims that his remarks were antisemitic but then said: “the Jewish lobby in America is organised and powerful, but not for one moment do I think that they tried to influence the election, I think it’s ridiculous”.
Whilst we welcome Mr Farage’s statement that he does not believe that Jews “used their influence” to determine the outcome of the election, we remain concerned that he is clearly convinced that there is a “Jewish lobby” which is “organised and powerful”, again conflating the political lobby for Israel with Jews in general.
It is common for countries to lobby their allies, and Israel is no different, but in Mr Farage’s call on Monday, it was not merely alleged that Israel conducts lobbying, but that it is carried out by the entire Jewish population of the United States and that in doing so American politics are subverted. Counting all American Jews as lobbyists with disproportionate, subversive power and both major political parties in their financial grips is the stuff of antisemitic conspiracy theories, and whilst Mr Farage has now said that he does not believe that American Jews influenced the last year’s Presidential election, he has only reiterated his belief that there is a powerful “Jewish lobby” at work.
The controversy began when, during his regular primetime slot on Monday evening on popular talk radio station LBC, Mr Farage, who is the former leader of the UK Independence Party, discussed with callers whether Russian influence had really aided the election of President Donald Trump. When a caller named only as Ahmed told Mr Farage that he thought that the pro-Israeli lobby in the United States was no less dangerous than alleged Russian hacking, Mr Farage appeared to agree, and started talking about Jews: “Well the Israeli lobby, you know, that’s a reasonable point Ahmed, because there are about six million Jewish people living in America, so as a percentage it’s quite small, but in terms of influence it’s quite big.” When Ahmed said that Israel has both the Republicans and Democrats “in their pockets”, Mr Farage responded: “Well in terms of money and influence, yep, they are a very powerful lobby”. Summarising the call, Mr Farage once again made clear that he believes that a “Jewish lobby” is at work on behalf of a foreign Government, repeating Ahmed’s claim: “Ahmed, new caller from Leyton, I thank you. He makes the point that there are other very powerful foreign lobbies in the United States of America, and the Jewish lobby, with its links with the Israeli Government is one of those strong voices.”
Mr Farage should delay no further in withdrawing his deplorable comments and apologising for them, or LBC should relieve him of his duties. We await Mr Farage’s urgent apology and the outcome of Ofcom’s investigation.