Antisemitism in Political Parties

“Antisemitism is the organisation of politics against the Jews” — Ruth Wisse

Conservative and Unionist Party

The Conservative Party has been responsible for the United Kingdom’s adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism, for which it is to be applauded. It is not immune from criticism, however. It has failed to discipline a sitting MP who referred to the supposed “power of the Jewish lobby in America”, amongst others alleged to have participated in antisemitic discourse.

4

cases

50%

Good outcomes

0%

Unsatisfactory outcomes

50%

Bad outcomes

Gulzabeen Afsar

Council candidate, Littleover ward, Derby

Incident

In April 2015, Ms Afsar  made a comment on Facebook saying that she could never support Ed Miliband, referring to him as “Al Yahud”, which means “the Jew” in Arabic.

Outcome

Ms Afsar’s comments were exposed in late April 2015. Following this, Ms Afsar apologised and removed the posts. Ms Afsar’s comments were condemned by the Conservative Party both locally and nationally. The Party suspended her from membership pending a disciplinary hearing, but Ms Afsar resigned before the process could be concluded.

In September 2017, we sought comment from Ms Afsar, but we did not receive a response.

Andrew Bridgen

Member of Parliament for North West Leicestershire

Incident

Andrew Bridgen has been the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire since 2010. In the June 2017 General Election, he retained his seat with an increased majority. In a House of Commons debate on 13th October 2014, Mr Bridgen suggested that “the political system of the world’s superpower and our great ally the United States is very susceptible to well-funded powerful lobbying groups and the power of the Jewish lobby in America”.

Outcome

Mr Bridgen subsequently stood by his remark. It is unknown whether any disciplinary process has been instigated against him by the Conservative Party.

In September 2017, we put this matter to Mr Bridgen, but we did not receive a response.

The Rt Hon. Sir Alan Duncan KCMG MP

Member of Parliament for Rutland and Melton
Minister of State for Europe and the Americas

Incident

In a speech delivered on 14th October 2014, Sir Alan, who was then a backbencher, said: “In the same way as it is wrong to correlate Israel with all Jews: so is it also wrong to conflate all Jews with Israel. 263,000 Jews are British. Jewish people don’t just play an important part in British life: they are crucial to it. All should value the UK’s Jewish community and its deep contribution to the fabric of Britain. As such they should, and do, play a full part in or politics. But our politics has rules, and one important such rule is that our political funding should not come from another country or from citizens of another country, or be unduly in hock to another country. This rule seems to apply to every country except when it comes from Israel. Jewish voters in the UK should be welcomed as supporters of, and donors to, their favoured political party. Of course, the support of any British Jew for any political party can hinge on whatever they want, including on a politician’s stance on Israel. But we should stop conflating, as we have for too long, British Jews with the Israeli lobby. They are distinct, and failing to recognise this treats the entire Jewish community as if they are homogenous, when of course they are not. We need British Jews for the Conservative, Labour, or other UK parties; not the Israeli lobby for any party. The time has come to make sure above any doubt that the funding of any party in the UK is clearly decoupled from the influence of the Israeli state.”

In a BBC radio interview the same day, Sir Alan said: “We all know that the United States is in hock to a very powerful financial lobby which dominates its politics.” He did not specify who he believed to be behind this lobby.

Outcome

Sir Alan was appointed as Minister of State for Europe and the Americas by the Conservative Government in July 2016. As of 22nd June 2017, it is unknown whether the Conservative Party has ever taken any disciplinary proceedings against Sir Alan. His speech of 14th October 2014 remains, unabridged, on his own website.

In September 2017, we put this matter to Sir Alan, but we did not receive a response.

Obaid Khan

Council candidate, Birmingham Hall Green ward

Incident

Obaid Khan is a former Conservative Party local election candidate for the Hall Green ward in Birmingham. In a number of tweets in 2013, and 2014, Mr Khan referred to alleged “Jewish agent[s]” and accused a “Jewish lobby” of paying Twitter users he disagreed with. The Birmingham Mail reported that it had checked that the posts were genuine and passed them to the Conservative Party for comment and investigation.

Outcome

Mr Khan’s tweets were published by the Birmingham Mail in April 2017. The Conservative Party responded swiftly by removing his campaign material from websites and social media fora, and excluding him from membership. A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “He is no longer a member of the Party. Views like that have no place in the Party or our society.” As of 15th September 2017, there is no record of an apology from Mr Khan.

Justice, justice, you shall pursue - צדק צדק תרדף
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