Sir Gerald Kaufman is Jewish, which he seems to use as an excuse to make claims that would, ordinarily, be denounced as anti-Semitic. He has made this a trademark of his career but on Tuesday night, Sir Gerald – now Father of the House of Commons – outdid himself. In an extraordinary speech he allegedly discussed the influence of ‘Jewish money’ over the Conservative party. He also claimed that, according to an email he had received, ‘half’ of the Palestinian knife attacks in Israel over recent weeks have been ‘fabricated’ as an excuse to execute Palestinians, and that the small-circulation weekly newspaper The Jewish Chronicle has biased the Conservatives.
Speaking at an event organised by the Palestine Return Centre on Tuesday evening, Sir Gerald – infamous for his ‘Here we are, the Jews again’ comment during a 2011 parliamentary debate on Israel when fellow Labour MP Louise Ellman rose to speak – drew on every last trope in the book: a Jewish-controlled media; a wealthy cabal of Jews buying off the political establishment; blood-thirsty Jews jumping at every opportunity to murder the innocent. Some felt that all that was missing was a reference to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Yesterday, after a recording of the remarks was made public, four of Britain’s prominent Jewish organisations – the Board of Deputies, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust – expressed their outrage and demanded that Sir Gerald’s comments be investigated. Today calls for his resignation will grow, but as of now he has remained silent. The Spectator has requested comment from Sir Gerald’s office, but has yet to hear back. When asked by The Jewish Chronicle about the allegations that Israel had fabricated stabbing attacks, Martin Rathfelder, Sir Gerald’s election agent, merely asked in turn: ‘Is it untrue?’ Here, again, we see the classic conspiracy theory mindset at work: the impossibility of contradicting the argument presented as clear proof of its legitimacy.
Sir Gerald’s host, the Palestine Return Centre, is a proscribed terrorist group in Israel, with links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and has been dubbed Hamas’s political wing in the UK, although, the group denies any Hamas links. But even the Palestine Return Centre has distanced itself from his remarks, saying that they cross the line between criticism of Israel’s foreign policy and what might be interpreted as anti-Semitism. That is a distinction Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – friend of Hamas, Hezbollah and hate preachers – has often made to contextualise his own support for the Palestinians. Now he has the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that such a distinction is not a smokescreen by unequivocally condemning Sir Gerald’s speech and calling for his immediate resignation.