The Jewish News reports on the comments by Labour incumbent for the marginal seat of Bury South, Ivan Lewis MP, on strains of Islamophobia present among British Jewish communities.
“I find it incredible that the Jewish community can have double standards on this matter. If we are out there fighting anti-Semitism and asking for zero tolerance on it, then if even a small minority engages in Islamophobia, we lose moral authority and legitimacy and we cannot have double standards. I think we have a disturbing amount of anti-Muslim elements in our community, and if the Jewish community doesn’t call people out on what is frankly racism, then it is shameful.”
Mr Lewis’s comment comes as the Jewish Chronicle reveals the influence the Board of Deputies has allegedly exercised over the Government’s proposed new counter-terrorism strategy. A spokesperson for the Board told the JC that “Its Jewish manifesto for the election had been used to formulate the anti-extremist policies relating to neo-Nazis and Islamists.”
It would be interesting to learn of the extent to which, if any, the Government has grappled with Islamophobia in the Jewish community in formulating its “anti-extremist policies”.
Furthermore, the JC notes that the Home Secretary has given assurances that her proposed review of shari’ah tribunals in the UK will not affect Jewish Beth Din courts though it is not obvious why not. Theresa May announced the measure against claims that there were “Examples of Shari’a law being used to discriminate against women”. And yet examples of Beth Din courts doing the same exist too so why the double standards?
Lewis goes on to challenge individuals who have criticised Labour leader Ed Miliband’s public statements on Israel saying, “The Labour leadership is now prepared to make public criticism of Israel but the idea that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were not critical is simply untrue”.
Lewis suggested the position on Israel adopted by fellow Labour MPs was “critical but fair”, according to the online news site. He also said efforts in the Jewish community to “demonise” them for their position “does not help”.
Last October MPs overwhelmingly supported a backbench motion to recognise the Palestinian state voting 274-12 in favour. Sir Alan Duncan, former international development minister, later gave a speech outlining the “settlement endorsement” activities that held back progress on the UK’s stated position of supporting a two state solution.
Sir Alan said, “An opinion can most certainly be labelled as extreme, and a person can be defined as an extremist, if they defy the rule of law, promote illegality, advocate the oppression of innocent victims, or use the power of the state cruelly to persecute and abuse others. But this is exactly what is happening with Israel’s settlement activity.
“Over the years we have made a firm stand against racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism. It is time now that we added ‘settlement endorsement’ to that list of extreme undemocratic attitudes which we are not prepared to tolerate.”
Of course there is no mention of this dimension of flouting the “rule of law” and “extremism” in the Government’s new counter extremism strategy either.