Even if Sir Gerald’s remark was correct, the fact is that it doesn’t make anything better, so he would have been well-advised not to articulate it.
As it is, though, he has at least given Jeremy Corbyn a chance to clarify his own position on “all forms of racism” including anti-Semitism, and also Islamophobia, meaning critics will not be able to attack him using that angle.
It’s making a silver lining out of a sow’s ear, but it’s the best that can be gained from this.
Jeremy Corbyn has condemned one of his Labour MPs, Sir Gerald Kaufman, for making “completely unacceptable” remarks about the Jewish community.
Kaufman, the longest-serving MP in the Commons, was hauled into a meeting with the Labour whips after he talked last week about how “Jewish money” was influencing the Tories.
“It’s Jewish money, Jewish donations to the Conservative party – as in the general election in May – support from the Jewish Chronicle, all of those things, bias the Conservatives,” Kaufman said. “There is now a big group of Conservative members of parliament who are pro-Israel whatever government does and they are not interested in what Israel, in what the Israeli government does.
“They’re not interested in the fact that Palestinians are living a repressed life, and are liable to be shot at any time. In the last few days alone the Israelis have murdered 52 Palestinians and nobody pays attention and this government doesn’t care.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned Kaufman’s comments as “outrageous” and called on the Labour party to “initiate disciplinary proceedings to investigate his disgraceful words”.
On Tuesday, Corbyn released a statement saying Kaufman’s remarks were “completely unacceptable and deeply regrettable”.
“Such remarks are damaging to community relations, and also do nothing to benefit the Palestinian cause,” Corbyn said. “I have always implacably opposed all forms of racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia and will continue to do so. At my request, the chief whip has met Sir Gerald and expressed my deep concern.”
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