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Sajid Javid: Another “deliberate misinterpretation”?

This is appallingly bad form for someone in one of the highest offices in the land.

It seems Sajid Javid has fallen for the same trick as Guardian columnist Simon Hattenstone – to whom This Site drew attention on Saturday.

Mr Hattenstone had referred to the incident in 2013, when Jeremy Corbyn referred to a group of “Zionists” who listened to a Palestinian representatives speech and then deliberately misinterpreted it in order to complain about it. Mr Corbyn had said that the people concerned “clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either.”

The irony being that the people with a firm grasp of English were deliberately misinterpreting statements by someone less well-schooled in it.

Mr Hattenstone suggested the Mr Corbyn had conflated “Zionist” with “Jew” and continued: “Let’s play the traditional ‘swap the minority’ game. Instead of ‘Zionists’ let’s make it, say, Muslims or African-Caribbeans or Asians or Irish needing lessons in history or irony. Not nice, eh?”

The problem with his interpretation is that Mr Corbyn was very definitely referring to a group of Zionists, and not Jews; the two are not the same.

Now it seems Sajid Javid – the Home Secretary – has read Mr Hattenstone’s article and thought he’d score points off the Labour Party by stealing its main argument.

In a tweet (which you will see repeated several times below), he stated: “If Corbyn had said ‘Asians’ or ‘Blacks’ instead of ‘Zionists’ he’d be gone by now. The fact he’s still there, tells us all we need to know about what the Labour Party has become.”

It should be a matter of serious concerns – especially to those members of the so-called “Windrush generation” and their descendents, that the man charged with countering the racism against them inflicted by his own government doesn’t know the difference between a political ideology and an ethnicity.

Still, he might have got away with it if nobody noticed.

Ah, but people did notice:

This is the substantive issue.

Conservative MP Anne Marie Morris referred to a “N****r in the woodpile” during a speech (about Brexit, if I recall correctly) and was punished with a short-term suspension. Boris Johnson’s racism during his time at the Foreign Office is a matter of infamy, and his reference to “piccaninnies with watermelon smiles” was just one example – for which he received no punishment at all.

Exactly.

Before Mr Javid starts to criticise Labour, he needs to do two things: First, ensure the racists in his own party are expelled. And then he’ll need to find an accusation against Mr Corbyn that isn’t a lie.

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