Deplorable behaviour over claim that ‘Independent Group’ is funded by Israel

.Margaret Hodge: Why was she allowed to link a reference to Israel with anti-Semitism when IHRA guidelines make it clear that this is not permissible?

Shocking behaviour from elected MPs here – in several different ways.

Firstly, Labour MP Ruth George has been forced to apologise after claiming that the new “Independent Group” – of seven Parliamentarians who have split from the Labour Party – may be funded by Israel.

In a Facebook post she wrote: “Support from the State of Israel, which supports both Conservative and Labour ‘Friends of Israel’, of which Luciana [Berger] was chair, is possible and I would not condemn those who suggest it, especially when the group’s financial backers are not being revealed.

“It’s important for democracy to know the financial backers for any political group or policy.”

She subsequently retracted her statement, commenting: “I had no intention of invoking a conspiracy theory.”

Which conspiracy theory is this, then?

There isn’t a conspiracy theory relating to the state of Israel.

There is one relating to Jews – that a shadowy cabal of people belonging to that religion/ethnicity is trying to control international politics/the press/[fill in the blank] – but the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism makes it abundantly clear that this may not be attributed to criticism of Israel that could also be made about any other country: “Criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

That is not the case here.

Nevertheless, when Margaret Hodge appeared on BBC Radio 4’s PM, she did not hesitate to equate the reference to Israel with anti-Semitism, and was not challenged on that by the show’s presenter. I wonder why not.

The second issue arising from this is one that I raised in a previous article: That the “Independent Group” has formed itself as a company, meaning that it does not have to divulge the identities of donors.

For all we know, the Israeli government could be funding this organisation – or perhaps other foreign powers may be. Even if neither is true, we cannot trust these MPs to have the interests of UK citizens at heart, above those of their funders.

And the question of foreign interference in UK politics is a big issue at the moment. Think about the questions around Russian involvement in the EU referendum.

The behaviour of both Ms Hodge, in make a false argument, and the “Independent Group”, in hiding the identity of its backers, is deplorable.

There is an easy way to dispel suspicions about all of these issues, of course – and that is for the “Independent Group” to open up its books to the public.

Until that happens, the people of the UK cannot trust Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey. It’s as simple as that.

12 thoughts on “Deplorable behaviour over claim that ‘Independent Group’ is funded by Israel

  1. James Fussell

    “Deplorable behaviour over claim that ‘Independent Group’ is funded by Israel” – which, of course, it could well be, for all we know to the contrary! And it appears to have been up and running under the radar for – what – four years already…? Of course, it could be the Russians, but I doubt it. Trump? Nah… Conservative Central Office?

  2. Tom Higgins

    The state of Israel is vehemently opposed to the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister. They are vehemently opposed to any individual who dares to question their reprehensible behaviour towards the Palestinian people.

    1. Marta Falco

      that makes sense and all along I have thought that Hodge etc are saying Corbyn and Labour party are anti semites but figured its because many Labour member, such as self, do politely , say that the present Israeli Government , as others have in the past, are committing genocide in Palestine.

  3. Daniel

    Margaret Hodge suggesting “anti-American sentiment, often expressed by the Left, may be antisemitic because of the strong Jewish lobbying influence in American politics” made my jaw drop…

  4. Doug Hepburn

    “Until that happens, the people of the UK cannot trust Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey. It’s as simple as that.”

    The above is simply wrong, these people cannot and should not be trusted fullstop.

  5. deliasarto

    Margaret Hodge wasn’t challenged by the presenter because it was actually the presenter (Evan Davies) who asked whether ““Raising questions about finance and Jews is the no-no here?”. Margaret Hodge never misses a chance to accuse a Labour member of anti semitism and fell upon this tasty offering with delight. I can only draw the conclusion that Evan Davies deliberately laid the (antisemitic) groundwork for her. It was yet another example of blatant BBC bias – determined to fan the flames and keep the heat on Corbyn.

  6. Fluffywuffybunnywunny

    We live in sad times. When an Mp answers a question that was posed to here. Is automatically deemed anti semitic. And we live in dangerous times. When a limited company now sits in house of commons. Must people suspect its the blaire groups money they are using. But where does that money come from. And i am brand new to politics. Surely this must be a president. That an LTD company sits in the house. And surely some one most make a legal challenge, fore mostly to expell them from the house and call bye elections. And secondly to make them open up the books.

  7. Kevin Harrison

    Until there is undeniable proof that Israel is not funding this group, I personally will continue to believe it so. Every one of the leavers has stated that anti-Semitism in the labour party is why they are leaving.
    Chuka Ummuna stated less than 2yrs ago that in 20yrs he had never seen any anti-Semitism in the labour party . And now he’s climbed onto Israel’s bandwagon.

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