May 4, 2010
Here is an email that I have sent; please feel free to circulate it yourselves:
Those of you who, like me, have passed your fifteenth birthday, may not know what a “viral email” is. A viral email is one that is circulated in the hope that people will be so amused, outraged or enthralled that they instantly send it to their friends, so spreading an advertiser’s message like a virus. I have never previously sent a viral email, but I feel obliged to send this one in response to the filthy, dishonest ones circulating in the Anglo-Jewish community about my party, the Liberal Democrats.
As many of you know, I am not only Jewish, but also a lifelong Lib Dem, being a Vice-Chairman of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel and my party’s Parliamentary candidate for Hendon on Thursday. I do not pretend that my party has a perfect record on every issue of particular Anglo-Jewish concern (does any party?), but some of the things now being said about my party are monstrous in their mendacity. They cannot go unchallenged. I have responded to some of the most filthy, untrue allegations here: http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/jabs-against-viral-emails and I would urge you to read this piece. Here also is a piece I wrote about the more positive side of my party’s record on some of the key Anglo-Jewish issues, including Israel: http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/the-lib-dems-and-our-community-positive-si....
Many of the anti-Lib Dem emails focus on a person called Nadhmi Auchi. Mr Auchi is not a Lib Dem donor, nor did he organise a fundraising dinner for Nick Clegg – an organisation involving Mr Auchi did host a dinner for Nick Clegg, but it was not a fundraiser. I hold no brief for Mr Auchi, but some of these viral emails say things about British Arabs and British Muslims which, if they were said about British Jews, would rightly lead us to complain of antisemitism. Why should British Muslims and British Arabs not get involved in British politics? It is highly offensive to suggest that it is somehow wrong for a British party leader to have some supporters among the British Arab community. These disgusting emails are the mirror image of Sir Gerald Kaufman’s outrageous, offensive claim that right-wing Jewish millionaires control the Conservative Party; it is just as wrong to say such things about other communities as it is to say such things about our community. The senders of the emails should be ashamed of themselves and they are a disgrace to the Anglo-Jewish community.
Whatever your party political views, I hope you will agree with me that the viral emails (which you may have received yourself) are a bunch of scaremongering lies. Our community has enough real problems without inventing imaginary ones. This is a desperate smear campaign run by people who, following the Lib Dems’ rise in the opinion polls, are scared of the Lib Dems winning votes in certain key constituencies. I know that most Jewish people will make up their own minds how to vote and will not be swayed by such awful nonsense. You may wish to pass this email on to friends who you think would find it interesting, so that they can decide for themselves what they think about the emails that they may have received attacking the Liberal Democrats. Appended below my signature, to speak for itself, is one of many excellent articles in which Nick Clegg has spoken openly about his approach to many of the issues that most concern the Jewish community; I could have chosen many such pieces, but have chosen this one.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Hendon
http://matthew4hendon.blogspot.com/ (the obligatory legal bit as I’m a candidate: “Published and promoted by Wayne Casey on behalf of Matthew Harris (Liberal Democrats), both at 14 Sandwick Close, Mill Hill, London NW7 2AX.”)
Nick Clegg Speaks to the Movement for Reform Judaism
Monday, 26 April 2010
Head of the Movement, Rabbi Dr. Tony Bayfield has invited the leaders of the three major parties to address the Reform Jewish community in the run up to the General Election. The third and final response comes from Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.
You asked me why members of the Movement for Reform Judaism should vote Liberal Democrat. I give you the same answer I give everyone: fairness.
Fair taxes, so that the vast majority of people pay no tax on the first £10,000 they earn; a good start for all children at school, with smaller class sizes and more one-to-one tuition; a rebalanced, sustainable economy, starting with investment to create up to 100,000 green jobs; and decent, honest politics where every vote counts and people have the right to sack corrupt MPs.
Crucially, for these and all of our pledges, we know exactly how we’ll pay for them. With the public finances under enormous pressure politicians must now be honest about where they will find the money for new investment and to pay down Britain’s huge budget deficit. Vince Cable is leading the way in that debate, taking the tough choices needed to rebalance the nation’s books. Like, for example, not spending billions of taxpayers’ pounds on a like-for–like replacement for the Trident Missile system, an extraordinarily expensive Cold War relic that simply doesn’t keep us safe against modern threats.
Of course, a loathing of all forms of prejudice and racism is also central to liberalism. That is why I and my colleagues continue to show such strong support for the work of the CST, both in protecting communities and drawing attention to ongoing prejudice. I believe politicians have a duty to condemn antisemitism wherever we find it, which is why I have taken a stand, for example, against the completely unacceptable academic boycotts of Israeli academics.
Foreign policy is important here too, not least as it applies to the Middle East. I am a huge admirer of the vibrancy and vigour of Israel’s democracy. Of course I understand too that Israel is entitled to fight off the numerous threats to its own security. It seems equally obvious to me that such security will only ever be guaranteed in the long term through a negotiated resolution with the Palestinian communities and other neighbours. Sometimes that will mean pointing out things that not everyone in the Jewish community will agree with – I do not, for example, support Israel’s ongoing blockade of Gaza since further radicalisation and impoverishment of the Palestinians does not serve Israel’s own long term interests. At the same time, I do not hesitate to condemn the terrorist actions of organisations like Hamas or the hateful proclamations of Iranian politicians. Like many outsiders to the Middle East conflict, I continually hope that leadership will emerge on all sides committed to a coherent long term strategy for peace. At the moment, such leadership is woefully lacking.
I believe Israel’s long term interests are best served by the promotion of the values Liberal Democrats hold dear: civil liberties and human rights; equality of treatment for Jews and Arabs, men and women, religious and secular; and, in time, peace through compromise and that means a two-state solution.
I realise that these ideas may not be popular with all. But I believe that the Jewish community not only in the UK, but internationally, is instinctively liberal. The Jewish community’s proud record in the South African anti-apartheid movement, in the civil liberties movement in US, and in fighting racism and fascism here in the UK is testament to that. For the very many Jews with this liberal instinct, who want a party that can finally deliver real fairness for the UK, I hope we offer a natural home.
Leader, Liberal Democrats