A shocking outburst of prejudice
I like Paul Flynn. It may surprise JC readers to know that he is one of my favourite Labour MPs. Witty, intelligent and original, we have often collaborated on the Public Administration Select Committee, which examines the machinery of government.
Yet his outburst in front of the most senior civil servants, Sir Gus O'Donnell, really shocked me. During questioning about the Liam Fox/Adam Werritty controversy, Mr Flynn seemed to imply that the British ambassador to Israel was, in collusion with Liam Fox et al, working with Israeli intelligence as part of a Zionist plot.
As the transcript shows, when I tried to interject, Mr Flynn then accused me of being a neo-conservative and part of a clique that wanted to bomb Iran.
Mr Flynn's actions betray an extraordinary mindset on the left, that allows normally highly intelligent and engaging individuals to lose all sense of proportion when the word "Israel" is mentioned.
The same kind of mindset rarely raises the daily atrocities committed in Syria or Iran, preferring to focus on Israel as part of some vast international conspiracy - usually involving American and British Conservative politicians.
What makes this worse is that Mr Flynn is able to do this because the British ambassador to Israel is Jewish. The subtext, of course, is that Jews by nature are not loyal to the country that they serve but are working for foreign powers. This has been the habitual accusation of antisemites throughout the ages.
Whilst I do not believe for one moment that Mr Flynn is antisemitic, the question that people will ask is: "Has he allowed himself to fall into the trap that those who hate Jews often set?"
Readers will note that I, too, as a Jewish MP, am being accused of being part of a "plot" to bomb Iran.
Yet as Sir Gus O'Donnell observed, the fact that the British ambassador has meetings with Israeli intelligence is part of his job, just as the British ambassador to Pakistan meets Pakistani intelligence.
If only the left, with a few notable exceptions, put their money where their mouth is in terms of human rights and freedom, there would not be outrageous attacks on the British ambassador to Israel but real condemnation of President Ahmadinejad and President Assad.
Robert Halfon is MP for Harlow