Naive ignorance

June 16, 2011

There is something wearyingly familiar about the decision of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to organise a meeting at which one of the speakers is a known antisemite.
This time the man is Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel. But we have been here so many times before with other speakers. Such meetings are all too frequent, whether organised by the PSC or other similar organisations. And no one can be surprised by the scheduled appearance of the Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, who seems to have no problem sharing platforms with antisemites.

Mr Corbyn and some of his colleagues clearly have different standards about the company they keep. The more pressing issue with this particular meeting is the agreement of Lord Dubs to speak. Alf Dubs is a decent man, whose sympathy for the Palestinian cause is patently derived from wholly humanitarian concerns. He was, he says, "asked to speak at a meeting about Jerusalem, not knowing who was on the platform". He is now investigating whether Mr Salah did indeed say what he is reported to have said; and, if he did, Lord Dubs will pull out. Good for him. But what breathtaking naivety from a seasoned politician! He is not alone. This 'I had no idea' defence is widespread. In Lord Dubs' case it seems genuine. But sometimes ignorance can be wilful - and thus culpable.

Last updated: 10:37am, June 16 2011