Labour veteran Sir Gerald Kaufman claims 'Jewish money' has influenced Conservatives
Sir Gerald Kaufman
Veteran Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman has accused Israel of fabricating the recent knife attacks in the country and claimed the Conservative Party has been influenced by “Jewish money”.
Speaking at a Palestine Return Centre event in Parliament on Tuesday, Sir Gerald said that the British government had become more pro-Israel in recent years.
He said: “It’s Jewish money, Jewish donations to the Conservative Party – as in the general election in May – support from the Jewish Chronicle, all of those things, bias the Conservatives.
“There is now a big group of Conservative members of parliament who are pro-Israel whatever government does and they are not interested in what Israel, in what the Israeli government does.
“They’re not interested in the fact that Palestinians are living a repressed life, and are liable to be shot at any time. In the last few days alone the Israelis have murdered 52 Palestinians and nobody pays attention and this government doesn’t care.”
Sir Gerald, Father of the House of Commons, then told the audience of 45 people that the Israeli government had made up the recent spate of violent attacks in order to allow it to “execute Palestinians”.
The Manchester Gorton MP said “a friend of mine who lives in East Jerusalem” had emailed him with the accusations about Israel fabricating the attacks.
Sir Gerald then read from the letter: “More than half the stabbing claims were definitely fabricated. The other half, some were true, the others there was no way to tell since they executed Palestinians and no one asked questions.
“Not only that, they got to the point of executing Arab-looking people and in the past few days they killed two Jewish Israelis and an Eritrean just because they looked Arab.
“They fabricated a stabbing story to justify the killings before they found out they were not Palestinians.”
Sir Gerald has not responded to a JC request for a comment on his remarks.
The comments were recorded by blogger David Collier.
Mr Collier said of the experience: “What was it like? It took a while to digest. Yes, you pick up straight away on the 'Jewish money' comment, but as he rolls into the influence this has on the Conservative Party and how this plays out on foreign policy, you start questioning as to whether you are really hearing this.
"Is someone really pushing this, in Westminster, in 2015? And nobody in the room raised a protest. How did I feel? It was sickening.”
Sir Gerald's fellow Labour MP Andy Slaughter, who also spoke at the event, distanced himself from the remarks.
Mr Slaughter, the Shadow Minister for Human Rights, said he had spoken about British foreign policy at the meeting but had been unaware of Mr Kaufman’s remarks until the JC raised them. He said: “I am responsible for what I say; I am not responsible for what anyone else says.
“I would not endorse those comments. If you showed me that and said would you agree with that, I would say ‘no’.
“Obviously I would not endorse or be associated in any way with those comments.”
A spokesman for the Palestine Return Centre also distanced the group from Sir Gerald’s comments but refused to rule out inviting him to speak at a future event.
He said: “Sir Gerald said what was on his mind. We did not have any control over what he said. We have often had events with Sir Gerald, but we have never had him saying anything like this. We do not tolerate antisemitism whatsoever.
“We understand the difference between antisemitism and criticising Israel. We can’t tolerate any antisemitism. What [Sir Gerald] said is representing his own view.”
Sir Gerald caused controversy earlier this year when he said that Israel uses the Holocaust to justify murdering Palestinians.
In 2011 he apologised after greeting fellow Jewish MP Louise Ellman by muttering “here we are, the Jews again" when she rose to speak in the Commons.
A Labour Party spokesman said: “The views as reported do not reflect the views of the party.”
He would not comment on whether the party would reprimand Sir Gerald or ask him to resign.
John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, said: “These are the incoherent ramblings of an ill-informed demagogue.”
Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, echoed the call for action to be taken by the party. She said: “I think that these are not just unfortunate, but these are disgraceful remarks from the Father of the House and they cannot go unanswered.”
Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, said: “These are despicable statements which support antisemitic conspiracy theories, and Gerald should withdraw them immediately.”
Mark Gardner, director of communications at the Community Security Trust, said: “The language invites antisemitic interpretation about Jews, money and controlling politicians; and the belated hand wringing from others in the room is meaningless if they did not actually protest when the remarks were made.”
Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush said: “We condemn Sir Gerald’s outrageous comments. We challenge him to travel to Israel immediately to ride around with the emergency services and to see for himself whether it is possible to fabricate knife attacks when victims are lying on the ground with blood pouring from their wounds.
"We also invite the Labour Party to initiate disciplinary proceedings to investigate his disgraceful words.”
Martin Rathfelder, Sir Gerald’s election agent, said: “I’m quite sure he won’t [resign]. Why would he?
“To say that the Conservative Party has been taking Jewish money isn’t antisemitic. Is that antisemitic? If Jewish people give the Conservative Party money, which no-one is suggesting they haven’t, they probably expect something in return, don’t they?
“Gerald really doesn’t care what anyone who doesn’t live in Gorton constituency thinks. If anyone in Gorton constituency would say that, he might be concerned, but no-one in the constituency appears to have been quoted.”
When asked about the allegations which Sir Gerald made that Israel had fabricated stabbing attacks, Mr Rathfelder said: “Is it untrue? Again, nobody in your article said it wasn’t true.
“There are lots of people in Gorton constituency who worry about Palestine, but when Gerald was accused of being antisemitic in the past, it was never by anyone who lived in the constituency, at least as far as I’m aware.
"I’ve had complaints about him saying things that were said to be antisemitic, but never someone who was a voter in the constituency.”