Minister: ‘Israel anger has become attacks on Jews’

By Leon Symons, February 19, 2009
Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch-Brown

Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch-Brown

Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch-Brown has condemned the targeting of Jews around the world as a direct result of Israel’s foreign policy.

In an exclusive interview with the JC while attending this week’s London Conference on Antisemitism, Lord Malloch-Brown — a critic of Israel’s recent action in Gaza — said: “I am intellectually dismayed at the conflation of the two issues. I lived in the United States for many years and I would not expect someone to throw a brick through my window because of the policies of the British government.

“This is a very important principle: to separate respect for people, respect for their religion and ethnic rights from the behaviour of states. One can do it by pointing out the absurdity of it, pointing out that you don’t do this with other countries.”

Lord Malloch-Brown said Israel needed its own foreign policy “driven by its judgement about the best interests of Israel” but this should not be used as an excuse for attacks on Jews elsewhere.

“I absolutely think that Israel has a right to have a foreign policy and to take military action to defend itself, but there must be separation from the attitude towards Jews,” he said.

He believed part of the reason for antisemitism was because Britain was struggling to come to terms with being a multicultural society.

“Jews have a history going back hundreds of years. They have become the victims of the homogeneity of British society. There is a focus on cultural differences which is hurtful for people of Jewish or Muslim or other religious origin,” said Lord Malloch-Brown. “My father was an immigrant from South Africa from the old white Commonwealth. He used to say that he felt a stranger in this country. I don’t know what he would make of it now but it is much more exciting as a society as we jostle together.”

Speaking to a plenary session of the conference, he told delegates: “I came back to live in Britain two years ago and I am constantly struck by the fact that this conference should be unnecessary. It’s a terrible, terrible comment on our times that we should be meeting in 2009 on the subject of antisemitism.”

Last updated: 1:05pm, March 10 2009