The real story behind the accusations against Michal Kaminski has nothing to with antisemitism. It has nothing to do with his accusers’ oft-proclaimed concern to stamp out racism. It is, rather, a grubby story about the EU and base politics.
For nearly eight years before joining the JC, I worked in Brussels. It is not a place associated with friendliness towards Israel. Few MEPs accept Israel’s right to defend itself, let alone argue its case in public. One of that rare group is Michal Kaminski.
Does he hold views with which some of us might strongly disagree? Indeed. But is he a friend to the Jews? It would be harder to find a greater friend in Brussels. That is why the accusation of antisemitism is so vile.
So why has this row erupted? Politics, pure and simple. The Eurofederalists in Brussels are arrogant and dismissive of opposition. (The recent example of the Irish being told to vote a second time, until they gave the ‘correct’ referendum result, is typical.) When the constituent parties of the ECR group, which Mr Kaminski leads in the European Parliament, were part of the European People’s Party they were impotent, smothered by the EPP’s federalist majority.
Now that they are a separate grouping, they are a live threat to the near-monopoly which the federalists had in the parliament. And so they had to be painted as beyond the pale, to show that only the politically unacceptable oppose the drive to ever-deeper union. Do down Mr Kaminski, and you do down the ECR.
Have a look at those who are leading the attack on Mr Kaminski: Eurofanatics to a man.
Here in the UK, the politics are simpler: Labour have grabbed what they see as an opportunity to attack the Conservatives, resorting to the smear tactic that is so often the last resort of the desperate.
As for the President of the Board of Deputies writing to David Cameron about Mr Kaminski: the words “judgment”and “catastrophic lack of” spring to mind.
The perception exists within the Conservative leadership that the Jewish communal bodies are suffused with Labourites. There has been much work by some senior figures to build bridges with the Tories, given that it is odds-on that there will be a Conservative government, and the last thing that the Board of Deputies or the Jewish Leadership Council needs is to be regarded by a new government as parti pris.
Vivian Wineman has destroyed that work with one stroke of his pen, blundering in and sending his letter at a moment which had Labour strategists purring with delight — bang in the middle of the Conservative Party conference.
If Mr Wineman had the slightest political judgment — surely a prerequisite for a Board president — he would have chosen any other time.