Jewish groups have rounded on commentator Rod Liddle after two recent articles were widely condemned as antisemitic and Islamophobic.
In a piece published by the Spectator on Friday, Mr Liddle suggested that the upcoming general election should be held on a day when “Muslims are forbidden to do anything on pain of hell, or something”.
He added: “There must be at least one day like that in the Muslim calendar, surely? That would deliver at least 40 seats to the Tories, I reckon.”
Mr Liddle also appeared to mock Labour MP Rosie Duffield, a victim of domestic abuse – calling her “sobbing and oppressed Rosie ‘#MeToo’ Duffield”.
It followed an article in the Sun, published the day before, in which he appeared to accuse Jews of religious hypocrisy, writing that on a recent trip to Israel he noticed that Jewish Israelis were not permitted to use cigarette lighters or coffee machines over the chag, but “were allowed to push the buttons on their cash registers”.
Mike Katz, the national chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), accused the columnist of promoting “rancid views and racism”, calling on the Sun and the Spectator to dismiss him.
He said: "We need to stand up to all racism - Islamophobia on the right and antisemitism from the left. Liddle's Spectator article is truly vile, casual in its deployment, but no less hateful and hurtful.
“And if that wasn't bad enough, Liddle doubled down with his deeply misogynist mocking of Rosie Duffield's powerful speech on domestic abuse. She deserves so much better, given her unflinching support for JLM and Jewish Labour members.
"Given this bile, it comes as little surprise that he's clearly happy to mindlessly mock all minority groups – as his crude antisemitism in the Sun demonstrates.
"This isn't provocative writing; these rancid views poison the well of public comment and threaten us all.”
Jonathan Goldstein, the chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, said that the writer had “perfectly illustrated the overlap between misogyny and racism in one fell swoop,” calling on the two publications to “distance themselves from such abhorrent views”.
Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies, added: “This is not just hate speech, it is an affront to democracy to speak about disenfranchising whole groups like this.
“Not content with calling for Muslims to be disenfranchised, Rod Liddle has sunk into antisemitic stereotype territory with his snarky comment about Jews and cash registers. He should apologise.”
The Community Security Trust condemned the Spectator article, but said of the Sun piece that “people often hold more than one view at once.
"They can be positive in some regards, whilst also having attitudes that some (or perhaps many) Jews would consider antisemitic in one way or another. This seems to fall squarely into that category.”
Not clear if the Rod Liddle comment is supposed to be a joke - but it's not funny and not acceptable. No community in our country should be put down that way.— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) November 1, 2019
Liberal Judaism's Rabbi Charley Baginsky, of the South Bucks Jewish community, said: "We stand in solidarity with those targeted in Rod Liddle’s latest Spectator column. His words are Islamaphobic and misogynist.
"Liberal Judaism unequivocally, and will always, condemn this language and hatred."
Rabbi Moshe Freedman, the minister of New West End Synagogue, also weighed in, calling the Spectator article “obnoxious, divisive and repellent… alarming in the way it normalises the targeting and stereotyping.”
He added: “Such caustic language serves only to alienate and create further division at a time when our society desperately needs to be brought together."
Mr Liddle defended his comments in the Spectator, saying there was “no hate speech or Islamophobia whatsoever” and that his comments were “a light-hearted series of suggestions about when to hold an election, based upon the dispute over the proposed dates for the election”.
He added: “It was patently a joke. I do not really think that students should be drugged, or sent to a rave on an election day. Nor do I think that the vote should be held on a day when Muslim people can't vote.
“They were very obviously ludicrous suggestions, satirical in manner, about how to reduce the Labour vote by targeting groups which traditionally vote Labour and occasioned by the wrangling over whether the election should be on December 9 or 12.”
This is appalling in the @spectator by Rod Liddle.— TellMAMAUK (@TellMamaUK) October 31, 2019
His suggestions are that Muslims should be unable to vote. What do we call that - Outright prejudice.
This in 2019, when 3 Muslims have been murdered since 2013 for being - British Muslims.
I’m shocked that @spectator published this. A serious lapse of judgement. Mr Liddle ‘s foul comment isn’t a just some bad joke to be dismissed. What’s he saying to British Muslims in our armed forces, police, NHS, schools, factories etc etc? #disgusting https://t.co/74Vjha4WBU— David Lidington (@DLidington) November 1, 2019
Isabel Hardman, assistant editor of the Spectator, distanced herself from the commentator, saying she “profoundly disagree(s) with and am hugely upset” by the piece.
She added: “I have nothing to do with pieces that go into the magazine other than the ones I write myself but do not want anyone to think I somehow agree what he has said about Muslims voting, and I do not believe they are funny or worth writing.”
The Sun has been approached for comment.