NJA chair quits Tories over former minister accused of invoking antisemitic tropes

The JC revealed that Alan Duncan faced no sanction from the Conservative Party for his LBC interview


LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21: Alan Duncan MP at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster on October 21, 2019 in London, England. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pressing Parliament for a "straight up-and-down vote" on his Brexit deal, after he was forced to ask the European Union for a new delay of the Brexit deadline. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Gary Mond, chair of the National Jewish Assembly (NJA), has resigned his 47-year membership of the Conservative Party over what he considered to be “extreme antisemitism”.

The JC revealed that former Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan faced no action from the party following claims that he used antisemitic tropes in a radio interview.

Mond said, “It is an utter disgrace that the Conservative Party is unable to stand by CFI [Conservative Friends of Israel] in refusing to even criticise, much less take disciplinary action against, Sir Alan Duncan on account of his accusations.”

The NJA chair said that his credibility would be “shot to pieces if on the one hand the NJA was severely criticising a political party over antisemitism, while on the other hand its chairman remained a member of the Conservative Party.”

Duncan, who was accused of invoking “antisemitic tropes”, was cleared of any wrongdoing by his party.

An international development minister under David Cameron and foreign minister under Theresa May, he had been under investigation for comments he made on radio station LBC in which he accused fellow Conservatives of dual loyalties.

A Conservative Party spokesman told the JC, "Following a two-month investigation, an independent panel has reviewed the complaint and dismissed it."

Reacting to the decision, a spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said: "This decision is shameful. Sir Alan Duncan suggested on-air that members of the House of Lords were working at the behest of the Israeli state, and this was not the first time that he made such an assertion. At a time when antisemitism is at an all-time-high, invoking conspiracy theories and tropes about dual loyalty only inflames the situation for British Jews. Political parties are responsible for holding their representatives to account. The Conservative Party has failed to do this and would do well to remind itself of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's ruling with regard to the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership."

Danny Stone, Chief Executive of the Antisemitism Policy Trust told the JC: “This is the wrong decision. It sends a message that using tropes, whether knowingly or not is acceptable. This case should be reviewed and reversed.”

In an interview in April in which he called for a suspension of arms sales to Israel, Duncan told broadcaster Nick Ferrari that he wanted to “flush out” pro-Israel “extremists” in government.

The former MP, who represented Rutland and Melton from 1992-2019, claimed that that pro-Israel group Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) “has been doing the bidding of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, bypassing all proper processes of government to exercise undue influence at the top of government.”

He called for the expulsion of CFI Honorary President Lord Stuart Polak from the House of Lords, and said that “he is exercising the interests of another country, not that of the Parliament in which he sits.”

At the time, the Board of Deputies called his comments “disgraceful”. CAA called for his expulsion from the Conservative Party.

Duncan also attacked CFI Parliamentary Chairman Lord Eric Pickles and said: “They’re the sort of Laurel and Hardy who should be pushed out together". During the course of the interview, he also attacked former parliamentary colleagues including Suella Braverman, Tom Tugendhat, Priti Patel and Oliver Dowden.

Last week, Duncan told UAE-based news outlet The National that the UK has lost credibility in the world by appearing to be “complicit with Israeli extremism”. 

He has been contacted for comment.

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