Ukip’s new parliamentary candidate for Hendon has denied he is Islamophobic, despite saying he is “fearful” of Britain’s Muslim community.
Raymond Shamash was announced as the party’s candidate for the north-west London constituency on Monday.
His appointment came following Jeremy Zeid’s resignation after he called on the Israeli government to kidnap Barack Obama.
Dr Shamash, a semi-retired dentist from Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, told the JC: “I am not Islamophobic, I am fearful. What is Islamophobia? It is not someone who hates Muslims – it is someone who fears them.
“There are 2.8 million people [in the UK] who are ideologically and religiously opposed to us. I am fearful of a minority that sees us Jews as a potential target for attack.
“I do not feel that Ukip is a racist party. I feel at home here
“There are 300,000 Jews in the UK, there are around 2.8 million Muslims. The scale, the pace, you cannot compare.
“Our Jewish schools are fortresses, our cemeteries desecrated by graffiti. After the Paris attacks, I felt fear and I fear for the future of the Jewish community in Britain.”
Dr Shamash said he joined Ukip in 2012 after becoming disillusioned by Conservative policy on immigration, which he described as “the number one issue in this election”.
The 68-year-old grandfather, a Leeds University graduate who was the student union’s anti-apartheid secretary, said he wanted to crack down on immigration, even though his father's family came to Britain from Iraq in 1910 and his mother’s family arrived in 1880 from Poland.
He said: “When my antecedents came here, they came here to work hard. They did not come here to claim benefits.
"When the Jewish community came here, they were grateful.
“That situation is now reversed. People want to come to Great Britain because they think it is a soft touch.
“We are opening the doors here for people who are against the tenets of our society – religiously and ideologically. That is as far as I will go, speaking to a journalist.”
Dr Shamash, whose father, Ezra ‘Eddie’ Shamash, was the former chair of North Western Reform Synagogue, lived in Israel for 30 years and served as a medical officer during the Yom Kippur war.
He also worked in Haifa’s Rambam hospital before meeting his American wife, Betty, who is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. The couple were married by Rabbi Meir Lau, Israel’s former chief rabbi.
Dr Shamash, who is spending Pesach in Copenhagen with his family, accepted that his late entry into the election race may put him at a disadvantage, but said he hoped his background would impress the 17 per cent of Jewish voters in the constituency.
“I think they should vote for me,” said Dr Shamash, who vowed to protect the NHS. “Labour have admitted that they got it wrong on immigration and the economy. They cannot be trusted to do something now. And the Conservatives, they talk tough on immigration but do nothing. They will never leave the EU, the party is deeply divided on the issue. They do not want to leave. They have no control over our borders.”
He added: “I love our welfare state. But it is either our welfare state or uncontrolled immigration – we cannot have both.”
Despite the decision of Ukip’s National Executive Committee to ban non-stun slaughter this year, Dr Shamash claimed: “Shechita is safe (with Ukip), Nigel Farage over-ruled them.
“He said shechita was safe. I suppose the Jewish community got caught in the cross-fire. I am not sure about all religious slaughter, but it would seem inequitable to protect one and not the other.”
He added: “Ukip is not a racist party. The way the media have stirred up bias against Israel, they have also done a hatchet job on Ukip.
“I do not feel that this is a racist party. I feel at home here.”