Head of Jewish parliamentarians’ group urges British MP to apologize for slur against ambassador

Head of Jewish parliamentarians’ group urges British MP to apologize for slur against ambassador

 

05 December 2011

Fiamma Nirenstein, an Italian member of Parliament and chairperson of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP), has strongly criticized British Labour MP Paul Flynn for derogatory remarks about the British ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, whom Flynn called unfit to represent the UK in Israel for being Jewish. According to press reports, during a House of Commons committee debate on Wednesday, Flynn stated that the British ambassador to Israel should be „someone with roots in the UK [who] can’t be accused of having Jewish loyalty”. He reportedly added that previous ambassadors to Israel had not been Jewish „to avoid the accusation that they have gone native”.

Nirenstein declared: “Jews enjoy the same duties and rights as all other citizens when it comes to serving their countries. Equality is a fundamental principle of Western democracy and as members of Parliament we must uphold and not undermine it. Suggesting, as Mr. Flynn did, that as a Jew, Ambassador Gould automatically has a double loyalty towards another country, is quite outrageous. It seems that my British colleague has given a ringing endorsement of one of the worst stereotypes about Jews. We should not forget that the accusation of double loyalties paved the way for the worst forms of persecution of Jews in modern history. Moreover, in his statements, Mr. Flynn suggests that a British Jew does not have ‘roots in the UK’, meaning essentially that Jews are always ‘strangers’, no matter where they live. Such a remark is reminiscent of age-old anti-Semitic canards.”

Nirenstein called on Flynn to withdraw his statements and apologize for them. “As a public figure, Mr. Flynn has a responsibility not to be biased against any ethnic or religious group in society. He should do the decent thing and recant”. However, Flynn called allegations of anti-Semitism “ludicrous.” He wrote on his blog that he was “a lifelong friend of Israel and Jewish causes.” He added: “Never before in my long political life has such an accusation been made. But I have been accused of being too friendly to Israel on many occasions.”