A guest post by Jonathan Hoffman
The UK government defines ‘extremism’ thusly:
“Vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas”.
Antisemitism is extremism, because it is a failure to show ‘mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs’.
I have tried for many years to stop MPs and Peers booking rooms in Parliament for antisemitic (and therefore extremist) meetings. Six years ago, for example, at one such meeting, Martin Linton said:
“There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns and putting money into the British political system for their own ends”.
At the same meeting Gerald Kaufman said:
“Just as Lord Ashcroft owns one part of the Conservative Party, right-wing Jewish millionaires own the other part.”
Jeremy Corbyn has hosted several of these meetings.
Two weeks ago Baroness Jenny Tonge hosted a meeting where an audience member stood up and suggested that responsibility for the Holocaust lay with Jews themselves. They had so “antagonised” Hitler with their demands for a boycott of Nazi Germany that he had gone “over the edge” and decided to kill them all.
Tonge (or any of the other panelists) failed to correct him.
It is completely unacceptable that MPs and Peers can book meeting rooms in Parliament where extremist discourse such as this runs free.
Shortly after the meeting David Davies MP raised this subject in Parliament with the Leader of the House, David Lidington:
At present there is no approval process for booking rooms in Parliament. This is clearly unsatisfactory. I hope people will write to their MPs to support the implementation of such a process — so that extremist meetings like that hosted by Tonge will never again be held in Parliament.
The free use of meeting rooms in Parliament is a privilege – not a right. Events have proved that the booking process must be subject to oversight.
If Parliamentarians must host extremist meetings, let then book a venue at a commercial rate. Here is one possible venue – though whether the Bridge Café (made famous in The Apprentice – and appropriate for antisemites, as it is where the losing team goes) is prepared to host racist meetings is unclear.
- Jews blamed for the Holocaust in British Parliament (UK Media Watch)
- A new template for the fight against antisemitism (Jewish News)
- Independent falsely charges that Israel ‘destroyed graves’ in Muslim cemetery (UK Media Watch)
- Shami Chakrabarti peerage row is ‘damaging’ credibility of the Labour party, MP warns (telegraph.co.uk)