Such is the enthusiasm within the Tory Party for anything that will enable them to leverage the claims of Labour anti-Semitism to their advantage that at least one cabinet minister has got a little too far ahead of himself, and has therefore ended up covered in rather more than confusion. Worse for The Blue Team, that minister is Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who finds himself on the wrong end of the IHRA code.
That, for those only coming to the story because it’s a late August Bank Holiday and the rain is teeming down (no change there, then), is the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism and those accompanying examples which the Tories use to kick Labour, although it seems the Government did not adopt them itself.
Sajid Javid’s moment of truth came when he made a most unwise Twitter excursion yesterday, telling his followers “If Corbyn had said ‘Asians’ or ‘Blacks’ instead of ‘Zionists’ he’d be gone by now. The fact he’s still there, tells us all we need to know about what the Labour Party has become”. But there is one big problem with that comment: Zionist is not a way of saying Jew. To suggest it is lays one open to accusations of anti-Semitism.
The adverse comment was not long in arriving, headed up by self-promotion specialist George Galloway, who launched himself at Javid in his own inimitable fashion. “Entirely fatuous. If he’d said Communists or nationalists or Conservatives or Fascists...you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. You are a Zionist though you are not a Jew. Ditto Trump/Bush/Blair et al Stop crawling Sajid, it’s unbecoming”.
The Tweeter known as Red Robin was equally unimpressed. “Zionism isn't a race Sajid. It's an ideology. You can't be that thick....can you?” Thick? This is the Tories we’re talking about - think James “not” Cleverly, Chris Grayling, Dominic Raab, Nadine Dorries. Still, on with the fallout from Javid’s singularly ill-judged snark.
And the meaning of Zionism was not lost on the Tweeter known as We The People: “With respect Zionism is a political ideology @sajidjavid! Worry about your own party please! Frankly if you had an ounce of self-respect, you would have resigned from an Islamophobic party a long time ago instead of being a fig leaf for Tory racism!” The Tories’ own - very serious - problem with racism was bound to be brought up.
On went the comments, “You don't understand what Zionism is Javid. Being black is not a political ideology. It's not a choice. You can't decide not to be black because your views have changed. Jeepers. You aren't on top of the game” being typical. But then came one intervention that showed Sajid Javid is in one of those Very Difficult Positions.
It fell to Michael Rosen to bring the bad news: “Here is an example of someone using ‘Zionist’ to mean ‘Jews’. Oh hang on, it’s the Home Secretary. But this is in breach of the IHRA code”. That means Javid is arguably being anti-Semitic.
Will the Tories now mount an inquiry and even discipline the Home Secretary, showing consistency in tackling this problem? Don’t bet on it.
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