The Final Straw

Jack Straw is one of the veteran MPs in the Labour Party and the House of Commons, having stood in eight general elections since 1979 and representing Blackburn. He is mostly known for being foreign secretary when Tony Blair took a decision to go to the war in Iraq.

Yesterday he announced that he will step down at the next general election in 2015, but that’s not the reason why I’m writing this post. I’m writing this post because Mr. Straw was involved in roundtable discussion in the House of Commons earlier this week in which former Israeli MK Einat Wilf atteneded.

According to Ms. Wilf, among the comments he made: the ‘greatest obstacles to peace’, are ‘unlimited’ funds available to Jewish organizations worldwide and AIPAC in the US, which are used to control and divert American policy in the Middle East. He also added that Germany’s ‘obsession’ with defending Israel was another big problem.

Mr. Straw has Jewish ancestry on his mother’s side – his maternal great grandmother was a German-Jewish immigrant, but in a speech given in 1995 he said: ‘I come from Jewish stock although I’m Christian now’. Regardless of whether he is halachically Jewish or not, his comments are offensive and can be considered as antisemitic.

Just few years ago documentary by Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ dealt with how the ‘Jewish lobby’ utilise financial leverage over UK politicians to influence policy regarding Israel. The documentary was condemned by Jewish community, although Channel 4 stood behind the journalist who produced it Peter Oborne.

It seems the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion return in a new twisted edition every once in a while. The words are used differently each time, but the underlying idea is similar. It is saddening when a senior and experienced politician like Mr. Straw makes such comments in public. Maybe it is indeed time for him to step down as MP.

About the Author
Tal Ofer is a former parliamentary researcher and now Deputy at the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He actively fights antisemitism and delegitimisation of Israel. In Summer 2014 he masterminded a campaign to target Tricycle Theater donors, which led to reverse of boycott of UK Jewish Film Festival.