The Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) has expressed its disquiet at the new alliance forged in the European Parliament (EP) by Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP. This is understandable, given that the MEP providing a seventh country for Farage’s EFDD group is from a party whose leader is a racist Holocaust denier.
Squeaky far-right finger up the bum time
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, rather than taking on board the criticism and concerns of the BoD, some Kippers have reacted furiously, making a number of singularly unpleasant and unfounded accusations, which suggests they have written off getting any votes next May from any even moderately observant followers of Judaism.
BoD Vice President Jonathan Arkush put it plainly: “The Board is gravely concerned by reports that UKIP may sit in the same parliamentary grouping as a far-right Polish MEP in a bid save its funding. Robert Iwaszkiewicz belongs to an extremist party whose leader has a history of Holocaust denial, racist remarks and misogynistic comments”. And he is quite entitled to voice that concern.
He went on “Extremists and racists should be roundly rejected, not embraced. Even France’s far-right Front National rejected the JKM as being too extreme ... For Ukip to choose such a figure as Robert Iwaszkiewicz as a bedfellow, apparently for money, is beyond belief. Nigel Farage now has some very serious questions to answer. He has placed in issue the credibility of Ukip”.
The reaction from Kippers was typified by Frank Fisher, UKIP’s party secretary in moderately upmarket Macclesfield, where they weigh the Tory vote. “You have no problem with other EP groupings? Only UKIP’s?” After suggesting the BoD “look over there” he followed up with “Just another arm of the Establishment using any excuse to attack UKIP”. Yeah, right.
Even Mr Thirsty was creative in his defence, telling that he had found “nothing in this guy’s background to suggest that he is a political extremist at all” and asserting “All of us in the European parliament have to make compromises to make sure our voice is heard ... I want us to have our voice. I want us to be heard. But I will not do it at any price”, except that appears to be exactly what he has done.
Indeed, Rafal Pankowski of Polish anti-racist group Never Again has said that “The Congress of the New Right’s leaders and leading members have often used anti-semitic stereotypes in their discourse and used the phrase ‘Jewish communism’ many times in speeches and articles”. One of this party’s MEPs has just been welcomed into EFDD by UKIP. And Farage can’t see the problem.
Nor, it seems, can his supporters. Anti-Semitism is no problem for UKIP.