UK lawmaker 'sorry' for Israel conspiracy theory comment

Pro-Palestinian campaigner Linton claimed Israel's "long tentacles" in Britain funding election campaigns.

martin linton 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
martin linton 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
LONDON – A British Labor Party lawmaker and pro-Palestinian campaigner apologized on Friday for alluding to anti-Jewish conspiracy theories to encourage people to vote wisely in the upcoming general elections at an event in Parliament last month.
Speaking at a fringe meeting in the House of Commons on March 23, Martin Linton, founder and chairman of Labor Friends of Palestine & the Middle East, 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.
“You must consider over the next few weeks, when you make decisions about how you vote and how you advise constituents to vote, you must make them aware of the attempt by Israelis and by pro-Israelis to influence the election,” he said.
Another Labor MP, the anti-Israel activist Gerald Kaufman, said Lord Ashcroft, the wealthy Conservative Party donor, owned most of the party, and “right-wing Jewish millionaires” the rest.
“Anybody who understands anti-Semitism will recognize just how ugly and objectionable these quotes are, with their imagery of Jewish control and money power,” said Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors anti-Semitism and aims to provide security for the Jewish community in Britain.
“Ask the average voter who had made these comments, and they would most likely answer that it was the British National Party, not a pair of Labor MPs,” Gardner said.
“It is shameful to see MPs using classic conspiracy theory language,” said Danny Stone, director of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism. “Both the Labor and the Conservative parties have previously indicated to us their intentions to crack down on any and all racist language or behavior; I hope we will see swift action taken.”
Linton, who has been the member of Parliament for Battersea since 1997, told the Jewish Chronicle on Friday that he was sorry for any offense caused but was not aware of the anti-Semitic nature of his comments. However, the MP said he still believes that a powerful pro-Israel lobby is influential in British politics.
“I am sorry if a word I used caused unintended offence because of connotations of which I was unaware, but completely understand and sympathize with,” he said.
Last month Linton commended the government’s decision to expel an Israeli diplomat in the wake of the Dubai passport affair, and urged the foreign secretary to act in like fashion whenever Israel “disregards the law.”
“May I urge my right honorable friend [Foreign Secretary David Miliband] to take similar action every time Israel disregards the law, whether it is by building settlements, building the wall in occupied territory, the annexation of east Jerusalem, targeting civilians in Gaza or the use of human shields?” Linton said.
Meanwhile, a radical Muslim Web site exposed for publishing a host ofanti-Semitic material has published a list of “Zionist MPs,” in anattempt to rally British Muslims to vote against them in May’s election.
Asking if “your MP is a Zionist,” the Muslim Public Affairs Committee(MPAC) has published a list of the names of MPs, as well as “Zionistprospective MPs,” from the Conservative, Labor and Liberal Democratparties who are members of their party’s Friends of Israelorganizations.
The 2006 All-Party Parliamentary Report into Anti-Semitism showed howthe anti-Israel MPAC group used material from Holocaust denial andneo-Nazi publications, uses the word “Zionist” as a replacement for“Jew,” and spreads conspiracy theories about Jews. In 2006, it wasdiscovered that MPAC founder Asghar Bukhari made a donation toconvicted Holocaust denier David Irving.
In other Web entries, MPAC accuses both Prime Minister Gordon Brown andConservative leader David Cameron of being Zionists and racists.