I have known and disagreed with Ken Livingstone for nearly 40 years. I especially loathe his slippery excuse-making for the IRA, and I think he has done more damage to this country than almost any other figure on the Left.
But it is ridiculous to call him an ‘apologist for Hitler’, or to suggest that he is an anti-Jewish bigot…
…I am, as it happens, a keen Zionist, a confirmed supporter of Israel’s continued existence as an avowedly Jewish state. Anti-Semitism – or Judophobia as I call it – gives me the creeps. So does the extraordinarily selective criticism of Israel, which does many bad things, by people who never seem to notice the equally bad crimes of any other country. I ask them: ‘Why is this?’ They can never answer.
And as it happens I had on Wednesday evening taken Mr Livingstone to task (at a London public meeting) for the Left’s feebleness in face of Muslim Judophobia.
This is a sad fact. On visits to the Muslim world, from Egypt to Iran, Iraq and Jordan, via the Israeli-occupied West Bank, I have repeatedly met foul and bigoted opinions about Jews which people in this country would be ashamed to speak out loud.
I have no doubt that there are plenty of Muslims who do not harbour such views. But there are those who do, and British political parties which seek the support of Muslims have often been coy about challenging this. As for all these people who have suddenly got so exercised about Judophobia, and wildly worked up about Ken Livingstone’s batty views on Zionism (standard issue on the far Left for decades), I have some questions for them.
Are you prepared to put the same energy into challenging and denouncing Judophobia among the Palestinians you support abroad, and the British Muslims whose votes you seek here?
Because, if not, I might suspect that you are just using the issue to try to win back control of the Labour Party, which you lost last summer in a fair fight.
Read the rest of Peter Hitchens’ column here.