THIS week, it’s the turn of the Conservative Party to be accused of Islamophobia. While it has not exactly kept Labour and antisemitism out of the headlines in the Jewish Telegraph at least, it has highlighted the religious sensibilities of another faith. Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, scarcely known for his tact and diplomacy, has refused to apologise this week for suggesting in his newspaper column that women wearing burkas looked like “letter boxes” or “bank robbers”. There may be those who do not agree with that particular mode of dress and treat with derision — often vocally — those sporting it. But, equally, chassidim are mocked at times for their garb, and attract antisemitic abuse.
Which is why Jews who continue to fight the continuing antisemitism that besmirches the Labour Party, should have every sympathy with Muslims who perceive that there are anti-Islam elements among Tories, but most particularly who are unhappy about Johnson’s grossly insulting comments. Thankfully, he has had nothing to say — as far as we know — about shtreimels, sheitels or the garb of the shtetl favoured by chassidim.
Meanwhile, as more manifestations of antisemitism within Labour come to light almost daily, one prominent former cabinet minister, Jim Murphy, has felt constrained to take a full page advertisement in our Glasgow edition, berating Jeremy Corbyn and his team for their unwillingness to eradicate antisemitism from their party, and apologising to his Jewish former constituents for what Labour has become. Undoubtedly, Mr Murphy will eventually want to return to frontline politics, but he has pulled no punches in his attack on Mr Corbyn and obviously realises that he would not be welcome back at Westminster under his watch. Presumably, though, he would want no part anyway in Mr Corbyn’s hate-ridden party.