Labour

Jack Straw’s Remarkable Defence of iEngage

Edmund has already mentioned the foolish championing  – by three senior Labour politicians –  of the appointment as the secretariat of the APPG on Islamophobia of the Islamist pressure group, iEngage.

Over the next little bit, we plan to publish a few stories about iEngage which should leave Labour MPs and progressives of all types in no doubt that its appointment  would be an insult to Muslims who are desperately struggling against political extremism. iEngage has a disgraceful record of defending hate preachers and attacking Muslim liberals and progressives who oppose them. Perhaps Timms, Straw and Khan think they’re doing Muslims a favour by promoting such an extreme group to such an important position. It isn’t. It is a betrayal.

However, that’s not the purpose of this post.

I am told that, during the debate about iEngage’s dismissal or retention, Jack Straw said something quite remarkable. I’ve checked it from a couple of sources, and I believe it to be correct. I hope that it isn’t.

In response to another MP pointing out the nature of iEngage’s politics, Jack Straw apparently brushed the concerns away. He argued that, when he was Home Secretary, he had managed to establish Holocaust Memorial Day, even though that had meant working with Zionists with unpleasant views about West Bank settlements.

OK.

First of all, I don’t know who Jack Straw is talking about. Does he mean the Holocaust Memorial Trust? I know some of the people involved in the Holocaust Memorial Trust, and they are dovish two staters, with a deep concern for the protection of human rights. Indeed, the man who is most closely identified with the campaign to create a Holocaust Memorial Day is the chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Trust: the Labour Peer, Lord Janner. Janner is a socialist and a long standing supporter of two states in Israel and Palestine. He was also the first co-chair of the APPG on Islamophobia, but resigned when the true nature of iEngage emerged. Perhaps it was to Lord Janner that Jack Straw was referring.

There is no parallel at all between iEngage and the Holocaust Education Trust. One exists to vilify Muslims who oppose Islamist political parties. The other is a body which seeks to commemorate one of the greatest tragedies in modern European history. It is an insult to the people who work for Holocaust Education Trust to use them in this manner.

Furthermore, why this constant need to invoke Jews whenever an issue involving Muslims arises? Why not some other cultural or religious group, for a change?

More to the point, Holocaust Memorial Day is not some sort of special favour to Jews. It is part of this country’s commitment to combating hatred, racism and bigotry.

So too should be an All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia. However, with iEngage at its helm, the APPG on Islamophobia will not be capable of performing its task. It is a hugely divisive organisation, which operates as an Islamist attack organisation, rather than an anti-racist campaign. Its presence as secretariat of the committee will utterly undermine the conclusions of the APPG, and will set back the fight against anti-Muslim bigotry.

I very much hope that Jack Straw’s words have been misreported to me. I fear that they haven’t.

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