Leaders split over Cameron Euro al­lies

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY MARTIN BRIGHT AND SI­MON ROCKER

THE CON­TRO­VER­SIAL Pol­ish MEP at the heart of the row over David Cameron’s new al­liance in Europe has launched a fierce re­but­tal of claims that he is an an­tisemite with a neo-Nazi past.

Speak­ing to the JC at the Con­ser­va­tive Party con­fer­ence, the leader of the Euro­pean Con­ser­va­tives and Re­formists Group, Michal Kamin­ski, said: “Be­ing an an­tisemite is some­thing which is con­tra­dic­tory to all my be­liefs, start­ing with my re­li­gious be­liefs as a Chris­tian and end­ing with my po­lit­i­cal con­ser­va­tive views.”

He em­pha­sised his sup­port for Is­rael, which he vis­ited re­cently as a guest of the Con­ser­va­tive Friends of Is­rael. But his com­ments else­where in the in­ter­view are likely to fur­ther ig­nite the row.

Mr Kamin­ski stood by his de­ci­sion to op­pose a na­tional apol­ogy for the mas­sacre of Jews by Pol­ish in­hab­i­tants of the town of Jed­wabne in north-east Poland in July 1941. He added: “I think that it’s un­fair com­par­ing it with a Nazi crime and putting it on the same level as the Nazi pol­icy.”

He courted fur­ther con­tro­versy by draw­ing a par­al­lel be­tween the Pol­ish atroc­ity and al­leged Jewish col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Soviet oc­cu­pa­tion: “If you are ask­ing the Pol­ish na­tion to apol­o­gise for the crime… in Jed­wabne, you would re­quire the whole Jewish na­tion to apol­o­gise for what some Jewish Com­mu­nists did in east­ern Poland.”

The in­creas­ingly toxic is­sue of the Con­ser­va­tive Party’s al­liance with Mr Kamin­ski and his col­league Roberts Zile of the Lat­vian Fa­ther­land and Free­dom Party has al­ready caused a split in the Jewish com­mu­nal lead­er­ship.

The JC un­der­stands that the de­ci­sion by Vi­vian Wine­man, pres­i­dent of the Board of Deputies, to send a let­ter to David Cameron seek­ing re­as­sur­ances about the Tories’ new al­lies, has caused a rift with the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil. One JLC mem­ber de­scribed col­leagues as “livid” at the tim­ing of the let­ter. An­other said he was “in­can­des­cent”. A se­nior Jewish Con­ser­va­tive said: “The Board has done it­self a lot of dam­age. It is act­ing naively, it has been ma­nip­u­lated by left-wing in­ter­ests into a com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate po­si­tion. The irony is that the new Tory Euro­pean group will be the most pro-Is­rael lobby group.”

But Paul Edlin, joint vice-pres­i­dent of the Board and chair of its in­ter­na­tional divi­sion, said he stood “four-square” be­hind Mr Wine­man’s ac­tions.

“I don’t think we have cre­ated any prob­lems be­cause it is rea­son­able for Cameron to be ques­tioned about this kind of al­liance with an or­gan­i­sa­tion that may have ex­treme right-wing ten­den­cies.

“The Board is the only demo­crat­i­cally elected body rep­re­sent­ing Bri­tish Jewry. The pres­i­dent dis­cussed it with me, he acted and acted well.”

On Wed­nes­day, Mr Wine­man met Shadow Min­is­ter for Europe Mark Fran­cois. The Tories agreed to hand over a dossier con­tain­ing the re­search car­ried out into the back­ground of their al­lies in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

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