The Jewish Chronicle has just conducted an interview with David Cameron. My thoughts on the interview:
1. As a Jewish student on a vehemently anti-Zionist campus, I felt extremely uncomfortable about the instances of anti-semitism that occurred during the LSE student protest against Operation Cast Lead last year, so I do look out for the party leaders’ comments on combating university extremism. Cameron claims the Tories will “drain this poison” by banning extremist groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir and by matching academic freedom with responsibility (whatever that means). Important to note: LSE employs a teacher who is a member of this very organisation.
2. Just a few decades ago, the Tories were known as a racist party. Enduring relics of this supposedly gone era include Boris Johnson (when he called black people “piccaninnies” and referred to their “watermelon smiles”) and Carol Thatcher (her infamous “golliwog” comment made in the BBC green room). Cameron’s assurance to the JC that the Conservative Party has fundamentally changed in its attitude toward Jews may be true, but his party has tended to treat the Jewish community more favourably than other minorities anyway. I’m concerned that its attitude toward non-white groups hasn’t undergone as great a transformation – although to the party’s credit, a Tory win in the general election would see Sayeeda Warsi becoming the first Muslim cabinet minister.
3. The more Cameron tries to defend his party’s far-right allies in the European Parliament, the more one is led to question how much his party has really changed. In response to a question about the alleged anti-semitism of the Polish and Latvian parties that are members of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group alongside the Conservative Party, he argues that Polish politician Michal Kaminski – head of the ECR – has actually made efforts to fight anti-semitism. Cameron says this of a man who campaigned against his country apologising for the Jedwabne massacre of 1941, in which over 300 Jewish men, women and children were burned alive. Apparently, Poles shouldn’t apologise for what they did until Jews have apologised for their actions. Additionally, as a teenager Kaminski was a member of the ultra-right National Revival of Poland party. The Tories also have links with Robert Zile of Latvia’s For Fatherland and Freedom party, whose members pay public homage to the Latvian SS Legion. Why Cameron has ignored MANY calls to sever ties with these nasty nutjobs is beyond me.