Board of Deputies statement on Sir Alan Duncan MP’s remarks

The Board of Deputies condemns Alan Duncan’s remarks in a speech he made to RUSI yesterday and during an interview with BBC Radio 4 on Monday 13 October. In his speech, the MP likened those expressing any support for settlements to antisemites, sexists and homophobes. Sir Alan did not differentiate between locations or levels of support in a complex issue. He also suggested that anyone he termed a ‘settlement endorser’ should not be allowed to be involved in British politics.

In an interview for BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World at One’ on 13 October Sir Alan referred to America as being dominated by “a very powerful financial lobby” prior to a vote on Palestinian statehood in the House of Commons when he was asked by the presenter why such a vote was needed.

While he does not identify this supposed financial lobby, the fact that he was responding to a question on a vote on Palestinian statehood clearly indicates that he was raising the antisemitic theme of a Jewish lobby. Regrettably, Sir Alan was not challenged further by the interviewer.

Vice President of the Board Jonathan Arkush said: “Former International Development Minister Alan Duncan’s speech served to display his well-known hostility to Israel. It made not a single mention of Palestinian terrorism and incitement to violence and hate. By ignoring the facts behind a complex dispute, he is breathtakingly one-sided.

If this was not bad enough, Sir Alan made the extraordinary demand that anyone who ‘endorses settlements’ (whatever that may mean) cannot be considered “fit to stand for election, remain a member of a mainstream political party, or sit in a Parliament.” We invite Sir Alan to reconsider the implications of those words.

From that unsustainable foundation built on intolerance and ignorance, Alan Duncan attacked the British Jewish community for defending Israel. He characterises defending Israel as equivalent to accusing people of wanting Israel’s destruction or being antisemitic. This is a blatantly false allegation against the leadership bodies of the British Jewish community. It is a poisonous slur which should be retracted immediately.”

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