A Conservative MP has defended his remarks about a “Jewish lobby”, made during Monday night’s House of Commons debate on Palestinian statehood.
The motion to recognise Palestine comprehensively passed by 274 votes to 12, but not without controversy. Andrew Bridgen maintained that “the political system of the world’s superpower and our great ally the United States is very susceptible to well-funded powerful lobbying groups and the power of the Jewish lobby in America” (transcribed by Times of Israel.)
After being contacted by Jewish News for clarification, the MP for North West Leicestershire stood by the remarks made in Parliament on Monday night.
He said: “I had the pleasure of visiting the U.S. Congress and the Senate in the summer. I met with many Congressmen and Senators of both parties and it was alleged to me that no American politician would be remotely critical publicly of anything Israel does because as they put it, if they do, their opponents in the elections or in the primaries would have millions of dollars dropped into their campaign fund, without even asking, to get rid of them.”
He added: “To have a situation where America’s political figures can’t make any comment remotely critical of Israel is in my view unhealthy, I do feel that it falls to Britain to be, when necessary, a critical friend of Israel. I can only regard the words and phrases that were used in Washington as the truth as those politicians saw it.
“I used the language that I recall was used to me. I see this issue as a huge problem and I am certainly not anti-Semitic and if push comes to shove I have historically sided with the Israelis on matters debated in our chamber.‘
JLC chief executive Simon Johnson said: “It is scarcely credible for an MP with one breath to claim that he is not antisemitic and with the next breath make reference to Jewish lobbying power based on unattributed comments by persons unknown on a trip to Washington. As a friend, Mr Bridgen should know that such comments refer to the most insulting of tropes against Jews. He really should disassociate himself from such insults.”