UKIP has defended its alliance with a Polish politician whose party leader doubts whether Hitler knew much about the Holocaust, saying: “Everyone has odd bedfellows in the European Parliament.”
The bedfellow in question is Polish MEP Robert Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, a member of the KNP party, whose leader has been described as being “in a league of his own as far as political incorrectness is concerned”.
UKIP needed to recruit a eurosceptic MEP from another country in order to save the dissolution of its wider European grouping, on which it relies for funding and secretarial support. In its haste, it enlisted Iwaszkiewicz, whose party leader talks of a “Holocaust industry”.
Janusz Korwin-Mikke, leader of the Polish Congress of the New Right (KNP), said all Jews in Poland were communists and once wrote: “If every other Jew had a weapon in 1939, the Holocaust might have been prevented.”
A UKIP spokesman defended the partnership, saying: “All groups in the European Parliament have very odd bedfellows. The rules to get speaking time and funding are set by the EP, not UKIP.”
He added: “The only comment Robert Iwaszkiewicz made on Hitler was that he was an evil man who should have been executed.”
But the Board of Deputies reacted with anger to UKIP’s justification, with Vice President Jonathan Arkush saying he was “gravely concerned” by the reports.
“We entirely reject UKIP’s justification that all groups in the European Parliament have very odd bedfellows,” he said. “Extremists and racists should be roundly rejected, not embraced. Even France’s far right Front National rejected the KNP as being too extreme.”
Arkush added: “For UKIP to choose such a figure as Robert Iwaszkiewicz as a bedfellow, apparently for money, is beyond belief. Nigel Farage now has some very serious questions to answer. He has placed in issue the credibility of UKIP.”
Shneur Odze, a rabbi and former UKIP candidate, hit back at the criticism of UKIP’s alliance, noting that other parties also had dubious political liaisons.
“The Tories are in bed with (Turkish) AK Party which funds Hamas,” he said. “The Greens’ former leader supports paedophilia, and serving Labour MEPs make extreme anti-Israel comments. How can this not be biased?”
But Tal Ofer of the European Jewish Parliament said: “It is a worrying development considering how UKIP say they wholeheartedly reject anti-Semitism inside their own party”.
Herman Kelly, a communications assistant at the eurosceptic group EFDD who speaks for UKIP, was keen to make the point that “both the party and the group abhors and rejects any scent of anti-Semitism”.
Yet Simon Johnson of the Jewish Leadership Council said it would be judged on its friends.
“If the community is not to judge UKIP by the company that it keeps, then it needs to urgently clarify its position on Holocaust denial,” he said. “Having stated that they wholeheartedly reject anti-Semitism within their own party, UKIP should state clearly that it will hold its partners to the same position.”