Jewish leaders condemn the English Defence League

They accuse the far-right group of “bigotry” and “Islamophobia”.

The Jewish Chronicle reports that the English Defence League has established a Jewish division. The far right, anti-Islam protest group, whose violent nature was exposed by the Guardian last week (and covered by the NS here), has professed support for Israel in the past and is now urging British Jews to "lead the counter-jihad fight in England".

But its advances have been swiftly rebuffed by Jewish leaders. Mark Gardner, communications director for the Community Security Trust, told the Chronicle:

The EDL intimidate entire Muslim communities, causing tension and fear. Jews ought to remember that we have long experience of being on the receiving end of this kind of bigotry.

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said:

The EDL's supposed "support" for Israel is empty and duplicitous. It is built on a foundation of Islamophobia and hatred which we reject entirely.

Sadly, we know only too well what hatred for hatred's sake can cause. The overwhelming majority will not be drawn in by this transparent attempt to manipulate a tense political conflict.

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.