The Conservative MP Crispin Blunt made a reference to “the demand for special status” on the part of British Jews in an interview on the sidelines of the Conservative Party Conference this week.
Mr Blunt made the comment following a fringe event at the Party Conference in his capacity as patron of the Conservative Humanists group. At the event, which was held in conjunction with Humanists UK, the chair of Conservative Humanists protested previous comments by the Chief Rabbi, who had apparently suggested that some humanists were becoming intolerant of religion.
Asked for his reaction to the chair’s comments, Mr Blunt suggested: “I think what he was saying was regarding the demand for special status…what’s required is for everyone to have tolerance of other people’s position and not to impose unfair views.”
The notion, however casually expressed, that Jews demand or receive special status in British society is baseless and offensive. Any dispensations that Jews do receive, for example in the workplace, are also shared by other faith groups and protected classes.
Mr Blunt also reportedly supported calls for “eliminating subsidies” to the Community Security Trust (CST) in order to “save taxpayers’ money”. The CST is one of the Jewish community’s defence organisations and administers government grants for the security and protection of communal institutions, including synagogues and schools. Mr Blunt’s scepticism toward these grants reflects, at best, a poor grasp of the realities of antisemitism in Britain today.
The MP also did not oppose calls to end circumcision or religious slaughter, both of which are critical to Jewish practice in Britain.
Mr Blunt has made troubling comments in the past as well, for example in 1999 he stated that “a Holocaust of equal proportions has happened to the people of Palestine who have been evicted from their homes and suffered disruption to their lives,” which is a breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism for drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. Mr Blunt later apologised for the remark.