The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has opened an investigation into an event hosted by Tommy Sheppard MP, from the Scottish National Party, at the House of Commons, in which it is alleged that Jewish people were deliberately excluded.
The event in question was hosted by EuroPal two weeks ago and was billed as a lecture about Palestinian political aspirations and opposition to Israel. When a number of Jewish pro-Israel activists sought to attend, according to an article in Christian Today, they were denied admission, except for one activist, named Ambrosine Shitrite, who had booked under a Muslim-sounding name instead of a Christian-sounding name and was admitted. Christian Today also claimed that Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority representative in the UK, said of the British approach towards Israel: “They are still doing trade relations and still sympathising with the Jews as being the victims of the Holocaust. Enough of this rhetoric. We have made and paid for this historic concession when we have agreed to give 78 per cent of this historic Palestine on a golden platter…” Professor Hassassian told Christian Today that he had not intended to suggest that sympathy for Jewish Holocaust victims should end, but that “it should not be used to continue the relentless victimisation of the Palestinian people.”
While EuroPal did not respond when we approached them, Mr Sheppard told Campaign Against Antisemitism: “Invitations to the event were issued by Europal and, as with most events of this kind, they would have encouraged their supporters and members to attend. I know they also offered a limited number of tickets to the public through Eventbrite. These were issued on a first come, first served basis. When it became necessary to move to a smaller room (due to the House authorities displacing the booking for a committee) some tickets were withdrawn. I understand that the organisation wrote to them apologising and saying that they hoped they would come to future events. An allegation has been made that the distribution of tickets involved discriminating against people on the basis of their faith. I have checked with Europal and they completely refute this allegation and are alarmed that anyone would suggest it. I have fought against antisemitism all my life and I used the opportunity of [the] meeting to state unequivocally the need to resist it as a virulent form of racism.”
However, the activists concerned have disagreed with Mr Sheppard’s account, claiming that it was only those with Jewish-sounding names who were told that they could no longer attend, and that the room was far from full.
The allegations made are extremely disturbing and we await the conclusion of the investigation with interest.