Boris Johnson’s record of bigotry, antisemitism and far-right politics must not be forgotten

Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Boris Johnson has invoked some of the oldest and most pernicious antisemitic stereotypes in a book he wrote when he was a Conservative shadow minister. He describes “Jewish oligarchs” who run the media, and fiddle the figures to fix elections in their favour.

He portrays a Jewish character, Sammy Katz, with a “proud nose and curly hair”, and paints him as a malevolent, stingy, snake-like Jewish businessman who exploits immigrant workers for profit. There is nothing subtle about this. We know what antisemitism looks like.

Johnson has form when it comes to anti-Jewish hatred. As editor of the Spectator he chose to publish articles in which the notorious racist Taki Theodoracopulos boasted of being “an antisemite”, argued black people “have lower IQs than whites” and praised Enoch Powell as a “great man”. Johnson defended Theodoracopulos, calling him a “distinguished columnist”. Even now Johnson continues to cosy up to Donald Trump, despite his rhetoric about Jewish disloyalty and support for neo-Nazis.

Johnson’s contempt for minorities, women, LGBT+ and working-class people is well known, so it’s not surprising this extends to Jews. We share the pain that many feel about antisemitism on the left and we will continue to hold the Labour party to account. But we wholly reject Boris Johnson’s cynical attempts to exploit our community’s legitimate concerns to distract from his own disgraceful bigotry.

A vote for the Conservatives is a vote for a far-right government that poses an existential threat to all minorities. As Jews, we understand that our fate is bound up with that of other minorities. We will only find safety through solidarity. We call on allies of the Jewish community to reject hate and vote the Tories out.
Andrew Feinstein former South African MP, Dr Brian Klug Senior research fellow in philosophy, St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford, Em Hilton Campaigner, Prof David Graeber Anthropologist, Dave Gould ASLEF, Francesca Klug Visiting professor, LSE Human Rights, Nadine Batchelor-Hunt Journalist, Cllr Jeremy Newmark Leader of Hertsmere borough council Labour group, Jonty Leibowitz Political economist, Jolyon Rubinstein Actor and writer, Justin Schlosberg Lecturer in journalism and media, Maxim Lundluck-Orr Deputy at Board of Deputies, fellow at JCoRE, Mickey Keller Civil liberties solicitor, Miriam Margoyles Actor, Rob Abrams Campaigner, Robin Samson Chair, Kehillah North London, Cllr Sue Lukes Vice-chair, Kehillah North London, Barnaby Raine PhD candidate, Howie Rechavia PhD candidate, Charlotte Nichols Parliamentary candidate, Warrington, Eleanor Penny Journalist, Daniel Machover Head of civil litigation, Hickman & Rose Solicitors, Ashleigh Loeb Actor, Rhea Wolfson GMB Scotland

• In case any of your readers have been influenced by the antisemitism accusations against Jeremy Corbyn (Antisemitism row may affect result says John McDonnell, 9 December) into not voting Labour, we, Jewish members of his constituency, have known him for 30 years. We know him well enough to know that there is no foundation to the accusation that Corbyn is antisemitic.

In a party with 500,000 members there will be antisemites and they must be dealt with. But we can assure Jewish voters that they are safe voting Labour.
Pam Zinkin, Annette Thomas and Ruth Steigman

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