It’s quite clear that the, very necessary, storm over the Conservative Party’s association with Michal Kaminski, is not going to blow over anytime soon. The right-wing blogosphere must still be smarting from the trouble caused during Tory Party Conference by a letter sent by the Board of Deputies which sought assurances over Cameron’s alliance with Kaminski and Robert Zile, because they have now launched a counter-attack on the New Statesman. The Jewish Chronicle has published an email to the Cameron-aligned think tank, Policy Exchange, from the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich which suggests that the New Statesman misrepresented him in an article published earlier this year. This has given right-wing bloggers like Iain Dale just what they were looking for – a supposed vindication of their view that Kaminski is a supporter of Israel and that Labour folks simply just don’t understand the cultural context of Kaminski’s remarks about Jedwabne.
I have two small points to add. The first is that the Chief Rabbi was at pains to insist in his original email to the New Statesman’s James Macintyre, that he does not ‘comment on political decisions’. His worry at finding himself in the middle of political crossfire is reinforced by the Policy Exchange email where he reiterates ‘I made no political statement’. This is not surprising – Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster both try and maintain their political neutrality, as does the Chief Rabbi in the UK. I expect that Michael Schudrich is trying to quickly extract himself from having created a politically charged situation in his own country (though as Sunder Katwala points out here, he is unlikely to with this intervention.)
The second is that Chief Rabbis are one indication of the feelings of the Jewish community in Europe, but those who make up the Jewish community are another. If Conservative bloggers feel as though they have scored a political point by using someone who is so politically-compromised, they can’t shut down the views of ordinary Jewish people so easily. In a Question Time style meeting held at Stanmore Synagogue, the second question asked was about Kaminski’s involvement with the Conservatives. And there was around 70% support for the President of the Board of Deputies writing to Cameron about Kaminski and Vile in a poll for the Jewish Chronicle (I can’t find their archive, sorry).
The final thing to remember is that the Conservatives chose to be partners with controversial fringe parties in Europe. They could have stayed part of a mainstream Conservative grouping in the EPP, but deliberately picked Kaminski, Zile and others as their mates. The sad thing is that they seem to place the need to promote their particularly backward brand of euro-scepticism before the need to protect community cohesion and human rights. Newsnight are doing an investigation into this whole affair next week. As I said – no matter how much they want it to – this story won’t go away.