A Labour MP has caused outrage by suggesting that Britain’s first Jewish ambassador to Israel has divided loyalties because he has “proclaimed himself to be a Zionist”.
Challenged by the JC to clarify his comments about Matthew Gould, who took up the post last year, Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West, said ambassadors to Israel had not previously been Jewish “to avoid the accusation that they have gone native”.
Britain needed, he said, “someone with roots in the UK [who] can’t be accused of having Jewish loyalty”.
The Foreign Office and MPs from across the political spectrum sprang to Mr Gould’s defence and condemned the remarks.
Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said: “Paul Flynn should take some time to consider his comments, which could easily be misconstrued. There is absolutely no reason why our ambassador to Israel should not be Jewish. Any allegations about Matthew Gould’s conduct are utterly unsubstantiated. He is a first-class ambassador.”
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