'Jewish lobby' is an anti-Semitic term, says US diplomat

A senior US diplomat in London has ruffled feathers in Britain's foreign policy establishment by publicly implying that a reference to the "Jewish lobby" in the United States is an anti-Semitic remark.

The incident happened yesterday at a Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) lecture on US foreign policy given by David Johnson, who is the second in command at the American embassy in London.

During the question-and-answer session he was asked: "Will the US ever be willing to impose an equitable peace settlement in the Middle East, or is it perhaps that the Jewish lobby in America is too strong to make that feasible?"

Mr Johnson responded indignantly, saying: "I am highly resentful of the last part of your remarks, just because of its ethnic slur." And he went on: "During my time here I have become increasingly troubled by the willingness of European audiences to skirt up to the side of anti-Semitic language as a political criticism."

A retired US diplomat, now living in Britain, rose to defend the earlier questioner, objecting that Mr Johnson's remark reflected the American tendency to associate criticism of Israeli policy with criticism of Jews. "There is nothing racial about drawing attention to the existence of a particular ethnic group," he said, noting that the US had not only "a strong Israeli lobby" but Irish, Polish and other ethnic lobbies.

There was a shout of "hear, hear" from the audience and applause rang around the crowded hall.

Mr Johnson, who was US policy co-ordinator for Afghanistan before arriving in London in August, is an experienced State Department hand with extensive service in Europe.

One of his tasks in London appears to be to woo back members of the British political, academic and media circles who felt alienated by George Bush's foreign policy, especially the war in Iraq, which is unlikely to be advanced by the exchanges.

Later, Mr Johnson said he held "no animus" towards the questioner, saying that what he found unacceptable about the use of the term was its inference that "somehow the Jews control the US". He said he was surprised that the term was still so current in Europe, and especially in Britain, noting: "That is an unacceptable formulation."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory