Does the Foreign Office not know the difference between Israelis and Jews?
It is not so much that Mr Laxton’s workout was more for his mouth than his body, or more to express his bigotry than build muscle. But it is a curious Foreign Office official indeed who tells a British Jew that ‘Israelis should be wiped off the face of the f---ing earth’.
He was then allegedly over-heard shouting ‘f---ing Israelis, f---ing Jews’ at a television programme, as the news was reported of the death of a Palestinian farmer.
One can perhaps forgive him for remonstrating with a television set, but it is alarming that he should think that all Israelis are Jews.
Unless, of course, he also wished to wipe some f---ing Arabs off the face of the earth as well, but just omitted to say so.
Or perhaps one can forgive him for not knowing about Arab Israelis. He is, after all, head of the South Asia desk (though it is reported he has ‘worked extensively in the Middle East’). In fact, 25 per cent of the population of Israel are not of Jewish descent, and 12 members of the Knesset are Arab citizens of Israel. Israelis are citizens of the modern state of Israel regardless of religious heritage or ethnic identity. Of course the majority are ethnoreligious Jews, but ethnicities and religions represented also include Arabs, Druze, Circassians, Armenians, Samaritans, Muslims and Christians.
If Mr Laxton wishes them all to be ‘wiped of the face of the earth’, then he is indeed racially and religiously neutral. He said of his outburst: "It's not racist. If I had my way, the international community would be sent in and if the Israelis got in the way, they would be blown off the face of the f---ing earth."
This, to him, does not constitute stirring up ‘religious hatred’. It is, however, a breach of the terms of his employment, for senior civil servants are barred not only from holding office in a political party but also from publicly expressing controversial political views.
And Mr Laxton admits saying 'f---ing Israelis', which is a tad controversial, though he denies saying ‘f---ing Jews’, which is quite overtly aimed at a distinct ethnoreligious group. But he is reported to have apologised for what he is alleged to have said.
Why would one apologise for what one has not said?
But that question pales into insignificance against what this reveals about the Foreign Office, for what Sir Humphrey is going to cooperate with any government policies which favour Israel or ‘f---ing Jews’ if his deepest desire is that they be ‘wiped off the face of the earth’? What is the likelihood of Mr Laxton impartially implementing the policy programme of the elected government? What helpful compliance could the Foreign Secretary or a minister of state expect from a supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?