This is a guest post by Stephen Hoffman
In June it was mentioned in a Panorama programme that Patrick Mercer MP had made antisemitic remarks calling an Israeli soldier a bloody Jew. Quite rightly people were outraged by these comments that were antisemitic, crass and insensitive. They were also shocking coming from an MP who before then had shown no signs of antisemitism and indeed at the 2012 ZF lobby of Parliament spoke of his pride of Beth Shalom Holocaust Education Centre being in his constituency. Moreover, during his time in Parliament Mercer had frequently shown himself as a friend of Israel and the Jewish people. In other words this man was no David Ward or George Galloway.
The ZF who were deeply offended by the remarks wrote to Mr Mercer asking for him for a meeting to explain his remarks and apologise for his comments. Recently to this end ZF Chairman Paul Charney met with Patrick. In the meeting it was clear that Mercer was deeply sorry for the remarks he made. He gave a heartfelt and unreserved apology to Mr Charney, The ZF and the entire Jewish community. This showed how not every MP who makes antisemitic comments should be treated as beyond the pale, because some are genuinely remorseful.
Most importantly Patrick now wants to rebuild his relationship with Israel and the Jewish people that he values. He wants to do this in practical ways by speaking up for Israel in Parliament and doing all he can to oppose antisemitism. The ZF will be working closely with Mr Mercer to help him achieve this.
Commenting on all of this ZF Chairman, Paul Charney stated ‘In my meeting with Patrick Mercer it was clear to me that he was deeply sorry for any offence his comments caused. The ZF accept his apology and will work with him to show that he is a valued friend of Israel and Jewish people.’
When a person makes a genuine apology and is willing to build bridges with the Jewish community it is important to accept it. At a time when Israel and the Jewish people need friends it is important to realise this. Some may criticise and say that Mercer is not telling the truth. However, given his past record and the genuine remorse he showed in the meeting there is no reason to doubt him.