The headline caught my eye. I'm of Jewish heritage. I don't celebrate or partake in any Jewish rituals but I'm still Jewish. Once you're born in the club, you can't really get out.
"Simon Bridges questions if anti-Semitism behind New Zealand's absence from Holocaust memorial" was the headline.
Recently there was a commemoration at a Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. No New Zealand official attended.
National MPs cried out on social media what a disgrace it was that nobody went, but none of them implied that it might be because the Government is anti-Semitic. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat), the government department that organises these sorts of things, said it didn't give Winston Peters enough time to organise a trip and that it is on them, but this wasn't good enough for Bridges.
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In an interview with MediaWorks, Bridges said "You look at the Labour Party in the UK, they have had very significant problems with anti-Semitism. I hope none of that is part of the Labour Party's calculus, that has no place in New Zealand society."
The implication of what Bridges is saying, the big racial dog whistle he's blowing, is that Labour is anti-Jewish. In fact so anti-Jewish that it deliberately did not send anyone to a Holocaust memorial event. The distance between those dots that need connecting is not vast.
This was a very effective tactic that was recently used in Britain. Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party was accused of anti-Semitism regularly and it became so frequent Corbyn was forced into denying he was an anti-Semite. Unfortunately in the world of communications, a denial is as good as an admission.
If a politician says "I am not an anti-Semite", then the headline will be "POLITICIAN DENIES BEING AN ANTI-SEMITE" and the reader might think to themself, "Hmm, I didn't think he was an anti-Semite, but if he's being forced into denying that he is, perhaps there's something to it." It's one of the oldest and grimiest tricks in the political playbook.
What Bridges is doing creates racial tension. And racial tension brings with it awfulness, often violence and a lot of discrimination. New Zealand deserves better from its politicians.
This is so transparently just Bridges politicking. He's only just returned from a trip to the Philippines, where he met with the Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr.
Locsin tweeted in 2016 that the Philippines' drug problem needed a "final solution like the Nazis adopted". He's a fan of the phrase "final solution", he uses it often. Bridges said he was not aligning himself with those views but that the meeting was worthwhile.
Less than a year after New Zealand's Muslim community lost more than 50 of its own, when the country pulled together to look at itself and ask if there was a problem of racism in New Zealand, when we all solemnly talked about how words matter and must be used responsibly, Simon Bridges is out there stirring the anti-Semitism pot.
Politicians making accusations of anti-Semitism, or anti-any race, should only be done with incontrovertible evidence. Otherwise, you are just othering whole races of people.
Citizens look to their politicians for permission on how to act. You only need to look at the rise of white supremacy and hate crimes in the United States since President Trump took office to see this in action.
Simon, your words have consequences. Even hinting that Labour might be anti-Semitic could have horrendous outcomes. I say this not as a Jewish man, not as someone who doesn't vote National, but as a human being. Please dial this back. Step back from the precipice of demagoguery and be a real leader.