The wit and wisdom of Matthew Parris

Early in 2019 the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust commissioned and published a poll which suggested that 5% of Britons don’t believe the Holocaust ever happened. The BBC promptly (and shamefully) cast doubt over this result and Matthew Parris then compounded the Denial in his Times column (‘Without meaning to, and though they acted only in good faith, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s poll has defamed this country.’)

How ironic then that Parris yesterday (in the context of writing about the excellent ITV programme to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen) revealed his crass insensitivity about the Holocaust: ‘I’ve …. even on occasions been heard to grumble to Jewish friends for “going on” about something the world knows all too well … I’d sometimes wondered why, after 70 years, Jews still couldn’t stand back from this bit of history.

Little wonder that someone who thought that Jews should stop talking about the industrialised slaughter of their families should also rush to deny Holocaust Denial!

Parris is 70 years old with a Cambridge First and seven years as an MP. Did the horrifying footage truly come as a revelation to him? How could he possibly have been unaware of the horrors of the Holocaust? And will he now concede that he was wrong to deny the extent of Holocaust Denial revealed by that 2019 poll?

In truth Matthew Parris is a good example of how even the cleverest polymaths can have a streak of unpleasantness when it comes to Jews. He has a thing about the Friends of Israel Parliamentary groups. He thinks that criticism of Israel might be taken as antisemitism. He feels that Jews in the Diaspora asserting Israel’s right to defend itself from terror have caused ‘The past 40 years’ to be ‘a catastrophe, gradual and incremental, for world Jewry. Seldom in history have the name and reputation of a human grouping lost so vast a store of support and sympathy so fast.’ (He wrote this as a response to Israel’s strike against Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon). To hold Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel is by definition (IHRA) antisemitic.

Was this unpleasantness why Alastair Campbell (in his Diaries) called Parris a ‘little shit with that perma-smirk on his face’?