Rowan Laxton is Middle East expert and a high ranking official in Britain’s Foreign Office. He is also a hard-core anti-Semite with limited impulse control (two things that seem to go together, by the way):
A high-ranking diplomat at the Foreign Office has been arrested after allegations that he launched a foul-mouthed anti-Semitic tirade.
Middle East expert Rowan Laxton, 47, was watching TV reports of the Israeli attack on Gaza as he used an exercise bike in a gym.
Stunned staff and gym members allegedly heard him shout: ‘F**king Israelis, f**king Jews’. It is alleged he also said Israeli soldiers should be ‘wiped off the face of the earth’.
His rant reportedly continued even after he was approached by other gym users.
Mr Laxton, who is still working normally, is head of the South Asia Group at the Foreign Office, on a salary of around £70,000.
He is responsible for all the UK’s diplomacy in that area and for briefing Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is Jewish.
Mr Laxton has worked extensively in the Middle East – he married a Muslim woman in 2000 – and has been deputy ambassador to Afghanistan.
The case could not have come at a worse time for the Foreign Office. Next week, Britain is hosting an international summit on combating anti-Semitism, with politicians from 35 countries.
It’s bad enough when England’s Pakistani population interjects this type of vile anti-Semitism into the system. But it’s not just bad, it’s truly saddening, when it comes from someone British. As those who have read Barbara Tuchman’s wonderful Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour know, since the time of Cromwell, England was one of the least aggressively anti-Semitic countries in Europe. You wouldn’t allow a Jew at your dinner table, classing them generally with all inferior beings, but you wouldn’t kill him either. There was even a strain of evangelical philosemitism that resulted in the Balfour Declaration declaring the Jewish right to a homeland in the Holy Land. That official Britain could have gone from its earlier bizarre combination of sneering tolerance and occasional actual respect to this gross outburst of the worst kind of hatred is a devastating reversal of a long historic trend.