David Ward has party whip withdrawn over “Jews” comment

The BBC reports on the outcome of a meeting between David Ward, MP for Bradford East, Nick Clegg and Alistair Carmichael:

Liberal Democrat MP David Ward has had his party’s whip withdrawn over controversial comments he made in the lead-up to Holocaust Day in January.

Mr Ward said “the Jews”, who had suffered during the Holocaust, had inflicted “atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel” within a few years.

He also posted a tweet at the weekend, calling Israel an “apartheid state”.

Mr Ward is said to be “disappointed” by the Lib Dem leadership’s decision.

The MP for Bradford East wrote on his website in January that he was “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps, be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza”.

It appears that the whip has only been temporarily withdrawn until the autumn.

UPDATE: 1.51pm – below is the letter sent by chief whip Alistair Carmichael to David Ward:

David Ward MP
House of Commons
LONDON
SW1A 0AA

17th July, 2013

Thank you for coming to see Nick, Simon and me this afternoon.

You will recall that we discussed the report of your two meetings with the group convened by Simon, which included Jewish colleagues. As Nick indicated to you, that report was a largely positive one. In particular we were all pleased to note that you appreciated the need to use language in this debate that was proportionate and precise.

It was therefore with immense disappointment that we were presented with your public comment made on 13th July on Twitter in the following terms:

“Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the #Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the #apartheid State of #Israel last?”

We were in unanimous agreement that questioning the continued existence of the State of Israel fails the test of language that is “proportionate and precise”.

We want to be clear with you that in this process we are not concerned about your views and opinions on the policies of present or previous Israeli governments, nor the situation in the Israeli-occupied territories, nor the strength of feeling with which your views are held. As we have sought to impress upon you repeatedly, we are having to decide on whether language you chose to use in January and February, and now this month, is language which brings the party into disrepute or harms the interests of the Party.

During the meeting, we put it to you that your most recent statement – which specifically questions the continuing existence of the State of Israel – is neither proportionate nor precise. Unfortunately, we considered your explanation to be unconvincing and it did not satisfy us that you understood the importance of conducting the debate on this issue at all times and in all places in terms that are proportionate and precise.

We wish to reiterate that this is not about telling you what your views should be. Indeed, we have all visited the occupied territories and we have all experienced an instinctive and liberal reaction to the humanitarian suffering we have witnessed. You will know that Nick, Simon and I have a consistent track record of being outspoken about illegal settlement activities of Israeli governments and the threat this poses to the two-state solution for which the party has long argued.

It is also immensely frustrating for us to find ourselves constantly responding to questions about disproportionate and imprecise language from you. These interventions cause considerable offence rather than addressing questions of political substance about the plight of the Palestinian people and the right of Israel’s citizens to live a life free of violence. It is extraordinarily difficult to gain traction in that debate at an effective political level if the expression of our concerns is undermined by the way your language misrepresents the view of our party.

Whilst we understand you have your own views about this process, which has been long and complicated, we also hope you recognise that we have given you every opportunity to reconcile the expression of your views with the party’s policy on a two-state solution. Unfortunately, you have not been able to do that.

Therefore, it is with regret that I have to inform you that we have decided to suspend the Liberal Democrat whip from you. This period of suspension will be with immediate effect until 13th September inclusive. I very much regret that it has been necessary to take this action.

Yours ever,

Alistair Carmichael

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119 Comments

  • He had it coming sadly. Although a fixed term suspension is an odd punishment – on September 14th will it be ok to keep tweeting like this? An open-ended suspension, perhaps with conditions involved for reinstatement would have made more sense.

    We all have issues we feel strongly about, and wish the party position was very different on. But there are many ways to skin a cat and having an elected position within the party means that the party will be hit by any fallout. If you take e.g. Mark Hunter and Greg Mulholland speaking out on an EU referendum, while I don’t agree with them they have expressed themselves far better. David Ward could learn a lot from them.

  • He did not question the right of the state of Israel to exist but the right of the apartheid state of Israel to exist. My reading of the tweet is that he wants Israel to change its policies towards the Palestinians not simply cease to exist.

  • ” As we have sought to impress upon you repeatedly, we are having to decide on whether language you chose to use in January and February, and now this month, is language which brings the party into disrepute or harms the interests of the Party”.
    Into disrepute amongst whom? Certainly not the Palestinians but of course they don’t have much clout, political influence and wealth unlike another certain group….

  • Yet Sir Bob Russell says in Parliament that “Israel, by its policies, is a racist, apartheid state” and in his local newspaper “The stark facts are that Israel, by its actions, is a racist state”.

    Time he went too, clearly.

  • This is from Bill Clinton’s autobiography and is his recollection of a meeting with Yitzhak Rabin (in the version I have it is on page 495 of 885 of the full autobiography including before he was president).

    “… and a private lunch with Rabin. … I asked him why he had decided to support the Oslo talks and the agreement they produced.

    … Finally, he said, if Israel were to hold on to the West Bank permanently, it would have to decide whether to
    let the Arabs there vote in Israeli elections, as those who lived within the pre-1967 borders did. If the Palestinians got the right to vote, given their higher birthrate, within a few decades Israel would no longer be a Jewish state. If they were denied the right to vote, Israel would no longer be a democracy but an apartheid state. ”

    For me though, the problem isn’t this MP’s views on Israel, directy, it is the language he uses. In the same way as he uses “The Jews” as shorthand for the Israeli government – try to comment on Zimbabwe referring to their government as “the Blacks” and see how it sounds (and also see what happens to your political career).

  • Richard – I think it would have far more sinister if he had referred to ‘the jew’ rather than ‘the jews’. For a state which describes itself as Jewish and has the star of David on its flag and allows all jews worldwide to be citizens of it is it really so wrong to refer to jews when discussing it? It seems bound up with it all. Another example of the evils of religion.

  • Tony Greaves 18th Jul '13 - 2:42pm

    This is a disgrace in my opinion. If anyone is bringing the party into disrepute it is not David.It also appears to be a death-wish by the party as far as holding the Bradford seat is concerned.

    It seems from the letter that the problem is not David’s January “imprecise language” but the tweet. (Which is more evidence for my view that politicians and tweeting do not and should not mix).

    It is not clear whether the offending comment is that Israel is an “apartheid state”.That is a fairly common observation and perfectly defendable, particularly if you include the West Bank as part of Israel, which of course the Israel Government does.

    Or is it to question “how long the [apartheid] state of Israel can last?” This too is an increasingly common comment in respectable circles. The argument is that the policies of Israel actually do more to harm its future existence in its present form than they do to secure it.

    Or is it the statement that “At long last the Zionists are losing the battle”? (as someone who thinks that Zionism is wrong I would not be so surte about this as David I have to say).

    I am very concerned about the statement at the end of the Chief Whip’s letter that “we have given you every opportunity to reconcile the expression of your views with the party’s policy on a two-state solution. Unfortunately, you have not been able to do that.” Does this mean that unless we all accept that the only answer is the (or indeed a) two-state solution we cannot rerpesent the LiberalDemocrats?

    It is clear to me and to large numbers of people, many of whom will not speak out, that the two-state solution is dead in the water. If it is not possible to at least discuss this and what other options there may be, it is a sorry day for this party.

    Tony Greaves

    .

  • And who is going to reprimand Alistair Carmichael for his “disproportionate and imprecise language” and in some circles controversial comment, made in his above reproduced letter to David Ward, where he reduces the daily injustices and human rights violations being wrought by the modern state of Israel on Palestinians to the hand wringing statement “the plight of the Palestinian people” whereas the comparatively occasional attacks on Israel’s deserve the more table thumping assertion of “the right of Israel’s citizens to live a life free of violence.”?

  • Up until recent years, it has always been the Lib Dems who have taken a strong position in defence of Palestinian rights. Since Nick Clegg has been leader,many of our national representatives have become much less outspoken in defence of these particular human rights. Another aspect of what Clegg refers to as “centrism” perhaps (ie pandering to mainstream right of centre media)?

  • David Allen 18th Jul '13 - 3:07pm

    Mr Peter Bone MP proposed the Margaret Thatcher Bank Holiday, the abolition of the post of Deputy Prime Minister, privatisation of the BBC and the banning of the burka. David Cameron, who was clearly embarassed, contented himself with remarks to the effect that Mr Bone was speaking for himself. It seems that the Liberal Democrats are more authoritarian than their political opponents.

  • Steve Comer 18th Jul '13 - 3:37pm

    I agree with Gareth and Tony, this is a dreadful decision, and totally illberal as well.
    First Jenny Tonge and now this, why is our party appeasing zionist bullies like this?

  • Simon McGrath 18th Jul '13 - 3:41pm

    “First Jenny Tonge and now this, why is our party appeasing zionist bullies like this?”

    That would be the Jenny Tonge who called for an investigation into reports that Israeli soldiers were harvesting organs in Haiti?

  • “Or is it to question “how long the [apartheid] state of Israel can last?” This too is an increasingly common comment in respectable circles. The argument is that the policies of Israel actually do more to harm its future existence in its present form than they do to secure it. “

    What he actually wrote was:
    “At long last the #Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the #apartheid State of #Israel last?”

    It certainly sounds to me as though he was looking forward to the end of the state of Israel – and everything that would imply – with enthusiastic anticipation. And frankly, I think the blatantly antisemitic tone of his earlier comments gives the lie to the casuistical efforts to give the tweet a less offensive interpretation.

  • “Gareth Epps 18th Jul ’13 – 3:05pm

    An absolute disgrace which goes against basic Liberal principles of freedom of expression.”

    “Steve Comer 18th Jul ’13 – 3:37pm

    I agree with Gareth and Tony, this is a dreadful decision, and totally illberal as well.”

    Nonsense.

    He is entirely free to and has the right to express his opinion as part of society, that does not mean he can say so and still be a LibDem MP. No one has stopped him saying it, they have only stopped him saying it as a party MP.

  • Mr. Ward clearly feels passionately about the circumstances of the Palestinian people and. in common with many Liberals both here and in Israel, aggrieved at the extent of intrusive and hardline security measures adopted by the Israeli authorities.

    Earlier comments of his, this year, drew criticism from the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. At that time, the Israeli embassy said Mr Ward’s comments demonstrated a “shocking insensitivity to the feelings of both Holocaust survivors and Israeli victims of terrorism”.

    Embassy spokesman Amir Ofek said: “David Ward’s comments show a troubling ignorance of the brutal campaign of terrorist attacks waged against Israeli children, women and men by Palestinian terrorist groups, and of the extraordinary efforts made by Israel to protect its citizens in an effective and humane manner.”

    A Libdem spokeman commented: “This is a matter we take extremely seriously. The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable.”

    Charles Beaumont posted some astute advice around this issue a few months back Israel/Palestine – trying to find some balance. In particular he noted that words matter and this is quite clearly the case for a public figure. There is nothing anti-semitic in Mr. Wards remarks, but they are sufficiently insensitive such as to potentially give legitimate offence in some quarters and as such to warrant the expression of concern by the whips office.

    Condemnation of repressive policies and/or human rights abuses of successive Israeli administrations including criticism of the US blocking of UN sanctions against Israel is a valid position to be taken by any UK Liberal. How you express that condemnation however, still remains important.

  • Tony Greaves 18th Jul '13 - 4:41pm

    Agreed. And in the view of many of us, David’s tweet does not overstep that boundary.

    Of course, I speak as someone who was subjected to attempted political bullying by leading parts of the Jewish lobby in this country in the past so may have a slightly cynical view of their activities. (I assume I can describe the Board of Deputies in that way? If not, please advise how to describe them).

    Tony Greaves

  • “Of course, I speak as someone who was subjected to attempted political bullying by leading parts of the Jewish lobby in this country in the past so may have a slightly cynical view of their activities. (I assume I can describe the Board of Deputies in that way? If not, please advise how to describe them).”

    Why not be accurate and describe them by their name, rather than implying they represent the whole community? Jews are people, just like you and me, and as such they probably have a range of different opinions on any given political question.

    After all, the reason David Ward gave offence in the first place was that he implied that all Jewish people were responsible for the actions of the state of Israel.

  • paul barker 18th Jul '13 - 5:13pm

    The way most people would take the latest remarks is that The State of Israel itself is going to cease to exist in the near future. How ? In what conceivable world is that likely ? The effect of the statement is to encourage Terrorist attacks on Israelis & to cruelly raise unrealistics hopes for The Palestinians.
    The only hope is some sort of 2 State deal that will ameliorate suffering on both sides, its going to be aprocess of tiny steps taken at an agonisingly slow pace but thats the best we can hope for.
    This has gone on long enough, David Ward has made it plain that doesnt get it, its time to withdraw the whip permanently.

  • Helen Dudden 18th Jul '13 - 6:02pm

    In Israel there had been unrest for a very long time, it is of course very unfair to label Jews, as simply the problem. I can presume it is meant to read all Jews, every Jew, every where. Even those who have never been to Israel.

    If you preach the rights to freedom and democracy, you just been working on the subject of marriage, and how it should work for all.

    A very sad situation, when a particular section of people are labelled as the same. There were problems in that area not so long ago, this is not something that is purely referring to Jews.

    Any type of cleansing is against the rights to freedom and democracy.

  • His choice of language is very poor but he is right, Israel has committed atrocities and it is an apartheid state. The Israelis need to sort themselves out, withdraw to their 1967 borders and stop undermining their own cause by violating international law. They are a bastion of democracy in a region ruled by despots and dictators and they need to get their house in order.

  • What ever problems there are in Israel and the wider Middle East one thing that doesn’t exist there is apartheid as those who were responsible for the system in South Africa will tell you.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 18th Jul '13 - 6:31pm

    It’s time Liberal Democrat policy on Israel lived in the real world. Many of us cant see how a two state solition can now ever be achieved. Here is the reality by respected commentator Mehdi Hasan. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mehdi-hasan/israel-palestine-two-state-solution_b_3578028.html

  • Manfarang. I know someone who worked in Israel and the occupied territories for the UN and the Arabs are definitely treated as second class citizens

  • Lucas – the problem with the apartheid analogy is that there are things like political rights for Arab Israelis so there isn’t the same hard-wired discrimination at law that there was in South Africa. It doesn’t (IMO) apply to the occupied territories because they are, well, occupied and not part of the Israeli state.

    Using phrases like apartheid doesn’t help as it allows the issue of Israel’s shocking treatment towards the occupied territories to get hidden in a dispute about definitions.

  • Jonathan Brown 18th Jul '13 - 8:48pm

    @Manfarang – The leaders of the ANC, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela etc. have all been very explicit that the Israeli system of occupation is morally and politically equivalent to the apartheid system they fought against.

  • Tony Greaves 18th Jul '13 - 9:59pm

    “There’s something of Respect about him. ”

    What on earth does this mean? A despicable comment.

    Tony Greaves

  • The principles in the preamble to our constitution should not be regarded as exclusive to the U K or forgotten when debating the situation in Israel and Palestine

  • Meral Hussein Ece 18th Jul '13 - 10:53pm

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu condemned the government of Israel for the way they treat Palestinians, drawing parallels with the Apartheid regime. Many respected commentators have made the distinction that you can criticise the government, and it does not equate in any way with being anti-Semitic. Many in the House of Lords have made similar speeches, including myself. We criticise many regimes and governments for the way they treat their citizens, why not Israel? Here is the link to Nobel Peace Laureate, Desmond Tutus speech. Don’t think anyone suggested he’s anti-Semitic. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/1957644.stm

  • Jenny Tonge. 18th Jul '13 - 11:06pm

    Many party members go apoplectic whenever Israel is criticised, whether using imprecise language or not.
    Grow up.
    I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats since 1959, primarily because we were the only party to consistently uphold international law and defend human rights and freedom of expression. I am now having serious doubts and many of you will no doubt be delighted that having resigned the whip rather than apologise to the Israel Lobby, I shall soon have to leave the party altogether.
    No flowers please, donations in lieu to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Nick Clegg et al Re educational trust.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 18th Jul '13 - 11:07pm

    Last December the Bishop of Exeter moved a question for debate in the House of Lords: ‘To note the inequality and discrimination faced by Israeli Arab Citizens’ A very well informed debate reflecting a range of views. Perhaps in the Lords we have grow up debates, without accusations of anti-semitism being thrown around.. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/121213-0002.htm#12121356000786

  • @ Dave
    “Certainly not the Palestinians but of course they don’t have much clout, political influence and wealth unlike another certain group….”

    Seriously?

    Or are you referring to the world dominating lizard men? Take the tin foil hat off.

    @ Richard S
    “… Finally, he said, if Israel were to hold on to the West Bank permanently, it would have to decide..”

    The point is Israel won’t hold on to the West Bank permanently it is occupied territory, not part of the state of Israel.

    @ Dave
    “is it really so wrong to refer to jews when discussing it?”

    Yes!

    See Richard S’ point about Zimbabwe.

    @ Tony Greaves
    Here we go again, “he’s my friend so he can make anti-semitic and should not be held to account”

    “.It also appears to be a death-wish by the party as far as holding the Bradford seat is concerned.”

    Because that is the important issue when an MP is encouraging racially incendiary language, it is a matter of whether it plays well with his constituents? I think you are being unfair to the voters of Bradford by your assumptions.

    @ Tim13
    “it has always been the Lib Dems who have taken a strong position in defence of Palestinian rights”

    Defending Palestinian rights does not require you to be anti-Jewish. To support human rights requires you to support human rights for all. You do a cause no favours by defending one religious/ethnic group by making sweeping statements about a different religious/ethnic group.

    @ David Allen
    “…Margaret Thatcher Bank Holiday, the abolition of the post of Deputy Prime Minister, privatisation of the BBC … David Cameron, who was clearly embarassed, contented himself with remarks to the effect that Mr Bone was speaking for himself. It seems that the Liberal Democrats are more authoritarian than their political opponents.”

    Because previous suggestions for privatisation of the BBC came from people who went on to commit genocide?

    Not really seeing suggesting a name for a bank holiday, changing a role in cabinet, or privatising some TV and radio stations really equates to David Wards behaviour.

    However, banning the head coverings warn for religious reasons (they obviously hadn’t considered those Christian groups that cover their hair) is a far scarier policy, but not the same history.

    At least you recognise David Ward is the LibDems Peter Bone.

    @ Chris
    Well corrected.

    @ Tony Greaves
    “Of course, I speak as someone who was subjected to attempted political bullying by leading parts of the Jewish lobby in this country in the past so may have a slightly cynical view of their activities. (I assume I can describe the Board of Deputies in that way? If not, please advise how to describe them).”

    Well lets try rephrasing that:

    “I speak as someone who was subjected to attempted political bullying [insert what was done/said in brackets] by Board of Deputies in the past so may have a slightly cynical view”

    That wasn’t hard was it?

    @ Lucas Amos
    If it is apartheid, then the West bank and Gaza are part of Israel.

    They are not, they are occupied territories hence not apartheid. Israel needs to withdraw and help the Palestinians form a functioning state, the continued occupation is wrong; that does not make it apartheid.

    @ Geoffrey Payne
    “I would like to ask the supporters of Israel what they think the endgame will be.”

    I have no idea who you would classify as “supporters of Israel?”

    People who can see there is fear, suffering and wrong done on both sides and want a peaceful solution?

    Or people who agree with every action the Israeli government has ever taken (I doubt you would even find Israeli cabinet members who fit that description)?

    I don’t know anyone who thinks there is an alternative to a two state solution.

  • If Palestine is occupied territory then what is the timetable for its independence? If it is intended to be permanently in some sense part of the Israeli sphere then what is it other than a Bantustan? It is true though that the position of Arab Israelis is not directly comparable.

    Not that blaming apartheid on white people in general would be acceptable either.

  • It is deeply worrying that a handful of individuals have the ability to police what politicians can and cannot say on this issue. However, I suspect that the term, “anti-Semitic”, has been hurled around so often and so indiscriminately to suppress any kind of criticism of Israel, that it is beginning to lose its former potency. Certainly, no-one should assume that all Jewish people support Israeli policy towards the Palestinians (they don’t). However, it is hypocritical for Zionist Jews to be so harsh on this, because they are the very ones who insist that all Jewish people have to support Israel and that those who don’t are “self-hating”.

  • Helen Dudden 18th Jul '13 - 11:29pm

    Of course you would not blame all while people for the crimes within the subject of apartheid as it is unfair to blame every Jew.

    I think it is time to collect funds for the bedroom tax, a tax placed on the those who can least afford it.

  • @ Jenny Tonge

    “Many party members go apoplectic whenever Israel is criticised”

    So sad you can’t see what people are reacting to. Criticising Israel for specific actions will allow people to engage in rational debate. What people react to is not criticism of Israeli actions.

    Using sloppy/emotionally loaded/inaccurate/historically unpleasantly toned language does not allow debate and will instead have you rightly criticised.

    “apartheid state” not a helpful description – as outlined above.

    References to “the Jews,” “Rich Jews,” “Powerful Jews,” “the Jewish Lobby” etc. will have you shouted down.

    References to “Zionists” is now often used as code for “the Jews” among some very nasty characters so is best avoided, some people may not know this but I would expect members of the commons or the lords to be sufficiently informed of that fact.

    If you want to discuss the suffering in the occupied territories there are plenty of people willing to discuss it in reasoned terms and many who would like to be more informed than they currently are, and would be willing to learn more.

    The second you cross the line in to areas above (which incidentally is not a comprehensive list) you will see the shutters come down as you have stopped discussing and started ranting.

  • @ Richard S

    The West Bank is occupied and should be sent free, that doesn’t stop being the case just because there isn’t a published time line.

    In the 1st world war when Germany advanced in to France the land taken was occupied territory it didn’t become Germany just because the Germans didn’t give a time table to leave.

  • Hywel Whichever way you argue this it gets hung up in semantics. The supporters of Israel (who are, I know, not all Jews, in any ethnic or religious sense, and neither do they include all, or even most Jewish people) will do their utmost to apply whatever pressure necessary to defeat you. It seems people are simply not allowed to state openly that Israel breaks international law all the time, being in defiance of UN resolutions, and it kills and destroys people’s lives and property to maintain that stance.

    Psi You do your case no favours by saying without evidence that others (certainly in my case) are “anti-Jewish”. I am most certainly not anti-Jewish, and I do not believe David Ward is either. What I am is fiercely opposed to the activities of the Israeli state in relation to Palestine and Palestinian people, This is a human rights issue, and it ill serves Jews everywhere, that the Israeli Government lets people down so badly through its policies. It is unlikely you will find anti-Jewish sentiment here, on a Liberal website, but it is hardly surprising that such behaviour by a Government might encourage expression of same by racists and fascists.

  • Helen Dudden 18th Jul '13 - 11:51pm

    In my Jewish book of prayers there is something written, that I feel is wise and should be understood.

    I am the One who forms light and creates darkness, Who makes peace and creates evil, I am the One maker of all these.

    Since time began there has been conflict, and I dislike conflict. To bring peace, it has to be all who wish to make it happen, but then who am I to judge. It is easy to judge.

    I would like to see the conflict end, I have little understanding of the situation, other than like many others there is a wish that this will end, and be resolved.

  • “At least you recognise David Ward is the LibDems Peter Bone.”

    Oh no I don’t. By proposing Thatcher Day, the sacking of Clegg, and a ban on the burka, Peter Bone stuck two fingers up to Cameron in a blatantly offensive way. Yet Cameron felt able to deal with the arguments by debating them. Ward, by contrast, did not specifically challenge his leader. What he said was very strident, in much the same way that many people said very strident things about Abu Qatada, and for rather comparable reasons. I thought Ward’s language was unhelpful, and I wouldn’t have objected to a Lib Dem spokesperson saying so. But it was not as clearly offensive to his leader as Bone’s language.

    Further, I don’t think Cameron has declared any of Bone’s policy prescriptions to be totally incompatible with membership of the Tory Party. However, Carmichael said to Ward “we have given you every opportunity to reconcile the expression of your views with the party’s policy on a two-state solution”. So, do we take it that any Lib Dem member who thinks the two-state solution is dead in the water should now resign?

    I don’t think we do. It seems clear enough from Carmichael’s own account that Ward was singled out as a troublemaker, and told to toe the line and sign up to the two-state solution. No doubt the Party wanted to show who was boss. That’s bullying management.

  • Helen Suzman,once a lone voice in Parliament against apartheid, was Jewish. Many Jews tend to be liberals.
    I wonder if Kuwait was an apartheid state in the way it treated the Palestinian population that once live there. Most of the Palestinians that lived in Kuwait were expelled to Jordan.The British to some extent made a two state solution when they set up Trans-Jordan- most of the Palestians are entitled to a Jordanian passport.
    There is a need for a comprehesive peace agreement in the Middle East, that I hope is what Liberal Democrats are working for.

  • I felt the comment about the “Jews” was wrong as it referred to a religious / ethnic group, but he was warned about that at the time with many on this site saying they would have no problem had he referred to the state of Israel.

    Seeing as the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel is tantamount to apartheid, and the country is Zionist by any reasonable reading of its existence I have no problem with the latest tweet…..

  • Yet another wrong call by the senior leadership of the party.

    The remarks were not anti-Semitic. We can truly love the Jewish people yet lament the behaviour of the Israeli state … which perpetrates atrocities on the Palestinians in the name of the freedom and security of the Jewish people. This is as if we have returned to the Old Testament.

  • “Seeing as the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel is tantamount to apartheid, and the country is Zionist by any reasonable reading of its existence I have no problem with the latest tweet…..”

    The letter quoted above makes it clear that the perceived problem with the tweet was not the reference to apartheid, but “questioning the continued existence of the State of Israel”.

  • “The remarks were not anti-Semitic. We can truly love the Jewish people yet lament the behaviour of the Israeli state …”

    The whole point about the earlier remark was that it accused “the Jews” – not the state of Israel – of committing atrocities.

  • ““we have given you every opportunity to reconcile the expression of your views with the party’s policy on a two-state solution. Unfortunately, you have not been able to do that.” and asks “Does this mean that unless we all accept that the only answer is the (or indeed a) two-state solution we cannot rerpesent the Liberal Democrats?” On that point one wonders why more MPs haven’t been hauled up for failing to support party policy………..ah yes, that would mean all of them!”

    Especially that Nick Clegg who has totally undermined Lib Dem policy on all sorts of things.

  • Who benefits from this action against Ward? How can we claim to be tough on lobbying one minute and then roll over to have our tummies tickled the first time we are lobbied? If Clegg had a backbone he would have asserted that Ward speaks for himself and not the party on this topic. The suspension satisfies noone.

  • This is an interesting predicament for the Party – one that might best be resolved by returning to the roots.

    If it is the case that the Party’s primary objective is to obtain the support of the majority in each constituency – so that the L/D candidate becomes its representative at the next GE – surely the primary concern is that each MP or PPC builds the best relationship possible with their constituency’s electorate.

    Since the nature of these electorates vary – it is in the Party’s best interests that candidates can freely express their views on every issue [to encourage support] – unless they have the added responsibility of being the Party’s spokesperson on a particular issue – where they are obliged to follosupport the Party’s agreed policy.

    However,it seems extremely healthy if Party representatives are free to say – ‘although it is not my party’s policy, I believe…’ and an approach that is likely to endear representatives to the voters because of their honesty. A quality presently much needed since the political class are generally viewed as totally dishonest.

    This issue has become blown up out of all proportion considering we are discussing the affairs of a middle eastern state of just 8 million people. The words of one former Jew, Robert Zimmerman, neatly sums of the reason:

    Money doesn’t talk – it swears!

  • Linda – yes. Kind of why I don’t like this apartheid analogy as (like Tim13 says) you get caught up in a yes it is/not it isn’t debate which then distracts from the bigger issue.

  • Antony – I think neither as there isn’t AFAI any body which regulates the actions of the Parliamentary party (so different from Council groups etc).

  • Tony Greaves 19th Jul '13 - 11:30am

    “bullying Jewish lobby”

    Simon Shaw joins the long list of supporters of Israel who invariably distort what critics of Israel say. I did not of course use that phrase.

    As for conflating anti-Zionism and anti-semitism, I recall the discussion I had with agents of the Board of Deputies over 40 years ago (and attempted to have with the Board itself without success) – when I chaired the Young Liberals – when it was impossible to get beyond their declaration that the two are the same thing.

    By the way, I have just noticed that the neadline to the BBC story, and to this thread here, is not accurate. From Carmichael’s letter it seems clear that the suspension is a result of the tweet not the remarks made in January.

    Tony Greaves

  • Anthony Marks 19th Jul '13 - 12:13pm

    As a past LibDem Bradford voter I am very disappointed by David Ward’s suspension.
    He spoke the truth and for a LibDem party to suspend him is diabolically against the principle of free liberal speech the party is enshrined with.
    Does the party want its MPs to speak the truth with roses and are there subject taboos?
    Apparently so, I want my MP to speak the truth and the LibDems apparently do not.
    Not the party I am going to vote for again.

  • On the question of the “apartheid State of Israel”:

    Long ago, Arab leaders scored a crucial own goal by speaking of “driving the Jews into the sea”. Ever since, Israeli leaders have enthusiastically repeated the phrase, in order to bolster their own claims that their military aims are defensive and vitally so. At one time, the Israeli fear of being overrun by their numerically much stronger neighbours was genuine and rational. It no longer is.

    Carmichael, in speaking of “questioning the continuing existence of the State of Israel”, is harking back to that ancient history, when the Jewish people who had survived the Holocaust had a very rational fear of genocide and of the annihilation of Israel. The implication of Carmichael’s phrasing is that anybody who now questions the continuing existence of the Israeli state in its present form is implicitly condoning a threat of genocide. That is a travesty. Nigel Farage questions the continuing existence of the EU. Whatever else that implies, it doesn’t make him a genocidal tyrant.

    When Ward referred to “the apartheid State”, he was clearly making reference to the specific political structure currently in place. He might have used different words to make that distinction between a structure of governance and the existence of a people. However, the words he chose did very clearly do the job they were required to do, which was to make the distinction.

    One might just as well argue that supporters of a two-state solution are “questioning the continuing existence of the State of Israel” in its present form!

    Ward’s tweet was not in any way racialist, not was it in any way supporting genocidal threats. It was an expression of contempt for a form of government in one country. It resembles what many have said about North Korea, or Burma, or Zimbabwe. If a Liberal Democrat is not permitted by the Liberal Democrat Party to make such a statement, then what on earth has happened to the Liberal Democrat Party?

  • @Chris:

    “the perceived problem with the tweet was not the reference to apartheid, but “questioning the continued existence of the State of Israel”.”

    You may or may not have noticed but there is a whole debate and campaign at the moment questioning the continued existence of the state of the United Kingdom in its present form. No one suffers for talking about this, one side or the other. If you look at David Ward’s actual words, he is very mildly questioning the continued existence of the state of Israel in its present apartheid form. No time scale……. no pronouncement. What’s wrong with that? Even if you think there’s something wrong with it, does this merit disciplinary action?

    If people are to be even severely criticised (let alone disciplined) in this Party for asking questions than we have reached a very dangerous place. Where is the ‘Liberal’ or the ‘Democrat’? :-(

  • “As for conflating anti-Zionism and anti-semitism, I recall the discussion I had with agents of the Board of Deputies over 40 years ago (and attempted to have with the Board itself without success) – when I chaired the Young Liberals – when it was impossible to get beyond their declaration that the two are the same thing.”

    Even supposing that someone representing the Board of Deputies did conflate these two things in conversation with you in around 1970 – how on earth would that be any justification whatsoever for you or your friends conflating them now?

    Would you try to defend a racist attitude on the grounds that someone from an ethnic minority once made a racist comment to you 40 years ago? It’s utterly bizarre.

  • @ Helen Dudden

    “In my Jewish book of prayers there is something written, that I feel is wise and should be understood.

    I am the One who forms light and creates darkness, Who makes peace and creates evil, I am the One maker of all these.

    Since time began there has been conflict, and I dislike conflict. To bring peace, it has to be all who wish to make it happen”

    From the I Ching [described by Jung as a singular work]:

    Conflict – at the top:

    Here we have someone who has carried a conflict to the bitter end and has triumphed. He is granted a decoration, but his happiness does not last. He is attacked again and again, and the result is conflict without end.

  • Simon McGrath 19th Jul '13 - 12:54pm

    Does anyone sseriously think that if Israel ceased to exist it would be replaced by a state with even the same level of Human Rights as it has at the moment?
    Given that the Arab countries have driven out their Jewish populations and the way many of them treat their own populations can their be any doubt that there would be mass murder if Israel was not there to protect it citizens.

  • Tony (Dawson)

    I was pointing out to Steve Way that the objection was not to the use of the word ‘apartheid’, which he seemed to have missed.

    As for the tweet, I don’t accept that your interpretation is necessarily the right one. It sounds to me far more like someone eagerly anticipating the end of the state of Israel. Certainly the language used can bear that interpretation, and if you read the letter quoted above, you will see that the party’s objection was that the language used was not “proportionate and precise”.

    If Ward had meant what you claim, and had expressed himself clearly and unambiguously, there would be no problem. Frankly, I have little sympathy for politicians – who, after all, are largely paid to express political opinions – who say things that get them into trouble and then claim they were misinterpreted. Especially when they have previous ‘form’ on the issue, as Ward does.

    Is it really so hard for a professional politician to criticise the state of Israel while choosing words that don’t sound anti-semitic? Surely it shouldn’t be.

  • John Roffey 19th Jul '13 - 1:18pm

    @Simon McGrath

    Since the majority of indigenous Brits do not have a strong faith – the biggest mistake was setting up Israel in the first place.

    There must be hundreds, if not thousands of tribes that once lived in this or that area and have been driven out – they are not ‘returned to their homeland’. What usually marks out the Jews is their fabulous wealth – if they want a ‘homeland’ why not buy a Greek Island [which now seem to be coming on the market] and from where they could reasonable hope for a continuing peace.

    It does not seem right that half the world is dragged into this ‘conflict without end’ – for the sake of such a relatively few people. Many Jews have not even visited Israel – and even more have no intention of living there.

  • John Roffey
    What has lack of religious beliefs by the “indigenous” Brits have to do with the establishment of the State of Israel?
    Outside of Europe religious beliefs remain strong.
    A few weeks ago I was engaged in a conversation with an elderly German. His anti-Zionist views were revealing.
    I was in the presence of a true Nazi!

  • Anthony Marks 19th Jul '13 - 2:05pm

    Spoken like a true liberal democrat.
    There should be no taboo about speaking the truth no matter the distaste.
    The Liberals were great orators and champions against slavery in the 19th century.
    No one wants Israel to be destroyed but the people who govern the country cannot continue with the current course of action. Only elected MP’s can take action to stop settlements, to make all citizens of israel whether they have israeli citizenship or otherwise jewish & arab neighbours more equal in law and society.
    More MP’s should speak up about the topic.

  • John Roffey 19th Jul '13 - 2:31pm

    @Manfarang

    Briton was a significant player in the process of setting up Israel after WW2 – so it is reasonable to consider the action from a British prospective.

    I would be very surprised if those eager for the establishment of a Jewish state would have been so keen if they had known the continuing problem this would become because of Jewish intransigence.

  • Antony Marks
    Lets not forget some of the British laws that remain from the days of the Mandate. Defence (Emergency) Regulations.

  • John Roffey
    Britain packed up in Palestine in 1948 .When no agreements could be reached the British withdrew. Britain didn’t set up Israel. In those days Britain had a colonial presence in the Gulf and the Suez canal zone

  • “because of Jewish intransigence”

    You seem to going out of your way to provide examples of anti-semitic statements made under the guise of criticising the state of Israel!

  • Anthony Marks 19th Jul '13 - 3:00pm

    Manfarang
    Defence (Emergency) Regulations have been modified many times since the British are should no longer exist in a modern democratic state. They are clearly targeted at the Palestinians breaching their human rights.

  • Antony Marks
    The British are widely regarded as hypocrites in the Middle East and reading your last comment is it any wonder.
    As the Arabs said to me when I worked in the Middle East all Englishmen are liars

  • We left the Party because we considered that the activitites of the Lib Dems Friends of Israel were not in accord with the pre-amble to the Lib Dems Constitution . We also raised the issue of a review process regarding Lb Dem organisations such as the LDFI with Tim Farron ( President) but got stonewalled. This latest action by the Party leadership to with draw the Whip of David Ward further demonstatres that this party is controlled by supporters of the State of Israel irrespective of its illegal and yes apartheid actiities which are both unjust to Palestinians both within Palestine and Israel and totally against the terms of the foundation of the state of Israel .

  • Simon Quinn 19th Jul '13 - 4:06pm

    Anyone who visits Tel Aviv sees one side a nice side of Israel but venture to the Palestinian West Bank, as i did last month, and you’ll see mass theft of Palestinian land by half million illegal ‘settlers’ (read colonisers), these Jewish ONLY settlements are served by Jewish ONLY roads (incidentally called ‘Sterile roads’ by Jews!) and Jewish ONLY busses. Oh, and Arab villages are harassed daily by the brutal Israeli army hoping to drive them out. If that’s not apartheid ….then I’m a falafel !

  • John Roffey 19th Jul '13 - 4:27pm

    @ Manfarang

    I would have thought that [from wikipedia];

    “During World War I, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour sent a letter that stated:

    His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

    … might be considered to make Britain ‘ a significant player in the process’!

  • John Roffy
    It was home to Jewish people before 1917.There has been a Jewish presence there since the time of the Bible and before.
    In the last days of the Ottoman Empire there were Jews living in the old city of Jersalem, Hebron and Gaza.When the Jews were expelled from Spain many went to live there. In recent centuries there was quite sizable Jewish populations.
    Regarding the Arabs as one young Israeli said to me years ago,” There is room for both”

  • Jenny Tonge (above) should not leave the party, we all at times have differences and have to take a deep breath, BUT leaving is NOT an answer. I contested a General Election at the time of the alliance, I was not happy with all aspects of the alliance as I am not happy with all aspects of the coalition, but I will not resign from the party and disappear. Much prefer to stay and support the areas that I am happy to see happening :)

  • John Roffey 19th Jul '13 - 6:01pm

    @ Manfarang

    I think you have lost the gist of the debate. I posted [because Britain had been a significant player in the process of setting up 'in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people'] that:

    I would be very surprised if those eager for the establishment of a Jewish state would have been so keen if they had known the continuing problem this would become because of Jewish intransigence.

  • Many Liberal Democrats including David Ward simply lose their judgement over Israel. ‘Zionism’ is spat out as a dirty word when in fact it represents the aspiration for Jewish self-determination in order to protect Jewish people, their culture and religious beliefs from centuries of persecution. It’s the exceptionalism directed towards Israel that reeks of double standards and hypocrisy. Israel has built a civil society built on principles of law, democracy and free speech in the face of extraordinary odds. Where is the outrage here against the horrendous violations of human rights perpetrated by almost every Middle Eastern nation. Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Hamas in Gaza are especially egregious examples. All of these outspoken enemies of Israel have repeatedly called for her destruction while actively using torture, judicial murder and repressive judicial policies including the oppression of religious and ethnic minorities. Where is the outrage among some Liberal Democrats?

    Fortunately, some members including the leader and Chief Whip understand that the language used by David Ward has the whiff of anti-semitism going back many centuries. It’s the singling out of Jews for particular opprobrium. If anyone doubts this then I suggest they go back the history books. Israel may be criticised like any nation but it is faces immense hostility and military threats that few other nations must suffer. Despite all of this Israel still remains an admirable nation that has a built a successful society that continues to contribute to the international community in education, the arts, trade and the sciences. It’s time for some rebalancing here. When you start advocating sanctions against other nations with far worse human rights records then perhaps we can start to have a proper discussion regarding an enduring political settlement that guarantees the rights and responsibilities of both Israel and the Palestinians.

  • The tweet that he is being disciplined for was “Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the #Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the #apartheid State of #Israel last?”

    While I have some issues with the wording I think we could change the wording to see what is the likely simple meaning – if written in the early 1990’s about South Africa.

    Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the Whites are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of South Africa last?”

    I do not believe anyone would have interpreted this as meaning the end of South Africa as a country and the redrawing of boundaries. Therefore I think it is a mistake to interpret David Ward’s tweet as saying that the state of Israel will cease to exist. He might have meant that the state of Israel in its current form cannot last.

    Thanks to Meral Hussein Ece for the link to Huffingtonpost article.
    @ Psi
    “The point is Israel won’t hold on to the West Bank permanently it is occupied territory, not part of the state of Israel.”

    If the two state solution cannot be implemented then incorporating the West bank into Israel becomes closer. While I am not convinced we are there yet, if no one in Israel is talking about the likely consequences of this then it is more likely to happen.

    @ Psi
    “They are not, they are occupied territories hence not apartheid”
    It is my understanding that East Jerusalem is considered part of Israel by Israel but the Palestinians living there are denied Israeli citizenship and the vote in Knesset elections. Also Israel does not allow most of its citizens living abroad to vote but those living in the West Bank do, while the Palestinians living there can’t. There may be a question about how far this is apartheid but this is not equality of treatment for Israeli Jews and Palestinians in these areas.

    @ Linda Jack

    I agree the Parliamentary party does not always support party policy. However there is a case for spokespersons to support the agreed Parliamentary party position but I believe that individual members of the Parliamentary party as well as individual members of a Liberal Democrat Council group can express non Parliamentary party or group policy without having the whip suspended.

    If David Ward is supposed to have brought the party into disrepute then the Federal, or the English or his regional or his local Party is the correct body to deal with it not a group of three MP’s.

    @ Manfarang

    In 1922 only 12.9% of the population of Palestine were Jewish rising to only 33% in 1946.

    @ Josh White

    “Zionism’ is spat out as a dirty word when in fact it represents the aspiration for Jewish self-determination in order to protect Jewish people, their culture and religious beliefs from centuries of persecution.”

    Isn’t the problem with this definition the idea that a state should exist to protect a racial cultural identity. Zionism can be secular and so does not have to include the defence of Judaism.

    “Israel has built a civil society built on principles of law, democracy and free speech.”

    Israel has passed laws depriving Palestinians of their land if they no longer live on it. Also if the land was not being cultivated when photographed by the British in 1945 Palestinian in the north of the country would forfeit their rights to their lands. So I am glad Josh White did use the words “fairness” or “sense of justice”.

    Personally I do not admire a state that confiscates peoples land and disregards UN resolutions.

  • John Roffey 20th Jul '13 - 8:04am

    An excellent and revealing comparison Almaric.

    “The tweet that he is being disciplined for was “Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the #Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the #apartheid State of #Israel last?”

    While I have some issues with the wording I think we could change the wording to see what is the likely simple meaning – if written in the early 1990’s about South Africa.

    Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the Whites are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of South Africa last?””

    I am sure that everyone reading or commenting on this thread knows that the real issue here is not David Ward’s tweet – but whether the Party should adopt this subservient manner towards Israel – or more precisely the Jewish lobby – that has managed to achieve such a grip on the political class both here and in the US.

    Or perhaps more importantly, whether such subservience it likely to improve the Party leader’s image or,instead, increase the high level of dissatisfaction held for him by the electorate?

    From Ipsos MORI:

    - Nick Clegg has the lowest satisfaction ratings of the party leaders with 27% satisfied and 61% dissatisfied, giving him a net rating of -34.

    - Nigel Farage remains the leader with the highest satisfaction ratings though 32% say they “don’t know” whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied. 38% of Britons say they are satisfied with the UKIP leader and 31% are dissatisfied. Among UKIP supporters 89% are satisfied and just 3% are dissatisfied. This is the highest approval rating any leader has among their own supporters.

    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3183/Ipsos-MORI-June-Political-Monitor-2013.aspx

  • Tony Dawson 20th Jul '13 - 9:39am

    Josh White :

    ‘Zionism’ is spat out as a dirty word when in fact it represents the aspiration for Jewish self-determination in order to protect Jewish people, their culture and religious beliefs from centuries of persecution.

    And the tooth fairy will call tonight, right?.

    Zionism is an aggressive creed of attempting to steal other people’s lands (and treat them like dirt while you are doing it) in order to provide a state based upon religious/racial purity. The only reason that any country gives any credence to this immoral philosophy is the collective guilt of Europe for the sickening murderous persecution of the Jews in Europe in the 1930s/40s and our unwillingness to do anything about the post-war Jewish refugee issue ourselves.

  • Is the Jewish lobby all Jews, or some Jews? Should all Jews be condemned as ‘the Jewish lobby’ because ‘the Jewish Lobby’ represents the views of some Jews?

    Perhaps treating all members of a diverse ethnic group, or nation state, as politically homogenous and condemning them collectively on that basis is not an approach people concerned about discrimination, bigotry and racism should use?

    Besides, the state of Israel is not apartheid in the slightest. Arab and other non-Jewish citizens of Israel have the same rights as Jewish citizens. Although there are certainly political voices calling for policies against these minorities (again another difference from apartheid, Israel does not have minority rule) these are fringe views.

    The issue is the status of Palestinian territories, which even Israel accepts are fundamentally different from the state of Israel and have their own right to self-determination and statehood, the form and extent of which is where contention lies.

    Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is in many respects atrocious, as are the actions of many Palestinians, and of course there should be debate and policy to attempt to rectify this, but to call it apartheid is not sensible at best.

  • Yes – the Zionists make the BNP look like pussy cats – and the BNP is generally despised in the UK!

  • It’s time Alistair Carmichael stopped pondering to the Lib Dem friends of Israel and allow David Ward to speak the truth about Israel – Israel is an aparthied state – it stops the Palestinians using certain roads – the party should be supporting David Ward and stop appeasing those who wish to stifle criticism of Israel’s racial polices.

  • @Chris 19th Jul ’13 – 12:56pm

    “As for the tweet, I don’t accept that your interpretation is necessarily the right one. It sounds to me far more like someone eagerly anticipating the end of the state of Israel. ”

    I suggest a bit tighter reading practice then. (a) it is talking about ‘apartheid Israel’ ‘s tenure ie suggesting theoretically there could be a non-apartheid Israel, though one might well ask ‘how?’ And (b) however desirable the cessation of existence of a rogue state which institutionalises racial/religious supremacy might be (with the creation of a proper replacement democratic state, presumably), why should any Liberal Democrat be penalised for (very naively in my view) suggesting that it’s likely to happen in the near future?

  • @G:

    “the state of Israel is not apartheid in the slightest. Arab and other non-Jewish citizens of Israel have the same rights as Jewish citizens.”

    Not so, there are all kinds of differential rights. But that is just the same as saying that Hispanic origin citizens in apartheid South Africa had the same rights as Nordic-origin ones. What bout the rest? There are millions of Palestinians who either still live within the occupied lands or ought to be living there. They do not even have rights to water and to walk down their own high street.

  • “whether the Party should adopt this subservient manner towards Israel – or more precisely the Jewish lobby – that has managed to achieve such a grip on the political class both here and in the US.”

    When people make it clear they are not criticising the state of Israel in particular, but specify some kind of international conspiracy by what they call “the Jewish lobby” – and when they air textbook antisemitic prejudices such as “What usually marks out the Jews is their fabulous wealth” – then it could scarcely be clearer where they are coming from.

    I’m not clear whether John Roffey claims to be a Liberal Democrat – obviously many who post here are not – but I should be very disturbed if these views were considered acceptable within the party.

  • Amaltic
    In 1922 when the British Mandate was established the land was in fact under populated.It was the Jewish enterprises that attracted migrant Arab labour from the surrounding countries. There was a Christian Arab minority in 1922.
    Their numbers have decreased in recent years.

    Pussy Cat
    When I was working in the Gulf I knew many Palestinians.One was a young Palestinian who was a relative of one of the perpetrators of the Munich Olympic massacre , When someone said to him the attack was a failure he responded,”No we killed some Jews.”
    Israelis are under no illussions.
    * * *
    The resumption of talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians is welcome news and there is hope a real and just peace can be reached.

  • Perhaps Alistair Carmichael, Simon Hughes, and Nick Clegg can post some guidance on what Lib Dem members can say about Israel – and yes I am being sarcastic.

  • John Roffey 20th Jul '13 - 6:21pm

    [Comment removed]

  • @John Roffey you should be ashamed of yourself. Next, you’ll be quoting from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Look it up, if the reference is lost on you.

    @Tony Dawson it seems that Jews should be grateful for being permanent refugees after WW2. According to your theory of geopolitics East Prussia should be returned to Germany. The Palestinians chose war over dialogue and wanted ‘ to drive Israelis into the sea’. How surprising that Israelis having won the war in 67 with their backs against the wall are reluctant to hand back the West Bank, leaving Israel 10 miles wide at the narrowest point? Perhaps it’s incumbent upon the Palestinians to demonstrate some good faith, recognise Israel and accept permanent co-existence?

  • A Social Liberal 20th Jul '13 - 8:49pm

    The wording of the tweet has nothing to do with Wards having the whip withdrawn. He was given instruction on the matter and made a conscious decision to ignore that instruction. It was made pretty clear to him the consequences of his defiance and he decided to proceed anyway.

    Mea maxima culpa on his part, methinks

  • @John Roffey
    “So, in which case, what am I to be ashamed of – stating a] that Jews tend be extremely wealthy… ”
    Well yes, Some may be wealthy but I don’t see how you can equate 165 billionaires with all jews tending to be wealthy – talk about stereotyping.

    “I know about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – I hope you have take careful note that I have not quoted therefrom.”

    You have linked to someone who does believe in this myth, see http://www.realjewnews.com/?p=415 ” the slew of Jews behind Michael Jackson’s career could be said to have advanced the plan of corrupting today’s youth as laid out by the renown Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion.” It is also filled with lots of the other types of myth that tend to be peddled.

    The fact that you’re willing to quote from a website that promotes hatred of those who follow the Jewish faith causes me to agree with Chris above regarding your comments “… then it could scarcely be clearer where they are coming from.”

  • “So, in which case, what am I to be ashamed of – stating a] that Jews tend be extremely wealthy …”

    Among other things you should be ashamed of your appalling ignorance of logic, if you can go from a statement that a little over 10% of billionaires are Jewish, to an assertion that “Jews tend be extremely wealthy”.

    Think about it. Nearly 90% of billionaires are Gentiles. Does that mean Gentiles tend to be extremely wealthy? Maybe you could try drawing one of those little Venn diagrams. I’m sure they teach people about them in school.

  • Helen Dudden 21st Jul '13 - 8:42am

    Jews have an incredible work ethic. Being a Jew means living what you believe.

    How about the charity work that is promoted by Jews? I could name several.

    Narrow mindedness is one thing we, try to not become part of.

    I make no further comments on the subject.

  • If the Lib Dems are to have any future as a major Political Party in this country it needs to unequivocally condem the actions of the State of Israel against the Palestinian People and not be distracted by those that trot out false propoganda terms so commonly used by spokes persons for Israel; such as; Anti -Seminitism , “The Peace Process”, ” Security” “,they are all terrorists”, Judea & Samaria ( Palestine) .
    Anna Baltzer, a jewish activist for Justice & Peace said, in a you-tube Sabeel conference in Canada I think..to those who are afraid to criticize Israel for fear of being called anti-semitic..”turn that around. It’s anti-Semitic to suggest that Jews don’t believe in justice for ALL people..”
    If justification of change of Policy is required can i suggest read ing the following Jewish Israeli authors work Ilan Pappe-The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine , Miko Peled, The General’s Son, Jeff Halper, An Israeli In Palestine
    Those who the Lib Dems accuse the party of being appeasers , spineless, wishy washy now have more evidence to support this opinion.Unless the Party changes its Policy on this issue more supporters will desert the party as they will not be able to disnguish it from the Tories or Labour.

  • Sorry, just noticed I gave the wrong link in the above post – it should have been:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/so-just-how-powerful-is-the-israel-lobby-in-the-us-8478432.html

  • @ Psi, – I also see it as occupied territory – the fact that there isn’t a timetable accepted by the Israeli government for its eventual statehood doesn’t mean it isn’t occupied. My point (actually Yitzhak Rabin’s point) is this: that the Israeli government can’t have it both ways. If they neither give it independence and nor integrate it into their own territory and give citizenship to its residents, then they are running a state that should not be thought of as a natural friend of western democracies. Yes the apartheid metaphor is only partially true – until quite recently Israeli Arabs were among the very few Arabs in the Middle East who voted in the government of the state where they lived.

    I think it is possible to criticise Israeli government policy and not be anti-semitic (I hope I have done so above). However when one refers to the Israeli government as “the Jews” one will get that justified reaction however, and it becomes impossible to tell who is genuinely offended and who wants to avoid debate. On the other hand, if one referred to the Israeli government as the Israeli government, and was suddenly criticised out of nowhere (by a much smaller number of people) as anti-semitic then they would be exposing themselves as wishing to avoid debate.

  • John Roffey 21st Jul '13 - 1:27pm

    @Richard S

    Although it may not seem to be the case, my central point on Israel is that if the Zionists want [from Wikipedia]:

    Zionism is a form of nationalism of Jews and Jewish culture that supports a Jewish nation state in the territory defined as the Land of Israel.[1] Zionism supports Jews upholding their Jewish identity, opposes the assimilation of Jews into other societies and has advocated the return of Jews to Israel as a means for Jews to be a majority in their own nation, and to be liberated from antisemitic discrimination, exclusion, and persecution that had historically occurred in the diaspora.

    I have no problem with this ambition, however, because of the region’s history and that Israel is surrounded by Muslim States, their objective seems an impossible dream – doomed to endless conflict. This is why I suggested the best solution might be for the Zionists to buy another other area of land in a more ‘friendly’ location [which is quite feasible given the wealth of the community] which becomes the ‘New Israel’ – this is of course similar to the Mormons ambitions.

    A solution to this problem would be a great boon, as most of the Western world has been dragged into a conflict, in one way or another, that essentially is the internal affairs of a nation of just over 8 million people.

  • “Perhaps you would like to check back to see in what context I first used ‘Jews tend to be extremely wealthy’ …”

    If I had a pound for every time someone had claimed that ‘context’ was somehow capable of changing a demonstrably false statement into a true one, I’d be wealthy man.

    It’s anti-semitic rubbish, of much the same kind as the Nazis used to peddle in the 1930s.

  • It’s still there. The comment from Simon Shaw:

    ‘I read that as being that appearing to be anti-semitic in a Bradford seat isn’t quite the same as doing it in a seat where what you so elegantly refer to as the “bullying Jewish lobby” is prevalent.’

    So, making up a quote isn’t misleading then?

  • Tony Dawson 21st Jul '13 - 8:01pm

    @A Social Liberal:

    “The wording of the tweet has nothing to do with Wards having the whip withdrawn. He was given instruction on the matter……”

    ….by people who constitutionally have no right whatsoever to set such an ultimatum.

    Lib Dem Members of Parliament are quite entitled to have and voice views contrary to those of either the party of the parliamentary party (the two are not always the same). Nick Clegg, for example made it clear he was out of step with the party on a number of issues.

    This is just bullying for a rather obvious (and very sad) reason.

  • Tony Dawson 21st Jul '13 - 8:06pm

    @Josh White

    “it seems that Jews should be grateful for being permanent refugees after WW2.”

    That may be you view, I disagree

    ” According to your theory of geopolitics East Prussia should be returned to Germany.”

    Not so, but I recognise the way in which Israeli governments and their apologists use the racking up of each year as an argument for consecrating the ‘inevitability of their serial theft. Meanwhile the chattering classes hide from reality under the ‘comfort blanket’ of a ‘two state solution’ which has about the same chance or achieving reality as the tooth fairy has of being elected Pope.

    “The Palestinians chose war over dialogue and wanted ‘ to drive Israelis into the sea’.”

    In response to the Zionist’s wish to drive the Palestinians into the desert (and murder hundreds of UK squaddies along the way) :-(

  • @ Amalric

    “If the two state solution cannot be implemented then incorporating the West bank into Israel becomes closer. While I am not convinced we are there yet, if no one in Israel is talking about the likely consequences of this then it is more likely to happen.”

    But we are not there are we. As far as I can see the only those at the extremes oppose a two state solution. Until someone comes up with a more workable solution we have to support a two state solution and consider the West Bank Occupied. So the point stands.

    “It is my understanding that East Jerusalem is considered part of Israel by Israel but the Palestinians living there are denied Israeli citizenship and the vote in Knesset elections. Also Israel does not allow most of its citizens living abroad to vote but those living in the West Bank do, while the Palestinians living there can’t. There may be a question about how far this is apartheid but this is not equality of treatment for Israeli Jews and Palestinians in these areas.”

    But as far as I can there hasn’t been a negotiated agreement so East Jerusalem so it also remains occupied territory. When there is a two state solution there will have to be the granting of rights to people living on land that is exchanged but until the solution it is occupied.

    @ John Roffey

    You really do take the biscuit!

    “Jews tend be extremely wealthy”

    As you don’t qualify that statement lets stick some numbers to it. I would suggest saying a group “tend” suggests 75% of them meet the criteria. Extreme wealth, not just wealth? So lets think about that from a UK perspective for “extreme wealth” we are talking about what £50m? £100m? £1bn? Now apply that suggestion 75% to any of those numbers. In the UK there are 266,740 Jews at the last census, so 75% is over 200,000. Just how may “extremely wealthy” people do you thin there are in the UK?

    “the Jewish Lobby exercises a huge influence on US politics”

    You show that you don’t have the ability to see the driving factor behind ideas. The Jewish population in the US is around 5.5m out of a total population of 313m. Not a great demographic block to exert “huge” influence. There are very pro-Israeli views held by lots of Christians in the US which is not due any secret conspiracy. If you believe the conspiracies it says more about you than the Jewish population of anywhere.

    @ Richard S

    I think it should be easy to criticise the Israeli Government (who for the most part also harm their own long term aims with many of their responses) as outlined above. If people steer clear of using the term “Zionism” (as it is used with different meanings by different people), “apartheid” (as it is an occupation and arguments over definitions is not useful), “The Jews,” “the Jewish Lobby,” “Powerful Jews,” “wealthy Jews” etc (for what should be obvious reasons) or references to harvesting organs or other blood libel related material (again for obvious reasons). I think the debate suffers from the same issue as you but I see it from the other end. I think some critics don’t feel they get enough of a rise by just criticizing a government’s actions (and inactions on other issues) so instead come out with over the top comments intended to get a rise out of people.

    The perverse result of this deliberate bating and using inflammatory language results in people who would ordinarily be critical of Israeli policy finding themselves on the defending side due to the behaviour of some who appear to believe they are scoring points over those they are arguing with then they are really just showing themselves up.

  • anon this time 21st Jul '13 - 10:05pm

    Chris said: “people …specify some kind of international conspiracy by what they call “the Jewish lobby””

    Oh, come on. I might talk about “the education lobby”. That doesn’t mean I am alleging some vast international network of teacher-spies all funded by a shadowy conspiracy dedicated to global hegemony. All I’m saying is that teachers often have similar aims and may work together formally or informally to promote them – maybe for good, maybe for ill.

    As to “the Jewish lobby” – well, I am sure it begins with a lot of independent like-minded people reinforcing each other. It continues with the active funded lobbying involvement of the state of Israel – which is something they are entitled to do. It may also continue with more questionable activities involving the inappropriate use of power. I wouldn’t know about that. I would leave it to others, who know may more, to make specific allegations.

    I would only observe that it is quite clear what really gives strength to the “Jewish lobby” – the sheer voting clout of large numbers of Jews living in the US. This certainly harms the prospects for both peace and for the Palestinians. However, we cannot argue that votes by Jews in the US are any sort of affront to democracy. More to the point, the EU and the UK who are not subject to the same constraints should recognise their responsibility to speak out – which, to some extent (but in my view not enough), they do.

    International conspiracy? It seems to me, Chris, that you would like to put an overclaim into the mouths of those who believe that Israel is an over-mighty oppressive state, and you would then like to denounce your opponents for making an overclaim. However, you can’t start that process by floating the “overclaim” yourself!

  • Chris said: “people …specify some kind of international conspiracy by what they call “the Jewish lobby””

    Oh, come on. I might talk about “the education lobby”. That doesn’t mean I am alleging some vast international network of teacher-spies all funded by a shadowy conspiracy dedicated to global hegemony. All I’m saying is that teachers often have similar aims and may work together formally or informally to promote them – maybe for good, maybe for ill.

    As to “the Jewish lobby” – well, I am sure it begins with a lot of independent like-minded people reinforcing each other. It continues with the active funded lobbying involvement of the state of Israel – which is something they are entitled to do. It may also continue with more questionable activities involving the inappropriate use of power. I wouldn’t know about that. I would leave it to others, who know may more, to make specific allegations.

    I would only observe that it is quite clear what really gives strength to the “Jewish lobby” – the sheer voting clout of large numbers of Jews living in the US. This certainly harms the prospects for both peace and for the Palestinians. However, we cannot argue that votes by Jews in the US are any sort of affront to democracy. More to the point, the EU and the UK who are not subject to the same constraints should recognise their responsibility to speak out – which, to some extent (but in my view not enough), they do.

    International conspiracy? It seems to me, Chris, that you would like to put an overclaim into the mouths of those who believe that Israel is an over-mighty oppressive state, and you would then like to denounce your opponents for making an overclaim. However, you can’t start that process by floating the “overclaim” yourself!

  • David Ward has used unwise language on a subject where particular caution in the choice of language is especially vital. However, I cannot see that his views (assuming his quoted comments accurately represent his views) are illiberal, racist or anti-semitic. There are, after all, Jews who are anti-Zionist; and a careful historian might well conclude that the state of Israel as presently constituted contains a potentially fatal flaw. Thoughtful Israeli leaders like the late Yitzhak Rabin could see perfectly well that when Israel, in order to protect itself within its original boundaries, occupied areas after the six-day war that had large Arab populations, it undermined its own chosen identity (Jewish and democratic).

    The collective impact of the words he uses creates a hint of anti-semitism because of the way terms like “Zionist” and “the Jews” have been used by anti-semites; but then their poison has infected so many words and thoughts, to the extent that liberal non-Jews hesitate before even using the word Jew when they would have no doubt about using words like Muslim, Maronite, Armenian.

    I can understand why Nick Clegg and Alistair Carmichael were uneasy, but unless David Ward said things in the interview that went well beyond his quoted statements, I cannot see that suspending the whip was appropriate and in particular, I do not believe it appropriate that a commitment to a two-state solution should be a litmus test of whether someone can be a Liberal Democrat representative.

  • @ David Allen

    “the sheer voting clout of large numbers of Jews living in the US”

    Your ignorance is showing, there are about 5.5m Jews in the US and a population of 313m.

    Just under 2% is not great voting clout.

    There are reasons for the very pro-Israeli positions of lots of US politicians but they relate to the views of Christians not Jews.

  • Psi wrote:

    “Your ignorance is showing, there are about 5.5m Jews in the US and a population of 313m.”

    The figure I’ve seen quoted is 5.9 million, but that’s a minor point. What readers won’t necessarily understand is that those 5.9 million are heavily concentrated in a small number of states, and in a small number of cities and counties within those states. New York and Florida are the key ones. Given that US elections tend to be won by narrow margins (eg, the Presidency, Senate and House), Jewish votes can be crucial to outcomes. On top of those 5.9 million, there will be many more who have one Jewish parent or grandparent who may also be strongly supportive of Israel. In the UK, there are probably more “ex-Jews” than there are Jews, though the proportion will be lower in the USA where the depth of assimilation is not so great.

  • Psi, I stand corrected and duly eat humble pie. If you tell me 5.5 million is a small number, I am forced to agree.

    I do accept that large numbers of US Christians also treat Israel as an ally in their “crusade” against Islam, and that this also contributes to US bias in dealing with Arab – Israeli conflict. I hope you agree that British Liberal Democrats should not follow suit.

  • Until I read this article and thread I was a supporter of the two state solution and had never considered Israel as practicing anything that could be called apartheid. I recognised that the Palestinians had been treated badly by the Israelis but hoped that one day the USA would bring enough pressure to bear on Israel to force it to be reasonable and so agree to the giving up of the settlements in the West bank and reach a compromise agreement on the right of return and compensation for the Palestinians who had their land seized by Israel.

    I hoped that a case would be made in the USA and convince the public that the time was right to remove its support from Israel. If I were presenting it I think it could be presented as an analogy:

    If in 1951 there were 25 million Poles living in the UK and they engaged in terrorism for 6 years and the government and the UN was proposing the setting up of a Polish state within the UK that consisted of a third of the population but 56% of the land and London would not be part of the British part who would say that the British would be wrong to fight to stop this Polish state being created or when created trying to destroy it?

    Who today would say that it would be right for a minority of mainly new immigrates to setup a state and take 56% of the land from the indigenous population? In this analogy once the Polish state is declared the British try to destroy the new Polish state but are defeated and lots of British people flee their lands. What results is that the new Polish state has 78% of the land and 85% of the British people living in these areas have fled either to foreign countries or areas of the UK that have been annexed by neighbouring foreign countries. The new Polish state then declares that those who have fled have lost their lands and then passes further laws that make it impossible for some British people to keep their lands even when they still live on it.

    @ Manfarang

    “In 1922 when the British Mandate was established the land was in fact under populated. It was the Jewish enterprises that attracted migrant Arab labour from the surrounding countries.”

    The Christian population of Palestine doubled between 1922 and 1946 as did the Muslim population but the Jewish population increased sevenfold. However this does not change the fact that in 1946 and 1948 the population of Palestine had a non-Jewish majority and it was this Jewish minority living there who didn’t want to live in one country together with their Muslim and Christian neighbours.

    New Zealand was also under populated in 1922 and is still today but those living there should not be deprived of their rights so a new nation can be established there.

    Also to state that the Arab population increased because Jewish immigrates attracted them to Palestine has Afrikaan parallels because they said that many of the black population of South Africa arrived after they did.

    @ Josh White

    “Perhaps it’s incumbent upon the Palestinians to demonstrate some good faith, recognise Israel and accept permanent co-existence?

    Perhaps it’s incumbent upon the Israelis to demonstrate some good faith and recognise that the Palestinians have justice on their side and have made more concessions to accommodate Israel than anyone should reasonably expect, which include recognition and the idea of permanent co-existence.

    @ Psi

    “we have to support a two state solution”

    It could be said that the two state solution is much like the apartheid policy of creating Black homelands so the White population could have its own country and the Blacks could have their own countries.

    “But as far as I can there hasn’t been a negotiated agreement so East Jerusalem so it also remains occupied territory (sic)”

    This does not address the point I was making which is that Israeli Jews and Palestinians are not treated equally in the “occupied territory” or as I prefer to call it the West bank and this could be seen as being like apartheid.

  • This thread is now closed to further comments. It has used up its quota of moderator involvement.




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