Clegg sacks Jenny Tonge

The BBC has the report:

The Liberal Democrat leader has sacked his health spokeswoman in the House of Lords after comments she made about alleged organ trafficking in Haiti.

Jenny Tonge told the Jewish Chronicle there should be an inquiry into claims that Israeli troops sent there after the earthquake were trafficking organs.

Nick Clegg said the comments were “wrong, distasteful and provocative” and dismissed her from her post.

He said she apologised “unreservedly” for any offence she had caused.

Full story here.

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  • So criticising the IDF (not that she actually did even that) equates to an attack on Jews now.

    Don’t get me wrong, her comments were unbelievably idiotic and absolutely guaranteed to provoke accusations of anti-semitism, and Clegg had no choice but to sack her, but perhaps he could have done so without joining the baying mob himself.

  • As has been reported, Tonge is a “patron” of the Palestine Telegraph. It is a far right hate site. The Haiti blood libel is not its first against Jews. Have a look at just what Tonge is backing:

    What is wrong with Clegg? Tonge should be expelled from the party.

  • She wasn’t “criticising the IDF”! She was propagating loony bigoted fantasies obtained from a website which specialises in doing just that and which she has willingly agreed to sponsor. See and previous posts for the chapter and verse.
    We used to be a party that opposed bigotry.
    Nick Clegg has allowed this embarrassment to go on long enough. She should have been chucked out of the party, let alone have the whip withdrawn, ages ago

  • Andrew Suffield 12th Feb '10 - 10:50pm

    Wait, when did it become offensive to ask for an inquiry into some allegation? Here’s the comment in question:

    To prevent allegations such as these – which have already been posted on You Tube – going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti.</blockquote

    Will one of these outraged people please explain why this is wrong?

    This "Israel harvests organs without permission" thing is not new. It was first exposed last year, and what followed was four months of screaming about how it was anti-semitic libel, and that the freedom of the press should be removed to prevent this sort of thing from ever being said again, after which Israel admitted that the story was true, and that they had found out about it several years before and put a stop to the practice (without telling anybody).

    So there’s confirmed organ trafficking in Haiti, and a new allegation that Israel might be involved, and we’re going to do the exact same hysterical thing again?

  • Jonathan Hoffman 12th Feb '10 - 11:18pm

    Serious allegations are circulating about Jenny Tonge. Of course I do not believe them, but for her own welfare she MUST agree to a full independent inquiry so that everyone can know the truth!

  • Either Jenny has bandied around a story with no real credible evidence to substantiate it or Nick has sacked someone for raising a legitimate concern about credible allegations of some very serious human rights abuses. I can’t read that any other way than leaving one of them looking for a new job soon!

    I’m very sceptical of these claims though:
    1) The lack of medical facilities in Haiti (the YouTube clip referenced by Jonathan Calder said they didn’t even have tourniquets) doesn’t suggest there are the medical facilities to store harvested body parts or transfer them back to Israel (which is what a 10-12 hour flight away?). Corneas need removal within 24 hours and storage at no greater than 4c for a max of 14 days (So google tells me! and I’d have thought they are much hardier than skin and other organs.
    2) Where is the screening of donors for any relevant diseases? Haiti (being a country with high HIV rates) it wouldn’t be on my list of countries to take unscreened organ donations from.
    3) This involves a very big conspiracy and a lot of links inthe chain.

  • When did it become offensive to ask for an enquiry into an allegation? I think the Harrys Place posting referred to above makes sensible parallels to what she was doing.
    “The Government of Jamaica must act quickly to set up an inquiry to dispel the rumours that I have just now read on Stormfront (on whose board of trustees I sit) that their citizens are sexually insatiable and have been raping white women.”
    “The People’s Republic of China must set up an investigation to disprove the allegations, made on a video on youtube, that Chinese restaurants steal family pets and serve them up as chop suey to unsuspecting punters.”
    “The Government of India should act swiftly to disprove the allegations in a BNP leaflet that was delivered to my house last night that their citizens are coming over here to take our jobs, homes and women.”
    . The “allegation” was dreamt up by islamist websites and pushed by the Iranian Press TV because they realised the Israelis were getting some publicity for their rescue team in Haiti which managed to get a field hospital up and running while the rest of the world were still assessing the situation. They have a lot of experience in helping trauma victims.

    The story is typical of the sort of vicious anti Semitic propaganda that permeates the Middle East (see for countless examples). It is also starting to be normal in the West again. If you actually read past the headline of the Al Jazeera article referred to above on the “organ harvesting” story it contradicts the main point of the original Swedish Aftonbladet article. This article claimed that Palestinians were deliberately being killed for their organs, a modern version of the medieval blood libel which is still pushed in the Middle East. But no one was being killed and Palestinians weren’t being singled out. It was the same problem as the Alder Hey scandal in this country and similar ones around the world. Another example of the arrogant medical profession perhaps but not the “Zionist blood lust conspiracy” it was painted as.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Feb '10 - 12:18am

    “Wait, when did it become offensive to ask for an inquiry into some allegation?””

    It’s quite funny that someone found it offensive that I asked for an inquiry into some allegation about Andrew Suffield – to the extent of getting my comment deleted.

    I think the point is made.

  • Andrew Suffield 13th Feb '10 - 12:37am

    Either Jenny has bandied around a story with no real credible evidence to substantiate it or Nick has sacked someone for raising a legitimate concern about credible allegations of some very serious human rights abuses.

    Clegg’s too sharp to screw up that way. This was a political sacrifice: he saw a scandal coming and acted to ensure it doesn’t land on the party during election season. Nobody’s going to blame him for that.

    If you actually read past the headline of the Al Jazeera article referred to above on the “organ harvesting” story it contradicts the main point of the original Swedish Aftonbladet article. This article claimed that Palestinians were deliberately being killed for their organs

    While I can’t read Swedish, I am quite sure that the Aftonbladet article made no such claims, although some of the “all criticism of Israel is anti-semitism” brigade did misinterpret it that way. Rather, they presented their evidence that when Palestinians were taken prisoner by the IDF and then died in custody (for whatever reason), their organs were harvested without consent – which was true. There was never any claim that they were being deliberately killed for this reason.

    It is quite blatantly clear that Tonge’s intention was to disprove these allegations so they can be put to rest. When some loud-but-insubtantial claim is getting a lot of attention, I don’t think that a lack of evidence is a good excuse for refusing to disprove it. All these people making up random accusations are missing the point. It’s not enough to post something absurd on a website that nobody reads, the interesting case is an allegation that is being widely reported, because those do have a significant impact on public opinion (particularly when they come shortly after a similar story that we know to be true).

    Come to think of it, it’s not even true that there’s no evidence. There’s illicit organ harvesting going on in Haiti, according to their government, so the obvious suspects are all the emergency hospitals. Can we stop crying over how it might reflect badly on the people operating the facilities, and get down to finding the people responsible?

  • The next step is to remove the whip from her. And good riddance.

  • Deborah Fink 13th Feb '10 - 2:58am

    Jenny should be re-instated immediately. She did not make the allegation of organ trafficking. Others did, and she was simply asked for a comment by the Jewish Chronicle. What was she supposed to say? This seems to be a set-up. The JC created a trap for her.

    In an email to me, Jenny said: ‘Palestine Telegraph last week had a long piece by a Jewish American on the
    subject of organ donation–not an editorial piece. It said said there were postings on U Tube about organ harvesting in Haiti by the large team sent out by Israel to help! JC asked for a comment, as I am a patron of the Palestine Telegraph. I actually congratulated Israel for their prompt response to the disaster and said that if allegations were being made they should conduct an inquiry to dispel any rumours. It is quite ludicrous –organs would be useless in that situation anyway and it is a nonsense suggestion.’

    I am Jewish and can say that the JC does not represent all the Jewish community and has increasingly become the mouthpiece of the Israeli govnerment. It has had an ongoing smear campaign against Jenny Tonge as she speaks the truth about Israel-Palestine. (Unlike her critics, she has been to Gaza several times). I am sorry that once again, the Lib Dem leadership has succumbed to pressure from Zionist bullies.

  • Pretty poor for the Libs to have a ‘anti-Jew rent-a-quote’ representing their party in the Upper House.

  • Andrew Tennant 13th Feb '10 - 8:28am

    Delighted this has happened and would be pleased to see her go; I’m fed up of apologising for her and of seeing her cast a damaging light on our party on things like Question Time. Israeli conduct can be questioned (though not particularly here); it weakens our valid criticisms when we cry wolf with this background of rumour and hyperbole.

  • Stuart Littlewood 13th Feb '10 - 9:30am

    Bad move by Clegg. British voters are wising up to what Zionist Israel is all about. Those who follow the Palestine-Israel conflict closely (as opposed to blindly swallowing Tel Aviv propaganda) must be sickened by the Israeli regime’s lawlessness and cruelty, as Jenny Tonge is, and reject this continual appeasing of the “Jewish community”, many of whom are severely critical of Israel themselves.

    Read the “mission statement” of the LibDem Friends of Israel and shudder….. If Clegg wants a purge he should start with them.

  • Stuart Littlewood 13th Feb '10 - 11:21am

    No surpise that Alec doesn’t give his full name. Probably one of the army of cyberscribblers Israel has recruited to infest and pollute the blogosphere.

    Sir Gerald Kaufman, himself a Jew, called the Israeli regime “a gang of amoral thugs” and he’s a regular visitor to both sides on the ground. That tallies with my own observations and countless others. What irks me is that Nick Clegg, who shows such promise and comes across as a genuine and likable guy, imitates Kennedy in the famous Tonge incident in 2004.

    Why can’t Clegg be at least as forthright as Kaufman?

  • Matt Wardman 13th Feb '10 - 11:27am

    I allege that the moon is made of cheese, and I demand a full and frank enquiry.

    The point at issue seems to be Tonge’s balance and judgement. The action seems sensible.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Feb '10 - 11:40am

    “Infest and pollute”?

    Isn’t that just a bit 1930s Berlin?

  • Andrew Tennant 13th Feb '10 - 11:41am

    If one were looking for conspiracy theory with the potential for a bit of traction one should perhaps conclude that Stuart Littlewood must be a pro-Israel double agent, planted to bring down the anti-Israel lobby’s causes by spouting such blatant prejudice and idiocy deserving of ridicule?

  • Charles Anglin 13th Feb '10 - 11:49am

    I like Jenny Tonge and she’s always been a feisty campaigner on many issues, including the Israel/Palestine Question but this goes too far.

    This isn’t really about the IDF or the Israeli Govt, this is a variant of the hideous ‘blood libel’ that has been peddled against jews for milennia. She has, no doubt inadvertently, given credence to a new version of an ancient lie and Nick was right to sack her.

  • Stuart Littlewood 13th Feb '10 - 11:53am

    Where do you stop with your punishment, Alec? Won’t you even stand up and draw the line at the vicious and endless collective punishment of the Gazans?

  • FlyingLemons 13th Feb '10 - 1:27pm

    It’s about time Clegg did at least something about Jenny Tonge – she’s been going beyond what many would call reasonable criticism of Israel and off into some rather unsavoury directions, like for example around New Year’s:

    She said: “The way Israel behaves is just not kosher. Jewish people should be totally ashamed of themselves that they are not doing more to stop them. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

    The first part – Israel does things that are objectionable. Well, fine – I don’t agree with settler politics and the occupation of parts of the West Bank as they are pretty much at the root of the whole problem. But then, for some reason, she’s decided that I have a reason to be “totally ashamed of [myself]” because I am Jewish. Apparently Israel should be the be all and end all of my existence, and it should be an issue that totally defines me. A statement like that, and one of many I might add, goes beyond legitimate criticism of Israel and moves beyond to tar Jewish citizens with the idea that somehow, they’re all involved in this.

    Israel has done dreadful things, obviously, but then so have many other countries. You can read about Kashmir, for example, and find equally abhorrent events taking place. I wouldn’t be impressed with anyone who decided to go and associate all UK Indians with what happened there, so why should Tonge and her similar comments about the Jewish community so unpunished?

  • Is the month of “being polite to each other” over then?

  • Clegg seems to have fallen for the widely held but erroneous belief that there is a monolithic and immensley powerful “Jewish lobby” in this country which one must not offend, however slightly, on pain of political death.

    According to the 2001 Census, some 238,000 people in the UK describe themselves as “Jewish”, and not all of those support Israel or agree in any significant way with the hysterical Jewish nationalist trolls cluttering up this thread. Yes, that’s right. 238,000 out of 60 million, a figure that has halved in 50 years due to the entirely peaceful process of intermarriage and assimilation.

    There is nothing to fear, Nick. Liberal Democrats can ask governments to invesigate allegations of human rights abuses without the slightest risk of electoral meltdown (even if said allegations have been made against the IDF).

  • FlyingLemons 13th Feb '10 - 2:57pm

    It’s nothing to do with offending lobby groups, but rather that someone prominent within the party began making comments that transcended criticism of say, military actions, and began giving credence to internet conspiracy theories that are a reheated version of one of the oldest ethnic slanders in the book. If someone connected with the Lib Dems began making outlandish conspiracy claims about Muslims as you can also find on the internet, I’d expect similar action to be taken in that case.

  • Wrong, FlyingLemons. Jenny Tonge wasn’t sacked for endorsing internet conspiracy theories. She was sacked for asking the Israeli government to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the IDF.

  • Deborah Fink 13th Feb '10 - 3:11pm

    Some of these comments are disgusting.

    Tonge has not been spreading these allegations, the Jewish Chronicle has been! They merely asked her for a comment and it has been completely blown up out of all proportion. It is yet another distration against Israel’s REAL atrocities. Shame on Nick Clegg for falling for what is a trap that has been set by the despicable Jewish Chronicle.

    In response to some other remarks, yes, Israel aplogists rarely give their full name and usually use an alias, but then right is not on their side. Jenny Tonge is not anti-Semitic. Don’t forget that the JC does not have a good record for accurate reporting- I speak from experience. And here we go again, ‘When it goes beyond acceptable criticism of Israel’…i’ve heard all thes apologists lines before – they are running out of new ones

    Israel’s behaviour is atrocious. To play it down either shows ignorance, naivety or a pro-Zionist agenda. It is Israel’s behavour that is extreme, not those who see it for what it is.

    There is a pro-israel lobby and they are at work on thisi site, and in the JC. The latter have been trying to get rid of her for ages as she speaks the truth.

    For the record, my fellow Jews have already started writing to Nick Clegg in support of Jenny.

  • Jenny Tonge is one of the few with the guts to face up to Israel, a state whose government who for many years has behaved like the Nazis did.
    Many people in this country feel the same way as you do Jenny, but are almost powerless to do anything about it.
    Good luck to you, and don’t stop speaking out just because your party leader does not have the guts go against the grain.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Feb '10 - 3:50pm


    “Wrong, FlyingLemons. Jenny Tonge wasn’t sacked for endorsing internet conspiracy theories. She was sacked for asking the Israeli government to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the IDF.”

    The point is that the article in the Palestine Telegraph on which Tonge was commenting cited as its source a report on a Lebanese TV station, which in turn cited as its source a “You Tube video posted by an American named T. West”.

    A YouTube video posted by an American named T. West.

    Tonge’s behaviour would be laughable if it weren’t so offensive. What she was doing back on the front bench is beyond me.

  • Stuart Littlewood 13th Feb '10 - 4:09pm

    Jenny Tonge is being put through the mangle on this site (by Arthur M and John Allen) for being a patron of the Palestine Telegraph, described here as “a far right hate rag”, and we are invited to visit Harry’s Place for proof – this being of pro-Zionist hate site. What a joke.

    Whether or not the PalTelegraph is right wing I wouldn’t know. I’m more interested in the truth than silly labels. But it currently contains two useful articles: “Israel and the US preparing for Iran, Part 1 – the Military Perspective” and “Israel, US and Iran: an environmental perspective”, both worth reading. The truth of this business with Iran isn’t for me to say, but I hope nobody’s going to claim afterwards – like they did with Iraq – that they believed all the righteous garbage they were told by the Westminster establishment and its so-valuable Israeli intelligence sources.

  • mike isaacs 13th Feb '10 - 5:01pm

    In a statement last night, the Nick Clegg said the peer “apologises unreservedly”.

    “Following discussions with the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Lord McNally, I have decided that Jenny Tonge will stand down as Liberal Democrat health spokesperson in the Lords following her unacceptable comments suggesting an inquiry into highly offensive allegations against the IDF humanitarian operation in Haiti, Clegg said.

    “The comments were wrong, distasteful and provocative and I recognise the deep and understandable distress they have caused to the Jewish community.

    “While I do not believe that Jenny Tonge is anti-semitic or racist, I regard her comments as wholly unacceptable. Jenny Tonge apologises unreservedly for the offence she has caused.”

    Do Tonge’s supporters above still wish to defend her, now that she has “apologised unreservedly””?

  • FlyingLemons 13th Feb '10 - 5:13pm

    The thing is that for some, the fact that Jenny Tonge appears to give credence to claims that appear on AfriSynergy on Youtube, most of which appear to be nonsense, doesn’t appear to be objectionable.

    I just find it strange how for some reason, what Israel does is somehow worse than similar things done than other countries around the world. I don’t think Israel should be immune from criticism, but neither should it be given special attention over other countries that commit human rights abuses.

  • Edward White 13th Feb '10 - 5:37pm

    Thanks Deborak Fink for twice posting that you are Jewish and if you say Jenny Tonge is kosher then everything’s fine. There was no trap set by the JC – Tonge is more than willing and capable of making these sort of outrageous comments and has done so before. As a doctor she should know that for all practical purposes such allegations are medically preposterous, even if she does subscribe to the medieval view of Jews as fiends. What next, an inquiry into the Jew’s role in the death of Jesus, or the use of Christians’ blood in the manufacture of unleavened bread?

  • Deborah Fink 13th Feb '10 - 5:46pm

    Edward, you see, you are also guilty of twisting everything. i posted earlier on that Tonge herself said this is medically preposterous. All she did was imply that if they are worried about these allegations, then get them investigated for the sake of stopping them!

    You are doing just what the JC is doing- implying that Tonge has supported these comments when she has not.
    Please get some perspective all of you. There are far more things happening than a few words Jenny Tonge uttered to the J-Crap.

    I have never known Jenny to be anti-Jewish, just anti Israel’s disgusting behaviour. To imply she is guilty of blood libel is in itself libelous. I hope Jenny sues the JC.

    And yes, Jenny is kosher – far more kosher than Israel, which flouts Jewsh law and ethics and is helping to increase anti-Semitism around the wrold.

    And now I must get away from my computer and get a life……..

  • FlyingLemons 13th Feb '10 - 5:47pm

    >>Flyng Lemons, it is not Tonge that has been giving credence to these claims, it’s people like yourself. This is nothing but a smear campagin against Tonge, started by the Jewish (Zionist) Chronicle.

    Tonge has a history of making comments which can blur the line a little. Given the history, I don’t have trouble believing anything that was reported. Given that the article in question “Focus on Israel: Harvesting Haitian Organs” itself exists, and given her interest in the issue I assume it’s highly likely she did read it and decide it worthy of comment. I’m not going to dismiss this issue simply because it comes from a newspaper with pro-Israeli leanings.

    And on the issue of human rights abuses, we as a country call ourselves a democracy and yet we’ve participated in illegal wars without the authorization of the UN, we’ve participated in torture, and indeed we’ve done all manner of terrible things. The same criticisms that can be levelled at Israel could be quite easily levelled at the UK and US too.

  • Deborah Fink 13th Feb '10 - 5:57pm

    Just one more…..

    Lemon, Jenny was simply asked for a comment as she is a patron of the Palestine Chronicle and probably had to read it so she could comment. Really she has enough to do than to read all that.

    The JC has been trying to get rid of her for some time and has a bad habit of misreporting- I can testify to that.

    i agree that some of these criticims can be levelled at the UK and UN, but at least they’ve not been guitly of carrying out ethnic clensing for 61 years…..

  • FlyingLemons 13th Feb '10 - 6:12pm

    She perhaps should have sat down and read it before she hit the send button. She started out well enough:

    The IDF were “to be commended for their fantastic response to the Haitian earthquake”. Fine, but then… “To prevent allegations such as these — which have already been posted on YouTube — going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti.”

    Why should we believe what AfriSynergy, who posted the video cited by al-Manar and the “Focus on Israel” article, says? Most videos on Youtube regarding political matters are completely ludicrous anyway – and this one should have been treated as such too. It isn’t exactly a byword for quality journalism…

    The UK has a proud history of imperialism and indeed the damage that it inflicted on the developing world still persists today. We’re still involved in shady dealings in many countries, and indeed some have argued that the UK’s influence is far-reaching and malign in a similar case to what many argue Israel’s is.

    I don’t believe for a second that Israel is perfect and free from blame in everything. There are many occasions on which I’ve been disgusted by things that country’s government has done. However, having visited the country many times, I don’t exactly think it’s the malign force that many make it out to be, either. I think Nick Clegg took perfectly appropriate action given the circumstances, and there are ultimately far more important issues than this storm in a teacup.

  • The very notion peddled by Jenny the racist about Israel needing to “investigate” outrageous bits of propaganda made by the Islamic world is utterly preposterous.

    Israel was accused by a Syrian minister of being behind H5N1 avian flu, should Israel “investigate” that?

    Israel has been accused of dropping poisoned sweets by air into Gaza to kill children, should Israel “investigate” that?

    Israel was accused by ‘Palestinians’ of spreading foot and mouth disease, should Israel “investigate” that?

    Perhaps Israel should just spend its days investigating itself against slurs made by Islamists and their left wing bedfellows like Jenny the racist.

    Jews have been accused of controlling the banks, the media, politics and basically the world – should there be an “investigation” into that?

    She is a disgrace. She’s allowed herself to be dragged into the Islamist world of anti-semitism and Israel being behind every global tragedy there is.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Feb '10 - 6:32pm

    “i posted earlier on that Tonge herself said this is medically preposterous. All she did was imply that if they are worried about these allegations, then get them investigated for the sake of stopping them!”

    So Jenny Tonge knows that these deeply offensive and inflammatory allegations – made in a publication of which she is a patron – are “ludicrous”, “nonsense” and “preposterous”, but does nothing and says nothing to discredit them.

    Instead she calls publicly for an independent inquiry into the allegations.

    And you think that by explaining this, you are somehow making her look better?

  • There is a “working definition” of anti-semitism at

    Do Baroness Tonge’s comments fall within the definition? –

    1. The ‘Jewish Conspiracy” one: “The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a grip on our party.” Does this qualify as “Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective” ?

    2. The statement at the demonstration at the Israeli embassy in December 2009: “The way Israel behaves is just not kosher. Jewish people should be totally ashamed of themselves that they are not doing more to stop them. It’s absolutely disgusting.” Does this one hit the “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” button.

    And I think BT’s suggestion of an inquiry is disingenuous – sounds reasonable on the face of it, but actually it’s a lot more difficult to prove that something ISN’T happening than that something is. Look at the 9/11 ‘truth’ industry.

  • FlyingLemons 13th Feb '10 - 6:37pm

    At the end of the day, this is a complete storm in a teacup. Apart from the Jewish Chronicle which features pages on the topic of Tonge and her statement, most other newspapers have it as a small story further down their website or in the back pages. And rightfully so, too, what with economic problems and an upcoming election to think about…

  • Isn’t the story as much about the leadership not tackling BT more robustly? How many votes will BT lose the party in the election? 4 in my family alone.

  • Deborah Fink 13th Feb '10 - 6:45pm


    No Jewish intellectual worth their salt take any notice of this so called working definition of anti-semitism, which has been formed to stifle criticism of Israel. It’s interesting to note that 2 leading Jewish authories on anti Semitism, Anthoy Lerman and Dr. Brian klug were not approached when this was being formed, and their submissions were ignored. I’m looking forward to the publication of a paper by Dr. Sue Blackwell and Willem Mejis about the changing semantics of the definotion of anti-Semitism….

    As for Barry’s comments, well, he’s pracissing the typical smear of equating Zionist with Jew. No, Jenny does not mean Jew!

  • My apologies for not being worth my salt. Whatever one’s views on the robustness of this overall definition, both examples fall within any reasonable definiton of anti-semitic statements: the ‘Zionist lobby’ is too often used as code for ‘Jew’ that I’m afraid it qualifies, espedially given BT’s track record in the area. And I’m not responsible for the polices of Israel, and holding me responsible for them is as sensible as holding Moslems in the UK responsible for the activities of their co-religionists abroad – which, to be clear, is not sensible.

  • FAO Deborah, ahh the old hiding behind “zionists” trick.

    ‘Honest guv, I wasn’t talking about Jews err just those Zionist ones you see.’

    Why don’t have you a look at what Martin Luther King thinks about you and your ilk.

    “. . . You declare, my friend, that you do not hate the Jews, you are merely ‘anti-Zionist.’ And I say, let the truth ring forth from the high mountain tops, let it echo through the valleys of God’s green earth: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews–this is God’s own truth.

    “Antisemitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, has been and remains a blot on the soul of mankind. In this we are in full agreement. So know also this: anti-Zionist is inherently antisemitic, and ever will be so.”

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Stuart Littlewood 13th Feb '10 - 8:01pm

    You don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist. Take David “I-am-a-Zionist” Cameron. So equating anti-semitism with anti-Zionism is a nonsense.

    I take exception to Lemon’s remark trying to equate Britain’s conduct with Israel’s…” The same criticisms that can be levelled at Israel could be quite easily levelled at the UK and US too.” With Israel we’re not just talking human rights abuses. We’re talking collective punishment that involves the slaughter and maiming of thousands while stealing their land. And since the Israeli regime claims to act in the name of the Jewish people it seems reasonable to ask one’s local Jewish community to help rein them in and perssuade nthem to conform to international laws and conventions..

  • Here’s something Harry’s place have posted on Littlewood and Fink. Interesting read and puts the comments here in perspective.

    People are starting to take note of what some of these ‘anti Zionists’ are saying, and perhaps so should Lib Dems.

  • FlyingLemons 13th Feb '10 - 8:27pm

    And indeed with the UK, we’re not just talking about human rights abuses on a small scale. With Iraq we’ve raided another country for its oil and indeed, while not building settlements, tried to lock the process of rebuilding the country into exclusive deals with Western companies. We’ve done an awful lot of bad things over the past 60 years as well, although it’s quite easy to sweep it under the carpet and start claiming the moral high ground. It’s easy to say “well, we’ve learned”, but as recent history shows, we haven’t. We flout UN law and then feel terribly awful about it afterwards, but it’s still done. Before we start singling out other countries for criticism, perhaps we should look at ourselves.

    As for Israel acting in the name of the Jewish people… well, the government there doesn’t speak for me, and it doesn’t speak for all Israelis. I was appalled when Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu won the last election, and on many issues both social and foreign, I think the country’s going in the wrong direction. It doesn’t mean, however, I throw myself in with the school of thinking that decides Israel is somehow especially bad when it comes to human rights violations or indeed war crimes. It’s done bad things. It is not, however, the only one.

    As for making the Jewish community especially responsible for Israel – there’s a wide variety of opinions within the community, and getting back to the comment “Jewish people should be totally ashamed of themselves that they are not doing more to stop them.” – that’s the same as if I decided to say, hold the Iranian diaspora responsible for their country’s government’s interference in Iraqi politics and its horrendous mistreatment of the green movement protestors. That makes no sense, and neither does expecting every Jew in the UK to be concerned about the Israel/Palestine conflict.

  • Jasmine Murphy 13th Feb '10 - 8:49pm

    . I am a Jew and an Israeli and I didn’t vote for our government either. What difference does it make if UK Jews don’t approve of everything Israel does? Who does approve of everything a government does. If UK Jews want to tell Israelis how we should behave they should come here and live with the results of their advice. I’m sure that living with the actual exploding qassams landing in your own gardens will make you understand us a bit better.

  • I can remember actually defending Jenny over some comments of hers six years ago – something I could never do now.

    At the time, she was sacked from the Lib Dem shadow cabinet for saying that if she lived in the same conditions as ordinary Palestinians, she might consider becoming a suicide bomber herself. While I never agreed with the sentiment, I did think at the time that she was being maligned for simply asking people to understand that terrorists have grievances, no matter how evil their methods.

    The problem is, even relatively mild (by her standards) comments such as that can take on a far more sinister form when you begin to see it in the light of the many comments she’s made over the years on Jews and Israel, especially when she dangerously confuses the two – not to mention her vilifying all Israeli citizens for the past actions of the Israeli government.

    And she’s a far from neutral voice – while I’d be the first to condemn the methods of the Israeli army and government on the West Bank, I find Jenny disgustingly silent about the brutal actions of Palestinian terrorists.

    Given that we currently have on the Lib Dem benches an unashamed Palestinian propagandist who puts out weasel words on Jews at every opportunity, I think the whip being withdrawn is long overdue. If it were an Israeli propagandist consistently spewing out this sort of venom on the Palestinians, I hope we’d feel exactly the same way.

  • Stuart Littlewood 13th Feb '10 - 9:38pm

    I’m glad you mentioned the word ‘propagandist’, Seth. It’s a pity such people are allowed into Parliamentary ranks. What do you say about the pro-Israel propagandists in this party? Have you looked on their website and read their aims and objectives?

    Conservative FoI claim 80% of their MPs and MEPs are signed-up Israel flag-wavers. There’s a good number in Labour too. Our most important security bodies – the Intelligence & Security Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Defence Committee – are all chaired by senior Friends of Israel. How can that be in our national interest? Against this background Jenny Tonge’s is a very small voice.

    Personally I would like to see everyone who speaks or writes in Parliament declare their affiliation as they have to do with their other interests. Then we’d all know where Jenny and everyone else is coming from.

    Those who bellyache loudest about anti-semitism are usually the most careless with the term ‘terrorist’. Check Executive Order 13224, Section 3, signed by George Dubya, and see who it really fits.

  • Stuart Littlewood 13th Feb '10 - 10:15pm

    You touch a raw nerve there, Alec. I’m angry and ashamed, as I hope all decent people are. It’s inexcusable. That’s what comes of aligning ourselves with US-Israeli policy and ambitions. However, it’s not quite the same as pulverising Gaza when the inhabitants have nowhere to run, shooting up their fishing boats, and stopping humanitarian aid, reconstruction materials and even mercy convoys.

  • FlyingLemons 13th Feb '10 - 10:35pm

    >>I’m glad you mentioned the word ‘propagandist’, Seth. It’s a pity such people are allowed into Parliamentary ranks. What do you say about the pro-Israel propagandists in this party? Have you looked on their website and read their aims and objectives?

    Just to note: the Palestinians aren’t exactly friendless when it comes to Westminster politics – there’s also Labour and Lib Dem Friends of Palestine as well. Plus on the outside there’s numerous newspapers/blog/powerful people sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Given how these people can influence the debate as well, it’s not one-sided in terms of lobbyists.

    >>Personally I would like to see everyone who speaks or writes in Parliament declare their affiliation as they have to do with their other interests. Then we’d all know where Jenny and everyone else is coming from.

    Right, so they might have to make the fact that they are a Jew or a Muslim, for example, very explicit – this will affect how someone sees the issue – and also how exactly they feel about the I/P issue in very clear terms? It’s not exactly a black and white issue, and at least for me and many others the issue of Israel isn’t the top one when considering how I may vote. I’d wager that quite a lot of those with positive views of Israel aren’t blind to its faults, and those who may be more critical of Israel bear in mind that Hamas is not exactly what could be called liberal and progressive.

    My view of Israel is not blind to its faults, but from what I see a fair few critics seem to be blind to the good aspects of the country. In a worldview where it’s black and white, though, it seems I’ll find myself in the pro-Israel camp as I don’t think it’s absolute evil. I’m reminded of an ancient Liberal-SDP alliance video where John Cleese decries black-and-white thinking on UK politics, for some reason, and I also feel perhaps some of his criticisms apply here.

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