David Ward MP: Jerusalem synagogue attackers “driven to madness by failure of international community to deal with Israel”

David Ward MP’s tweet on the Jerusalem synagogue attack has been widely covered although, for him, it is relatively restrained:

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53 Comments

  • Lauren Salerno 19th Nov '14 - 12:02pm

    Ill advised and poorly phrased. The attack is morally indefensible but it is in part a reaction to the oppression of Palestinian rights by the Israeli government over decades with little practical support for Palestinians. Not “the Jews” but the Israeli government.

  • Never give an excuse to terrorism. Unless he knew those responsible surely he can have no knowledge of their reasoning. Like so many so many so called “friends” on both sides he seems unable to give a statement of unqualified condemnation when atrocities occur.

  • He refers to the attack as madness. This is not giving succour to terrorists. However it’s fairly common for terrorism, however wrong, to be fed by legitimate complaints. The troubles started after the British Government failed to deal with gerrymandering and catholic human rights issues which were entirely legitimate. While the acts of terror are wrong, peace is much more likely when the legitimate complaints are dealt with. Israel have flouted numerous UN resolutions and most Palestinians are kept in poverty by Israel’s actions.

    David Ward’s comments on Twitter today are not unreasonable or anti-Semitic they are legitimate political points. As a politician it’s his job to make political statements.

  • On the 12 November there was an attack by Israeli “settlers” on a Mosque. see —
    http://www.france24.com/en/20141112-israeli-settlers-set-fire-west-bank-mosque/

    I was aware of this because I often watch French TV News. The UK media did not pay much attention to the attack on the mosque. I may be wrong but I do not think TV News in the UK reported it at all.

    On the 18 November there was an attack on a synagogue by a handful of Palestinians. The UK media went into overdrive and the reports were the man headline news stories on BBC, ITN and Sky News.

    UKmedia coverage of this part of the world is often subject to a well organised lobby which the UK media is happy to go along with.

    There were some deaths in the Israeli synagogue yesterday.
    There were thousands of deaths in Gaza no so long ago when the Israeli Government forces flattened mosques, churches, hospitals, schools and UN centres.

  • Richard Dean 19th Nov '14 - 12:40pm

    Things in Israel are definitely different. Today’s news is that Netanyahu has “ordered the destruction of the homes of the Palestinians who carried on [Tuesday’s] massacre “. In what European country would such a thing be an acceptable response to an atrocity? The alleged perpetrators are already dead, so who is being punished, and what legal process has been followed? What could have predictably happened in the UK if we had the same reaction to the Woolwich atrocity, or the7/7 bombings?
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30110999

  • Tsar Nicolas 19th Nov '14 - 12:51pm

    There was more outrage reported on the British State Broadcasting Corporation about five victims of the latest atrocity than there was over the 2000 Gazans killed a few months back by the State of Israel.

  • Tsar Nicolas 19th Nov '14 - 12:53pm

    @Tim Oliver

    Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech a few months back, stated that Israel was the leader of the world’s Jews.

    So if Bibi uses the terms interchangeably, why cannot David Ward?

  • Sorry but murder is not a numbers game. It is not excusable to murder innocent 4 Israeli civilians in a Synagogue because the (despicable in my view) Israeli government kills Palestinians.

    Irish Republicans killed 11 of my friends and colleagues. No one has ever been charged and none probably will be. By the logic of some I could be excused if I go out and kill 1 Innocent Irish person.. It isn’t acceptable in any circumstances, it is not excusable in any circumstances. It’s just wrong, responsible politicians should condemn the barbaric acts of both sides and do so without caveat.

    Proportionate responses are a statisticians game. Every violent death of an innocent is a tragedy to the families of those killed.

  • A Social Liberal 19th Nov '14 - 12:58pm

    John Tilley
    Where is the evidence that this attack was by the Israeli settlers? Were any arrested? Indeed, where is the evidence that there was an attqack?

  • Tsar Nicolas 19th Nov '14 - 1:01pm

    @Steve Way

    But the Israeli government classifies its killing as war, and condemns any retaliation as murder.

    Am I an antisemite for having a problem with this?

  • Ian MacFadyen 19th Nov '14 - 1:08pm

    David Ward is a disgrace. There is no way liberals can justify the attack on the Jerusalem synagogue. We should send all our sympathies to the victims and their families. David Ward should consider his position. An apology this time will not do.

  • Ian MacFadyen 19th Nov ’14 – 1:08pm

    If I were to make a comment saying “Ian MacFadyen is a disgrace” because he said something I disagreed with that same Ian MacFadyean might feel I had been unfair.

  • Malcolm Todd 19th Nov '14 - 1:43pm

    Ian MacFadyen
    David Ward calls the attack “sickening madness”. There is no way that can be considered “justifying” the attack. He draws a line of causation which you may not agree with, but please don’t make the old Tory mistake of confusing “understanding” with “condoning”.

  • Mack (Not a Lib Dem) 19th Nov '14 - 1:45pm

    When David Ward starts condemning Palestinian violence as well as Israeli violence I will accept that he is well intentioned.

  • Jayne Mansfield 19th Nov '14 - 1:47pm

    @ Steve Way.

    Absolutely correct.

  • A Social Liberal

    To answer your question – is there any evidence of an attack?
    Yes there is plenty of evidence. I provided a link with my first comment, but if you do not believe France 24 you could google “12 November Israeli settlers attack mosque”.
    The google search will indicate that news of the Israeli Settlers’ attack on the mosque was covered by a number of respected news organisations including those in Israel such as

  • Last comment should have concluded —
    such as Haaretz
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.625991

    Haaretz also carries a story of an attack on another mosque on 14 October.

  • @Tsar Nicolas
    No, and I have not made that accusation. Unlike some on this site I am able to denounce the actions of both sides where appropriate. As a point of fact Israel have not accepted that Palestine is a state therefore they cannot declare War. So I would refute their classification of it as such. Nor are they are not operating within the internationally accepted boundaries of their country. I am not an apologist for either side.

    My position is clear. Nothing either side has done, or can do, will ever justify the deliberate or negligent targeting of those who are acting in a peaceful or legal manner. There are man on this site who feel the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was illegal and that the UK through it actions caused the deaths of thousands or Iraqi’s. Would it ever be reasonable or excusable for an aggrieved Iraqi, whatever the merits of their dispute to murder citizens of this country?

    Murder is murder whether carried out by a state, an organisation or and individual.

  • Well said Malcolm Todd

  • matt (Bristol) 19th Nov '14 - 2:49pm

    This is, as the OP states, restrained language by David Ward’s past standards, and not (this time) overly out of kilter with language used in the past by others who garner more respect, although it is still emotional and not intended as anything other than a provocative spike of (what he would Iam sure intend to be righteous) anger.

    A key issue I think now is that anything he says will be seen by his critics as being submerged and cloaked antisemitism – ie they will contend that the past racist language he expressed was not a mistake, it was sincerely held and he is hiding his true feelings with wesel words.

    So basically neither he or his critics are any longer in any way (if they were at all) engaged in any kind of debate and will continue to take up fixed positions and take angry potshots at each other.

    Looking at it as dispassionately as I can:

    Is what is now an entrenched feud helpful to the party? (no)
    Can the party do anything about it unless his language is expressly continually racist? (I don’t think so)
    And should it, if it could? (actually, I don’t think so, but I do feel conflicted about that).

  • Exiled Scot 19th Nov '14 - 2:59pm

    Can’t quite see what the fuss is about. Unlike previous outbursts, this time David Ward is surely only stating the facts?

  • Malcolm Todd 19th Nov '14 - 3:30pm

    Exiled Scot.
    No, let’s not confuse the argument. Only the first five words of Ward’s tweet could be considered “fact”. The rest is commentary and interpretation, and the issues are whether his commentary is justified and whether his interpretation is correct, incorrect but acceptable, or unacceptable. I’m not just being pedantic for the sake of it. Describing partisan interpretation as fact is part of what makes this never-ending argument so intolerant and intolerable.

  • The Lib Dem Friends of Palestine have defended David Ward’s comments as being perfectly reasonable. http://www.ldfp.eu/2014/11/19/david-ward-condemns-jerusalem-attacks/

    John Kelly
    Vice Chair

  • Mack said:

    “When David Ward starts condemning Palestinian violence as well as Israeli violence I will accept that he is well intentioned.”

    Following this supposedly logical form of approach, you could not be considered a “well intentioned” commentator on the Second World War unless you even-handedly condemned both British “violence” and Nazi “violence”.

  • There were plenty of people who, back in August, were all too keen to defend Israel bombing UN schools. Those same people now seem to be calling for David Ward’s head. Totally coincidental, I’m sure.

    David may be thick-headed at times, but I’d rather have someone out there speaking truth to the lie that Israel is a weak nation that needs our support to survive, especially when they everyone accepts they have a few dozen nuclear warheads tucked away.

  • Helen Dudden 20th Nov '14 - 7:59am

    As more acts of anti S emetic nature are carried out on those like me, I find the comments of this man totally unacceptable.

    Nothing, more or less would I have expected from your Party. I have banned any leaflets or information being delivered to my home.

  • Ward’s logic results in the position that murdering civilians is a valid response to oppression.

    It’s one thing to see civilians as collateral damage in a conflict, quite another to see them as a legitimate target.

    That is a deeply troubling position, before you get into seeing it through Ward’s prior comments about ‘the Jews’.

  • David Allen

    Following this supposedly logical form of approach, you could not be considered a “well intentioned” commentator on the Second World War unless you even-handedly condemned both British “violence” and Nazi “violence”

    Stop to think what you’ve just written. You’ve compared a nation that came into existence party as a response to the mass murder of millions of people belonging to an ethnic group to the perpetrators of that murder.

    This is completely unacceptable, both in factual terms (Israel isn’t even close to advocating the systematic extermination of Palestinians in rhetoric, let alone practice) and in moral terms. There is no moral equivalence whatsoever, and to imply there is, frankly, borders on the kind of prejudice that leads people to think that the deaths of an individual are justified because of the ethnic group they represent, rather than their actions.

  • Tsar Nicholas

    “So if Bibi uses the terms interchangeably, why cannot David Ward?”

    I assume you are deliberately trying to undermine Ward?

    The original statement to hit headlines was anti-Semitic and he never really apologised for it.

    The second was offensive and he did apologise. (Hopfully everyone can agree case closed on that one).

    This one was not anti-Semitic, (even if considered offensive). So turning things round to the first tweet is not comparable.

    Some people say anti-Semitic things but ate not anti-Semitic. There are way of criticising Israel which are and ways that are not (and even more of criticising their current government which are not). We shouldn’t assume that someone saying something gives a fair reflection of their total views. There is a lot of the “boiling the frog” going on with the rhetoric around the Israel/Palestine debate.

  • Sarah Noble

    speaking truth to the lie that Israel is a weak nation that needs our support to survive, especially when they everyone accepts they have a few dozen nuclear warheads tucked away.

    Are you seriously suggesting that Israel protect its borders by threatening to drop nuclear warheads on its neighbours? That would be worse than North Korea. If they actually did such a thing it would kill millions via fallout, and render much of the middle east inhospitable, including Israel itself.

    Surely striving towards a process where Israel is not threatened by its neighbours, all of whom are far nastier than it is, and makes a genuine commitment to a peace process is the preferred outcome?
    That’s what the world generally wants, as evidenced by its commitment to ensuring Israel’s security from external threats. More can certainly be done to shift it towards peace and reconciliation with the Palestinians, but abandoning it to the mercy of surrounding dictators, petrol fuelled fanatically religious monarchs secretly funding terrorism and islamist extremists would be a tremendously retrograde step that would improve nobody’s situation.

  • Time to stop labelling people who have concerns about the state of Israel and how it has treated the native people of that land ie Palestinians as anti-Semitic. Wrongs horrors and crime on both sides and both should be condemned without the Jewish supporter club attacking those who point out Israel is wrong and even criminal in its actions at times.

  • @John Kelly
    Quoting from your link

    “David Ward was very clear in both his condemnation of the “sickening madness” of the attack itself, whilst also condemning the “failure of the international community to deal with Israel”.”

    and later

    “We are proud of the evidence based approach of the Party.”

    David’s tweet was selectively quoted. He did not just condemn but was stating that the attack was a direct response. Where is the evidence base for this ? it was an attack on a religious establishment therefore it could equally have been religiously motivated it was simply not known at the time of the tweet.

    Condemning Israel is acceptable and there should be more of it from the highest levels of all three major parties, linking it to the same tweet that was condemning a brutal attack that left 5 dead was wrong.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Nov '14 - 11:21am

    Here’s my opinion:

    Attack by #Palestinians in Jerusalem sickening madness – driven to madness by failure of international community to deal with #Israel

    Attack by #Israelis in Gaza sickening madness – driven to madness by failure of international community to deal with #Hamas

    My sympathies will go to anyone on one side who rejects the violence of their side and can see all it does is wind up the violence from the other. I was sickened by that Synagogue attack, yes, but sickened too by the praise it got from Hamas.
    Each side commits violence, gets violence back and comes waving shrouds in our faces and weeping expecting us to feel sorry for them. I can’t feel sorry for either side now. They deserve each other. I feel that all those who are TRUE friends of Israel and TRUE friends of Palestine should stand up and say that. So long as they make excuses or the violence of their side, they are just pushing the violence from the other side, and so making things worse.

    By the way, I just made this point to someone who was inviting me to some “Gaza support” meeting, and was accused by him of “supporting genocide of the Palestinians”. No, what a hypocrite – the man claimed to be a “peace lover”, but when it came to truly loving peace by rejecting the furtherance of violence from the side he favoured, he couldn’t do it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Nov '14 - 11:29am

    David Allen

    Following this supposedly logical form of approach, you could not be considered a “well intentioned” commentator on the Second World War unless you even-handedly condemned both British “violence” and Nazi “violence”.

    Yes, exactly so. It is most certainly NOT the case that if the other side is bad, then ANY use of violence against it is acceptable – which is what you are saying, in effect, David. There has been rightful criticism of some of the bombing from the British side in the Second World War. Atrocities against Germans were carried out in the Second World War, and rightly need to be criticised, however just the general case for fighting the war may have been.

    I believe both sides have the right to reasonable self-defence, yes. Over-the-top killings of hundreds in revenge for the deaths of one or two, however, NO, never justified. Random acts of terrorism which achieve nothing, but just deepen the hatred and bring on more violence back, NO, never justified.

  • If we get to the point of being unable to criticise some of the reprehensible actions of the Israeli government without automatically being accused of anti-Semitism then there’s no hope for this party anyway.
    Where does the blowing up of the family homes of suspected criminals figure in any decent society? Especially when it doesn’t seem to happen to Israelis suspected of murdering Palestinians.

  • @David Allen
    “Following this supposedly logical form of approach, you could not be considered a “well intentioned” commentator on the Second World War unless you even-handedly condemned both British “violence” and Nazi “violence”.

    Actually Nations or bodies not directly involved in disputes should do just that. One of my main issues with the Government trying to intervene in Syria was that they were downplaying atrocities committed by those against the Assad regime. Libya, likewise is no shining example of peace at present. This does not mean criticising in equal measure. If Israel commit more atrocities they should be criticised more, but when Palestinians carry out acts reportedly described by Hamas as heroic they should be criticised not excused.

    We should treat atrocities and the killing of innocents on all sides as unacceptable.

  • David Ward is entitled to is opinion.
    But I do wonder how he would explain similar acts of religious/political murder that occur across the globe almost daily. Is this really anything to do with the failures of diplomacy or are we just wailing “it’s all our fault” because we don’t really have an answer.

  • @g: The fact Israel have nuclear weapons is testament to their military strength, if not the fact that they won a war so handily it’s referred to by how long the conflict was. The American aid to the Israeli military doesn’t hurt either, especially when they’re fighting people with what are basically homemade rockets.

    The idea that Israel should be excused for the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people because of the Holocaust is one of the most offensive ideas expressed on this page. The statement that led to David’s suspension last year still has a salient point: when the horrors of the Holocaust are so deeply ingrained into the Israeli cultural memory, there can be no excuse for Israel’s campaign of apartheid in the Occupied Territories.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Nov '14 - 4:05pm

    X commits violence against Y and claims “I am doing this in response to Y’s violence against X”.

    Y commits violence against X and claims “I am doing this in response to X’s violence against Y”.

    X increases the violence against Y saying “Now Y will learn, and stop being violent to X”.

    Y increases the violence against X saying “Now X will learn, and stop being violent to Y”.

    X increases the violence even more against Y saying “This is in response to the increased violence from Y”.

    Y increases the violence even more against X saying “This is in response to the increased violence from X”.

    Isn’t it rather obvious where this is all heading? So long as things are trapped in this spiral, it can only end when either X or Y is completely destroyed.

    That is why I have nothing but contempt for anyone who uses any of those lines, whether X is Palestinians andY is Israelis or vice versa. Anyone who uses any of those lines is just pushing on the destruction and violence on both sides.

    The ONLY way out of this is to adopt the unilateralist approach and say NO! NO MORE VIOLENCE, NO! Anyone who believes in the principle of peace by unilateral disarmament should be taking that line, and should be condemning ALL on both sides for their use and advocacy of violence.

    People on either side need to be brave enough to say that. I will have respect only for anyone who does so. Otherwise, the lot of them deserve what they get from each other. I cannot listen to any more whingeing and excuses from X or Y here. I am fed up with the lot of them.

  • paul barker 20th Nov '14 - 4:29pm

    I cant improve on what Tim Oliver said in the 1st comment. Ward should be sacked asap & no apologies. I am not interested in Wards thinking, only his words which are consistently crass & illiberal.

  • Helen Dudden 20th Nov '14 - 6:22pm

    Yes, and made to go into the EU where the problems are very deep, and life is very difficult.

    All this whipped up hatred by those paid to serve their community, out of the public purse.

  • Jonathan Brown 20th Nov '14 - 6:24pm

    I can certainly see why some would take offence at David Ward’s tweet. Given the dark history of antisemitism, I understand why someone could feel fear and disgust, especially if they have a personal connection to that history.

    If I was condemning the Synagogue murders – as indeed I do, and as indeed David Ward did – I would not want to link that condemnation in the same tweet to the political context which perhaps inspired the murderers.

    Indeed, I find it offensive when supporters of Israel imply that the slaughter of Palestinians is somehow an acceptable byproduct of the state’s ‘self defence’ military operations. But I understand that in most cases (certainly in all cases of Liberal Democrats commenting on this issue that I am aware of), those making these statements are not really intending to create this impression.

    And I would have hoped that critics of David Ward would acknowledge this too. Describing the attacks as “sickening madness” should leave no one in any doubt that he is condemning these attacks, however much one may dislike or disagree with the political point that follows.

    His linking of the murders with the political context was undoubtedly political. I don’t like it. But there’s plenty of political posturing I dislike. David Ward has repeatedly said things which offend supporters of Israel (and Jews), but only once, as far as I am aware, has he said anything which I think can genuinely be considered racist (his ‘the Jews’ comment’) – and he apologised for the slip.

    There are plenty of issues which cause offence. For a variety of legitimate reasons people on all sides are touchier on this subject than on most. But we shouldn’t be responding to principled political arguments with calls for censure or expulsion.

  • Jonathan Brown 20th Nov '14 - 8:47pm

    @G – The conflict is primarily over land, you’re right. But you’re wrong in saying that Israel doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race. South Africa’s anti-apartheid leaders, from Mandela to Tutu have all clearly and repeatedly described Israel’s treatment of Palestinians (citizens and non-citizens) as being equivalent to the way the Apartheid government of South Africa treated blacks.

    To give just a few examples:

    – Housing permits for Jewish Israelis, even on illegally occupied land, are easy to come by. Permits to extend existing housing for Arab residents of Jerusalem are almost impossible to obtain.

    – Jewish Israelis wanting to marry non-Israeli Jews are allowed to bring their spouses into the country. Palestinian citizens are barred from bringing spouses from the West Bank into Israel or East Jerusalem.

    – Palestinian residents of Jerusalem pay the same local taxes as Jewish residents, but Arab neighbourhoods receive very little infrastructure spending compared with Jewish ones.

    There are many, many, many more examples.

  •  G 20th Nov ’14 – 8:02pm
    “….. hyperbolic to the point of offense. And comparing Israel to apartheid south Africa is just that. Israel does not discriminate in law against its own citizens…”

    There is recognition of the apartheid nature of the Israeli government treatment of Palestinians from Archbishop Desmond Tutu the Nobel Peace Laureate.
     I think we should listen to him.  He knows a bit about apartheid.

    This piece from The Jerusalem Post, quoting Desmond Tutu —

    “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces,” he said in a statement.

    “Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”

    http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Desmond-Tutu-Israel-guilty-of-apartheid-in-treatment-of-Palestinians-344874

  • Helen Tedcastle 20th Nov '14 - 9:01pm

    I agree with Matthew Huntbach. The only thing that can be done to stop this spiralling ‘eye for an eye’ revenge politics is for someone to step up to the plate and say enough to the violence. You would hope it would be the Israeli PM or the leader of Hamas but there is little sign of peace-making there. It will have to come from other leaders in those countries with the moral weight to be listened to or from someone outside who has weight with both the Israeli government and Hamas.

    It was Gandhi who said: ‘An eye for an eye and we’ll both be blind’ (or words to that effect). How right he was. We need a new peace-making leader from within Israel or Palestine. If no one comes forward of high moral stature then this violence will continue.

    On David Ward – his rhetoric is one-sided and I’m not sure how it furthers the cause of peace. In a complex situation such as the Israel-Palestine, balance and a cool head is needed.

  • Tsar Nicolas 20th Nov '14 - 9:29pm

    I wonder if anyone can tell me how easy it is for a Jewish person in Israel to marry a non Jewish person.

  • Tear Nicolas

    “I wonder if anyone can tell me how easy it is for a Jewish person in Israel to marry a non Jewish person”

    Well there is probably the normal beurocratic form filling and booking stuff, proving you aren’t already married etc we have. But I wouldn’t say that is too difficult for a lifelong commitment.

  • Helen Dudden 21st Nov '14 - 10:26am

    I would not wish to go down that path, it ,also reflects around the wishing to marry another person.

    There is no one that I wish to be with that is not of my religion, end of subject.

    I will leave you all to your thoughts on what you feel about Jews or Israel. I have more important things to do.

  • Helen Tedcastle 21st Nov '14 - 12:16pm

    Tsar Nicolas
    ‘ I wonder if anyone can tell me how easy it is for a Jewish person in Israel to marry a non Jewish person.’

    It depends whether a person is orthodox or ultra-orthodox or liberal. In Judaism, the hope and indeed expectation of parents would be that a son/daughter would marry within the faith. This is particularly important in orthodox communities.

    In more liberal communities and among those who class themselves as culturally and ethnically Jewish but not religiously observant, there are less expectations of marriage within the faith or within ethnic lines.

    Israel is not homogenous. There are a spectrum of views and observances. The synagogue attack was against the religiously orthodox.

  • Helen Dudden 21st Nov '14 - 8:06pm

    Yes I am Orthodox, that is why I feel so insulted by the comments. As I said, my people.

    I should not even be emailing, switching on lights, keeping a kosher kitchen is a must, no bacon or pork, but then I am strict vegetarian. Any meat should be kosher. Two and half hours in Shul on Shabbat. Every week. Plus high religious festivals. No contact with a male that is not your partner, that includes for me handshakes, though I will consider some in a public space.

    For me, it is impossible to marry anyone other than another Orthodox Jew. I had to do an email that is urgent. But I shut my computer, and nothing now until after Shabbat.

    To marry out of the religion is difficult , and often fails badly. I make the choice to stay with what I believe, strictly.

    Good Shabbos, and good night.

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