Tag Archives: israel

LibLink: David Ward writes about a non-violent path to peace and security

David WardDavid Ward has been a little, shall we say, controversial in his statements about the conflict in Gaza. Today he has written about his petition calling for and advocating a non-violent solution.

On his website he writes:

I unreservedly condemn the use of military action by both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But how do we arrive at peace in a non-violent way?

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 38 Comments

LibLink: Shirley Williams “Europe has a duty to Gaza”

Shirley WilliamsWriting in the Guardian today, Shirley Williams says:

The tragedy of the centenary we commemorate this week is that it falls as some of the most brutal and merciless wars of those same hundred years are raging.

She refers to the current conflicts in Syria, Gaza, Iraq, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

Attacks on Belgian and French civilians, including children, by Germany’s invading army in August 1914 shocked the public and politicians in Britain and elsewhere into intervening, and many individual men into enlisting – so much so that

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – Israel must open talks with Hamas

Clegg Speech 40Writing for today’s Guardian Nick Clegg has this to say about the ongoing conflict in Gaza:

The daily images of human torment in Gaza have been harrowing and heartbreaking. More than 1,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed. Were it not for international aid rations, half the population would be without food. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are seeking shelter in UN schools – and even these offer little safety.

It is difficult to deny that Israel’s military action appears disproportionate and, combined with the Gaza blockade, is resulting

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 9 Comments

Opinion: What is HAMAS’s game plan?

On the face of it, for HAMAS to simply fire its unguided rockets into Israel, in the hope some may hit something important, or kill someone, is stupid. Nothing HAMAS can do will inflict any serious damage on the state of Israel, they are just annoying Israel (a lot). So why are they doing it, assuming their actions are rational? Their actions may not be rational of course, they may be so consumed by hatred of Israel that they are striking out any way they can. But assuming they are acting in a rational manner, what can they hope to …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 58 Comments

Opinion: Who are the terrorists?

palestine

This sign held by a Palestinian child at a demonstration sums up the context and background of the present conflict in Gaza that has also led to violence and loss of life in the West Bank.

This simple summary of the oppressive behaviour of the Israeli government shows how it amounts to State Terrorism.  Western governments are reluctant to recognise this for what it is and our own political leaders (Cameron, Hammond, Miliband – and even our own Nick Clegg who has been much quieter than he was during the Cast Lead invasion of 2008) usually qualify any criticism of Israel with a statement that Israel has the right to defend itself, i.e. they accept at best the “justified but disproportionate” paradigm which is frankly indefensible.

Our governments have allowed Israel the means to maintain an illegal and oppressive control over Palestine.  They have refused to put economic and other pressures on Israel to change its behaviour.  They ignore the words of leaders of liberal organisations (Yachad, Jewish Voice for Peace, New Israel Fund etc.) or of liberally minded journalists in Israel (Haaretz) and other Jewish commentators like Professor Avi Shlaim and Henry Siegman, and accept the propaganda coming from Israel’s far right politicians, who they wouldn’t even talk to if they were active in the UK.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 52 Comments

Opinion: It is the end of the two-state solution that will bring peace to Gaza

Israeli children visit Palestinian village of Tuwani and participate in bilingual activities together - Some rights reserved by delayed gratficationThere are many times throughout history where man has stood by and allowed inhumanity to win the day. One of few positives that can be taken from these days is that human behaviour can be observed, patterns emerge and those that are left can begin to understand, to learn. But there are times when lessons are forgotten. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is humanity’s greatest forgotten lesson. It is time to face up to hard truths and if we fail to do so we legitimise the deaths of thousands more men, women, children, Israeli and Palestinian. Liberal Democrats were strong advocates for a two-state solution, long ago when the facts was shrugged off by Labour and Conservative administrations. We should not succumb to the same mistake.

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Opinion: Beware conflating offence with racism – Don’t demand David Ward’s expulsion

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI recently saw for the first time the new monument commemorating the sacrifices paid by the men of RAF Bomber Command during World War II. It was a moving memorial, as well as an interesting one. We don’t celebrate the deliberate firebombing of German cities these days: we are thankfully queasy about the thought of the mass targeting of civilians. But the erection of this monument shows that although we – uncomfortably perhaps – understand that those fighting that awful war were compromised morally by their actions, we nevertheless sympathise with those who believed that the missions they flew had some military and economic justification.

I ask people to bear this in mind when considering whether or not David Ward should have the whip withdrawn for his tweets expressing sympathy with Gazans (some of whom are) firing rockets at Israeli cities. Some – many – will find the implications of what he says offensive. But we should be careful about citing offense as justification for the sacking of our political representatives. Especially as liberals.

As others have said, we would not call for the expulsion of an MP who expressed sympathy for Israelis motivated to extend their period of military service in reaction to the rockets fired from Gaza. We do not call for the expulsion of MPs who defend sales of British arms to Israel, even though we know there is a strong likelihood of their being used against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territories.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 41 Comments

David Ward: “if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes”

A year ago David Ward, Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, had the party whip temporarily withdrawn after he accused “the Jews” of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel”. Though he apologised for blanket-labelling he said he would “continue to make criticisms of actions in Palestine in the strongest possible terms” and has tonight lived up to his word on his Twitter feed:

david ward tweets

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Opinion: Violence And Peace In The Middle East – There Is Something We Can Do

Gaza Burns - photo by Al Jazeera EnglishThe recent murders of the Israeli and Palestinian children were in themselves terrible crimes but they also served to ignite the latest round of brutal violence in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Some media commentators are tempted to suggest that this is inevitable and un-resolvable but I don’t believe that to be the case.

I was surprised recently to discover – and then to find that I greatly admired – the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine’s 9 point plan for peace and the three principles that inform …

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Opinion: It is time for those who believe that violence doesn’t work to stand up

Banksy: DetailLast October, I wrote a piece for LDV called “Time to do away with LD Friends of Israel & Friends of Palestine” and other pieces on the subject on my own irregular blog.

After the tragic events of the last three weeks, with the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers being found murdered and now a Palestinian youth having been killed in Jerusalem, seemingly in “revenge”, I feel I need to speak out, even it is to “state the obvious”.

In addition to the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, the Israeli reaction to the kidnapping and killing of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach has cost at least six other deaths of Palestinians on the West Bank & yet unknown numbers of lives in Gaza. We here in the UK need to be strident in the commendation of the extremists on both sides who, through their rhetoric, have encouraged the violence.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 13 Comments

Opinion: Hamas and the collapse of Palestine/Israel Peace Negotiations

Palestine_Jerusalem_Geopoint_Right_of_Return_NK24131Two weeks ago the Israeli Cabinet declared that the peace negotiations over Palestine were halted in view of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. The fact that the Cabinet Meeting took six hours perhaps suggests that this was not a unanimous decision. Was it a reasonable decision?

Background on Hamas can be found here. The essentials are that it was founded with the aim of liberating Palestine from Israel and had an armed wing that has indulged in terrorism.  (Sound like Sinn Fein and the IRA?) Nonetheless it won Parliamentary elections …

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Opinion: Liberal Democrat support in minority and other communities

3387203709_d0349346c3_bLiberal Democrats are thought to have benefited considerably from support in Muslim communities at the 2010 General Election.

This can be attributed both to the Lib Dems being the only party to oppose the invasion of Iraq in 1993, and also to Nick Clegg being the only party leader to consistently criticise Israel for its policies towards Palestinians in the years leading up to the Election.  This has caused some concern in the party that we may be losing Jewish votes. During the period of the coalition government there has been much more …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 19 Comments

Opinion: Crimea/Palestine – unfavourable comparisons

As a Liberal Democrat one is appalled by the heavy handed way that Russia has moved into Crimea with an apology for a referendum. It may be the wish of the majority but this invasion is totally against international law and indeed tears up the post-Soviet treaty between Russia and Ukraine. The criticism of Russia is led by the USA and strongly supported by the rest of Europe. Many in Europe and the Middle East are wondering why the same critics have been so mute in the face of not dissimilar aggression and occupation of Palestine by …

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Lib Dem members on David Ward: majority say his comments were wrong – but majority also say party wrong to suspend him

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

We asked about the party’s decision to suspend the whip from Bradford MP David Ward. This followed controversy in February when ha made controversial comments about Jews (David Ward summoned by Clegg after ‘Jews’ comments – BBC) and then again in July when he tweeted calling Israel an “apartheid state” and saying that “Zionists” were “losing the battle (MP David Ward has Lib Dem whip withdrawn over Israel comment – BBC).

54% say David Ward’s comments were wrong; but 53% say party was wrong to withdraw whip

David WardLib Dem MP for Bradford East David Ward has had the party whip temporarily withdrawn following controversial comments he has made regarding Israel. Which of these statements most closely matches your own view?

    21% – I support the whip being withdrawn temporarily

    17% – I think the whip should remain withdrawn until he apologises for his comments

    16% – I disagree with his comments but oppose the whip being withdrawn

    37% – I oppose the whip being withdrawn and support his right to continue speaking out in this way

    8% – Don’t know

An interestingly split response. While a clear majority of Lib Dem members disagreed with David Ward’s comments (54%, summing the first three options), a clear majority also oppose the decision of the party leadership to remove the whip until at least 13th September (53%, summing the third/fourth options).

Posted in LDV Members poll | Also tagged | 7 Comments

Lib Dem MP Sir Bob Russell slams Israeli parliament for “ethnically cleansing between 40,000 and 60,000 Bedouin”

bob russell_2Lib Dem MP Sir Bob Russell launched a broadside in the Commons last week against the Israeli parliament for approving (in his words) “what can be described only as ethnically cleansing between 40,000 and 60,000 Bedouin”.

He went on to attack the US Government and the European Union for their inaction and the British media for its silence — but singled out for praise Jewish Voice for Peace, which is campaigning against what it terms “this massive violation of human rights”. His call was echoed by the Conservative …

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , , and | 18 Comments

Israel/Palestine: trying to find some balance

Israeli children visit Palestinian village of Tuwani and participate in bilingual activities together - Some rights reserved by delayed gratficationWriting about Israel and Palestine is a bit like that bit in Great Expectations when Pip asked whether it was a good idea to lend money to a friend. The cynical Mr Wemmick responds “choose your bridge and pitch your money into the Thames over the centre arch”. Or put another way, don’t waste your time.

I think that, at our best, Liberal Democrats are fair-minded people who try to accept that most arguments have two sides. So what follows is not my opinion on who is right, but five things that have

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 20 Comments

LibLink: Paul David Evans – The Holocaust and David Ward MP

We carried the news yesterday that David Ward MP had, while marking Holocaust Memorial Day, made comments linking the holocaust to Israeli policy in the occupied territories.

Paul David Evans, who has worked for the Holocaust Educational Trust, examines this commonly-made comparison.

“… is it possible to criticise Israel without being accused of antisemitism, some activists mused on Lib Dem Voice? The answer is that, yes, it’s remarkably easy to criticise Israel without being accused of being a racist. The trick is not to frame your criticism in terms of glaringly obvious

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 13 Comments

Has it all gone Jenny Tonge for David Ward?

Gentle reader, I appear to have received some flak for writing this – quite possibly merited. So, I’ve tried to edit it for clarity…

David WardA press release from the office of David Ward MP reached Liberal Democrat Voice yesterday;

“Bradford East MP, David Ward, has criticised Israel on the day he has signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who died during the Holocaust and in subsequent genocides.

Sunday January 27th will mark the 68th anniversary of the

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 88 Comments

Opinion: Israel/Palestine – the current state of the ‘peace process’

At 1900 GMT on Wednesday 21st November a ceasefire came into place between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip which, it was hoped, would signal at least a temporary halt to the bloodshed. Sadly, this ceasefire looks little more likely to last than previous ones have done and it would seem to be a good moment to reflect on the latest tragic and depressing episode in the Middle East and the ‘peace process.’

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 36 Comments

Opinion: A Comprehensive Middle East Peace Settlement

Simon Hughes said this year,  “We are near to the end of the opportunity of being able to get a peaceful two-state solution because of the extent of the settlements. The separation of Gaza from the West Bank and the increasing encroachment of the settlements mean that an alternative to the two-state model must be explored. We need to be honest and realistic about having a Plan B and a Plan C as well as a Plan A, as an international community.”

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 21 Comments

Will Israel attack Iran, and will this break the Coalition?

Although not widely reported in the British media, there is a build up of expectation that Israel will attack Iran. It amazes me that this was barely discussed at our recent Brighton conference. There were two motions on this submitted for conference but both with rejected by Federal Conference Committee and, perhaps as a consequence, there were no foreign policy motions debated at conference.

To raise the question I had to wait until Tuesday when there were two Centre Forum fringe meetings on foreign policy. Neither of the fringe meetings was specifically on Iran, but the question was asked about what …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 29 Comments

Martin Horwood MP writes… Why Nick Clegg’s response to Jenny Tonge was right

The controversy surrounding Jenny Tonge’s resignation from our party in the House of Lords has attracted a lot of comment online. I’m co-chair of the parliamentary party’s international affairs committee (although writing here in a personal capacity) and I think the stance which Nick took as leader was right.

Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine – for whom I have a great deal of time – have suggested that Jenny’s ‘intention was to imply that Israel’s wilful failure to uphold and respect the human rights of Palestinian Muslims and Christians is behaviour which is likely to lead to its …

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Opinion: Handling Israel/Palestine issues can be difficult, but…

I can still remember a night in 2009 when our canvass team came back from a night out on the doorsteps asking “Who is Jenny Tonge? We have just been canvassing and had the most awful time over this person who apparently is a Liberal Democrat…” I explained calmly and with a wry smile that Jenny was a former MP, now member of the House of Lords, that she held strong views and was not afraid to voice them. “But these residents are not going to vote Liberal Democrat because of the views she articulates,” said one of the canvassers. It was not a one-off incident.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 32 Comments

Tonge: Clegg acted “very hastily and ill-advisedly” in issuing apologise-or-resign ultimatum

Here’s the Press Association report of Baroness (Jenny) Tonge’s BBC interview following her resignation this week over controversial remarks about the future of Israel:

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tonge has claimed her party leader Nick Clegg acted “hastily” in quickly disowning her after she said Israel “would not be there forever”. She was forced to give up the party whip after the Deputy Prime Minister told her to apologise or resign hours after her comments to students at Middlesex University were revealed.

During a talk at the university, she claimed Israel would “reap what it has sown” if the United States

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Jenny Tonge resigns Lib Dem whip over controversial “Beware Israel” remarks

A quick follow-up to our story, Jenny Tonge resigns

Baroness (Jenny) Tonge has this afternoon resigned the Lib Dem whip after coming under intense pressure following the widespread reporting of remarks she made last week declaring that Israel “will reap what they have sown” once the USA gets “sick of giving £70bn a year to Israel to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East”.

It is by no means the first time Baroness Tonge has landed herself in hot water for her out-spoken views on Israel:

  • She was sacked by then leader Charles Kennedy as the Lib

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First Jewish ambassador to Israel has divided loyalties, says Labour MP

The Jewish Chronicle reports:

A Labour MP has caused outrage by suggesting that Britain’s first Jewish ambassador to Israel has divided loyalties because he has “proclaimed himself to be a Zionist”.

Challenged by the JC to clarify his comments about Matthew Gould, who took up the post last year, Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West, said ambassadors to Israel had not previously been Jewish “to avoid the accusation that they have gone native”.

Britain needed, he said, “someone with roots in the UK can’t be accused of having Jewish loyalty”.

The Foreign Office and MPs from across the political spectrum

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Opinion: How not to further the Palestinian cause

The other day at a London Underground station, I saw a man who was visibly distressed. A 50-something Asian gentleman in a suit, he’d been waiting for his wife when a man asked him to move out of the way on a narrow path. Except he hadn’t just asked him to move – he’d abused him racially and pushed against him.

I could see that he was upset, so I stopped and he told me what had happened. Imagine, however, if, instead of expressing sympathy, I had told him that he was in the wrong for having been in someone’s way …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 21 Comments

Opinion: a Palestinian state cannot wait

The superstition and messianic belief, that Israel was founded on in 1948, has helped to establish an apartheid esque society. Now I do not deny the existence of Israel, of course not. Many nations have been founded on injustices but Israel’s demagogic lie has done enormous damage. The schism, which can be summarised by the phrase “A land without a people for a people without a land” suggested that the people in Palestine did not really exist or were a coherent genuine people. Refusal to acknowledge the Palestinian ethnic group has been a problematic area for Israel, especially since …

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Opinion: The automaton body-politic

Not for nothing was England once known as ‘Perfidious Albion’ – it would change policy stances more often than a modern quick-change model on a catwalk. Ah yes, those days when foreign policy was as reliably firm as blancmange in a microwave set on high. But not nowadays, of course.

No, Foreign Secretaries and their FCO policy officials who devise and draft policy these post-Great Game days can be relied upon to issue policy that is robustly embedded in the nine points of policy-making as set down by the Cabinet Office and the Better Regulation Executive (BRE). To which all Government …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 25 Comments

LibLink: Lynne Featherstone calls for peace in Jewish Chronicle

Lynne Featherstone has a balanced piece in the Jewish Chron this week:

In Hornsey & Wood Green in North London, there is a strong pro-Israel lobby and a strong pro-Palestinian lobby. When Jenny Tonge made her disgraceful and ignorant comments in the JC, calling for an inquiry into Israel taking organs in Haiti, I got emails from the pro-Israel lobby saying that the Liberal Democrats were pro-Palestinian.

When Nick Clegg then rightly sacked Baroness Tonge from the front bench, I received emails claiming that he had only done so because the “Zionist conspiracy” had got to him. Both were symptomatic of the

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 17 Comments
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    I agree that Jo did well here. She is at her best in these kind of face-to-face situations, I think. It will be interesting to...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 20th Nov - 12:16am
    Same old same old of a failed Tory policy. It is not Democracy when only one viewpoint is discussed. Fact Check UK reminds me of...
  • User AvatarJohn Barrett 19th Nov - 11:53pm
    Jo was lucky not to be in the earlier debate with the 2 so called "main party" leaders. She did very well in a much...
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  • User AvatarRichard Underhill. 19th Nov - 11:29pm
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