As regular visitors to the site will know, during the Lib Dem’s Party Conference last month, Baroness Jenny Tonge was invited to speak at a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign meeting where she unleashed this corker:
“The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party.”
As noted in the recent All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (warning – large download):
No-one would seek to deny that there is well-organised support for Israel in Britain, but in some quarters this becomes inflated to the point where discourse about the ‘lobby’ resembles discourse about a world Jewish conspiracy.
Readers might recall it was comments made to the same group in 2004 that resulted in her being sacked from the Lib Dem front bench, saying of Palestinian suicide bombers:
“If I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming one myself.”
I can see how someone might defend these remarks as some form of mbunderstanding but it’s difficult to view her latest remarks as anything other than standard antisemitic tripe that wouldn’t be out of place in a David Icke or Pat Buchanan rant.
Following condemnation from a number of Lords (including several of her colleagues) in a letter to the Times and having asked her to explain her outburst, Menzies Campbell now appears to be thinking along the same lines:
“I have acted with the maximum powers at my disposal at this time. I have written to Baroness Tonge dissociating myself and the party from her deeply offensive remarks and what I believe to be their clear anti-Semitic connotations. I have asked for a review of the disciplinary powers available to the Liberal Democrat leaders in both the House of Lords and Commons.”
Also from the JPost article:
Gavin Stollar, spokesman for the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, said, “We welcome both Sir Menzies’s unequivocal condemnation of Jenny Tonge’s comments and his categorical distancing of the party from her. As card-carrying members of the Liberal Democrat Party, we do not tolerate or condone racism and/or anti-Semitism in Parliament or elsewhere.
“In the coming days and weeks we will work closely with colleagues inside the party to ensure every avenue is explored towards removing Baroness Tonge from the Liberal Democrat benches in the House of Lords. There is no place for anti-Semitic remarks of this nature in our party,” he added.
Unlike certain others.
On a different tack, I’d be interested to hear how critically her remarks on the pro-Israeli lobby were received at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign meeting and to see how far they distance themselves from her comments given Menzies Campbell’s rebuke. As yet, I’ve found nothing.
Hat tip: Malachi, whose report on the recent Engage and UJS meeting with Yuli Tamir, Minister for Education in the Israeli Government, is also worth a gander.