LONDON – In the second attack on Israel by Liberal Democrat politicians in the
same week that the party’s leader said the party got it wrong on Israel, Jenny
Tonge claimed on Friday that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is the root
cause of terrorism worldwide.
Possibly “Holocaust guilt” allows this
treatment to go unchecked, Tonge said, adding that it might also be the “power
of the pro-Israel lobby” in the UK and US.
Opinion: Britain must take responsibility
The Liberal Democrat peer was
speaking in the House of Lords at the Strategic Defense and Security Review,
which sets out how the British government will deliver the priorities identified
in its national security strategy.
On the issue of world conflict
prevention, Tonge then said: “It is a disgrace to us all that problems such as
Kashmir and Palestine are still alienating Muslims all over the
“The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is held up as an example
of how the West treats Muslims,” she said, “and is at the root cause of
“Even [the Quartet’s Middle East envoy] Tony Blair
has now admitted this publicly,” she claimed.
“Why do we let it continue? Is
it Holocaust guilt? We should be guilty – of course we should. Is it the power
of the pro-Israel lobby here and in the USA?” The peer went on say that “cynics
might think” Britain is at the ready to help Israel attack Iran.
it the need, maybe, to have an aircraft carrier called Israel in the Middle
East, from which to launch attacks on countries such as Iran? The cynic might
think that that is why HMS Ark Royal and the Harriers [fighter jets] can be
dispensed with [as part of UK defense cuts] – [since] we already have a static
“Ark Royal” in a strategic position, armed to the teeth and ready to fight,
provided that we do not offend Israel,” she said.
Tonge, a lifelong anti-Israel activist, continued: “I feel sorry for the people of Israel sometimes. Their government’s policies have made that country the cause of a lot of the world’s problems, yet now they are seen in the middle as the remedy and the base for the West to fight back.”
The party has distanced itself from Tonge’s comments, which “do not reflect the views of the Liberal Democrats,” a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post
on Saturday. “Indeed, last week [party leader] Nick Clegg stressed that Israel’s right to thrive in peace and security is non-negotiable for Liberal Democrats.”
Last week, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Phillips told a meeting
of the radical fringe group Palestine Solidarity Campaign in parliament that
“Europe cannot think straight about Israel because of the Holocaust, and America
is in the grip of the well-organized Jewish lobby.”
These two incidents
came in the same week that Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister
Nick Clegg told a meeting of Liberal Democrat supporters of Israel that his
party had got it wrong on Israel.
“I’m not certain that we have always
made ourselves clearly heard on this, so let me say it again now: Israel’s right
to thrive in peace and security is nonnegotiable for Liberal
“No other country so continually has its right to exist called
into question as does Israel, and that is intolerable. There can be no solution
to the problems of the Middle East that does not include a full and proper
recognition of Israel by all parties to the conflict,” he
“Campaigning for justice for the Palestinian people has been heard
loud and clear from the Liberal Democrats, [and] it should always have been
accompanied, equally loudly and equally clearly, by an awareness of the security
challenges faced by Israel, and of the right of Israel to defend itself against
the threats that it continually faces,” Clegg added.
In February, Clegg
sacked Tonge as health spokeswoman in the Lords after she suggested that Israel
set up an inquiry to refute allegations that its medical teams in Haiti
“harvested” organs of earthquake victims.
It is not the first time the
Liberal Democrat politician has been sacked by the party for her comments on
In 2006, then party leader Menzies Campbell dissociated the party
from Tonge and condemned her for “clear anti-Semitic connotations” after she
said that “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
In 2004, Tonge was sacked as a spokeswoman on children’s issues
after suggesting she could consider becoming a suicide bomber.