Liberal Democrat party leader Nick Clegg has sacked controversial peer Baroness Jenny Tonge as his health spokeswoman in the House of Lords after she suggested last week that Israel set up an inquiry if it wants to refute allegations that its medical teams in Haiti “harvested” organs of earthquake victims.
“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 in a statement on Friday afternoon.
“The comments were wrong, distasteful and provocative and I recognize the deep and understandable distress they have caused to the Jewish community,” he added.
“While I do not believe that Jenny Tonge is anti-Semitic or racist, I regard her comments as wholly unacceptable,” he said.
“Jenny Tonge apologizes unreservedly for the offense she has caused.”
The allegation that IDF medics harvested organs from Haitians to use in transplants was published in the Gaza-based Web site The Palestine Telegraph, of which Tonge is a patron. The article, titled “Focus on Israel: Harvesting Haitian Organs,” was written by a Boston blogger Stephen Lendman.
Lendman – who in his biog says his main area of interest is for “justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians,” accused Israel of a “crime against humanity.”
The article makes reference to a report by Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV that cites “a damning YouTube video” posted by an American named “T. West” from a group called AfriSynergy Productions who said: “The video presents something to think about while exploiting the horrible tragedy that has befallen Haiti where Israeli occupation soldiers are engaged in organ trafficking.”
Tonge said she did not accept this narrative and that the IDF was “to be commended for their fantastic response to the Haitian earthquake.”
However speaking to the Jewish Chronicle
, Tonge added: “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.”
In an e-mail to an anti-Israel activist that was posted on an activist
message board on Saturday, the Liberal Democrat peer blamed Jewish
editor Stephen Pollard for spreading the “silly allegation”
and thus damaging Israel’s work in Haiti.
“This is total rubbish, as usual! Palestine Telegraph last week had a
long piece by a Jewish American on the subject of organ donation – not
an editorial piece,” Tonge said in the e-mail. “It said there were
postings on YouTube about organ harvesting in Haiti by the large team
sent out by Israel to help! The 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 rumors. OK? It
is quite ludicrous – organs would be useless in that situation anyway
and it is a nonsense suggestion.
“Trouble is he [Stephen Pollard] has now SPREAD a silly allegation and
done untold damage to a really great effort by the Israelis,” Tonge
Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin