Anti-racism group urges peer to pull out of pro-Palestinian parley with far-right MEP

Anti-racism group urges

November 4, 2009 23:18
2 minute read.

Anti-racist campaigners have called on a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords to boycott a London conference in December on Palestinian refugees because a far-right Hungarian member of the European Parliament is participating. The anti-fascist organization "There is Nothing British About the BNP" has called on Baroness Jenny Tonge, an ardent pro-Palestinian activist, to pull out of the event due to the attendance of Kristina Morvai, MEP, leader of the far-right Hungarian nationalist party Jobbik and ally of British Nationalist Party leader Nick Griffin. Jobbik and the BNP recently set up a new European nationalist alliance in the European Parliament with other extremist parties, including the French Front National, Italy's Fiamma Tricolore, Sweden's National Democrats and Belgium's Walloon extremists, the Front Nationalists. In October 2008 Griffin spoke at a Jobbik rally in Hungary. In July, Haaretz quoted Morvai as saying: "I would be glad if the so-called proud Hungarian Jews would go back to playing with their tiny little circumcised tail rather than vilifying me." The event has been organized by the Palestinian Return Center (PRC) - which the anti-fascist group calls "a front group for Hamas" - to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Literature advertising the event, which will be held at the Quaker's Friends House in central London, puts the onus of blame for the Palestinian refugee problem on Israel. "More than six decades have now passed since the collective dispossession and forced expulsion of Palestinians from their ancestral home in Palestine because of Zionist aggression. For five million Palestinians, forced exile still continuous and their Nakba is still a daily reality," it says. "Nothing British" has also called into question the attendance of Daud Abdullah, deputy-secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), a Hamas supporter. The government recently distanced itself from Abdullah after he advocated attacks on the British Navy if it stopped arms for Hamas being smuggled into Gaza. The government said it would have nothing to do with the MCB while Abdullah was secretary-general. In a letter sent to Tonge last week, "There's Nothing British About the BNP" called on Tonge to pull out of the conference with "a leading British Islamist and a London-bound Hungarian anti-Semite, gypsy-hater and key ally of the BNP's Nick Griffin. "We ask Baroness Tonge to boycott a rally being organized by the Palestinian Return Center, a front group for Hamas. We ask Baroness Tonge to give a statement distancing herself from the PRC for having invited extremists whose principles are inimical to the gentle British values of tolerance, fair-play and respect for one another," the letter said. "With the re-emergence of European neo-fascism we feel it is wholly inappropriate for a member of a mainstream party and the House of Lords to share an unchallenged platform with anti-Semites, homophobes and gypsy-haters. Britain is a gentle and tolerant country and not one of racism and division," said Maurice Cousins from "Nothing British." A Liberal Democrat Party spokesperson said: "Baroness Tonge is currently in Ethiopia working with the Bill Gates Foundation and is not contactable. We will speak to her about this event upon her return. We, of course, abhor the fascist views of the Jobbik party in Hungary." Other participants in the conference include independent MP Claire Short another pro-Palestinian activist, who advocates talking to Hamas and supports a boycott of Israel; and anti-Israel activist and author Norman Finkelstein, who maintains that a "Holocaust industry" exists that exploits the memory of the Holocaust to further Israeli interests. Because of his ties with Hizbullah and his worldwide anti-Zionist campaigning, Finkelstein was banned from entering Israel last year.

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