Along with the disgraceful antisemitic bullying that took place at UCL last week, there was another revolting display of antisemitism-disguised-as-anti-Zionism which took place at the House of Lords, of all places. I touched on the event when I quoted David Collier‘s reaction within my post on antisemitism. But Collier’s post on the event, organized by the anti-Israel Palestine Return Center and chaired by Baroness “Jihad Jenny” Tonge, deserves more extensive coverage, hence this update.
But first, just to give you an idea of who the PRC are and the company they keep, have a good look at this picture. Note the presence of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as well as Jenny Tonge (along with some Tory officials too!):
Having managed to get himself into the meeting (no easy feat) David Collier wrote a detailed, horrifying report on the meeting at his blog. Some highlights (or should I call them lowlights?):
Yesterday there was an event at the House of Lords, put together by the Palestine Return Council (PRC). The evening was hosted by Jenny Tonge.
The event was to launch the ‘apology for Balfour’ campaign and the central thrust was to discuss activity over the next twelve months.
The Israeli left collapsed because they were no longer able to maintain scientific cohesion. For if the Arabs had to be absolved of blame entirely, despite the evidence at hand, Israel needed to turn from a nation seeking to defend itself, into a demon state, capable of committing all evils. The Israeli left knew this was not true.
This ‘demonic’ element is now a primary pillar on which the entire movement is built. People such as Ben White, Max Blumenthal and Ronnie Barkan have made careers out of it. So as expected, last night, at every turn, Israel was demonised. There can be nothing worthy about Israel at all. When Betty Hunter got the chance to discuss the label of democratic Israel, this is what she said:
“A crucial point that is put in the media all the time, and that is Israel is not a democracy. It is not a democracy because not all the citizens have the same rights. They can’t live in the same places, they can’t get the same jobs, they can’t go to the schools together, they don’t get the same amount back from the taxes, which are equal, that’s very equal between the Palestinian Israelis and the Jewish Israelis, but the benefits do not go to the Palestinian population, and we heard about what happened, as Karl said, to the elected representatives to the Knesset. We just have to remember the campaign that has been going on all year about the Bedouin people who are being driven from their land in their 10,000’s. There has been many more already driven from their lands, but this is the current catastrophe. So it is not a democracy. And that is another issue that we have to explain to the British public.”
Of course, this is nonsense. By any reasonable measure Israel is a vibrant democracy. When placed against the majority of nations on this planet, Israel’s liberal values simply sparkle. But it is important to note the demonic label is not restricted to Israeli policy inside the lands taken in 1967, but rather the opposite. It is vital for the ’cause’, that the very nature of the Israeli state be called into question. Thus the ludicrous labels of Apartheid, Settler Colonial, Genocidal and so on. Singling out Israel to question its right to exist. It is why the BDS movement has to focus on Israeli citizens as well.
Then the turn came of a ‘Palestinian writer and political analyst’ who commented about Balfour being deliberate, rather than a mistake, and then suddenly he went on:
“I want to thank the professor, and what a difference, between the Jew and the Zionist’” (Applause.) A Jew admits…(pause) most Jews who admit that Israel does not stand for them, should come forward and stand with us, because what we want is coexistence. We don’t want to throw anyone into the sea, we want to reclaim our rights, and we want the world to stand with us for claiming our rights.”
He made that remark in reference to the difference between the acceptable (to him) Jewish anti-Zionist professor and the Zionist Jewish attendee who stuck up for the democratic Jewish state. This comment denied the Jewishness of the Zionist. It creates a good Jew, a real Jew, and on the other side, the Zionist. Because what is the message here: Real Jews are ones who hate Israel. Only if you hate Israel will we accept you as Jewish.
Neturei Karta members then turned up and things got even worse:
First, he compared Israel to ISIS. “Isis is a perversion of Islam just as Zionism is a perversion of Judaism.” Then he continued:
“One of the main Zionists in America, Rabbi Stephen Wise, a reform, a heretic, so called Rabbi, he spoke in the New York Times in 1905, there are six million, note the number, bleeding and suffering reasons to justify Zionism.”
I cannot stress strongly enough the implication of the instruction to ‘note the number’. This is from a holocaust denial script. The suggestion used on neo-Nazi sites is that this quote is evidence that the Jews had already decided on the six million figure 40 years before the holocaust. Therefore, the holocaust is a hoax…
I am hearing more and more mention of Christian Zionism. As if Zionism isn’t actually a Jewish ‘thing’ at all. Rather, antisemites and Christian Zionists created a monster through Balfour, Zionists, with their Jewish status now removed, are evildoers who must be opposed. Real Jews oppose Zionists. Through this method they define ‘Jewishness’. They create a type of Jew it is legitimate to hate. A brilliantly created necessity to prop up a narrative full of holes. Jews must pay the price. At some point someone commented that “if anyone is anti-Semitic it is the Israelis themselves”.
Zionist power. For every insult that was once thrown at Jews, is now safely directed towards any Jew who supports Israel (almost all Jews). Zionists control the banks, the media and as we heard yesterday, Zionists control the government. How is this not antisemitism?
Zionists have evil intent. Such as the Livingstone episode or the issue above with the Jewish boycott.
Collier also mentioned, amongst the list of speakers, the Palestinian-British author Karl Sabbagh. The Algemeiner notes that Sabbagh essentially blamed the Jews for antisemitism!
After delivering a speech at the UK parliament-hosted re-launch of a Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) campaign to get the British government to apologize for the 100-year-old Balfour Declaration, Karl Sabbagh said that Jews around the world “would be better off” if Israel had never been established.
You can watch some footage of the PRC event via UK Media Watch:
Jenny Tonge, who has been in trouble before for antisemitic comments, was suspended – again – by the party for her acquiescence and agreement in the face of these outrageous remarks, and this time she quit! (Not for the first time…). Harry’s Place has more:
David Aaronovitch, writing in the Times (£), notes with understandable bitterness the soft treatment Jenny Tonge has received from the Liberal Democrats, both in the past, and in response to the latest disgraceful episode. He concludes:
Before she resigned, Baroness Tonge was suspended, not expelled, from her utterly complacent party. Because actually many people don’t care that much about antisemitism any more. They say they do, but they don’t. They cluck but secretly they think antisemitism isn’t really a problem, that Jews are generally rich and can look after themselves and that — one way or another — they probably have it coming.
Tonge’s use of this familiar reflexive formula following her suspension has rarely been more inadequate or inapposite.
“We need an urgent definition of anti-Semitism.
“At the moment anyone who criticises Israel is accused of it.”
She claimed she didn’t hear the antisemitic accusations.
“I was chairing, I did not make any speeches, I introduced the speakers and in the course of that meeting there was a great rant”, she said.
“I remember the rant very well but I don’t remember hearing very much of it. It was a rant. I didn’t know what this person said.
However her response at the time in fact picked up directly on the speaker’s point:
Baroness Tonge responds: “Thank you very much. I think it’s very important that the word boycott has come up. The BDS, the campaign to boycott Israeli goods and services, and divestment from Israel, most of us think is very, very important indeed.”
Kudos to those MPs who called for Tonge’s resignation:
Welsh Conservative MP David Davies brought up the issue, asking the Leader of the House David Lidington: “May we have a debate on the use to which these premises may be put following reports that outrageously a member of the House of Lords presided over an event at which Israel was compared to Islamic State, and the Jews were even blamed for their own genocide?”
[Liberal Democrat leader Tim] Farron on Tuesday told London’s LBC radio that the comments by Tonge were “intolerable” and that action had been taken, although he could not specify what that action was.
A party spokesperson told the Jewish News that “Tonge does not take the party whip [does not accept party discipline] in the House of Lords and does not speak for the Liberal Democrats on Middle East issues.”
Be that as it may, let us first see whether Tonge’s resignation is full and final, or whether she’ll pop up again in some other capacity. In any event, as I understand it, she still retains her peerage, and can still do damage in the House of Lords.
As a further example of her past form, together with teh execrable Labour leader jeremy Corbyn, here is a picture of them with Syrian butcher Bashar Assad:
The last word goes to UK Media Watch who trenchantly noted:
Note that not one participant or audience member at the event raised objections to this morally grotesque charge.
And THAT is the status of antisemitism in certain sectors of Britain today.
Kol hakavod to David Collier and the other pro-Israel activists who risked their mental health and physical well-being to attend this awful event and bring it to our attention.