Tag Archives: liberal democrats

Another two fingers go up to British Jews.

sundaytimes

Today’s Sunday Times cartoon doesn’t work on any level, but you can see how it came about.

Over the last month certain British commentators have been writhing around in pure ecstasy at the prospect of the Israeli electorate moving to the right. Some of the commentary has made me wince with even Jewish commentators hinting that Israel has shifted to the far right; the connotation being that Israel has finally become a fully fledged fascist state, the antithesis of what would have been expected after the horrors of Nazi Germany.

But, sadly for them, Israel actually shifted to the left in the recent general election. All those columns that certain journalists wanted to write about “the fascist State of Israel” will never see the light of day now. The time they spent concocting the most vile aspersions to cast on Israel has been wasted. Guardian and Independent newspaper columnists have had to, on the whole, hold their fire since the election. Labour politicians like Richard Burden MP have been forced to hold off tweeting the most nastiest denunciations of Israel.

But for some reason The Sunday Times, of all papers, couldn’t hold off publishing Gerald Scarfe’s vile slur of a blood libel with its depiction of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a callous murderer of innocents, including Palestinian children.

And then there’s the context. Not only is it Holocaust Memorial Day today but it is also just two days after The Commentator broke the news that Liberal Democrat MP David Ward had specifically attacked “the Jews” on his website by writing:

“Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

And by juxtaposing the Holocaust with the West Bank and Gaza Ward is actually mocking what happened to the Jews in the death camps, whatever sympathy for them he tries to evince in his statement. The West Bank and Gaza are no Auschwitz, Mr Ward, even though many a Jew hater has tried to equate them.

Ward is not fit to be an MP, but what is more disturbing is the groundswell of support he seems to have had and his comments have flushed out just how nasty his supporters are. For example, under the clip of Ward’s appearance on Sky you can read:

davidward

“Israel is worse than Hitler” and “Is Hitler the new Moses?” These are your supporters, Mr Ward.

I also got tweeted this from Mash’al Hanif in response to one of my tweets about the Sunday Times cartoon:

davidward1

Well, yes, Mash’al, it does hurt, but it hurts mainly because I always thought the UK was a comfortable place for Jewish people to live. I still do, but that nonsensical Sunday Times cartoon has rocked that certainty ever so slightly.

But I am also grateful that although I deeply feel Jewish I, however, feel no religious obligation to dress as a more religious Jew and, therefore, exposing myself to the horrors of what the Sunday Times cartoon might compel a person with a violent bent towards Israel and/or Jewish people to carry out. Another Toulouse comes to mind.

And, I’m sorry, Mash’al, but it wasn’t me who targeted the Prophet Muhammad. And nor would I. And for that matter it wasn’t Jewish people either, although Mash’al’s comment goes to show how the initial rumour that the maker of that horrendous film depicting Muhammad in such an unseemly manner was Jewish has now achieved permanence.

After the last week one can see why the Jewish people have traditionally moved around so much, forever trying to evade the animus that certain parts of society have always held for us.

(Thanks to The Commentator which also broke the news of the cartoon and thanks to Chas Newkey-Burden who has written so meaningfully about David Ward MP and those like him who think that its the Jews who should be held up to higher scrutiny after having lost six million people in the Holocaust.)

Nick Clegg just can’t bring himself to support Israeli defensive action against Iran.

The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg attended a Q&A session at Hasmonean School in north-west London last night. The event was staged by the Jewish News and chaired by ITV correspondent Tom Bradby

While Israel was under concerted rocket fire from Hamas in 2009 Clegg wrote “We must stop arming Israel”. In 2010 he acknowledged that there had not always been an equal voice for Israel within the Liberal Democrats and in 2011 he said he craved a time when the Community Service Trust, which protects Britain’s small Jewish community, wasn’t needed.

He did finally force Jenny Tonge to resign from the Lib Dems. when she said that Israel won’t be here forever, but it was also back to business as usual this year when he called Israel’s settlements “deliberate vandalism”.

Clegg doesn’t get that it’s precisely this hostility to Israel which is one of the main reasons the CST continues to be needed. Whenever he and his ilk criticize Israel’s defensive actions or the settlements in such an unbalanced manner synagogues and Jewish schools have to tighten their security and it gives encouragement to those seeking to harass Israeli-owned shops and disrupt Israeli productions visiting these shores.

Surprisingly, there were very few questions about Israel and the Middle East last night considering that Israel is still under constant fire from Hamas rockets, David Cameron is currently in the Middle East selling arms to Saudi Arabia and the so-called Arab Spring is descending into mass murder and oppression.

However, my colleague Jeremy Havardi was given the opportunity to ask the following on Iran:

“I gather you support the policy of sanctions against Iran, which is great. Will you support an Israeli strike on Iran if it was an absolute last resort in stopping its illegal nuclear weapons programme?”

Notice the words “absolute last resort”. A simple question, but Clegg spent the next 6 minutes obfuscating even when pushed twice to answer Havardi’s question by Bradby. Here is some of how Clegg didn’t answer the question:

“I would counsel against the idea that there is a simple military solution.”

“Most experts say that if you took military action you’d probably delay a nuclear programme, but you wouldn’t eliminate it.”

“What we are doing is, if it works, more effective….squeezing harder and harder with tougher sanctions, which are having a real effect…”

“To risk all the dangers of a unilateral military strike, which might not provide a permanent solution… is unwise.”

Clegg continued in the same vein even when Bradby asked whether Clegg would expect military action once Iran had loaded nuclear weapon technology into a missile and, finally, if Israel’s intelligence showed that they couldn’t sit and tolerate the situation anymore.

Yet still Clegg could not bring himself to support Israeli defensive action, even against such an existential threat as an all-out nuclear attack.

Luckily, my colleague Clive wasn’t given the opportunity to ask “What’s the capital of Israel?” Just imagine how long it would have taken Clegg to answer.

Here is Clegg’s full answer from last night:

The Guardian and The New Statesman jump to Tonge’s defence…but only after misquoting her.

What a week. Jenny Tonge resigned the Liberal Democrat whip on Wednesday thanks to some footage I took of her speaking at last Thursday’s anti-Israel event at Middlesex University in Hendon, North-West London.

Thank you for the supportive tweets, texts, calls, emails and comments. All a bit embarrassing as all I did was hold up a camera (albeit under threat of being hauled out by the university’s security guards for doing so).

Some far bigger players took up the cause, as Martin Bright generously describes in his Jewish Chronicle report of the week’s events:

“It is certainly true that she was brought down by an irresistible pincer movement of right-wing bloggers. First, the neo-cons at the Commentator picked up on the footage of the Middlesex University event posted by the redoubtable Richard Millett and then passed the baton to the conservative attack dogs at Guido Fawkes.”

As Rubin Katz commented, it was doing what was right, not necessarily right-wing.

Since Tonge’s resignation some in the mainstream media have tried to jump to her defence, but have based their articles on a completely false premise.

Tonge said:

“Israel is not going to be there forever in its present performance because one day the United States of America will get sick of giving $70bn a year to Israel to support its, what I call, ‘America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East’. That is Israel. One day the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA ‘enough is enough’. Read that book by Walt and Mearsheimer called The Israel Lobby. But, it will not go on forever, it will not go on forever. Israel will lose its support and then they will reap what they have sown.”

But The Guardian‘s Michael White, The New Statesman‘s Mehdi Hasan and Yahoo‘s Ian Dunt all misquoted her as saying Israel “is not going to be there forever in its present form“, instead of “in its present performance“, so allowing them to give Tonge’s words a more benign interpretation than they warrant.

White then argues that a two-state solution involving land-for-peace trades would change Israel “in its present form” (White also concurs with her ridiculous $70bn figure. It’s actually $3bn).

Dunt refers to Tonge as the “victim” of a “trick” by Israel’s defenders and goes on to describe the phrase “in its present form” as one “which almost all people, including Israelis, would accept given the negotiations which would have to take place for a two-state solution to be accomplished”.

Hasan defends Tonge by suggesting “in its present form” was merely an assessment of the threat to Israel’s future as “a Jewish and democratic state”. To back himself up he uses the spurious argument that Jews and Arabs will eventually reach parity in the area under discussion (there will never be anywhere near parity as this study shows).

But Hasan is against Israel’s existence, anyway. In his last paragraph he says he “reluctantly” supports “the one-state solution”.

But Tonge didn’t say “in its present form“. She said “in its present performance“, by which she clearly meant Israel’s present behaviour. She ended with the threat that Israel “will reap what they have sown”, which relates back to that performance/behaviour.

Tonge thinks Israel has massacred and ethnically cleansed Palestinians and so her “will reap what they have sown” must mean that she thinks that the same will eventually happen to Israel’s Jews.

No reasonable person can defend such sentiments. If White, Dunt and Hasan listen again to what Tonge actually said then, surely, they must have serious second thoughts about their articles.

Here it is again:

AV or not AV? That is the question.

Or more precisely it’s:

“At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead?”

On May 5th Brits have the opportunity to put a ‘X’ against ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ (please vote in my own poll below).

We are having to do this because of the Liberal Democrats. This was the negligible price they demanded for forming a coalition with the Conservatives.

Since the general election last May the Lib Dems. have reneged on their pledge not to introduce tuition fees and have voted that it is legal to save the lives of Libyan Arabs, having once voted that it wasn’t legal to save the lives of Iraqi Arabs.

There are 650 constituencies in the UK and whichever candidate gets the most votes in his/her constituency at a general election becomes a Member of Parliament. Whichever party gets the support of 326 MPs becomes the government.

Those in favour of AV want each MP to be elected by at least 50% plus 1 of the votes. At the moment one can become an MP on, say, 30% of those who vote, as long as he/she gets more votes than any other individual in that constituency. Voters can only choose one candidate to vote for.

Howevere, under AV you can put a ‘1’ next to your first choice and ‘2’ next to your second choice and then ‘3’, ‘4’, ‘5’, etc.

The number 1 votes for each candidate are then counted. If a candidate wins more than 50% he or she become MP.

If no one gets more than 50% the candidate with the fewest number ‘1’ votes is eliminated and his/her number ‘2’ vote (if there is one) is added to the latter candidate’s pile of votes.

This is repeated until one candidate achieves more than 50% of the vote. So the winner in the first round might not necessarily become MP.

My main complaints about both AV and this referendum are:

1. Arbitrariness – Achieving 50% plus 1 vote seems an arbitrary limit. Why stop at 50%? Why not 75%? The person who wins with 50% plus 1 might have lost in the next round of counting. In fact, why not count every preference to see who wins? By stating the winning post to be 50% plus 1 the will of the people has not been fully expressed as there is still enough information available that has not been considered and which could have determined that another person should become MP.

2. Timing – Why are we not having something crucial like this on the day of a general election when turnout will be greater? Ironically, AV could be approved by far less than a 50% turnout of voters. At a general election turnout will be more than 60%.

3. Cost – The government is cutting jobs and services, so this referendum is an unnecessary expense right now.

4. A highly unfavoured candidate could end up winning under AV.

5. AV seems to be nothing more than a glorified version of the current first past the post system, the only difference being that the winning threshold is set at 50% plus 1.

I would like to retain the first past the post system but there should be compulsory voting with a financial penalty given to those who fail to vote (like with the census form we have just had to fill in). There would be a box marked ‘none of the above’ on the ballot paper if you don’t want to vote for any of the candidates.

This is the only way, in my view, that we will get a clear picture of the will of the people as to who they wish to govern the country.

I think that AV will, rightly, be rejected on May 5th but maybe my analysis is wrong. Please let me know your view by voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to AV in my poll below. I promise I won’t fine you if you don’t.

Whichever choice gets the most votes will determine which box I put my ‘X’ in on May 5th.

2010

A bad year for Israel in the UK has also been a bad year for many of those who have briefed so viciously against Israel.

Nick Clegg, who called for Israel to be disarmed during Operation Cast Lead in the wake of thousands of Hamas rockets hitting Israeli towns, became Deputy Prime-Minister in the coalition government but has since had his new found credibility shattered having reneged on a pre-election promise that had won his party the student vote; not to increase tuition fees.

Clegg and his anti-Israel Liberal Democrat party will find it difficult to be taken seriously in future, including on Israel.

Lauren Booth seems to have hit financial rock bottom with her bankruptcy and George Galloway lost his national radio slot on Talksport and was ousted from Parliament at the General Election along with Martin Linton, Chair of Labour Friends of Palestine.

Woe betide those who fall from power. The pro-Arab Lobby will have no use for them and will end up looking elsewhere.

So one man’s loss is another’s gain and the new anti-Israel voice on the block is Andrew Slaughter, who retained his seat in the election.

Although Slaughter is Labour’s Shadow Justice Minister that didn’t stop him recently meeting Hamas; the organisation that likes to send Palestinians into Israeli restaurants and discos primed with bombs to murder as many Jews as possible.

It has been a year where the picket of Ahava in Covent Garden has taken root, with the objective of closing it down.

In a way it has been a sad but fascinating experience to see the type of person that turns up to picket a Jewish owned shop.

Less attention has been paid to the regular thursday evening anti-Israel picket outside Marks and Spencer on Oxford Street whose objective is to stop people shopping there on the basis that M&S was a chief funder of Israel’s creation and growth; proof if it ever was needed that Israel-hate is not premised on concern for international law but on Israel’s existence per se.

It is also interesting to note how many of the Ahava protesters are loathe to be filmed, constantly covering their faces.

One must also question if they are solely concerned about human rights why they don’t picket Iranian, Egyptian, Russian, Chinese and Sudanese businesses.

If Ahava does close even the protesters will be disappointed as they will be forced to find another Israeli outlet to vent their anger against.

Other low points of 2010 were:

1. The EDO case, where a judge somehow found it within himself, during his summing up to the jury, to show admiration for those who had smashed up a British arms-making factory.

2. Phil Woolas losing his Parliamentary seat after his Lib Dem opponent ran crying to the courts accusing Woolas of lying about him, when lying on political leaflets is, sadly, a part of British election culture. There was also MPAC’s sinister intervention against Woolas.

3. Mick Davies, head of UJIA, using “Apartheid” in relation to Israel.

4. The Law Society allowing itself to be taken over for a weekend Israel hatefest in the form of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

5. Hearing “Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz” at Elland Road.

Thank you to those that have given their encouragement over the last year (including Oyvagoy, Jeremy Havardi, MelchettMike, CIFWatch, ModernityBlog, Harry’s Place, ElderofZiyon, The London Jewish News, The Jewish Chronicle and The Jerusalem Post) and many other individuals, including some incredible commenters from whom I have learnt more than I could imagine.

It has also been a year in which England retained the Ashes but lost a World Cup.

Ken Bates, Leeds United’s Chairman, summed up the World Cup debacle perfectly in his recent programme notes for the QPR game:

“FIFA finally lost all credibility when they handed the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. That idiot Blatter said the object was to take football into new territories. The Qatar episode should be fun with the Persian Gulf on one side and (a) million square miles of desert on the other. Don’t make me laugh! Money talks – but to who? If Qatar wanted to make a lasting impact on the world they could help their fellow Muslims in Palestine to end 60 years of misery and enable them to establish a Palestinian state. A few bob to help rebuild Afghanistan wouldn’t go amiss either.”

Finishing on a high note Israel has just struck gas; £61 billion worth of the stuff, which sent the Tel Aviv stock exchange to an all time high. This should give Israel energy independence for 90 years and could allow for exports to Europe.

As James Hider of The Times comments the old joke about Moses leading the Jewish people to the one place in the Middle East that does not have oil is not so funny anymore.

Happy New Year everyone!

Does Lord Phillips believe there is a well organised “Jewish lobby” at work or not?

Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury

Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury

Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury has made a remarkable intervention on the Jewish Chronicle website.

Last week Lord Phillips spoke at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event at Parliament. The title of the event was Gaza – Eyewitness reports from the Viva Palestina convoy, Parliamentary delegations, and Westminster University Architects

Jonathan Hoffman blogged Lord Phillips’ speech that night.

Lord Phillips has blogged back as follows:

I have just had drawn to my attention a contribution made to The JC.com website on 3rd November by Jonathan Hoffman. It comments on a short speech I made at a PSC meeting last week. It does not report what I said fairly, or accurately (sadly, not for the first time in the JC as far as I am concerned.)

I will not try the patience of the readers of this blog (and my own!) by detailing all his studied distortions. One example, taken from the start of his piece, may serve to give the flavour.

He states that I said “I do believe in the right of Israel to exist”, he adding “Well thanks buddy – and France? Germany? England?”

In fact I emphasised that I believe “passionately” in the right of Israel to exist in freedom and security, adding that I believed in a similar right for Palestine. I did not also say, but could have, that I volunteered to fight for Israel in 1973.
Israel is in my view destroying its long-term security and harmony inter alia and particularly by its military occupation and colonisation of the West Bank (now extending to 42% of that territory, according to the latest Foreign Office estimate).

I will not be deterred from speaking out against that self-defeating, provocative and illegal policy, and its awful impact on the Palestinians.

The only alleged distortion Lord Phillips chooses to go on, so as not to try our patience you understand, is about Israel’s right to exist.

He is silent on Hoffman quoting him as saying, “Europe cannot think straight about Israel because of the Holocaust and America is in the grip of the well-organised Jewish lobby”.

Making suggestions of Jewish power, an anti-Semitic trope, is bad enough but invoking the Holocaust so gratuitously at a meeting which has nothing to do with the Holocaust is a particularly low way of gaining an audience’s attention.

Someone who feels the need to invoke 6,000,000 innocent dead souls at a political rally is totally lacking in moral integrity.

People really don’t care whether Lord Phillips thinks Israel should exist or not or whether he keeps wishing to speak out against Israeli policy. It is his right and no one will try to stop him.

He is a Liberal Democrat after all and it is an unofficial Liberal Democrat policy, and one it definitely won’t renege on, to bash Israel publicly.

But either Lord Phillips really doesn’t want to try our patience, as he claims, and he didn’t speak of a “Jewish lobby” and gratuitously invoke the Holocaust or his deafening silence on these matters is an admission that he did.

If it is the latter then he should make a public apology.

So, Lord Phillips, which is it? Our patience are all yours to try.

Phil Woolas needs to fight this judgment

Phil Woolas, now ex-MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth

Phil Woolas, now ex-MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth

Phil Woolas has been stripped of his parliamentary seat of Oldham East and Saddleworth, which he won by just 103 seats in May for, of all things, lying about his opponent, Elwyn Watkins of the Liberal Democrats.

Some judges really need to get out more.

Politicians lie.

We have seen this on a massive scale over the last few years with the expenses scandal and the ease with which political parties put a match to their promises and political manifestos, particularly the Liberal Democrats.

So it is a bit odd to find the Liberal Democrats complaining about lies when they are the masters of the art.

As they say, they can give it but they can’t take it.

Phil Woolas was only doing what thousands of politicians have done throughout the hundreds of years of British politics; slightly bending the truth.

His big whopper was to accuse his Liberal Democrat opponent of wooing Muslim extremists.

The judges have also failed to take into account the times in which we now live.

Only yesterday a young woman was sentenced to life for trying to murder the MP Stephen Timms because he voted for the Iraq war.

She was so easily radicalised. All she needed to do was sit in front of youtube for a few hours and view the uploads of a radical Islamist.

The election in Oldham East and Saddleworth itself was complicated by the sinister presence of MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Committee) which had a hit list of “Zionist” MPs whose opponents it supported. One of those on the hit list, Lee Scott of Ilford North, received death threats.

In the 2005 elections the Liberal Democrats directly benefitted when MPAC spread rumours that Lorna Fitzsimons of Labour was Jewish. She wasn’t but she lost her Rochdale seat by a mere 442 votes, very possibly because of this Jewish “slur”.

MPAC seems to have little care or interest for the United Kingdom as a whole. It is a wholly pro-Muslim/anti-Israel outfit which interferes in elections using the highly intimidating tactic of labelling its opponents pejoratively either as “Jewish” or “Zionist” in the hope of whipping up an unsavioury atmosphere in Britain.

The headline on its website today reads “Election 2010 Success: FOUR Zionists Taken Out by MPACUK”.

The article reads:

MPACUK have taken another scalp – this time of the infamous electoral cheat and, ironically, the former Minister for Race Relations, Phil Woolas.

For all those Muslims who think you can’t make a change, here’s proof you can. For all those Muslims who think democracy doesn’t work, here’s proof it does. For all those Muslims who said Woolas would never lose, here’s proof he did. And for all those Muslims who joined us in the fight and thought we had lost, here’s proof that we won.

We targeted six Zionist, pro-War and Islamophobic MP’s in the 2010 general election. Here’s a list of our scalps:

1. Labour – Clare Ward – Watford. OUT
2. Labour – Andrew Dismore – Hendon. OUT
3. Labour – Terry Rooney – Bradford. OUT
4. Labour – Phil Woolas – Oldham. OUT

One of the commenters underneath has written “4 Zio-Nazies have been removed from Parliament by your efforts”.

Elwyn Watkins may not have openly wooed the likes of MPAC but did he loudly and explicitly denounce them? If he did then this was the right court decision.

If he didn’t then, in my book, he has as good as wooed them and Woolas should appeal this decision and be allowed to reclaim his place in Parliament.