Tag Archives: nick clegg

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:

Those cringe-making New Year wishes from our political leaders.

It’s that time of year when our political leaders, in their Rosh Hashanah messages, tell Britain’s Jewish community how wonderful they all are and what a wonderful contribution they have all made to British society.

But the test of whether a political leader is being sincere, or whether just going through the motions, is whether he has been brave enough to show any sort of concern for Israel’s well-being in his message.

All British Jews are obviously concerned for Britain, and particularly our soldiers out in Afghanistan, but they are also concerned for Israel and their relatives and friends who live there under a constant threat of attack from Palestinian terrorists.

This year has been no exception with the cowardly slaughter of five members of the Fogel family as they lay in their beds, the direct hit on a school bus by a rocket from Gaza which killed a 16 year-old boy and the recent multiple attacks near Eilat that killed eight Israelis.

Then there was a Scottish Christian evangelical woman who was killed by a bomb blast in Jerusalem and the more recent deaths of an Israeli father and his baby when stone throwing by Palestinians caused the man to crash his car.

And, of course, this was Gilad Shalit’s sixth Rosh Hashanah away from his family after being kidnapped by Hamas.

Living in the UK is relatively safe. The worst it gets is a bunch of hate-filled anti-Israel activists trying to close Ahava or interrupting the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. It hardly compares to living in Sderot in southern Israel where there is a constant barrage of deadly rockets being sent over by Hamas from Gaza.

Many Palestinians have also been killed over the last year, but none has been specifically targeted because he is Palestinian, unlike the Israelis who have been targeted because they are Jewish. The Palestinians have been killed in self-defence in IDF actions that needn’t have happened if the Palestinians had been able to control their terrorist elements.

So it wouldn’t take a lot for our political leaders to acknowledge that worry and concern of British Jews for Israel and Israelis would it?

First, let’s take Nick Clegg, our deputy Prime Minister and the Liberal Democrat leader. Does he mention Israel? Yes, but only once and only in passing. He speaks of how “For the High Holy days Jews from across the world, from countries as diverse as Israel, India, Ethiopia, and, of course Britain, are united.”

There is also the cringe-making end where Clegg tries to out-Catholic the Pope, by using Hebrew to wish British Jews an easy Yom Kippur fast.

A simple “Shana Tova and well over the fast” would have sufficed (message to Liberal Democrats Friends of Israel: Keep it simple next year please).

As for Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, all I have been able to find is a report in the Jewish Chronicle in which there is no mention of Israel, but lots of talk of a “fantastic community”.

The bravest of Britain’s political leaders, by far, was the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron who, as well as speaking of British Jews’ “tremendous contribution”, spoke of his belief in Israel being “unshakeable” and how Britain “will always stand up for Israel against those who wish her harm”.

The government has come along way since Cameron’s silly “Gaza is a prison” comment in front of Turkey’s President Erdogan. It has repealed the iniquitous law on Universal Jurisdiction and it pulled out of Durban 3, the anti-Semitic festival that was held at the UN in New York last week. Spain, Belgium, Sweden and Greece didn’t pull out.

Maybe British Jews can finally relax a bit with Cameron in charge. Now he just needs to follow through on his pledge to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir.

But when it comes to wishing Jews a Shana Tova no one does it better than Barack Obama. There is no cheesy chat, no awkward wishes in Hebrew but a few simple acknowledgments that “many of our closest allies, including the state of Israel, face the uncertainties of an unpredictable age” and that the bond between America and Israel is “unshakeable”.

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!

Miliband E.: A disaster for Britain, a disaster for Israel.

New Labour leader, Ed Miliband (middle).

New Labour leader, Ed Miliband (middle).

Ed Miliband’s (EM) election as leader of the Labour party while in opposition to the Conservative-Lib. Dem. coalition is a disaster on many fronts.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. His warmer, more charismatic brother, David (DM), was supposed to win.

The coalition is loving the result. It will be easy to paint the new leader as Red Ed and as in thrall to the unions who, in effect, made him leader.

EM does not have the support of either the majority of ordinary Labour members or of Labour MEPs and MPs under the arcane tripartite electoral system that Labour uses.

It was the three main trade unions; GMB, Unite and Unison, that won it for EM. Although it was a free vote the leaders of these three huge unions publicly backed EM and that was enough.

The trade unions favour the working class but their problem is that they would rather the country got poorer as long as everyone was more equal. They give no credence to capitalism whatsoever.

A form of communism-lite is still their preferred way forward. Being in government is not of great importance as long as they can go on strike and bring the country to its knees. Margaret Thatcher recognised the damage they can do. She smashed them but they are back with a vengeance.

Labour is also in financial trouble and multi-millionaire backers like Lord Sainsbury and Lord Alli could be set to lower their donations leaving Labour looking for even more support from the unions.

Labour has emasculated itself by voting for EM giving the governing coalition five years of an open goal with which to do as it pleases unchallenged. This is not good for us.

We will have to put up with five years of uncompetitive politics.

DM’s campaign must have suffered from complacency. But he showed his sharpness, warmth and humour yesterday when trying to evade a media scrum.

“Please ladies and gentleman, I am leaving,” he complained to which a reporter asked “Are you really leaving, Mr Miliband?”. DM turned around with the broadest of grins and replied: “I’m leaving the building”.

If DM does leave British politics for another job he will be missed. His brother is dull and uncharismatic by comparison.

More than that his brother has been an MP for just five years to DM’s nine and his only major brief was as Climate Change secretary. In contrast DM was Foreign Secretary and has striven the world stage gaining respect and experience. I doubt few overseas politicians would know EM.

And being in thrall to the unions does not bode well for Israel either. We know that many unions are ignorant of the true complexity of the Israeli-Palestinians conflict but their knee-jerk reaction is to be anti-Israel. Recently they voted to continue a boycott of Israeli settlement goods at the TUC conference.

This demonisation of the settlements and the settlers (both of which are perfectly legal) doesn’t help anyone. It entrenches the Palestinian position and leads to more dead settlers as we saw recently with the killing of four innocent Israelis near Hebron.

But thank goodness for small mercies as a full boycott of Israel was expected. Next year maybe.

In addition to communism-lite at home the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also gives the trade unions the chance to play Trotsky/Lenin abroad. Due to increasing cooperation with the Palestine Soldiarity Campaign a one state solution, where the Jewish state would disappear, is becoming the default position of many union members.

It is hard to see EM opposing any of this knee-jerk trade union anti-Israelism whereas DM, being a Blairite, would have been more open to persuasion and more independent.

None of this takes into account the background of the Milibands, whose late father, Ralph, was a Marxist academic and whose mother Marion Kozak is a leading member of the anti-Israel Jews for Justice for Palestinians (anti-Israel in the sense that they prefer that one-state solution).

With David “Gaza is a prison camp” Cameron, William “Israel acted dispoportionately” Hague and Nick “Ban arms sales to Israel” Clegg in the three most important positions of PM, Foreign Secretary and Deputy PM respectively and Ed Miliband as opposition leader and David Miliband, currently as shadow Foreign Secretary, things don’t bode well over the next five years for Israel.

It was DM who, while Foreign Secretary, took the decision to expel an Israeli diplomat from Britain over the assassination of a self-confessed Hamas terrorist in Dubai, without the allegation being proved, but he seems to be far more preferable to his brother for both Britain and Israel.

EM could surprise us and prove to that he isn’t in hock to the unions. We need a strong opposition. I hope to be proved wrong, but I am not hopeful.

And I hate to criticise a Leeds United supporter.

Cameron needs to take stock about Islamic fundamentalism

Cameron (L.) meeting Erdogan (Sky News)

Cameron (L.) meeting Erdogan (Sky News)

Now we know. David Cameron is not a Zionist, although he once proclaimed that he was.

To be a Zionist is not only to believe in the right for Israel to exist as a Jewish state but also in its right to defend itself properly.

While Cameron recognises that it is right for British soldiers to fight the Afghanistan Taliban he does not seem to accord the same right to Israeli soldiers when fighting Islamist elements.

In his meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey he spoke of Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara as being “totally unacceptable” and referred to Gaza as being a prison camp.

This meeting came one day after the report from Wikileaks that details not only the brutality of the Taliban towards the innocent Afghani population but also the many civilian casualties among the Afghani population caused by NATO troops.

The Wikileaks report is the basis for the investigation of war crimes on a huge scale. But while Israel has been investigated for war crimes in Gaza and found guilty it is unlikely that NATO countries will be similarly investigated and found guilty for the many civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

The Wikileaks report also details NATO’s targeted assassinations of Taliban leaders either by drones operated from the Nevada desert or by secret “kill-or-capture squads”. But when Israel allegedly does the same there is worldwide condemnation followed by the expulsion of Israeli diplomats. The feeble excuse given being that British or Australian passports had been misused.

More depressingly Cameron called for Turkey’s accession to the EU. This would allow possibly hundreds of thousands of Islamists access to the UK.

Before he became Prime Minister Cameron promised to crack down on Muslim fundamentalism in the UK and especially at our universities. This included the banning of the Islamist group Hiz but-Tahrir.

But Turkey’s accession to the EU would make the kind of occurrence that took place in Golders Green, a predominantly Jewish suburb of North-West London, last Monday more ubiquitous.

Two youths on bikes approached a car with Jewish kippah-wearing teenagers in it. They yelled Alluah Akbar (G-d is Great) at the Jewish teenagers, who got out to remonstrate. The Jewish teenagers were then chased through Golders Green.

One of the youths, who was black, went to grab a bottle of drink from a shop and smashed it over the head of one of the Jewish teenagers. Blood poured from the wound.

Then the other youth cried “Algeria, Algeria F*ck the Jews” before both youths cycled off at speed.

The Jewish teenager was taken to hospital to have his wound and arm tended to.

This support for Turkey’s accession under Erdogan’s Islamist AK party does not accord with Cameron’s desire to crack down on Muslim fundamentalism in the UK. It would surely be better to wait till after next year’s general election in Turkey when the opposition secular party, CHP, might well take power. Even then it would be difficult to keep tabs on Turkish Islamists. EU regulations would allow Turkish citizens take up residence in the UK.

And while Cameron may still seek to crack down on Muslim fundamentalism in the UK, although there is no sign of that so far, other mainstream organisations have no such agenda.

On the BBC there was a recent televised debate about Afghanistan: Are British soldiers are dying in vain?

One of the panellists was from the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) who agreed with the motion. The potential disastrous effects of British troops withdrawing from Afganistan seemed totally irrelevant to him including the dreadful oppression of women and homosexuals that would follow.

MPAC is itself a nasty organisation. It gets heavily involved in British general election and labels MPs as “Zionists” if they are in the least supportive of Israel. In 2005 it claimed one MP was Jewish when she wasn’t and she duly lost her seat.

MPAC recently ran a poll asking whether Israel should be moved to America. Farcical stuff but this is who the BBC thinks reflects the views of the British Muslim community, sadly. There are other more mainstream Muslim organisations like the Quilliam Foundation who hardly get a look in such debates.

It is to be seen whether Cameron’s speech in support of Turkey marks an Obama-esque change of attitude to Israel from the previous far more favourable Blair and Brown administrations.

After mocking him pre-election Cameron has now become close friends with Nick Clegg, his deputy Prime-Minister in the Con-Lib coalition. And we know that Clegg doesn’t seem to care about Israel’s security in the slightest after he called for a ban on the sale of weapons to Israel.

Cameron needs to take stock and reflect on his pre-election promises. If he doesn’t then what took place in Golders Green could become more common.

A Lib Dem speaks out for Israel (finally)

Chris Huhne MP (guardian)

There are very few current Lib Dems that find sensible words when it comes to a discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now they are in coalition it is crucial that more do.

Ever since the demise of Jeremy Thorpe as the Liberal leader the party has morphed into a knee-jerk anti-Israel party. They criticise Israel in whatever action it takes to defend its citizens whether it be assassinating a self-confessed terrorist in Dubai, going to war to stop thousands of rockets raining down on Israel or blockading Gaza to stop weapons flowing to Hamas.

Chris Huhne MP lost out narrowly to Nick Clegg for the Lib Dem leadership but he is one lone voice among a sea of anti-Israel Lib Dem reactionism.

I went to hear him speak last week and after a case of will he-won’t he turn up after it had just been revealed that he had left his wife for another woman he finally arrived to speak to the Gladstone Society at the National Liberal Club in London.

Having given us his view of Gladstone, climate change and the upcoming budget it came to the Q&A and I asked a foreign policy question:

“What is the difference between what the British army has participated in in Afganistan, Iraq and Pakistan in defending the UK and, unavoidably, leaving many civilians dead and using targeted assassinations and what Israel did during Operation Cast Lead and its targeted assassination of Al-Mabhouh in Dubai? Why are the Lib Dems so supportive of British troops while at the same time calling for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel?”

He replied:

“There is no question of British people being involved in the sort of targeted assassination that you are talking about. I don’t believe it is appropriate for intelligence services to be involved in that, whether its the Russian FSB or the Israeli Mossad, it is simply not an appropriate means of conducting a campaign. I can assure you that SIS does not get involved in anything like that. It is something we will continue to be against.

On the general view about Israel and the Middle East solution, I continue to take the view that the two state solution is the only long term way forward and that it is unhelpful in the extreme for either the European Union or the United States, certainly they have to be criticial of Israeli government action as we were of the overeaction to the attempts the break the blockade of Gaza, but we must not be in a position where we are seen to be so allied to one side or the other that there is no long term solution.

And one thing that is worth remembering in the context of all of this is that Israel still faces and has faced for a very long time rocket attacks from Gaza, which frankly if they were rocket attacks coming from Calais into Kent I think that the reaction of the British people would have been very similar to the reaction of Israeli public opinion. And people often forget that Israel is a democracy and that Israeli politicians respond to Israeli public opinion in the same way that we would respond, and do respond, to British public opinion and that makes it all the more difficult for Israel. But the fundamentals of a long term solution have been a two state solution that gives the Palestinian people self-autonomy and at the same times gives the Israeli state security.

Sometimes you simply have to wait for this, as we did in Northern Ireland, until finally people are ready. I just hope that moment arrives sooner rather than later.”

He didn’t explain why the Lib Dems are generally so anti-Israel. He also seems to have forgotten that the SAS assassinated three IRA terrorists on Gibraltar in 1988.

But the democracy point is an important one. No other country has a right to try to control how Israel defends its citizens. One can be critical, of course, but calling for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel, as the Lib Dems have done, is beyond the remit of a civilised political party.

While rockets continue to fall on Israel its electorate will continue to vote for security first. Israelis do not have the cushion of being able to vote on solely economic issues, as other countries do. This is what the likes of Nick Clegg, Menzies Campbell and Sarah Teather do not understand.

Even the Palestinians voted for Hamas mainly on economic issues. The corruption and theft by Arafat and his Fatah party is well documented.

Israel might “overreact” but then who in war doesn’t?

It is those who go to war in the first place, in this case Hamas, who are to blame for any overreaction.

Hendon Hustings Hit Mill Hill Shul

Hendon Hustings, Mill Hill shul: Matthew Offord (C), Henry Grunwald (Chair.), Matthew Harris (LD), Andrew Dismore (L)

On wednesday night Hendon constituents heard the views of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates at the Mill Hill synagogue hustings.

Sadly, the Greens and UKIP, who are also standing, were not there.

All candidates should be allowed to both present their case and be questioned. Otherwise democracy hasn’t been fully administered.

And with the Greens being highly anti-Israel and UKIP generally more sympathetic, it would have spiced up the evening.

Admitedly, there is no chance of the Greens or UKIP getting an MP elected in Hendon, but that could be said of the Liberal Democrats. In 2005 the Liberal Democrats polled a miserable 5,589 votes, while Labour and the Conservatives polled 17,981 and 14,976 respectively.

It will be close on May 6th, but only between Labour and the Conservatives. It’s an exciting race, but a two-horse one.

Also, questions to the candidates were too controlled. There was no hands-up spontaneity.

A few audience members got to ask their previously emailed-in questions and that was it. End of.

After five years of what we have been through, voters should have had a chance to really vent their spleens:

- British soldiers coming back from Afghanistan in coffins.
- a hellish economy.
- inflation, deflation, inflation again.
- scandals involving the bankers and our politicians.
- increasing delegitimisation of Israel and British Jews.

I know we are British and it was in a synagogue hall but surely the sh*t should have been hitting the fan so these politicians know what we really think.

Instead each candidate calmly presented their views and were then politely questioned on:

- reducing public sector waste.
- the misery that is First Capital Connect and Mill Hill Broadway’s train service.
- the expenses debacle.
- financing for nursery schools.
- electoral reform.
- the superficiality of the televised leaders’ debates.
- the academic boycott of Israel and the use of extremist rhetoric by certain Liberal Democrat and Labour politicians.

Andrew Dismore (Labour), has been a hard-working MP and was responsible for introducing Holocaust Memorial Day and has also introduced the Holocaust (stolen art) Restitution Bill.

He also helped to reform the law on dissolving Jewish marriages, which has caused hardship to some Jewish partners.

These are serious achievements, enough to woo the Jewish vote alone especially when added to his constant support for Israel.

He also supports international arrest warrants being approved by the Attorney-General first, so putting these warrants on the same legal standing as actual prosecutions. This would stop Israeli politicians entering Britain being arrested at the whim of a single anti-Israel activist.

But his mention of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee’s targeting of him as “a Zionist” is slightly disingenuous, although understandable.

MPAC is an insidious organisation that unseated Lorna Fitzsimons in Rochdale in 2005 by claiming that she is Jewish. She isn’t. Sadly, in the current nationwide campaign death threats have already been made against some “Zionist” candidates.

However, in Mill Hill, specifically, usurping Dismore will only let in Matthew Offord (Conservative) or Matthew Harris (Liberal Democrat), both of whom are as “Zionist” as Dismore.

Neither did I think much of Matthew Harris’ claim that we should vote for him as a staunch pro-Israel voice among an increased intake of Liberal Democrat MPs, in light of the recent Clegg phenomenon.

As much as I like Harris you would have to strain every sinew in your body to vote for a party that still includes Jenny Tonge, after all she has said about Jews and Israel. Let alone allowing her to stay in the House of Lords!

The same could be said of voting Labour while Martin Linton and Gerald Kaufman are still there.

Harris felt that sacking Tonge from the party would just make her “a martyr”.

So let her be “martyred”.

Why should taxpayers continue paying her a comfortable daily allowance for just turning up to the Lords?

Matthew Offord (Conservative) proposes putting more police on the streets to deal with the increasing anti-Semitic incidents, which I agree with.

The Conservatives must also carry out their pledge to deal with the preachers of hate stirring up trouble in our universities as well as banning Hizb ut Tahrir.

Tough on anti-Semitism, tough on the causes of anti-Semitism.

Andrew Dismore pointed to the difficulty of banning Hizb ut Tahrir for lack of evidence that connects them to terrorist activity. But the government did manage to ban Islam4UK, so why not Hizb ut Tahrir? This is a cop out.

Surprisingly, there was no mention of the controversial JFS decision all evening.

While I am as concerned as anyone about the domestic ongoings of the last five year under Labour, this government’s moral integrity is highly in doubt when it comes to dealing with a supposed ally like Israel.

While our troops are fighting Taleban Islamist terrorism in Afghanistan, and even the Liberal Democrats support that war, the Israeli Army is being castrated in its efforts to fight Hamas Islamist terrorism.

The most cowardly manifestations of this by Labour were its recent refusal to vote against the Goldstone Report that claims Israel committed war crimes when fighting Hamas in Gaza last year and implicitly denouncing Israel for allegedly killing one self-confessed Hamas terrorist in Dubai, when it sacked an Israeli diplomat just because British passports were used.

Meanwhile, NATO troops are pinpointing and whacking terrorists regularly now in Pakistan.

But David Cameron does not quite get Israel and what it is up against either judging by his recent comment that east Jerusalem is “occupied”.

His comment is inexplicable seeing that he understands the problems that we have with preachers of hate radicalising our students.

What does Cameron think these preachers use to radicalise students other than Israel and Jerusalem? Instead of adopting some of their rhetoric he needs to be more nuanced.

Overall there are far more in the Conservative Party than the other parties, including Matthew Offord and the likes of Michael Gove, that do get Israel and the problems of radicalisation in this country.

They should be given the chance to prove themselves.

(If anyone wants an audio of the hustings feel free to contact me).

Love Jews, Hate Israel.

Living life as a British Jew sometimes makes me feel like we have regressed 200 years. This feeling is even more pronounced at general election time.

200 years ago a Jewish state was nothing more than a figment of some madman’s imagination. Jews were nothing more than a religious people who were to be looked after, nurtured and cared for by the country in which they resided. Under Muslim rule they were considered “millet“; they could organise their own religious practices just as long as they were loyal to the Empire.

And on 21st December 1789 Clermont-Tonnerre declared in revolutionary France: “To the Jews as a nation nothing, to the Jews as individuals everything.”

Jews were expected to commit wholly to the country they lived in, which they did. There was to be no mention of Jewish autonomy or, dread the thought, a Jewish state.

And so forward 200 years to present day UK.

Our politicians have worked out that by mentioning Jews, but not Israel, they can have it both ways; ingratiate themselves with their Jewish constituents while being able to harness the Muslim vote. The perfect combo.

Just before this general election election was called the three main parties were united in the decision to expel an Israel diplomat after Israel’s, as yet unproven, use of British passports to assassinate a self-confessed Hamas terrorist.

And in the FT of 31 March David Cameron said: “Unlike a lot of politicians from Britain who visit Israel, when I went I did stand in occupied East Jerusalem and actually referred to it as ‘occupied East Jerusalem’”.

Why did Cameron feel the need to call it “occupied”? He was adopting the language of one side, the Palestinians. No one called it “occupied” when it was controlled by Jordan between 1949-1967, when Jewish cemeteries and synagogues were trashed by the Arabs and the most religious site for Jews, the Western Wall, was allowed to fall into total disrepair.

Israeli Jews were banned from visiting the Wall. Had I been around at the time I would have been able to visit it but only by flashing said British passport.

But now the election is on there is hardly a negative mention of Israel, if it is mentioned at all, from the politicians wanting my “Jewish vote”.

David Cameron recently spoke to the Movement for Reform Judaism and failed to mention Israel. He praised the “Jewish people” and said he was appalled by the rise in anti-Semitic incidents. Most worthy was Cameron’s assertion that he will ban preachers of hate and extremist groups that are radicalising British students.

But a little more acknowledgement of why anti-Semitism is on the rise would have been welcome; because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel is unpopular with many British Muslims because of the conflict. But that does not mean that Israel is wrong in defending its innocent civilians from terror attacks. If Cameron was more courageous he would have pointed that out.

The Liberal Democrats’ views on Israel are now notorious. No need to keep mentioning Nick Clegg’s call for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel, so leaving it highly vulnerable to attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah.

But Ed Fordham, their candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, posted On the Doorsteps of Hampstead and Kilburn on the JC blog in which he goes out on a limb to mention the concerns of “one house of Jewish voters” and his “Jewish friends” as well as his visit to Dennington Park Road synagogue.

Then Labour politician Diane Abbot pops up on the JC website with her blog Fighting for Yemeni Jews. She wants to offer the persecuted Yemeni Jews sanctuary in the UK. Maybe they would like to go to Israel though? For some reason Abbot does not consider this obvious option.

Diane Abbott - Fighting for Yemeni Jews

There is no mention of Israel in her entire post but then again Abbott thinks Israel commits war crimes as you can see in the video below in which she passionately denounces Israel during Operation Cast Lead.

It is hypocritical that although in her post Abbott admits that Yemeni Jews are being persecuted “because of insurgent Islamicism”, when Israel defends itself against said “insurgent Islamicism” she considers Israel to be committing “war crimes”.

So although it is good to see that politicians are so concerned for British Jews, what they don’t realise is that theirs is a job only half done.

For most British Jews, although totally committed to Britain, concern for the welfare of Israel is part-and-parcel of their Jewishness just as for most British Muslims, also totally committed to Britain, their concern for the Palestinians is part-and-parcel of their Islam.

So these politicians need to be courageous enough to express that what Israel is up against is also what many of our own troops are currently dying because of in Afghanistan; said “insurgent Islamicism”.

They also need to speak out against the vicious campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, the latest incarnation of which is the Advertising Standards Authority’s banning of pictures of Western Wall in tourism adverts for Israel, unless the Wall is described as being on “occupied land”. The ASA’s delving into politics is unwelcome and wrong.

But as things currently stand, after some 200 years of enlightenment British politics seems to have regressed to the once extinct ideology of “to the Jews as a nation nothing, to the Jews as individuals everything”. It is a worrying development.

An edited version of this article appeared in the Jewish Chronicle

MPAC, the General Election and British Jews

With the gun for the general election having been fired British Jews are expecting open season on them and on Israel.

Even before the announcement of the May 6th election, which is expected to be close and could result in a hung Parliament with the highly anti-Israel Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power between Labour and the Conservatives, the attacks have been vicious. Recent accusations of Jewish political financing and Israel pulling the strings behind the electoral scenes have been hitting the headlines.

Martin Linton, a Labour MP, recently gave a talk in Parliament to the Friends of Al Aqsa and spoke of Israel’s “long tentacles” that fund British election campaigns and which try to buy a Conservative victory. Linton said that he failed to appreciate the Nazi symbolism of the Jewish octopus controlling the world with its tentacles and he apologised but he stands by his thesis of Israelis and pro-Israelis trying to buy a Conservative win.

At the same meeting Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish Labour MP, spoke of Lord Ashcroft owning part of the Conservative Party and right-wing Jewish millionaires owning the other part.

These are, of course, unfounded and defamatory accusations that paint many British Jews as being Fifth Columnists dedicated to another country only, Israel.

Then there is the election literature that has been doing the rounds. The Liberal Democrats are expert at manipulating the religious and ethnic sympathies of the voting public. They have already called for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel. Woe betide Israel if a hung Parliament results in Nick Clegg as Foreign Secretary as a quid pro quo for the Liberal Democrats supporting either Gordon Brown or David Cameron if neither wins a majority on May 6th.

In London there are two neighbouring constituencies where the policy of Liberal Democrats towards Israel depends wholly on the ethnic and religious make-up of the voters. In Holborn and St. Pancras, with its disproportionately high Bangladeshi community, the leaflets of the Liberal Democrat candidate scream “Stop Arming Israel”.

But in Hampstead and Kilburn, where the voters are disproportionately Jewish, the leaflets are pro-Israel with pictures of the Liberal Democrat candidate’s recent visit to Israel and there is even Hebrew writing included. Mezuzahs are very useful in determining whether to push said leaflet through a door or not.

MPAC: “Get out the Muslim vote II”

There is also the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, which is sure to have a big say in some constituencies on who gets elected or not. A page on the MPAC website asks “is your MP a Zionist?” and then goes on to list those MPs and candidates that it deems to be so. You don’t have to be Jewish. The only qualification seems to be that you are affiliated to a Friends of Israel group of one of the three main political parties.

The current list contains 36 names. In 2005 Lorna Fitzsimons, now head of British Israel Communications and Research Centre, lost her seat as a Labour MP partly because of MPAC. The 2006 Report of the All Parliamentary Committee into anti-Semitism found that MPAC, in order to help unseat Fitzsimons, distributed leaflets stating “she had done nothing to help the Palestinians because she was a Jewish member of the Labour Friends of Israel”. Lorna Fitzsimons is not Jewish.

The media will play its role. The Independent has committed anti-Israel writers like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Johan Hari and Robert Fisk and the Guardian’s Comment is Free section is replete with anti-Israel polemic. A recent Guardian editorial on the Dubai passports affair and Israel’s building in east Jerusalem spoke of Israel as “an arrogant nation that has overeached itself”. This seems to be an implicit attack not on Israel specifically but on Jews generally.

But with four weeks to go until election day we can expect Jewish and Muslim sensitivities to be manipulated to the full in order to propel a political candidate into Parliament, or to reduce their chances.

So who will you be voting for and why?

Lib Dems launch Mezuzah War

A mezuzah.

With the general election and the Jewish festival of Passover both approaching it is ironic to see some politicians making the same decision the Almighty made when smiting the first born son of each Egyptian family to persuade Pharoah to release the Jews.

Thousands of years ago Jewish families marked the front of their own homes so the Almighty would “pass over” and leave their own first born sons unharmed. It worked and Moses was allowed by the evil Pharoah to finally lead the Jews from slavery to freedom.

This time it is the Lib Dems who are deciding which houses to “pass over” but with a view to entering not so much the Promised Land as the House of Commons.

But there’s a problem. Camden council contains the two parliamentary constituencies of Hampstead and Kilburn, where the MP is Glenda Jackson, and Holborn and St. Pancras, where the MP is Frank Dobson.

In Hampstead and Kilburn the election will be close. In 2005 Jackson got 14,615 votes and the Conservatives and Lib Dems received 10,886 and 10,293 votes respectively.

Jackson was elected as Labour MP in 1992 and with her majority on the slide ever since it is highly probable that she will be out of a job after 6th May.

In Holborn and St. Pancras in 2005 Dobson secured victory for Labour with 14,857 votes. The Lib Dems came second with 10,070 votes.

And so the Lib Dems are in with a chance of not only being in control of Camden council but they could turn Camden completely yellow if they take these two parliamentary seats as well.

But the Lib Dems are already not fighting fair before the general election has even been officially called.

Chris Philp, the Conservative Candidate, has written about the different leaflets put out by the Lib Dems depending on whether a family is Jewish or Muslim.

Chris Philp (right) at a Conservative Friends of Israel event

We know how horrendous the Lib Dems are about Israel.

Without needing to mention Baroness Jenny Tonge, Chris Davies MEP and Sarah Teather MP the most hostile of all to Israel, because he is the one who ultimately makes the decisions, is Nick Clegg MP, the Lib Dem leader.

Clegg advocates Israel being left without any defence against Hamas rocket barrages by calling for Israel to be disarmed.

So if Nick Clegg becomes Foreign Secretary, a distinct possibility with recent opinion polls implying a hung parliament, Israeli citizens could be fearing for their lives.

Clegg’s hostile attitude is now reproduced in Lib Dem leaflets in Holborn and St Pancras, with its large Bangladeshi community, where Israel is continuously vilified by Jo Shaw, the Lib Dem candidate.

“Stop Arming Israel” screams her leaflets.

Jo Shaw's leaflet in the Holborn and St Pancras constituency

But if you are living in the adjoining constituency of Hampstead and Highgate, with its disproportionately high Jewish population, the story is completely different.

There, Ed Fordham, the Lib Dem candidate has inserted into his leaflets photos of himself in Israel and has even included Hebrew. These leaflets are aimed at placating the Jewish households.

Chris Philp thinks that the Lib Dems might “have compiled a list of Jewish people in the area”.

It is much easier than that. All these crafty Lib Dems need do is see if there is a Mezuzah on the front door. If there is then through the letterbox goes the Israel-friendly leaflet. If there isn’t then that letterbox gets “passed over”.

Ed Fordham (left) in Israel

Sadly, attempting to manipulate the feelings of religious minorities has paid off before. In the 2005 General Election Lorna Fitzsimons, the then Labour MP, lost in Rochdale.

The 2006 Report of the All Parliamentary Committee into anti-Semitism found that the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, in order to help unseat Fitzsimons, distributed leaflets stating “she had done nothing to help the Palestinians because she was a Jewish member of the Labour Friends of Israel”.

One problem, Lorna Fitzsimons is not Jewish.

A similar deligitimising campaign is already underway against Luciana Berger who is standing as the Labour Party candidate in the Liverpool Wavertree constituency. She has already been labelled that “well-known Zionist”.

I am sure that the average voter is savvy enough not to be fooled by Lib Dem mind games but at least when Jewish families are sat around their passover tables and they hear that political leaflet drop on to the mat they will finally be able to answer that all important Passover question:

Why is this political leaflet different from all other political leaflets?

Luciana Berger: Liverpool Wavertree's Labour Candidate