Tag Archives: Michael White

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: