Tag Archives: nick clegg

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

Dont vote Liberal Democrat if you value Israel

Just when I have my mind on starting another thread George Galloway has hit the headlines yet again. If this man could divide himself into three it wouldn’t be enough.

George is a sometime TV personality, a Respect Party MP, a Radio presenter, a newspaper columnist and one of the most committed pro-Palestinian activists this country has seen. He would fit in well with Liberal Democrat foreign policy but he did an Ariel Sharon and set up his own party after leaving Labour.

Last year on a speaking tour of North America he was banned from entering Canada and now he has been deported from Egypt, according to activists, having tried to get back to the Rafah crossing into Gaza to join the Viva Palestina convoy that crossed into Gaza on wednesday, after much violence and the death of an Egyptian border guard at the hands of a Palestinian sniper.

But why do so many normally reasonably minded people in the world not get what Israel and Egypt both get: That Gaza is trouble.

True, the people of Gaza are hemmed in. But that does not mean they are not receiving basic provisions. As Jonathan Hoffman has reported, in December alone:

– Six more water desalination systems were transferred to the Gaza Strip;
– 15 truckloads of cellular communications equipment were delivered to the Palestinian mobile phone carrier, Jawal;
– Strawberries and flowers were exported;
– Glass was brought in for home repairs and renovations in preparation for the winter;
– 750 tons of aggregate were transferred for maintenance of the North Gaza Wastewater Treatment plant.
– 2179 truckloads (48,237 tons) of humanitarian aid entered via the Kerem Shalom cargo terminal and the Karni conveyor belt.
– 7,173,468 litres of heavy-duty diesel for the Gaza power station and 2276 tons of cooking gas were delivered via the Kerem Shalom crossing and the Nahal Oz fuel depot.

But then you have the leader of one of our more respectable political parties, Nick Clegg MP of the Liberal Democrats, also being consistently anti-Israel.

Nick Clegg MP, Liberal Democrat leader.

For many years this hasn’t mattered but with the British general election in June this year expected to be close we could find the Conservatives or Labour (i.e. the biggest party but not big enough to form a majority) trying to entice the Libs into coalition and one of the jobs offered to the Libdems could be that of Foreign Secretary. Worryingly, David Cameron has suggested that he would work with the Liberal Democrats in coalition.

And the current Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary is Ed Davey, who has called on the British Government to act on the Goldstone Report which has accused Israel of committing war crimes during the Gaza War.

Ed Davey MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary

It is worrying for Israel that a party of only 63 MPs and 11 MEPs (one of whom, Chris Davies MEP for North West England, told a Jewish constituent that he hoped she enjoyed wallowing in her own filth) is so packed with anti-Israel polemicists.

Then there are Lord Steel of Aikwood, the former leader and Baroness Tonge, who recently said: “The way Israel behaves is just not kosher. Jewish people should be totally ashamed of themselves that they are not doing more to stop them. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat MP for Brent East, is also a regular at anti-Israel events.

And now to Nick Clegg, the current leader. He just doesn’t get Gaza or how dangerous it is. If both Israel and Egypt think Gaza is dangerous (both are building walls to keep the terrorists out of these respective countries) what right does Mr Clegg have to call for a complete ban on the sale of arms to Israel, which he did last January when Israel was fighting Hamas.

Now he has called for a lifting of the blockade of Gaza by both Israel and Egypt as if this is all just some big game.

The Liberal Democrats have always been anti-Israel (it still amazes me how many Jews vote for them) but putting the civilians of another country at risk by not selling the country arms to defend itself against Islamist terrorists illustrates how misguided these polticians are.

This thursday afternoon Kassam rockets were once again hitting Israel’s southern towns.

The Kassams were fired by the Popular Resistance Committee. Luckily, no one was injured but Israel hit back and, once again, has dropped thousands of leaflets telling the people of Gaza not to co-operate with the terrorists or approach the security wall.

William Gladstone, Liberal Party founder

The Liberal Democrats have some very reasonably minded people in their party, including Vince Cable and Chris Huhne, and a small but active Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel. But a few individuals apart it is a shame that the party founded by William Gladstone has been brought so low that it can call for a country like Israel, which is defending itself against brutal terrorists who target innocent civilians, to be essentially disarmed.

Things are, sadly, hotting up again on Israel’s southern border and when Israel has to fight Hamas again and Britain has a new government with, possibly, Ed Davey as its Foreign Secretary, don’t be surprised if Britain’s support, minimal as it is now, becomes totally non-existent.

The Liberal Democrats may have some interesting and innovative domestic policies but their biased musings on the Middle East conflict will not contribute to peace in any way, shape or form.