Jenny Tonge, the Liberal Democrat peer, has been driven out of the party for her outspoken defence of the Palestinians. She was effectively sacked after speaking at a meeting at Middlesex University, where she was quoted as saying the following:”Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there for ever in its present form… Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”
She allegedly went on to say: “One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough.”
She was immediately denounced by Labour leader Ed Miliband in a tweet where he said: “No place in politics for people who question existence of state of Israel. Nick Clegg must condemn Jenny Tonge’s remark and demand apology”.
Clegg did just what Miliband demanded, but to her great credit she refused to apologise for her opinions. And so the Lib Dems, previously the least Zionist- influenced of the three main parties in British politics, ran up the white flag before the Zionist lobby by purging their most outspoken defender of Palestinian rights.
So much for democracy and free speech then. Who is Ed Miliband to dictate what opinions have the right to be expressed in politics? How is this compatible with democracy? In fact, this remark, implicitly dictating to ordinary people in this country who they can consider voting for or supporting in other ways (Baroness Tonge is a senior former MP who was enobled as a political appointment by her party), is far more offensive to anyone with even an ounce of democratic instinct than anything Jenny Tonge said.
Her remarks were a completely reasonable response to the vile and murderous actions of Israel against the Palestinians over more than half a century., as well as blatant attempts by pro-Israeli lobbyists to interfere in electoral processes around the world. Indeed, Miliband’s very wording points to the whole ethos of pro-Israel lobbyists – the subversion of democratic politics aiming through blackmail and organised defamation to deny electorates the right to hear critics of Israel. The Israel lobby is thus a threat to democracy itself.
So where is the left in speaking up against this? Have not seen any sign of it myself.
Just as there was no sign of the left speaking up for Paul Flynn MP when he was witchhunted and humilated by the Israel lobby for drawing attention to the role of Britain’s Ambassador to Israel, Mathew Gould, in the Fox-Werrity affair. That was presented as a piece of tittle-tattle about the supposed homosexualilty of the Defence Secretary, but in fact was about Fox freelancing his way round formal ministerial rules in trying to lay the basis for British participation in war preparations against Iran.