It is a mark of talent and perseverance to achieve the near impossible task of having the Liberal Democrat whip withdrawn. To do so you must be a rabid extremist of some ilk.
One way is by being so old fashioned that you are wedded to consistent moral standards and so you continually insist that cast iron manifesto promises made prior to an election should be carried out when in power. But that hasn’t happened within the Lib Dems and nor is it likely to.
The other way to get kicked out is to make a long series of comments so outrageous that even the famously non-judgemental Lib Dems are forced to make a judgement.
So congratulations are due to Jenny Tonge.
This week she finally tipped the balance. Speaking at an event to further Israel Apartheid Week, the basic idea behind which is that Israel is an apartheid state, Baroness Tonge, of Kew in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames prophesied the eventual destruction of Israel, stating that Israel would “lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”
Former US marine and anti-Israel activist Ken O’Keefe was also speaking at the event. O’Keefe told the student audience that Israel was directly involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that it “continues to foster false-flag terrorism.”
“If Israel is inherently a racist state, if it is inherently an apartheid state, then I want no part of Israel; it has no place in this world. And it must in its current form –if you want me to use some inflammatory language – in its current form should be destroyed,” he said.
Baroness Tonge was seen to applaud O’Keefe’s speech.
In any grown up political party Jenny Tonge would have been thrown from the back of the sleigh long ago. She has a long record of anti-Israel statements which can, and do, merge into anti-Semitism.
In 2004 she was sacked as Lib Dem spokesperson on children’s issues by then party leader Charles Kennedy after suggesting she would consider becoming a suicide bomber. Nevertheless, in 2005 on the recommendation of the Lib Dems, she was made a life peer and given a permanent seat in the House of Lords.
In 2006 Menzies Campbel, then leader of the Lib Dems, condemned her for “clear anti-Semitic connotations” after she had insisted that “the pro-Israel lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party.”
According to a statement by the Lib Dem peer in 2010 the root cause of worldwide terrorism is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. In the view of Baroness Tonge the reason that the world community does not take action against Israel for this is “Holocaust guilt.”
Eventually Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg sacked her as the Lib Dems spokesperson on health in 2010. This was after she suggested that Israel set up an enquiry if it wanted to refute allegations, made by Islamists and pro-Palestine activists, that its medical teams in Haiti “harvested” the organs of earthquake victims. Despite this she retained the Lib Dem whip, which means that notwithstanding the outrageously anti-Semitic statements she has made she was still accepted as a member in full standing of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party.
It was only after her latest attack on Israel that she was given the ultimatum, apologise or resign. She remained true to her convictions and resigned and thus has had the whip withdrawn.
It is possible to be anti-Israel or anti-Zionist without being anti-Semitic. Unfortunately Jenny Tonge, like so many in the fashionable pro-Palestinian camp, fails to make the distinction. In their effort to promote the cause of the fascist rulers of Gaza and the West Bank the fellow travellers with Islamist extremism are unwilling to see in anything other than black and white terms.
There is much that is wrong in the state of Israel but our fashionable Guardianistas never seem to ask themselves the question: “Would I prefer to be an Arab living in Israel, or a Jew living in Gaza?”