Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tonge wronge - a letter to Nick Clegg

Dear Mr Clegg

I note with considerable distress that your erstwhile former MP and current Lib Dem life peer in the House of Lords, Baroness Tonge, has once again gone on an excursion far beyond the bounds of UK politics into the contentious area of Middle Eastern affairs. Whilst I do not agree with her general opinion on Israel/Palestine, I do in that most British liberal way tend to support her right to it, however consistently misinformed it is. However, on this occasion, she has crossed even her own incredibly high water mark for civilized, informed debate on this matter, and possibly into the realm of anti-Semitism. I do not use this term lightly.

In her recent statement she made on an article published in the Palestine Telegraph, of which she is a patron, Baroness Tonge has knowingly perpetuated a classic blood libel against Israel, the Jewish state. The article was based on outlandish allegations, that in turn were predicated on an earlier error-strewn story, which dredged up and manipulated a case many years ago in Israel that was similar to the Alder Hey scandal in the UK, with similar enquiries and changes of policy to reduce the chances of a repetition. This earlier story was dressed up as “Israelis harvesting Palestinian organs”, and the article in the Palestine Telegraph relayed a similarly sinister message about the Israeli involvement in Haiti.

Baroness Tonge gives herself a derisory get-out clause by claiming that “To prevent allegations such as these — which have already been posted on YouTube — going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti.”

Your spokesman claims that neither you nor she actually give credence to these claims, but this is totally disingenuous. The mere fact that she makes such a statement shows her underlying views on the subject to be absolutely clear.

As Monroe Palmer, chair of the Lib Dem Friends of Israel, pointed out: “On this basis, there could be calls for an investigation to discover the ‘truth’ in the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Baroness Tonge is not just an independent writer. She was an MP in your party, and has had a title bestowed upon her with your party’s support. Her views carry more weight, as they can be seen to represent the Lib Dems, particularly as she perversely holds the title of Lib Dem Spokeswoman for Health in the House of Lords, and are more widely read, especially as she gave the above statement to the British Jewish Chronicle, surely knowing it would reach a UK audience.

Her despicable attacks against Israel, carefully veiled by her faint praise of the IDF’s field teams in Haiti and her attempt via your spokesman at a belated disclaimer of her personal opinion, cross the boundaries of decency and are on the borderline of anti-Semitism as they echo the classic blood libel against Jews going back millennia. It would be naive to suggest that she is not aware of this connection in the Jewish consciousness, if not most ordinary people’s – and that of the anti-Semites looking for mainstream respectability for their despicable views.

I urge you to finally draw a line under her continued participation in your party by withdrawing the whip from her with immediate effect. She clearly will not apologise on any genuine basis for her libel, and she will be a liability to your party at the forthcoming general elections, once the decent people of Lib Dem constituencies understand that she is far more interested in making underhand attacks on the first and best equipped group of doctors to get to Haiti than she is in UK politics and her own particular portfolio.

This is a case of the public looking to your moral judgement on who speaks for your party in either house.

Incidentally I think the Palestine Telegraph itself is less at fault for publishing an op-ed of this nature, although perhaps a little misguided. It does in fact make a good effort to publish a full range of opinion, including some that I am quite sure outrage its largely Palestinian and international pro-Palestinian readership, such as this article, the core concept of which perhaps the Lib Dems ought to consider working into their own policy on the Middle East:

Meanwhile I look forward to your early response explaining what form of action will be taken against Baroness Tonge by your party.

Kind regards

Michael

1 comment:

freedmanslife said...

UPDATE:

Gotcha!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8513662.stm