Thursday, March 01, 2012

Jenny Tonge - a storm of ignorance

Baroness Jenny Tonge has resigned the Liberal Democrat party whip over the hysterical reaction to what some are saying she said, not what she actually said at a Middlesex University meeting last week. She's responded:
The comments I made have been taken completely out of context. They followed a very ill-tempered meeting in which Zionist campaigners attempted continually to disrupt proceedings. They mouthed obscenities at the panellists, to the extent that university security attempted to remove them from the premises.

The comments I made were in protest at the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and the treatment of Israeli Arabs. I am disappointed the leadership of my party did not consult me before issuing a press release and seems always to be at the request of the pro-Israel lobby.
Jenny would never win prizes for diplomacy, having always spoken passionately and bluntly about Israel and its relationship with the Palestinians, but she doesn't deserve vilification. What she actually said was that Israel couldn't survive "in its present form", which is indisputable. Michael White wrote that she's stated "an immutable law of history". Things can't continue as they are. I've blogged about Israel before. This was in May last year:
On Netanyahu saying no to Obama

It would be political suicide for Netanyahu to agree to President Obama's suggestion that Israel should go back to its pre-1967 borders. He referred to "certain changes that have taken place" but the biggest change wasn't mentioned, which is that Israel has accepted thousands of immigrants since 1967, while thousands of Palestinians have been displaced by this influx. Le Monde says, "The 2.6 million immigrants who have arrived since 1948 have made Israel the only country whose population has multiplied by nine in the space of 50 years".

Immigrants from America appear to be some of the most ignorant and prejudiced Zionists, as recent TV programmes by Louis Theroux and Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou suggest. Dr Stavrakopoulou found Israeli tour guides giving very fanciful explanations for the archaeological evidence for Israel's claim to the "Promised Land". She said that her research led her to think that much of what's been taught about King David and the Jews' right to the land is simply untrue. However, as long as a majority of Israelis believe the stories they've been fed since childhood, and as long as they keep building to house the next influx, no Israeli Premier can afford to agree with Obama.
These are just some of the reasons why Israel can't survive "in its present form":
  • Its population influx is already creating huge problems, by sheer force of numbers;
  • Israelis continue to build settlements on the West Bank, in defiance of previous agreements;
  • Israelis divert water, depriving Palestinians of a limited supply, destroying wildlife, and creating sink holes along the banks of the Dead Sea. A lot of this water is used to grow crops for export in an entirely unsuitable environment (boycott Israeli produce - I do);
  • Israelis complain about terrorist attacks from across their border, but in fact the Palestinians have suffered far greater losses. As Jenny Tonge has said, it's not surprising that many become suicide bombers - she understood why they do.
What those who are angry with Jenny Tonge don't seem to know or accept is that Israel was founded by terrorists who forcibly evicted Palestinians from their homes; many of those Palestinians are still living in refugee camps, over sixty years later. The BBC's News website used to include a moving account by a Palestinian woman of her family's forced eviction from their home by masked Zionists in 1948. They were only allowed to take what they stood up in, even leaving the family dog behind, and had lived in refugee camps ever since. This account has been removed, possibly because of Zionist pressure. This injustice can't be ignored, while Israel continues to play the victim. Israel has exploited its victim status since the Holocaust, as justification for establishing a Jewish state and displacing the people who'd lived there for generations, but many Jews did not support Israel, and still don't. There are Jews all over the world, religious Jews and secular Jews, who do not support the Zionists, and never have.

The only way that Israel can survive is by recognising Palestinian claims (including its claim to have a Palestinian state), by halting immigration and going back to its pre-1967 border. This means that it can't continue "in its present form".

Click here to read about anti-Zionist Jews
Click here to read about Jews for Justice
Click here to read Amnesty's reports on Israel's dismal human rights record

Update, 2/3/12

A letter in support of Jenny from Ben Birnberg in the Guardian:
As a Lib Dem and a Jew, I protest at the ultimatum given by Nick Clegg to Baroness Tonge to leave the Lib Dem group in the Lords and her resulting resignation. To say, as she is quoted saying, that Israel would ultimately lose US support, a view expressed by many people, has been clearly deliberately misinterpreted by the powerful Israeli lobby, goaded on by its ambassador, Daniel Taub, as a statement that Israel would cease to exist (Taub: "We have no intention of going anywhere"). Jenny Tonge, as a long-standing critic of Israeli policies and as a supporter of the Palestinians, deserves the full support of the Lib Dem leadership.
Benedict Birnberg
London
I knew Ben in the early 1970s, when we were both on the National Executive Committee of the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty). He introduced me to his mother, who was a suffragist. With people like Ben defending Jenny, Clegg & Co ought to pay attention and apologise for their hasty action. Paul Boateng wrote about him as his "Legal Hero".

Update, 10/10/15

From Haaretz: "There are no justified arguments left in Israel’s arsenal, the kind a decent person could accept. Even Mahatma Gandhi would understand the reasons for this outburst of Palestinian violence. Even those who recoil from violence, who see it as immoral and useless, can’t help but understand how it breaks out periodically. The question is why it doesn’t break out more often."