Guardian publishes letter by Jenny Tonge on the issue of antisemitism

Guardian editors recently decided that Jenny Tonge’s views on the topic of anti-Jewish bigotry were especially thought-provoking and worthy of publication.

Baroness Jenny Tonge EditedAmong the letters published at the Guardian on Oct. 8 in response to news regarding the Daily Mail, Ralph Miliband and charges of antisemitism – and Jonathan Freedland’s thoughtful response to the row at ‘Comment is Free’ – was the following by Tonge:

Jonathan Freedland’s article (Antisemitism does not always come doing a Nazi salute, 5 October) rightly pointed out how Jewish people and other ethnic and religious groups are discriminated against and criticised in many subtle ways. It is always deplorable. Whether or not the Daily Mail intended to be antisemitic we shall probably never know, but I wholeheartedly condemn that newspaper for its story about Ralph Miliband and its insensitivity towards his family.

What Freedland and many other commentators refuse to accept, however, is that criticism of Israel and Zionists who support that country is not antisemitism. It is anti-Israeli government, pure and simple. When I refer to Israel and the Israel lobby I mean just that. For me it has nothing to do with Jewish people in general. We are drawing attention to Israel’s disregard of international law and its apartheid system at home, causing huge suffering to the Palestinians and danger to the wider Middle East.

Freedland does no favours to Jewish people worldwide to look for antisemitism where none exists. Many of them deplore the policies of the Israeli government as much as I do. To accuse people of antisemitism in these circumstances does a disservice to Jewish people and protects Israel from the condemnation it deserves.
Jenny Tonge
House of Lords

For those unfamiliar with the ideological persuasion of the disgraced Baroness (and Palestine Solidarity Campaign patron), here are a few of her more notorious comments:

  • In 2004, at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign meeting, Tonge said that if she was a Palestinian, she would consider becoming a suicide bomber herself.
  • In 2006 Tonge blamed Israel for suicide bombings…in Iraq!
  • In 2006, Tonge said: “The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western World, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a certain grip on our [The Liberal Democrat] party”.
  • In 2009, at an anti-Israel rally in London during the Gaza war, Tonge 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.”
  • In 2010, during a speech in the House of Lords, she said the West’s treatment of Muslims was due to the power of the pro-Israel lobby and “Holocaust guilt”. 
  • In 2010, she said that Israel should set up “an inquiry” over allegations that its medical teams in Haiti “harvested” organs of earthquake victims for use in transplants.
  • In 2011 Tonge helped bring Islamist cleric Raed Salahpromoter of the antisemitic charge that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to bake their “sabbath bread” – into Parliament.
  • In 2012, at a meeting which took place in Parliament with the Palestine Return Centre, she asked: “How can the Israelis treat the Palestinians the way they do after what happened in the Holocaust?”
  • In 2012, Tonge (at an anti-Israel event at Middlesex University) said that “Israel is not going to be there forever” and warned that eventually Israel “will lose its support and then they will reap what they have sown”. She also sat silently by at the same event while Ken O’Keefe claimed the Mossad was “directly involved” in 9/11, and compared Jews to Nazis.

Tonge has clearly demonstrated a malign obsession with Jews and the alleged power of the ‘Israel lobby’, and the decision by the Guardian to provide her a forum to weigh on the extremely serious issue anti-Jewish racism is, in a word, “deplorable”.

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