UK MP and Israel critic David Ward is suspended from party
by Stuart Littlewood - Intifada Palestine
Israel lobby draws the ‘red lines’ and dictates ‘precise terms’ for future Liberal Democrat debate, apparently
Back in January the Liberal Democrat leadership threw a mighty wobbly when MP David Ward made this remark on his website: “I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”
Goaded by the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who complained that Ward’s remarks “deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust” and were “sickening” and “offensive”, the party’s Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael, agreed they were “wholly inappropriate” and that singling out ‘the Jews’ in that way crossed a red line.
Ward was treated like a delinquent. According to the Jewish Chronicle http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/102865/clegg-response-david-ward-%EF%AC%81g-leaf party leader Nick Clegg ordered him to work alongside Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel “to identify and agree language that will be proportionate and precise” in future debate. Disciplinary steps would then be reviewed.
The story went quiet for a few months. Then this week, just as Parliament broke up for the long summer holiday, Ward received a letter from Carmichael ‘withdrawing the whip’ (suspending him from the parliamentary party), until 13 September. This is hardly a severe punishment considering MPs are away until 2 September.
As reported by Sky News http://news.sky.com/story/1117439/david-ward-in-row-after-zionist-tweet Carmichael wrote: “As we have sought to impress upon you repeatedly, we are having to decide on whether language you chose to use in January and February, and now this month, is language which brings the party into disrepute or harms the interests of the Party.
“We put it to you that your most recent statement – which specifically questions the continuing existence of the State of Israel – is neither proportionate nor precise. Unfortunately, we considered your explanation to be unconvincing and it did not satisfy us that you understood the importance of conducting the debate on this issue at all times and in all places in terms that are proportionate and precise.
“You will know that Nick [Clegg], Simon [Hughes] and I have a consistent track record of being outspoken about illegal settlement activities of Israeli governments and the threat this poses to the two-state solution for which the party has long argued.
“It is also immensely frustrating for us to find ourselves constantly responding to questions about disproportionate and imprecise language from you. These interventions cause considerable offence rather than addressing questions of political substance about the plight of the Palestinian people and the right of Israel’s citizens to live a life free of violence. It is extraordinarily difficult to gain traction in that debate at an effective political level if the expression of our concerns is undermined by the way your language misrepresents the view of our party.
“Whilst we understand you have your own views about this process, which has been long and complicated, we also hope you recognise that we have given you every opportunity to reconcile the expression of your views with the party’s policy on a two-state solution. Unfortunately, you have not been able to do that.
He won’t apologise for calling Israel an apartheid state
Only a couple of days earlier David Ward had tweeted: “Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?”
As the punishment, Ward condemned it as “disproportionate” saying his views were widely shared http://uk.news.yahoo.com/israel-tweet-lib-dem-mp-suspended-135700994.html#IXktdLc. “I will not apologise for describing the state of Israel as an apartheid state. I don’t know how you can describe it as anything else,” he said. “I am genuinely quite shocked at the reaction to the kind of thing many people say.”
The Israel lobby, no doubt hoping to see much more blood on the carpet, was disappointed with the ruling. Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock said: “David Ward has never fully apologised for his comments… It is about time the whip was withdrawn but the timing allows Mr Ward to repeat his unacceptable views when Parliament returns in the autumn.”
Board of Deputies vice-president Jonathan Arkush said the suspension was too little, too late and an empty gesture.
In one sense the LibDem action blows a raspberry at the outside meddlers. But this show of defiance is overshadowed by the general gutlessness that’s evident in the way the party caves in to Pro-Israel pressure.
Some of the remarks in the Carmichael letter are really quite silly…
· “We have given you every opportunity to reconcile the expression of your views with the party’s policy on a two-state solution… the two-state solution for which the party has long argued.”
The party is sadly out of date. I strongly advise Clegg and Co to watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOaxAckFCuQ . Miko Peled is an Israeli Jew, the son of an Israeli general and a former soldier in the Israeli army. You couldn’t find a more authentic insider source. He confirms in the bluntest words what many have known and been saying for years. Here is a flavour.
“The name of the game: erasing Palestine, getting rid of the people and de-Arabizing the country…
“When people talk about the possibility of Israel so Article – mehow giving up the West Bank for a Palestinian state, if it wasn’t so sad it would be funny. It shows a complete misunderstanding of the objective of Zionism and the Zionist state.
“By 1993 the Israelis had achieved their mission to make the conquest of the West Bank irreversible. By 1993 the Israeli government knew for certain that a Palestinian state could not be established in the West Bank – the settlements were there, $billions were invested, the entire Jordan River valley was settled… there was no place any more for a Palestinian state to be established. That is when Israel said, OK, we’ll begin negotiations…”
Peled also describes the Israeli army, in which he served, as “one of the best trained and best equipped and best fed terrorist organisations in the world.”
· “It is immensely frustrating for us to constantly respond to questions about disproportionate and imprecise language from you. These interventions cause considerable offence rather than addressing questions of political substance about the plight of the Palestinian people.”
I can’t recall the LibDem leadership ever confronting the plight of the Palestinians in a robust way. Anyone who tries to – Baroness Jenny Tonge for example – gets slapped down and sacked. The political substance is Israel’s lawless and hideous conduct and the international community’s lack of backbone to deal with it.
· “We are not satisfied that you understand the importance of conducting the debate on this issue at all times and in all places in terms that are proportionate and precise.”
Anyone who attempts to debate any matter relating to Israel’s criminality is howled down by the Israel lobby while party bosses put the boot in. Nothing, it now seems, can be said unless it is “proportionate and precise” in Tel Aviv’s terms.
· “Nick, Simon and I have a consistent track record of being outspoken about illegal settlement activities of Israeli governments.”
Israel’s settlements are so illegal – a war crime, in fact – that our tremulous trio can hardly escape speaking up. The settlement building programme began with the Allon Plan in 1967 and still goes on. What effect has their so-called outspokenness had all these years? Words are plainly not enough. What real hard-edged action have the LibDems taken?
Clegg did himself and his party no favours when he came out with this lopsided statement http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/41015/nick-clegg-we-got-it-wrong-israel : “Israel’s right to thrive in peace and security is non-negotiable for Liberal Democrats. No other country so continually has its right to exist called into question as does Israel, and that is intolerable. There can be no solution to the problems of the Middle East that does not include a full and proper recognition of Israel by all parties to the conflict.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking it was written by Mark Regev’s hasbara office. Why on earth would anyone recognise a state founded on terror, grand theft and ethnic cleansing at gunpoint?
Why would anyone recognise a state that is contemptuous of international and humanitarian law?
Why would anyone recognise a state that’s bristling with nukes and other WMDs but refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty or place them under international inspection and safeguards, then foams at the mouth at the thought of a neighbouring country having a nuclear weapons programme?
Why would anyone recognise a state that itself does not recognise the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and still prevents refugees from returning home in defiance of UN Resolution 194 (re-affirmed every year since 1949)… a state that applies a brutal, illegal yet seemingly permanent military occupation and severely restricts movement of people, essential supplies and normal trade goods in the Palestinian homeland?
And why would anyone recognise a state that refuses to declare its borders so that it can continue to pursue its expansionist plans? In any case, which Israel does Clegg suggest we recognise – Israel within the 1947 UN Partition borders? Israel within the 1949 Armistice borders? Or Israel as now, in full occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Old City, and part of Syria, and not forgetting its vicious blockade on Gaza and repeated violation of Lebanese borders?
Why aren’t Clegg, Carmichael and Hughes saying, loudly and clearly, “No recognition until the occupation ends, international law is fully respected and implemented, and the Palestinians’ self-determination, security and freedoms are guaranteed.”?
Quite simply, there can be no peace until all that happens.
19 July 2013
Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. Stuart’s articles are serious and revealing; they address the pertinent issues regarding Israel and Palestine and sixty years of conflict that have devasted millions of human beings. For further information please visit http://www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk/