Letters: Jenny Tonge, the Lib Dems and IsraelBy
Nick Clegg was absolutely correct to demand that my colleague in the House of Lords, Baroness Tonge, should apologise for her illiberal remarks or have her Liberal Democrat whip removed (Lib Dem peer resigns party whip in row over anti-Israeli remarks, 1 March). This was not only because of what she had said, but also because of the company with whom she had been happy to share platforms – most recently at Middlesex University in Hendon, alongside Ken O’Keefe.
Gladly, there is cross-party consensus that attitudes such as Tonge’s are marginal, and my leader Ed Miliband led the call via Twitter for Clegg to act. Thankfully the whip has now been resigned and she no longer represents mainstream politics, even in political affiliation.
All three major political parties support the Israelis and Palestinians towards achieving a two-state solution. More needs to be done, and meetings of hate such as that attended by Tonge do not help in achieving a peaceful resolution.
The chancellor, George Osborne, was right on Tuesday night in his assertion: “I’ve got a message for Jenny Tonge. The state of Israel is going to be around a lot longer than you are, Jenny.”
Chair, Britain-Israel all-party parliamentary group, House of Lords
• 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.
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