A controversial British politician has accused Israel of being the “cause of terrorism” and has said that the West's treatment of Muslims was caused by what she called “Holocaust guilt” and the “power of the pro-Israel lobby”.
According to a report published in the European Jewish Press website, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Jenny Tonge made the comments in the British House of Lords on Friday during the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which defines how the British government is to handle the priorities identified in its national security strategy.
“The treatment of Palestinians by Israel is held up as an example of how the West treats Muslims and is at the root cause of terrorism worldwide,” said Tonge. “Even Tony Blair has now admitted this publicly. Why do we let it continue? Is it Holocaust guilt? We should be guilty -- of course we should. Is it the power of the pro-Israel lobby here and in the USA? I do not know.”
Tonge also said that she feels “sorry for the people of Israel”, since as she put it “their government's policies have made that country the cause of a lot of the world's problems, yet now they are seen as the remedy and the base for the West to fight back.”
This is not the first time that Tonge has made statements against Israel. In 2004, she said that she would consider becoming a suicide bomber if she were an Arab living in the Palestinian Authority. She originally made the remarks before a pro-Palestinian group, but later told Sky News that she stands by her words. “I think if I had to live in that situation -- and I say that advisedly -- I might just consider becoming one [a suicide terrorist] myself,” she said.
In 2006 Tonge said that “the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they've probably got a grip on our party.”
This past February, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg sacked Tonge from her position as the party's spokeswoman on health after she suggested that an inquiry should be established regarding the accuracy of allegations of organ harvesting by IDF medical teams at the scene of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Clegg said the comments were “wrong, distasteful and provocative” before dismissing her from her post.
In response to her latest anti-Israel comments, Jon Benjamin, head of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD), was quoted in European Jewish Press as saying: “Baroness Tonge has once again used language that has crossed every red line that her party colleagues have tried to lay down for her.”
The Jewish Chronicle reported on Tonge’s latest remarks and noted that they came only two days after Clegg admitted that Israel’s voice had not been well enough represented within the party.
During a conversation with the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, Clegg had said: “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.”
A spokesman for the Liberal Democrat party told The Jewish Chronicle that Tonge’s comments did not reflect the views of the party.