British parliament
British parliamentReuters

Virulent Israel-basher Noam Chomsky has lent his support to British MEP David Ward who has come under intense fire for comparing Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazis' treatment of the Jews during the Holocaust.

Ward, a member of the Liberal Democrats, has incurred the wrath of the pro-Israel community after he said on International Holocaust Memorial Day last month that he was “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could, within a few years of liberation, be inflicting atrocities on the Palestinians in the new State of Israel -- and continue to do so.”

Chomsky, a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of Israel’s most vocal critics, said he agreed there was "nothing remotely anti-Semitic in his remarks, which are in fact familiar in Israeli discussions", The Jewish Chronicle reported.

In a response on his personal website, Ward thanked Chomsky for his support saying, "The intention behind my comments was to start a genuine discussion about Israel's treatment of Palestinians and how the Israeli government seemingly acts with impunity for its actions in Gaza and the West Bank. I now intend to work with groups around the country to start a discussion that can take a frank look at this conflict and what we can do to bring an end to atrocities committed by both sides in this appalling and long lasting conflict."

Liberal Democrat MEP Alistair Carmichael recently sent a letter calling on Ward to confirm that he would “not again use the phrase 'the Jews' in this context".

"I am strongly of the view that your use of the phrase 'the Jews' in this context was unacceptable and I formally censure you for that," Carmichael said.

While Ward apologized for the "unintended offense", the Board of Deputies of British Jews said the apology had "no credibility".

The controversy was renewed in recent days when reports emerged that Ward asked if it would placate opponents if he had said “the Jewish community” instead.

The Liberal Democrat party then issued a statement affirming that the new comments would be "dealt with as a fresh issue."

A party spokesman said Ward was on a visit to the Netherlands with a Commons select committee but would be summoned to Carmichael’s when he returned.

"We are fully aware of the latest comments," he said.