UK Liberal Democrats in a funk over free speech
A Liberal Democrat MP in the UK, David Ward, is in hot water for his “use of language” in condemning Israelis for atrocities against the Palestinians while the horrors of their own suffering at the hands of the Nazis were still fresh in their memory.
He wrote on his website a few days before Holocaust Memorial Day:
Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – 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.
Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, and Jon Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, lost no time in protesting.
According to a BBC report, Pollock said Ward “deliberately abused the memory of the holocaust” and his remarks were “sickening” and had no place in British politics.
Benjamin was outraged and shocked by Ward’s “offensive” comments. He complained: “For an MP to have made such comments on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day is even more distasteful…”
But is there ever an “acceptable’ moment for mentioning Israel’s atrocious conduct? And what about that other holocaust, Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against Gaza’s civilians (Muslim and Christian) launched over Christmas-time and New Year 2008/09? It was not on the same scale admittedly but was evil and unforgivable nonetheless.
…is there ever an “acceptable’ moment for mentioning Israel’s atrocious conduct? And what about that other holocaust, Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against Gaza’s civilians (Muslim and Christian) launched over Christmas-time and New Year 2008/09?
And before anyone dismisses the death-roll as relatively insignificant, let’s remember that statistics from Israel’s B’Tselem show that between 2000 and the start of Israel’s “Cast Lead” assault the Israelis’ vast standing army, equipped with the most advanced American-funded weaponry, killed 4,790 Palestinian civilians in their homeland. Of these, 952 were children.
Yes, 952 young Palestinian lives horribly snuffed out and their parents desolated. In response the Palestinians, with their primitive weapons, killed 490 Israeli civilians, including 84 children. That’s a slaughter rate of 11 to 1 by the Israelis. Their score has been further improved by the Cast Lead and more recent Pillar of Cloud operations, and the many air strikes in-between.
Liberal Democrat leaders have “form” when it comes to stabbing good people in the back for criticizing the racist state. The well-known human rights campaigner, Baroness Jenny Tonge, has felt the knives of Charles Kennedy, Menzies Campbell and Nick Clegg for speaking her mind. Now she’s safely out of their clutches and sits as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords.
Again, on this occasion, instead of defending their MP from unjust accusations the Liberal Democrats announced that they “deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable”. He has been summoned to a meeting with the party whips next week. This means a dressing-down at least, possibly disciplinary action and even the end of his political career.
And for what? Speaking the truth?
Ward told the BBC: “I don’t feel bad about it in any way. They consider my comments regrettable; I consider their reprimand regrettable.” He said any further disciplinary action would be “a sad reflection on the values we all hold so dearly, particularly on free speech”.
Yes indeed. On the Liberal Democrat website under the tab “What We Stand For” there’s an item which says: “Protecting freedom of speech – We are protecting freedom of speech through our Defamation Bill and by ending the restrictive situation where it is an offence to ‘insult’ someone.”
Furthermore the party’s constitution says:
We will at all times defend the right to speak, write, worship, associate and vote freely… Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services. Setting aside national sovereignty when necessary, we will work with other countries towards an equitable and peaceful international order and a durable system of common security.
It also declares that Liberal Democrats
are supporters of international law … welcome the extension of international law to hold individuals to account for crimes against humanity. If governments engage in large-scale violations of human rights, or are unable or unwilling to protect their populations from catastrophes, then this responsibility must be fulfilled by the international community…
The Liberal Democrats’ track record is one of gutlessness and hypocrisy. They have the oldest Friends of Israel setup in the British Parliament and now are in coalition with the Conservative Party, 80 per cent of whose MPs are said be signed-up Friends of Israel.
Fancy words. But put them to the test and they fly out the window. The Liberal Democrats’ track record is one of gutlessness and hypocrisy. They have the oldest Friends of Israel setup in the British Parliament and now are in coalition with the Conservative Party, 80 per cent of whose MPs are said be signed-up Friends of Israel. What an appalling bunch of people, this admiration society who promote the ambitions of some of the worst criminals on the planet.
No one in this affair has shown disrespect for the holocaust and its memorial, and certainly not David Ward who has said and done all the right things, even to the extent of signing a Book of Commitment. OK, you might argue with his timing. But the only people to have “abused the memory of the holocaust”, as Karen Pollock put it, are the Israeli regime itself (which dispossessed and drove into exile some 700,000 Palestinians in 1947/48 and has had its boot on the necks of those remaining for the 64 years ever since) and its supporters – including some who lurk in the Liberal Democratic Party. The abiding message of the holocaust, that such cruelty must never be allowed to happen again, seems to have eluded them.
Also eluded them is the fact, apparently, that Israel outlaws commemoration of the Palestinians’ corresponding Nakba, the catastrophe of the 1948 mass expulsion, ethnic cleansing and massacres.
To give David Ward some words of support for standing up to the bullies, you can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org .