Tony Greenstein | 13 May 2017 | Post Views:

Liberal-Democrats Demonstrate that they are neither Liberal nor

Tim Farron is probably the most lightweight leader that the
Liberals/Lib Dems have ever had, despite pretty strong competition.  He is also the most right-wing and again the
competition is pretty stiff.

Over 4 years ago David Ward, the then
MP for Bradford East had the whip withdrawn for 3 months for asking “Am I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?”  Lib
Dems withdraw party whip from MP David Ward over Israel comments
people wanting Farron to be honest
Since Israel
rules over 4.5 million Palestinians on the West Bank and operates two sets of
laws and legal systems it is difficult to know how else to describe Israel
other than an apartheid state.  In Israel
itself the Arab minority is largely segregated from the Jewish population, for
example there is a Jewish and an Arab education sector.  48% of Jewish Israelis want, according to the most
recent Pew Research Centre Poll Israel’s
Religiously Divided Society
to physically expel Israel’s Arabs from the
country.  Israel is a state which in
January demolished a Bedouin village in the Negev, Umm Al-Hiran to make way for
a Jewish town.  Quite how else would one
describe that other than as apartheid?
David Ward – former MP deselected by bigot
Ward’s other
offence was to have said that he was:

“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.”

There is nothing anti-Semitic in
this.  Israel calls itself a Jewish state
so it’s not surprising that many people therefore ascribe its actions to Jews per
se.  Of course David Ward should have said
Zionist or Israeli Jews but there was nothing anti-Semitic in what he
said.  It is a fact that most people
confuse the actions of Israel with Jews and ask why it is that Jews who were
one the victims of anti-Semitism are now the perpetrators of racism.  Their confusion is due to Zionist propaganda. 
My letter defending David Ward when controversy broke – Guardian refused to publish similar letter this time around
However for Christian
bigot and leader of the Lib Dems that was too much.  When another racist bigot, Eric Pickles the Chairman
of the Conservative Friends of Israel asked what is known as a planted question
in the House of Commons about David Ward’s selection as a Lib-Dem candidate, Theresa
May insinuated that David Ward was anti-Semitic.
Tim Farron
immediately jumped when May barked and David Ward was peremptorily sacked as a
candidate despite having been democratically elected by members of the Bradford
East CLP.  I am pleased to hear that he
is now standing as an Independent and I wish him the best of luck.  Tim
Farron sacks Lib Dem candidate for ‘offensive and antisemitic’ remarks
This has nothing to do with anti-Semitism
and everything to do with a patently false and distorted definition of anti-Semitism,
the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which conflates anti-Zionism and
opposition to the Israeli state with anti-Semitism and is therefore itself anti-Semitic.
Sue Perkins of Bakeoff calling out Farron’s weasel words
For a good explanation of why the
IHRA definition of is bogus see the article by Sir Stephen Sedley, a former Court
of Appeal Judge, in this months London Review of Books.  Stephen
Sedley, former Judge at the Court of Appeal Criticises the IHRA Definition of
For a good explanation of why
Farron, despite attacking David Ward for fake anti-Semitism, is a bigot see Lib
Dems’ Tim Farron regrets abstaining in gay marriage vote
.  Still the Tory Telegraph came to his defence
when Farron refused to answer a question on whether gay sex was a sin! Lib
Dems’ Tim Farron regrets abstaining in gay marriage vote
I therefore decided to write a letter to Tim
Farron and Naomi Wimborne-Iddrissi has penned a good article below and on the Jews
for Boycotting Israeli Goods site.  The
Orwellian defenestration of David Ward
One hypocrite calling out another hypocrite

Dear Mr Farron,

I write, as someone who is
Jewish, to protest your recent decision to prevent David Ward from standing as
a Lib Dem candidate for Bradford East.

I must confess that I don’t and
never have supported the Lib Dems as they have always appeared to me to be a
party without any principle.  Your coalition with the Conservatives when
you presided over the reorganisation of the NHS, whose only purpose was to
hasten its privatisation, is a case in point.  Your breaking of the
promise not to raise tuition fees is another as was your collaboration in the cutting
of benefits.

David Ward is one of the few
people in the Lib Dems who has stood up against the tide and given his support
to the real victims in the Middle East, the Palestinians.  When Israel
rules, as it has done for 50 years, over millions of people and refuses to
accord them the same rights as its own Jewish citizens, whilst claiming their
land as part of the biblical ‘Land of Israel’, then that is apartheid.  To
stand up against that is not anti-Semitic, it is basic anti-racist solidarity.

David Ward asked ‘“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?”
  There is nothing in
the least anti-Semitic in what David Ward said.  Israel is an apartheid
state, even for its own Arab citizens.  Everyday legislation is
passed which is targetted at Israel’s minority Palestinian population, a
population which is considered a fifth column by Israel’s rulers.  A
population that is considered a demographic threat to the majority Jewish
population, a majority of whom favour the physical expulsion of Israel’s Arab

You said in your response to
other people when attempting to defend your decision that ‘I have been clear
that I believe in a politics that is open, tolerant and united.’ 

Leaving aside your Christian Evangelical views on abortion and gays, which are
anything but open and tolerant, your removal of David Ward as a candidate
proves that you are a nasty and vicious McCarthyite, an insubstantial pipsqueak
unfit to lead any political party, even one as reduced in circumstances as the
Lib Dems

Yours sincerely, 


The moral
panic about antisemitism rumbles on, crushing pro-Palestinian voices such
as that of Malia Bouattia, former President of the National Union of Students,
and taking its first general election scalp with the dumping of prospective
parliamentary candidate David Ward by Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron. See
below the full story originally
by Free Speech on Israel.
We would
like to be able to share with you the refreshing viewpoint of Jewish Bath
University politics student Joanna Phillips, but we have not yet managed to
obtain her permission to republish her piece in full. Read
it here
on the Jewish News website.
Orwellian defenestration of David Ward
It was
inevitable that antisemitism smears would be deployed against supporters of
Palestine at some point during #GE17. Even so it was a surprise to hear Tim
Farron, Liberal Democrat party leader, cornered by pro-Israel lobbyist Eric
Pickles in the House of Commons on Wednesday, appeasing the witch hunters by
declaring that one of his own parliamentary candidates would be banned from
language used to denounce David Ward, former Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, as
in so many of the cases we have seen in the Labour Party, the National Union of
Students and elsewhere, takes us deep into Orwellian territory.
Ward could probably sue the
Jewish News
 for calling him “the Israel-hating, Jew-baiting former MP
David Ward”, other media have been less hysterical but equally dishonest.
The Guardian’s
referred back to 2013 when it called Ward the “Liberal Democrat MP
suspended by the party after questioning the continuing existence of the state
of Israel”.
What had
Ward actually written on his Twitter feed in July that year?
“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?”
It must
be clear to all but the most partisan that Ward is talking here about the
continuation of apartheid, not of Israel itself. It may be controversial to
refer to Israel as an apartheid state, and it makes some people very cross, but
it is decidedly not an expression of hatred of Jews.
yet, taking into account the legal opinion of Hugh
Tomlinson QC
on the definition of antisemitism adopted last December by
Theresa May’s government, if Ward had in fact questioned the “continuing
existence” of the state of Israel, that in itself could not be used to prove
his antisemitism, since he has expressed no hostility to Jews as Jews.
This view
has received a ringing endorsement in the pages of the London
Review of Books
from former Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Stephen Sedley (who
happens to be Jewish).  Sedley wrote that the inadequacies of the
definition so ardently embraced by Pickles and May allow “perceptions of Jews
which fall short of expressions of racial hostility to be stigmatised as anti-Semitic.”
The Lib
Dem’s Farron said at a rally in St Albans on Wednesday that he found comments
David Ward has made in the past “deeply offensive, wrong and antisemitic.”
So what
has Ward said, apart from talking about apartheid Israel, that Farron might
think fits this description?
to LBC
, “Mr Ward also caused controversy in 2013 when he wrote on his blog
accusing ‘the Jews’ of atrocities against Palestinians. He was condemned by
politicians, Jewish groups and Shoah survivors when he equated Jewish suffering
in the Holocaust with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.”
This is
another example of Orwellian word games. What Ward actually said on his website
– and credit is due to the
for taking the trouble to quote him in full – was that he was
“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.”
This is
not “equating” Jewish suffering with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, it
is lamenting the fact that one has followed historically upon the other. It is
not “accusing” the Jews of atrocities, it is regretting that those who have
suffered injustice in the past are now inflicting it on others.
I have,
in discussions about the Middle East where my Jewish heritage comes up, heard
countless questions worded almost identically to David Ward’s statement. It is
an almost constant refrain – “How is it possible that people who have suffered
so much can cause so much suffering to others?”
recognise these questions for what they are – expressions of sincere concern
and bafflement at a seemingly inexplicable state of affairs. They are based on
the understandable misapprehension that the Israeli state, which calls itself
“the Jewish state”, represents all Jews. They usually lead to productive
discussions about the history of Israel and Palestine, offering me the
opportunity to explain that – despite the claims made by and on behalf of state
of Israel – very many of us do not identify with Israel and resent the
erroneous assumption that we all share its ideology.
would have done better to avoid using the problematic pair of words “the” and
Jews”. As Oxford philosopher Brian Klug has explained, a negative stereotype
of “the Jew” is at the heart of antisemitism, projecting an illusory malign
and mysteriously powerful figure onto individual Jews and Jewish
apologised as soon as he realised how his words might be misread. After
being dumped by Farron, he offered a creditable account of himself on his Facebook page, indicating
that he well understands what antisemitism truly is and realises that
generalisations about all Jews are unacceptable.
But he is
hardly alone in making unwarranted generalisations. They come most often from
people claiming to speak for “the Jewish community” as if this was an
undifferentiated mass with no individual opinions. Now that is antisemitic!
If people
making comments like David Ward’s express any hostility to Jewish people or
give any hint of harbouring hateful feelings against us, I have no hesitation
in chastising them for their antisemitism. But there is nothing in Ward’s
comments of themselves that even hints at hatred of Jews – and this, as Sir
Stephen Sedley reminds us, is what antisemitism is.
I have
written to Tim Farron asking him to explain why he has departed from Nick
Clegg’s view in 2013 that what David Ward said then was neither racist or
part of the answer lies with the extreme Zionist Campaign Against Antisemitism,
that it had “worked with outraged Liberal Democrats to raise the
issue with Mr Farron when news of Mr Ward’s selection broke.”

continued gleefully:
knockout blow was delivered by Sir Eric Pickles and the Prime
Minister during Prime Minister’s Questions. Sir Eric praised the Prime
Minister for adopting the International Definition of
 on behalf of the government, and asked whether
she felt that all parties should “not just pay lip service to it, but to
actually do something about it”, before attacking Mr Ward’s views.”

obligingly caved in.
I will
await with interest the Lib Dem leader’s response to my personal letter, which

We are
on dangerous ground when we allow proponents of a partisan political (in this
case pro-Israeli) stance to determine what may and may not be spoken about.
Freedom of expression is seriously at risk here and you, as a Liberal Democrat,
should be defending it, not conniving in its demise.”

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Tony Greenstein

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