Baroness Jenny Tonge, a member of Britain’s House of Lords with a long record of inflammatory, often antisemitic, statements against both Israel and the British Jewish leadership, has again been pressuring British Jews to collectively condemn Israel.
Earlier this week, Tonge tabled a written question in the House of Lords in which she asked “Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to encourage Jewish faith leaders in the United Kingdom publicly to condemn settlement building by Israel and to make clear their support for universal human rights.”
Tonge’s question, which comes against the background of rising antisemitism in the UK, was quickly condemned by Jewish campaigners.
Jonathan Sacerdoti of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, which recently published a disturbing survey about the current levels of antisemitism in the UK, told The Algemeiner that the “widely accepted” definition of antisemitism coined by the European Union Monitoring Center “specifies that it is antisemitic to hold Jews collectively responsible for any action of the State of Israel.”
“Baroness Tonge has a long history of making these sorts of remarks,” Sacerdoti said. “It is despicable to see her using the House of Lords to try to harass Jewish people.”
Since 2012, Tonge has classified herself as an “Independent Liberal Democrat,” as she was compelled to resign from the Liberal Democrat Party – the junior partner in Britain’s governing coalition – for refusing to apologize for a comment made at a public meeting that Israel “would not be there for ever.”
In 2010, Tonge was fired from her position as the party’s health spokesperson after she made the outlandish claim, which evoked memories of the ancient antisemitic blood libel, that Israeli medical teams assisting in Haiti after the devastating earthquake there were involved in organ trafficking.
Despite these bruising experiences, Tonge continues to assault both Israel and the Jewish community at every opportunity. Speaking in a House of Lords debate last night on the Palestinian issue, she declared that “Israel is becoming a pariah state, and, because of its cruelty towards the Palestinians, the general public are conflating the Jewish State of Israel with Jewish people all over Europe.”
Tonge then repeated her demand that British Jews must condemn Israel if they want to avoid increased expressions of antisemitism. “When those of us who criticize the Government of Israel are accused of anti-Semitism by the Israel lobby, it further reinforces the view that Jewish people everywhere support the actions of the Israeli Government,” she claimed. “Can the Jewish community not understand this? It is not responsible for Israel’s actions: of course it is not. Why, therefore, do its leaders not speak out in condemnation of the injustice to the Palestinians at this time? Why, oh why?”