Guardian

How to become an anti-Zionist martyr on the pages of the Guardian: Jenny Tonge edition


The way to become an anti-Zionist martyr is simple.

First, lend support for the end of the “Zionist project”, support terror against Israel or engage in implicit or explicit antisemitism.

Then, you suffer a mild rebuke, face social opprobrium, are asked to apologize, or pay some professional cost for expressing, legitimizing or condoning Judeophobia.

You then flagrantly misrepresent your views, and claim you were merely being critical of Israel.

The final step is easy, and requires no effort on your part: Just wait for the Guardian to publish reports, commentaries, or letters characterizing you as a victim of Israeli or Zionist power/control/villainy.

Baroness Jenny Tonge attended an event at Middlesex University in February where she expressed her belief that the end of the Jewish state would come and be a just outcome (as the Jewish state would merely be reaping what they have sown).  She also sat there in silence as an antisemitic extremist, Ken O’Keefe, compared Jews to Nazis and opined that 9/11 was an Israeli/Mossad conspiracy.   

She then resigned from her role within the Liberal Democrats after refusing to apologize.

First, it was longtime Guardian journalist Michael White who offered an apologia for Tonge

More recently, the Baroness was even more passionately defended on the Guardian’s Letters page, “LettersIsrael, Clegg and Tonge’s loss of Lib Dem Whip“, March 6.

Among the letters was one by former CiF commentator Tony Greenstein – an anti-Zionist who has legitimized comparisons between Nazism and Zionism – and one by former Liberal Democratic parliamentary candidate Edward Hooper, both of which complained that Tonge was forced to resign merely for stating the obvious about Israel’s future.

There was also a letter by Ghada Karmi, CiF contributor, endorser of the Global March to Jerusalem, and Palestine Solidarity Campaign patron who has called for “the end of a Jewish state in our region”. 

Here’s a passage from her Guardian letter:

No one could have objected [to Tonge’s remarks], except the hysterical supporters of Israel who came to attack her, and the Lib Dem leaders too craven to stand up to them. [emphasis added]

There was also a letter by Tim Llewellyn, the former BBC Middle East correspondent who has advanced the idea, not least in the Guardian, that the BBC is tainted by pro-Israel bias. He is also an advocate for Hamas and Hizbollah, believes that Zionism is a “calamity”, and has occasionally written obituaries for terrorists in the Guardian.

Here’s the winning passage from his Guardian letter:

What is more sinister than the reactions of Israel’s representatives and placemen to Jenny Tonge is that, in this third intervention against her over her candid remarks in recent years, the leaders of the Lib Dems, encouraged by senior figures in the two other main political parties, have disempowered a British parliamentarian under pressure from the backers of a foreign state – Israel

The candid remarks of Tonge which Llewellyn is referring to include her comments sympathetic to Palestinian suicide bombing, her call for Israel to “investigate” the IDF in light of charges they were stealing organs in Haiti, and this especially odious comment:

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

Read Llewellyn’s language again – arguing that the Liberal Democratic party was coerced to intervene and “disempower” Tonge due to “pressure from the backers of a foreign state” – which closely mirror Tonge’s very own sentiments on the dangerous power the pro-Israel lobby wields.

As I noted in my recent piece about Chris McGreal, narratives regarding the injurious influence of the Israel/Zionist lobby on US foreign policy is something approaching conventional wisdom at the Guardian, so it’s not surprising that they would publish letters in support of Tonge which parrot such a classic antisemitic canard. 

It’s a troubling commentary that someone like Tonge, who has advanced tropes which are indistinguishable from the poisonous Judeophobic narratives on the far-right, inspires sympathy from those purportedly on the left side of the political spectrum. 

62 replies »

  1. I suppose that all is left to explain Tonge’s dismissal is that there was an anti-feminist Zionstt cabal at work.

    B y the way – Greenstein was actually banned from CiF, and has not been permitted to write for it for a long time, so he sneaks in the occasional comment in the letters section when he is not too busy preparing for the glorious British Zionist-free Stalinist paradise he is determined to bring about, perhaps with Seamus Milne as his Foreign Affairs secretary and Georgina Henry in charge of the Office of Correct Thinking, with Ben White as Jewish Affairs Czar..

  2. I am, and always have been, fervently anti racist, having been active in anti-apartheid and searchlight, and I am also a passionate opponent of anti-semitism and anti-islamism. Yet I find myself branded an anti-Semite because I question the actions of the Israeli state in the way it treats the indigenous people of Palestine, and because of the way that, as far as I know, it is the only country in the world that has written into its constitution the preferential treatment of one race over all others.

    So Am I really anti-Semitic? Or just someone who finds all racism abhorrent?

    • Israel does not have “written into its constitution the preferential treatment of one race over all others”

      • Well, Israel doesn’t really have a constitution. But demands that the Palestinians and the Palestinians alone recognise Israel not as a democratic state of its citizens, but as an ethnically discriminatory Jewish state is probably what Siôn means.

        Having said that, show me a state in the Near East (or anywhere for that matter) that doesn’t discriminate against its minorities. Most states don’t demand recognition of their second class status from their minorities though. Notable exceptions include Islamic republics such as Iran and Pakistan.

        • “ethnically discriminatory Jewish state ” — Israel is not an ethnically discriminatory state! Being a “Jewish” state means that it exists to defend the Jews, and that is all. Equal rights for all people is among Israel’s founding principles. This is where Sion is wrong. This is where you are wrong.

          “show me a state in the Near East (or anywhere for that matter) that doesn’t discriminate against its minorities” — I’ll show you Israel, you idiot! Israel does not discriminate against its minorities! When Israel has practiced ethnic or religious discrimination, it discriminates against the Jews to maintain social cohesion and avoid offending minorities.

        • “Most states don’t demand recognition of their second class status from their minorities though.” Debutante, there’s a little bit of drool hanging from the left side of your lip. If you were to ever be fair the drool would be even on both sides.

        • show me a state in the Near East (or anywhere for that matter) that doesn’t discriminate against its minorities.

          dubitante outed as Israeli hasbara agent shocker!

    • First, Jews are the indigenous people of Palestine.

      Second, while Israel is of course, like every other nation, not perfect, Israel’s Basic Law guarantees equal rights to all its citizens, one of the reason why Israel’s Arab/Christian/Muslim populations are the most well educated and economically prosperous in the Middle East.

      Second, there are over 50 official Muslim nations – many of which explicitly forbid non-Muslims from holding office, or even worshiping freely, and most of which have cleansed Jews (who have lived there for centuries) from their land (and continue to persecute their dwindling Christian populations

      And, yeah I wonder about the anti-racist credentials of someone who objects to the existence of ONE majority Jewish country in the world.

        • Adam did not say “all Jews” or “only Jews”. Dubi, your ideological prejudices are showing, sir.

        • There were other indigenous peoples, but none of them have survived to the present day except the Jews.

            • If you were going to claim that the Arabs are indigenous to Palestine rather than Arabia, you would be wrong.

              If you were going to claim that the Arab Nazi Party of Palestine, which survived WWII to rename itself the Palestine Liberation Organization in the ’60s which later got shortened to “the Palestinians”, is a people, then you would be wrong, ignorant, and extremely gullible.

              If you are aware of anyone still worshiping Ba’al and the other old gods, please post more information.

                • Relatively speaking, it was – the success of the Jewish people is the main driver of anti-semitism in the world anyway and more salt in the Arabs’ wound. The Arabs have been brought up to believe that Islam is the be all and end all and that the Jews are dogs yet these supposed inferiors have created a society that trumps every Arab-ruled shitehole in every single respect – economic, social, spiritual.

                  • “Relatively speaking, it was”

                    And the indigenous Arab majority in 1948…

                    “the success of the Jewish people is the main driver of anti-semitism in the world”

                    A good example of anti-Semitic thought.

                    “The Arabs have been brought up to believe that Islam is the be all and end all and that the Jews are dogs”

                    The Arabs? All Arabs? Do you know what racism is?

                    • Dubi is clearly too obsessed with his self-righteous world view to even recognise at any time the huge successes of Israel in technology, agriculture, medicine etc etc etc – all DESPITE the fact that it has been threatened with destruction for every single second of its existence.

                      He is also completely and willingly blind to the amazing social equalities and freedoms enjoyed by Israelis – be they Muslim, Jew, Bahai, Christian, gay, straight, man, woman or none of the above – DESPITE the brickbats thrown at it constantly by those who would love to see it destroyed and DESPITE having welcomed (not tolerated, but welcomed) millions of refugees from around the world and offered them a safe haven from persecution, poverty and famine in places like Russia and Ethiopia.

                      No – for Dubi, Israel is entirely evil, racist, imperialist, oppressive – an apartheid state – and nothing we or anyone else can say will ever convince him otherwise.

                    • Dubi,

                      Do some research on your own regarding the indigenous of that area. You’ll find that the morally bankrupt UNRWA declared any Arab within that area ‘Palestinian’ even if he/she had lived there within 2 years of May 1948. You’re counting them as indigenous when they’re not.

                      And for someone crying racism and bigotry against Arabs and Palestinians – due to the fact that’s pretty much all you’ve got – I would expect someone like yourself to fight ALL kinds of bigotry, apartheid, slavery, etc. within the Arab world. At least within Arab countries that host Palestinian refugees who have no choice but to live all their lives in the small shithole slums they’re forced into.

                      Hey, tell me when you’ve ever advocated for Palestinian refugees to be integrated into the societies they were born into, like you know ALL other nations do.

                      I won’t hold my breath waiting for you to dance around these questions that actually expose you as the pro-apartheid bigot here. If you really care, you’d advocate for all that to stop. You couldn’t give a shit. You’re only interested if Jews can be blamed. Bigotry on top of bigotry.

                      Whatever, I’ve got no time for bullshit artists like yourself. I don’t put up with them if they’re on the far Right, so I don’t see why I should have to put up with them when they’re on the far Left. When your rhetoric mimics that of far right bigots, you can’t claim that being on the Left absolves you of the same opprobrium the Right richly deserves. You’re all the same. A fucking disgrace.

                    • “Dubi is clearly too obsessed with his self-righteous world view to even recognise at any time the huge successes of Israel in technology, agriculture, medicine etc etc etc”

                      Except, of course, that I have always been impressed with what Israelis have achieved in such short time, particularly in science/technology fields.

                      “all DESPITE the fact that it has been threatened with destruction for every single second of its existence.”

                      Very true. Except the part about it being threatened with destruction every single second of its existence.

                      “He is also completely and willingly blind to the amazing social equalities and freedoms enjoyed by Israelis”

                      Not at all. As I’ve said before, it’s much easier to be an Arab in Israel than a Jew in Gaza or Iraq. Israel’s discrimination against minorities is not a function of Israeliness or Jewishness, it’s simply a condition that accompanies nationalism and “the state”. Considering how much Israel suffers from ultra-nationalism, I’m amazed Israeli Arabs don’t find themselves facing much worse discrimination.

                      “No – for Dubi, Israel is entirely evil, racist, imperialist, oppressive – an apartheid state”

                      I know you’re used to making certain arguments, but that’s not what I think. And for the record, I don’t think Israel (meaning Israel proper) is an apartheid state at all.

                    • @Shira – “Do some research on your own regarding the indigenous of that area.”

                      I have researched it. I have detailed population figures from Ottoman Palestine.

                      “You’re counting them as indigenous when they’re not.”

                      Unsupportable, considering what we know about Palestinian population over the last few centuries.

                      “And for someone crying racism and bigotry against Arabs and Palestinians – due to the fact that’s pretty much all you’ve got – I would expect someone like yourself to fight ALL kinds of bigotry”

                      I don’t view Israel as more racist than many other countries I could mention.

                      “apartheid”

                      I don’t view Israel as an apartheid state.

                      “At least within Arab countries that host Palestinian refugees who have no choice but to live all their lives in the small shithole slums they’re forced into.”

                      I agree.

                      “Hey, tell me when you’ve ever advocated for Palestinian refugees to be integrated into the societies they were born into, like you know ALL other nations do.”

                      The victims of ethnic cleansing have a legal right to return to their homes, or be compensated. You know as well as I do that the refugees, in spite of their suffering, in spite of their rights, are pawns in a bigger game.

                      “You couldn’t give a shit. You’re only interested if Jews can be blamed.”

                      Except, of course, that I don’t blame Jews for anything.

                    • It’s frankly astonishing how dubi has the gall. He(?) consistently comes on this site and raves against the “evils” committed by Israel and Zionists and by inference or explicitly supports terrorists and bigots and then, when held to account for these views and statements, comes over all innocent and reasonable.

                      Does he(? – you know what, since I don’t know if dubi is a he or a she, I’d better use the neutral pronoun “it” – I wouldn’t want to be accused of sexism) suffer from split personality to add to all its other faults?

                    • “He(?) consistently comes on this site and raves against the “evils” committed by Israel and Zionists”

                      No need to be so defensive. I don’t view Israel as evil, nor have I suggested that I do.

                      “and by inference or explicitly supports terrorists and bigots”

                      I have always been firmly opposed to all terrorism, including all terrorism committed by state and non-state actors. And as for bigotry, I’m firmly opposed to all bigotry.

                      The only possible objection you can have to what I write on here is that I cite the documentary record.

                      I actually think that Israel is the most forward looking country in the Middle East, and that it has the potential to be a massive positive force in the region. It has its problems, but what state doesn’t?

                      Just because I’m in favour of human rights, international law and international humanitarian law doesn’t make me anti-Israel.

                    • Once again, you are right, dubi. Being in favour of human rights or international law doesn’t make you anti-Israel. What makes you anti-Israel is your constant insistence that the I/P conflict is framed in the terms set out by the radical left/extremist Muslim alliance that demonises Israel and uniquley and obsessively seeks the elimination of the only state with a Jewish character in the world.

                      For the record I very much welcome your professed admiration of what Israel has acheived, the relative lack of discrimination there its and its potential to be a force for good and will remind you of these comments when you rail against Israel and its actions in future.

                    • It’s not a point scoring exercise. I genuinely do think that a progressive society like Israel’s can be a positive influence in the region. Although I’m not going to use the term “leading light unto nations”.

                      It has to get over a lot of stuff, like Zionism/Nationalism/Expansionism and so on, but it’s only a baby.

                      p.s. My 4th spawn is called Eli. Cool name. If that is your name. If not…shut up 🙂

                • It’s a pity really because if it wasn’t for Arab pride they could benefit from the energy that the Jews bring to the Middle East. Over a million Arabs already do and they have no desire to become slaves of Hamas or the PA kleptomaniacs

                    • Well, since they gracefully accepted their conquest by the Hashemites’ army back in the ’20 east of Jordan river, why shouldn’t they accept their conquest west of the Jordan river?

            • “I’m sure there’s another indigenous people, can’t quite put my finger on it.” No, obviously not.

    • Sion Jones I think you’re just ignorant. Firstly, Jews are indigenous to Israel and to Judeah (the clue is in the name) and Samaria.

      Israel has no constitution but it treats no race preferentially. It does have a Jewish slant but all citizens are equal before the law and a quarter of its citizens are not Jewish. On the other hand you obviously are not aware of Saudia’s total intolerance of Jews or Judaism. You have perhaps not noticed the Iraqi government’s statement that they want no Jews imported to their country or handling their business. Perhaps you didn’t bother to read news items about Tunisians not allowing a Jewish citizen to refurbish their main synagogue.

      So I guess that you are someone who works hard to avoid knowledge that you don’t want to have.

    • “So am I really anti-Semitic?” Yes, you are. That you believe these things sans evidence means you are a bigot. Many countries do have laws and constitutions preferring one people over others whereas in Israel all citizens are equal before the law. So the fact that you gloss over very real and severe human rights abuses all over the world in order to lie about the one and only majority Jewish yet democratic country in the world makes you anti-Semitic as well as racist. You now have two choices in front of you: either correct your racist sickness or just “come out” as a racist. Which will it be I wonder?
      By the way, the Arabs are not the indigenous people of Palestine anymore than Europeans are the indigenous people of North America.
      A second question comes to mind. Are you really this ignorant or just looking for trouble?

    • In addition to the comments about the non-existence of an Israeli constitution – and there have been several attempts to create one – if you visit Israel you will find that most if not all signs such as street signs, or signs in hospitals and government buildings are in Arabic as well as Hebrew, since Arabic is an official language and 20% of the population are Arabs anyway, so need the dual language signs. Many signs are in a funny sort of French-spelled version of English as well.

      Apart from that, neither Jews nor Arabs are races. However, you will find many Africans and Asians in Israel, and they too have equal rights.

    • “So Am I really anti-Semitic? ”

      Maybe. Or maybe just one more among those described here:

  3. Clearly Jews are indigenous to the Holy Land and have as valid a claim to part of it as any of the conquerors and immigrants that shape nation states. When more Jews arrived in the 19th century it was stony and brown with dust, its inhabitants illiterate and diseased, but hard work and courage worked it to fecundity and wealth and attracted thousands of Arabs to share the fruits of enterprise.

  4. “The Arabs have been brought up to believe that Islam is the be all and end all and that the Jews are dogs”

    “The Arabs? All Arabs? Do you know what racism is?”

    Muslim Arabs, not atheist or Christians of course, and not all of them, just those that cleave to Islam’s warnings of the deviousness of Jews, those whose pieties allow referrals to them as dogs amongst numerous cruel epithets employed over the centuries.

  5. “Ken O’Keefe, compared Jews to Nazis”

    It is quite clear if you listen carefully to O’Keefe that he is not “compar(ing) Jews to Nazis”. He is saying firstly that the non-Nazi Germans had a special responsibility to stop Nazi excesses but failed to do so. Then, by analogy, he argues that Jews who are not ultra-Zionists have a similar responsibility to restrain Israeli government excesses, but also fail to do so.

  6. “Yes, can’t the Palestinian Arabs just accept their conquest gracefully?”

    They were not conquered, but defeated in a brutal war initiated by their brother Arabs which had as its purpose the annihilation of the Jews of Israel. They will never accept this gracefully for grace is not in their nature when dealing with infidels.

  7. “Then, by analogy, he argues that Jews who are not ultra-Zionists have a similar responsibility to restrain Israeli government excesses, but also fail to do so.”

    Which by analogy are ‘excesses’ with the moral dubiousness of Nazi atrocity and by implication reveal the speaker to have made such preposterous and malign comparisons that could only come from a vile and poisonous mouth.

    • Let’s just take the ethnic cleansing and massacres of the 1948 war and the slaughter of civilians in the two Lebanese wars and Cast Lead as the start of what could be a much longer list. These qualify as ‘excesses’ in my book. To compare the responsibilities of moderate citizens to restrain their governments is not to say that the evils committed by those governments are of an equivalent order.

      • “Let’s just take the ethnic cleansing and massacres of the 1948 war…” O.K. let’s take it. The arabs initiated a war of ethnic cleansing on the Jews. They lost the war, lost territory, and at the war’s end their was a Jewish state with an Arab minority and an Arab non-state with zero Jews left in it. Ethnic cleansing? You bet! Then, of course, their was the systematic Arab policy of cleansing the Jews from each and every Arab state, land that Jews had lived on for longer than Islam has existed. Ethnic cleansing? You bet!
        Israel didn’t didn’t start the civil wars in Lebanon.
        Cast Lead occurred as a result of Hamas firing thousands of rockets at Israel for years. Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of her people. Where are the Arab moderates trying to restrain their gov’t. of these excesses? Or in the PA, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, etc.? They all say they’d like the one non-Arab, non-Muslim country destroyed, and they scream it from the rooftops. I don’t hear Israelis screaming to destroy the Arab states.
        So please stop telling us what’s in your ‘book’, because we all know it’s not a book at all, but rather just a single sheet of paper with racist arab propaganda scribbled on it.

      • To compare the responsibilities of moderate citizens to restrain their governments is not to say that the evils committed by those governments are of an equivalent order.

        But why did O’Keefe bring up the Nazis of all people?

        The suggestion is clear enough.

        He is saying firstly that the non-Nazi Germans had a special responsibility to stop Nazi excesses but failed to do so.

        … and implying that Jews – worldwide – who do not challenge the Israeli govt. (hardly comparable to the Nazis, FFS) are equivalent to Nazi collaborators.

        Absolute scum of the earth, that man.

  8. “To compare the responsibilities of moderate citizens to restrain their governments is not to say that the evils committed by those governments are of an equivalent order.”

    Quite so, but the comparison of moderate citizens in Nazi Germany with the citizens of a State founded as a refuge from the horrors perpetrated there, has, as its purpose, the association in the minds of the gullible of Nazi with Zionist. O’Keefe knows that and the egregious Tonge knows it too. Do you?

  9. Well put, Epidermoid. I might add that sencar’s reference to “the ethnic cleansing and massacres of the 1948 war” is evidence of his standpoint and the likelihood of his listening to any viewpoint that disagrees with his own.

    He clearly fails to acknowledge that the 1948 war was an aggressive war initiated by 4 arab states aimed at the destruction of the nascent Israel, and the driving of the Jews into the sea. He also fails to acknowledge the offers made by the new state to all arabs living within its borders to stay and help build it (which many took up and have since enjoyed full equality under the law). He also fails to acknowledge the urgings from arab governments to the arabs to flee to “clear the way” for the mighty invading arab armies so that they could clear out the Jews without having to worry about getting any arabs in the cross-fire (would that they were so discerning these days). He also fails to recognise the total failure of the apparent attempt at “ethnic cleansing” given the huge explosion of people who call themselves Palestinians in recent decades. He also fails to acknowledge the far more successful and deliberate ethnic cleansing of Jews from most arab countries that took place following the foundation of Israel. I could go on, but frankly sencar doesn’t deserve the attention.

    And he dares to excuse O’Keefe’s inference that these “excesses” are in the same sentence as the deliberate slaughter of 6 million men women and children?

  10. “Let’s just take the ethnic cleansing and massacres of the 1948 war”

    But there wasn’t any ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the way it has come to be thought of following the dreadful events in the Balkans and Africa, nor anything remotely resembling it. Neither were there ‘massacres’ other than the inevitable and occasional atrocities of close combat with men that wish you and your family dead. These are myths, generated as a form of warfare against a people who cannot be defeated by arms, but might be weakened by lies.

  11. I’m actually a little impressed that Dubious and Sinker decided to not address any of the main points of this post at all, although someone who was logic-impaired enough could argue that their “Israel is racist and commits war crimes” litany end up defending what Jenny Tonge meant to say (and not, from this bankrupt group’s POV, what she actually said). So to get back on track a bit, Jenny Tonge is an ex-politician because she decided to quit when her genocidal cheerleading wasn’t backed by the LibDems, and good riddance.