David Ward, MP sponsors almost comical anti-Israel motion in House of Commons

The following motion, sponsored by Israel hater Jeremy Corbyn and David Ward (whose animosity towards Jews, and not merely Israelis, is well documented) and signed by 41 other MPs (including George Galloway), in the House of Commons is an almost comical example of the anti-Israel double standards often employed by a vocal minority of British politicians.

David Ward, MP

Here’s the motion:

motion

Here’s the text:

That this House notes that, on a daily basis, Israeli authorities restrict journalists’ movements and there are hundreds of military checkpoints that constrain or forbid journalists’ movements; further notes that despite the long-standing campaigning by journalists and civil rights organisations, the Israeli authorities continue to reject identity cards, accreditation and press cards, including the International Federation of Journalists press card, when carried by Palestinian journalists; condemns the continuous attacks by Israeli soldiers on Palestinian news gatherers, in particular photographers and camera crews, the level of attacks has increased during the first half of 2013, in 2012 the attacks involved rubber coated steel bullets, tear grenades and stun grenades; and reaffirms that freedom of movement is a central tenet of independent professional journalism and, in restricting such a right, Israeli authorities are in breach of international covenants and the right to report.

It seems that Ward and Corbyn woke up in the morning, and shuffled off to Westminster determined to convince their fellow MPs that Israel – which, per Freedom House, “enjoys the freest press in the region” – urgently needed to be condemned for their record on press freedom.

Of note, Freedom House also wrote the following in their latest report on human rights in Israel:

Legal protections for freedom of the press are robust, and the rights of journalists are generally respected in practice. The country’s Basic Law does not specifically address the issue, but the Supreme Court has affirmed that freedom of expression is an essential component of human dignity. The legal standing of press freedom has also been reinforced by court rulings citing principles laid out in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Additionally, it seems that Ward and Corbyn didn’t bother consulting the Committee to Protect Journalists, whose 2013 report was quite clear on which states were the worst violators of press freedom:

Which state is worst violator, per CPJ?

Turkey headed the list for the second year in a row despite reducing the number of journalists imprisoned in the country from 49 last year to 40. However, of those released, some are awaiting trial and could still find themselves back behind bars.

In addition, other prisoners were released for time served while awaiting trial. In his November acceptance speech for the International Press Freedom Award, Turkish journalist Nedim Sener noted that it is common for journalists to sit in jail for lengthy periods in Turkish prisons without being brought to trial.

Which state is the second worst violator, per CPJ?

Iran was holding 35 journalists in prison at the time of the CPJ survey, compared to 45 in 2012. Some of the prisoners from the year before finished their jail terms, while other were released “on furlough” and could be summoned to finish their terms at any time, according to CPJ, which also noted that Iran had continued making new arrests and handing down “lengthy prison sentences” to reformist journalists even after the election of President Hassan Rouhani, a presumed moderate.

Other violators of note:

Meanwhile in the tumultuous Middle East, the number of journalists officially detained in Syria declined from 15 last year to 12 in 2013, although CPJ noted that it did not take into account the number of journalists who were abducted and are being held by rebel groups. “As of late 2013, 30 journalists are missing in Syria,” it said.

In contrast, CPJ noted that “there are currently three journalists being held in Israeli jails, all three from the West Bank”.

Also absent in the resolution by Ward and Corbyn is any mention that, by and standard, the worst abuse of Palestinians journalists in the region is meted out by the Palestinian government in Gaza and the West Bank.  Reports abound detailing harassment and violence suffered by Palestinian journalists at the hands of Palestinian Authority officials, with journalists and bloggers often arrested, detained and interrogated by PA security forces for the sole “crime” of being critical of Mahmoud Abbas.  Even Facebook users who’ve expressed ideas critical of the government have been arrested by Palestinian police.

Not surprisingly, Freedom House ranks the Palestinian territories as “not free” — the lowest of three possible rankings — with regard to the ability of Palestinian journalists to report on the Palestinian Authority with no restrictions.

jaradat

Mohammed Jaradat

As our coverage of the Guardian consistently demonstrates, the violation of Palestinian human rights by Palestinian leaders is of little concern to those blinded by a malign obsession towards the Jewish State.  

David Ward MP – Jews, money and power

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Jews, money and power is a well-worn antisemitic trinity.

So, what possessed David Ward MP to send this tweet on 15th November?

That Roma are marginalised is not in question. If David Ward MP wishes they had a better reputation, or better representation, then let him say so: but this tweet appears to say far more about the Board of Deputies than it does about marginalised Roma.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews is the representative body of British Jews. It does its job as best it can, and has done so since 1760. It is, in mundane reality, neither awash with money, nor all-powerful. Ward is an MP for Bradford. There are very few Jews in Bradford, but very many Muslims. Taken at face value, the Board would basically be an irrelevancy for both David Ward and his constituents.

Nevertheless, this kind of thinking, the well-worn drawing together of Jews, money and power, betrays Jews, Muslims and Ward’s own Liberal Democrat Party. It also betrays Ward, but only in the sense of revealing how he thinks, or what he may think appeals to his Muslim constituents.

David Ward has, in under a year, gone from relative obscurity to becoming a one man wrecking ball for the reputation of his party. (For brief example, see here; and see here for his attending a meeting on November 4th that disgraced Parliament.)

The Liberal Democrats must have thought that Jenny Tonge’s much awaited exit had put all of this aggravation and nonsense behind them. Unfortunately, Ward has swiftly occupied the space vacated by Tonge’s departure; and, once again, the Jewish community is left dismayed by the antisemitic resonance of statements made by a Liberal Democrat MP.

The last time we got here with Ward, the party leadership suspended him, and failed in attempts to educate him on the subject of antisemitism and Jewish sensitivities. Then, at the recent Liberal Democrat party conference in Glasgow, Ward attended an open meeting of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel group, entitled,

Crossing the line: Israel, Palestine, language and anti-Semitism

Before it, he had tweeted:

looking forward to LDFI event tonight on use of sensitive language

On behalf of CST, I spoke at the meeting, as did Alistair Carmichael MP, Maajid Nawaz and Lesley Klaff.

David Ward and a colleague sat near the front. Ward appeared to be paying very close attention, his face a scowl of concentration as he scribbled furiously throughout. I tried to direct my explanation of contemporary antisemitism and anti-Zionism straight at him, including:

If I think that someone’s made an antisemitic remark, or that the accusations they make against Israel or Zionists sound just like an update of older antisemitism, with the word Zionist used where the word Jew used to be, then I’m not saying that that person hates every single Jew in the world…I’m just saying that they’ve made an antisemitic remark. The context surrounding that remark, and how they react to my perception of what they’ve said, how other people react in accordance with all of that – now that’s important to me.

Because that’s the basics of how racism works. Its a form of political violence. It feeds off loose language and stereotypes. If the media or the politicians or activist groups run anti-immigrant or anti-Muslim or anti-black scare stories, then attacks on those people increase. You know that, we all know that and its no different with Jews. If you don’t care about the anti-Jewish aspect of racism, or about the feelings of Jews as victims, then it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a dyed in the wool antisemite, but it certainly makes you part of the problem.

At the very least, David Ward MP is certainly part of the problem.

Indy’s political editor misrepresents David Ward’s vile Holocaust remarks

We recently reported on a Tweet by David Ward MP, which read “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?”, suggesting that the Bradford East MP was relishing the inevitable destruction of the “apartheid” Jewish state.  Ward’s Tweet, on top of comments he made on Holocaust Memorial Day earlier this year, resulted in minor disciplinary action being taken against him by his party, the Lib Dems.

DAVIDWARD-460x249

David Ward, MP

Whilst the Guardian reported the most recent row somewhat fairly, a July 18 piece in The Independent, reporting on both Ward’s latest Tweet and his original Holocaust Day ‘reflection’ egregiously downplayed the latter. Nigel Morris, the Indy’s political editor, in a report titled “Liberal Democrats suspend MP David Ward over Israel comments on Holocaust Day“, wrote the following:

A Liberal Democrat MP who questioned the continued existence of Israel lost the party’s whip yesterday following a dressing-down from Nick Clegg.

David Ward, the MP for Bradford East, had previously been reprimanded by the party’s leadership over comments condemning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

The issue came to a head after a new post on Twitter in which Mr Ward wrote: “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?”

Of course, it is grossly misleading to write that Ward had been reprimanded due to comments “condemning Israel’s treatment of Palestinians”. The quote which caused the row specifically referred to Jews, and not Israelis.  Here it is:

“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,” 

As the quote clearly indicates, Ward was castigating Jews as Jews for, a mere few years after liberation from the death camps in 1945, evidently not learning the correct moral lessons and thus beginning immediately to inflict atrocities on Palestinians.  

Jews, ‘of all people’, an exasperated Ward was in effect exclaiming, had visited upon the Palestinians a level of cruelty and violence which arguably evoke the crimes committed against their co-religionists in the death camps throughout Europe – a “they of all people” argument which Howard Jacobson aptly characterized as leaving the Jewish people doubly damned: to the Holocaust itself and to elevated moral scrutiny as a result of it.

 As Chas Newkey-Burden so eloquently wrote:

Let us strip the “they-of-all-people” argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity. Do not accept it; turn it back on those who offer it. For it is us, not you, who should know better.

Contrary to the extremely misleading passage by Morris, Ward did not simply condemn Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, but criticized Jews for their alleged collective amnesia over the Shoah, and their resulting ‘inhumanity’ towards others.  Jewish victims, Ward’s logic implies, have “sadly” become the new victimizers.

Ward egregiously crossed the line between criticising Israel and collectively criticising Jews, a huge moral distinction which the Indy editor should have easily identified. 

David Ward disciplined by Lib Dems after Tweet about Israel’s inevitable imposion

We posted recently about the following July 13th Tweet by David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP who had lectured Jews (on Holocaust Memorial Day in January) for inflicting atrocities on others and thus failing to learn the right moral lessons from the Nazi genocide.

Well, it was reported about an hour ago that, due to his comments about Jews on Holocaust Memorial Day, as well as his most recent Tweet, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and chief whip Alistair Carmichael met with Ward and decided to withdraw his party whip, essentially temporarily suspending him from the parliamentary party.

Here’s the letter by chief whip Alistair Carmichael to Ward:

David Ward MP
House of Commons
LONDON
SW1A 0AA

17th July, 2013

Thank you for coming to see Nick, Simon and me this afternoon.

You will recall that we discussed the report of your two meetings with the group convened by Simon, which included Jewish colleagues. As Nick indicated to you, that report was a largely positive one. In particular we were all pleased to note that you appreciated the need to use language in this debate that was proportionate and precise.

It was therefore with immense disappointment that we were presented with your public comment made on 13th July on Twitter in the following terms:

“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?”

We were in unanimous agreement that questioning the continued existence of the State of Israel fails the test of language that is “proportionate and precise”.

We want to be clear with you that in this process we are not concerned about your views and opinions on the policies of present or previous Israeli governments, nor the situation in the Israeli-occupied territories, nor the strength of feeling with which your views are held. As we have sought to impress upon you repeatedly, we are having to decide on whether language you chose to use in January and February, and now this month, is language which brings the party into disrepute or harms the interests of the Party.

During the meeting, we put it to you that your most recent statement – which specifically questions the continuing existence of the State of Israel – is neither proportionate nor precise. Unfortunately, we considered your explanation to be unconvincing and it did not satisfy us that you understood the importance of conducting the debate on this issue at all times and in all places in terms that are proportionate and precise.

We wish to reiterate that this is not about telling you what your views should be. Indeed, we have all visited the occupied territories and we have all experienced an instinctive and liberal reaction to the humanitarian suffering we have witnessed. You will know that Nick, Simon and I have a consistent track record of being outspoken about illegal settlement activities of Israeli governments and the threat this poses to the two-state solution for which the party has long argued.

It is also immensely frustrating for us to find ourselves constantly responding to questions about disproportionate and imprecise language from you. These interventions cause considerable offence rather than addressing questions of political substance about the plight of the Palestinian people and the right of Israel’s citizens to live a life free of violence. It is extraordinarily difficult to gain traction in that debate at an effective political level if the expression of our concerns is undermined by the way your language misrepresents the view of our party.

Whilst we understand you have your own views about this process, which has been long and complicated, we also hope you recognise that we have given you every opportunity to reconcile the expression of your views with the party’s policy on a two-state solution. Unfortunately, you have not been able to do that.

Therefore, it is with regret that I have to inform you that we have decided to suspend the Liberal Democrat whip from you. This period of suspension will be with immediate effect until 13th September inclusive. I very much regret that it has been necessary to take this action.

Yours ever,

Alistair Carmichael

We had noted in our earlier post that even the Guardian failed to come to Ward’s defense after his Holocaust remarks. 

David Ward’s Bulldozer

The following was written by Mark Gardner at the blog of the CST

David Ward

David Ward

Old friends and (new) foes have advised David Ward MP that he is in a hole and really should stop digging. (For background, see here and here.) Unfortunately, whoever runs his website disagrees, and has posted an article that renders Ward unfit to serve as a Member of Parliament for so long as it remains there.

With this new article, Ward has swapped his spade for a bulldozer.

The article is entitled, “Guardian continues the hounding of David Ward”. It exemplifies the type of loose – and therefore dangerous and highly offensive – language about Jews, Israel and the Holocaust that got Ward exactly where he is today.

Having posted this, it is clear that David Ward and his constituency team neither understand the power of words, nor the importance of precision of language. They most certainly underestimate its importance in the context of dealing with Jews and in relation to racism. So it is fitting, and somewhat sad, that the article is itself a counterattack on a recent Guardian interview with Ward, headlined “David Ward: ‘The solid ground I stand on is that I am not a racist’ ”.

The interview, by Aida Edemariam, criticises Ward for not understanding why he caused offence with his Jews-Holocaust-Israel-Palestinians linkage, but it does seem to afford him every opportunity to state his case and quotes him at length. It is well worth reading, but outraged John Hilley who wrote about it on his (ill-termed) Zenpolitics website. This is the article that is now on Ward’s website, where it resides under Ward’s name and the logo of the Liberal Democrat Party.

Hilley begins by reminding us what Ward originally said about “the Jews” having suffered in the Holocaust and then “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”. He acknowledges that Ward’s wording was poor, but states that the outrage about it is somehow artificial: 

whatever lack of qualification or carelessness in his words, were we really to believe that Ward meant or implied that all Jews were/are responsible for Israel’s repressions and occupation?

To which the answer, for most of us, would be a resounding “yes”. When someone says “the Jews”, we take that to mean “the Jews”. Indeed, isn’t that the standard defence of every anti-Zionist who has ever been accused of antisemitism? “Errr…I didn’t say ‘the Jews’, I was clearly only talking about Ariel Sharon / the IDF / Israelis / Zionists / George Bush / the Board of Deputies of British Jews…”.

Building from this self-serving deceit, the article vilifies those who have taken issue with Ward’s Jews-Holocaust-Israel-Palestinians construct. It includes these misrepresentations of complaints:

the expected criticism from outraged Zionists…

Edemariam like all Ward’s detractors, really knows what he meant…

his [Ward’s] meaning is likely to have been well understood…

Ward’s real ‘mistake’, as far as the Zionist lobby and many liberal commentariat are concerned – and as his Liberal colleague Jenny Tongue also found out to her cost – was to criticise Israel at all…

Those, like David Ward, who courageously speak in any kind of similar vein – despite his subsequent corrections – are, as usual, pilloried for being anti-Semitic and hounded by liberal media types for not subscribing to the template Zionist narrative…

There is a small mercy in that the article’s insistence that Ward did not mean “the Jews”, helps inoculate it against similar charges. Hilley clearly does not mean all “the Jews”, but this article still leaves the reader believing that any complainant is part of a conspiracy to silence all dissent on Israel, Zionism, or prevailing Holocaust narratives.

As Ward has previously put it and as positively cited again in this article:

Ward’s point about the “huge operation out there, a machine almost, which is designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism” also applies to this kind of liberal baiting.

(“Liberal baiting” is a reference to the Guardian interviewer, Aida Edemariam. The news that the Guardian is also somehow in on this alleged conspiracy to silence Ward, Tonge and their ilk, may surprise those who have followed debates about ‘the new antisemitism’ in recent decades.)

Despite all this, the article’s primary thrust tries to reinforce Ward’s post-facto rationalisation of his behaviour in the controversy thus far: the notion that he is bravely trying to kick-start an urgent debate on how the Holocaust impacted upon the subsequent actions of Israel and/or Zionists (but not “the Jews” – or at least not those Jews who kept out of it all).

Now we are no longer talking about the offence caused by stupid routine accusations about all criticism of Israel being falsely jumped on as antisemitism; or the even sillier (and far more original) idea that the Guardian is now in on the act. Instead, we are back to talking about the Holocaust. We are back to the original cause of the outrage against Ward.  You might, therefore, expect the language to now, at long last, be careful and precise, empathetic even towards those who were so upset. Sadly, this is not the case:

Nor was Ward linking the Holocaust and the Occupation by comparing or equating them as “categories”. He was linking them in the obvious sense that the Holocaust was used as a part of the Zionist agenda for occupying another people’s land…

Indeed, how dare Zionists not ignore the near genocide of European Jewry, but to move on, Ward’s insistence that he was not equating “the Holocaust and the Occupation…as ‘categories’” has been central to his defence since day one of this squalid controversy. Bizarrrely, having just stated the above, Hilley then bulldozes under both his and Ward’s position, writing:

And if Edemariam really does believe after sixty years of ethnic cleansing, mass IDF murder, settler takeovers, apartheid transfer policies and the continued prison camp siege of Gaza that Israel “is not setting out to annihilate [the Palestinian] people”, perhaps she is the one who should be more carefully considering her incendiary language.

In the space of two small paragraphs, Hilley has gone from saying that the Holocaust is obviously not the same as “occupying another people’s land” to outrage that Ward’s interviewer has denied Israel “is not setting out to annihilate the Palestinian people”.

To be precise, “setting out to annihilate” is not the same as perpetrating an annihilation / Holocaust, but to the man on the Clapham (or Bradford East) omnibus, there will be little difference. Then, there is the seriousness of what Hilley’s angry denial of Edemariam’s words implies – that Israel is actually setting out to annihilate the Palestinian people, as the Nazis set out to annihilate the Jews.

If this is to be Ward’s chosen category comparison / equation, then he has no place continuing as an MP.   

Hilley’s article is not yet done. It has “a rather basic set of sequential things to restate”. Bullet points follow, beginning with an accurate description and full condemnation of the Holocaust against “the Jews”. Nevertheless, the centrality of antisemitism and the Holocaust to Nazi ideology is undersold by the next point:

  • “It was part of a systematic purge on any community, Jews, Gypsies, Communists, deemed inferior or/and a threat to Nazi ideology and power.”

The article continues:

  • Anyone who seeks to deny or misconstrue these basic facts is either peddling lies, misinformed  or uninterested in the truth”

More “basic facts” follow and again we are told that if you do not agree with them then you are either a liar or a fool. They include:

  • “The Holocaust formed a central ideological, political and militarist agenda in the Zionist formulation and creation of a Jewish state.”

If anything, this goes even further than the earlier mention of the Holocaust and “the Zionist agenda”. Notwithstanding the first of Hilley’s points, it is as if the Holocaust has now been stripped of all meaning for Jews and reduced to some kind of deeper, more elemental truth about it being a Zionist tool. The bullet points continue, including:

  • “We cannot reasonably learn or understand anything about Palestinian suffering without referencing the Holocaust and the ways in which Zionism has used it to legitimise the Occupation.”

So, whilst the basic reasons as to how and why the Holocaust might feed into Jewish support for Zionism are dehumanised, the opposite must apply for Palestinian suffering. For now, let us just say that this is a striking double standard.

Then, Hilley cites Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein “whose own Jewish family were murdered in extermination camps…this has been turned into ideological propaganda through the Holocaust Industry”.

All of which feeds to the article’s conclusion about Ward’s “careless discrepancy” being maliciously used “to keep other journalists in a state of  cautious apprehension about discussing the Holocaust in relation to the Occupation…[this] personalised hatchet-job does exactly what the Zionist lobby and self-protecting editors want in keeping all that prudently off-limits”.

Let us be clear, an article such as Hilley’s is not exceptional within proper anti-Zionist and anti-Israel circles. Its weird claim that “Jews” really means “Zionists” or “Israelis” repeats what we have previously heard from Caryl Churchill and Paul Foot, two wordsmiths beside whom Hilley and Ward pale into insignificance. Its claim that outrage over Ward’s spitting on Holocaust memory is proof that any and all criticism of Israel is falsely accused of antisemitism is merely routine; as is the coterminous accusation that such claims succeed in shutting up all criticism.

Even the idea that Israel wants to repeat what the Nazis did is not that unusual, with Holocaust Memorial Day fast become a lightning rod for this sickening, perverse claim. 

However, for all of this rubbish to be brought together in a single article on an MP’s website brings shame upon the Liberal Democrat Party, and upon Ward’s many decent colleagues who keep getting spattered with mud from these issues. So long as this article remains on David Ward MP’s website, he is unfit to serve as a Member of Parliament.

Postscript to David Ward’s comments about ‘Jewish culpability’.

There was an interesting exchange of comments below the line of ‘s Feb. 6 Guardian piece, David Ward: ‘The solid ground I walk on is that I’m not a racist‘.

As a reminder, here are Ward’s comments in the context of Holocaust Memorial Day which began the row:

“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.”

Here, a commenter using the moniker ‘bonbonniera’ responds to ‘chrisgnolan’, picking up on the broad theme advanced by Ward of Jews’ alleged guilt in carrying out atrocities following their liberation after the Holocaust.

1 pic

‘Bonbonnier’ then adds:

2 pic

‘Bonbonniera’ then responds to a question by a commenter using the moniker ‘Rantalot’, about the rights of non-Jews in “Palestine”, writing, thus:

3 pic

Some exchanges below the line at ‘CiF’ are quite instructive.  Here, ‘bonbonniera’ gets to the heart of why Ward’s comments were so offensive:  While the Holocaust, contrary to what some claim, does not represent the justification for a Jewish state (a right derived by Jews’ historical connection to the land, and legally codified by the the Mandate for Palestine), it takes an incredibly hard heart not to sympathize with the political aspirations of Jews following the Holocaust.

Further, Ward’s faux history ignores the fact that it was Arabs who committed extreme acts of violence against Jews in pre-state Israel, and Arabs who sought the annihilation of all Jews from the river to the sea in 1948 (a war which resulted in a large exodus of Palestinian Arabs), Arab leaders who ethnically cleansed Jews from Arab countries in the years following ’48, and Arabs who still refuse to recognize the right of Jews to live in a sovereign state.

The racism which needs to be acknowledged – and which MP Ward truly needs to address – is that of Arabs against a tiny Jewish minority.  Ward, and his defenders at CiF, have learned nothing about the true lessons of the Holocaust, and certainly nothing about the history of the 65 year Arab war against the Jewish state.