By Richard Mather
We have just witnessed the shameful spectacle of a Jew-hating event hosted by the House of Lords and chaired by the notorious anti-Semite Baroness Jenny Tonge, who co-organised the event with the Palestine Return Centre. During the session, Israel was compared to Islamic State and Jews were blamed for pushing Hitler over the edge and bringing the Holocaust on themselves. Baroness Tonge appeared to enjoy the sessions. Her only concern was that someone might overhear them. There may be “Zionist ears in the room,” she warned her audience.
Baroness Tonge is no stranger to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionist paranoia. A purveyor of the modern-day blood libel, she accused the Israel Defense Forces’ medical team in Haiti in 2010 of harvesting organs. Two years later, she appeared at an Israeli Apartheid Week event and called for an end to the Jewish state, which she described as an “aircraft carrier.” She has also expressed support for Arab suicide bombers and has repeatedly railed against the so-called pro-Israeli lobby, which “has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips.”
Baroness Tonge represents everything that is wrong with left-wing liberalism in Britain. Arrogant, elitist, self-righteous, smugly comfortable, she is completely out of touch with the lower middle and working classes (she is, after all, a Baroness in the House of Lords). She is also one of those ‘anti-racist anti-Semites’ who sees racism everywhere except when it presents itself as Jew-hatred. Baroness Tonge, like many left-wing liberals, believes that history is on their side when it comes to multiculturalism, the demise of national borders and the annihilation of Israel. In a word, she is despicable.
Left liberals like Baroness Tonge would like you to believe there’s a substantial difference between classical anti-Semitism and post-Shoah anti-Zionism. The assertion that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are somehow different is a cynical and deliberate ruse designed to both normalize Jew-hatred in Britain and to delegitimise the State of Israel. It is redolent of the state-sanctioned anti-Semitism prevalent in Russia, as part of the anti-Western campaign of Zhdanovshchina. The Soviet people were told that the Jews had to be excluded from Soviet life because they had a tendency to glorify the West. Now, left-wing liberals are making it clear that Jews must be excluded from British political discourse because they are linked to the State of Israel.
Baroness Tonge and her band of anti-Zionist campaigners in the House of Lords want the British government to apologize for the Balfour Declaration of 1917. What these people fail to understand is that the Balfour Declaration was the outcome of decades of campaigning by Jews whose vision was to secure international legitimacy for the right of the Jewish people to a build a safe homeland. Anti-Semites like Baroness Tonge fail to see that the Balfour Declaration was about building a sanctuary for the world’s most persecuted people. Instead, she appears to derive her definition of Zionism from the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which purports to describe a plan by Jewish interest groups to accumulate as much power as possible.
The House of Lords event was shameful, but not particularly surprising. There is a long tradition in the West of denouncing Jews, Judaism and the nation of Israel. It is called Adversus Judaeos (so-called because of a series of fourth century anti-Jewish homilies called Ioudaion, “against the Jews”). Early Christian anti-Jewish polemics have become the pattern for twentieth and twenty-first century anti-Jewish tirades, in which Jews/Israelis are falsely accused of murdering Arabs or stealing land. These false accusations, bad enough in themselves, have been grafted onto age-old prejudices about Jews and money, Jews and power, etc. The end goal of all this, of course, is the annihilation or displacement of six million Israeli Jews, plus the discomforting and political marginalization of Diaspora Jews.
Whereas the early anti-Jewish polemicists were convinced they were agents of Christ, people like Baroness Tonge believe themselves to be agents of liberalism (hence the smug self-righteousness that is common on the Left). Jenny Tonge et al claim to act in the name of universalism, to safeguard and respect everyone equally, with Jews being the obvious exception. If liberal universalism has become aligned with the Palestinian Arabs, the Jewish people inevitably emerge as betrayers of that universalism. The existence of a distinct people – the Jews/Israel – produces intense anxiety in the minds of liberals like Baroness Tonge.
By singling out Jews for political condemnation, and by infecting public discourse with anti-Semitic poison, Baroness Tonge and her despicable left-liberal friends are trying their hardest to destroy the post-war consensus that Anglo-Jews form an integral part of British society. Thanks to people like Baroness Tonge, anti-Semitism is once again an immutable factor in Britain. British Jews deserve better than this. And Israel deserves an apology from the UK Parliament for the shameful episode at the House of Lords.