antisemitism,  Lib Dems

The Lib Dems’ disciplinary farce

Does this make any sense at all?

The British MP who sparked outrage on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day by suggesting that “the Jews” had not learned the lessons of the Holocaust has been forced by his party to work with a pro-Israel group and remove the comments from his website.

Liberal Democrat MP David Ward had been censored by his party earlier this month following the controversial comments. However he stood by… them and refused to remove them from his website. After making further offending comments, he was then subject to a disciplinary process for breaching a promise he made to party officials.
After widespread criticism on how the party had dealt with the matter – the Board of Deputies of British Jews accused the party’s response as “inadequate and limp wristed” – leader Nick Clegg, deputy leader Simon Hughes and Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael, the official in charge of party discipline, met with Ward on Monday night.

The party leadership told him that while it is legitimate to hold view on the conflict, they must not be “generalized” or “indiscriminate” in nature.
As part of the disciplinary procedures Ward must also work with the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel to “identify and agree language that will be proportionate and precise” in future interventions on the debate.

“We would also hope that this would allow you to achieve a better understanding of the legitimate concern that your comments has caused within the wider Jewish community,” Carmichael told him.

The letter also confirms that Ward has undertaken to remove the original offensive statement from his website – in which he says: “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.”

However the statement is still on his website on Thursday, three days after Ward undertook to remove it. [As of this writing it is still there.]

The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council have expressed concern with the party’s response, calling it a “pedestrian and lack-lustre.”

The community representative organizations said in a statement on Thursday that they believed that his open defiance of the party’s censure and continued offensiveness to the Jewish community would lead to appropriate immediate disciplinary action.

Jon Benjamin, the Board of Deputies’ chief executive and his counterpart at the Jewish Leadership Council, Jeremy Newmark, said: “This is a pedestrian and lacklustre response to what amounts to anti-Semitism at the heart of parliament.

“Any ‘process’ that takes place without proper disciplinary action will be seen as a fig leaf,” they said.

The organization heads added: “Liberal Democrat leaders seem to think that they can express concern to communal leaders about anti-Semitism in private but fail to step up and confront it in public.

“We cannot accept that scenario. If even now the party thinks it is simply a matter of educating Mr Ward as to the hurtfulness and inappropriateness of his comments, one has to wonder at the inadequacy of the party’s initial response to his comments and its failure to make its disgust abundantly clear.”

Clearly Ward’s persistent refusal to remove the disgusting reference to “the Jews” from his website tell us all we need to know about his lack of remorse and his unwillingness to accept party discipline.

And what are these compulsory sessions with the Liberal Democrats Friends of Israel supposed to achieve? Will he be assigned to write an essay of apology or to scribble “I will not spout antisemitic crap” 100 times on the blackboard?

And how far is a party led by Nick “We must stop arming Israel” Clegg prepared to go?

Update: MP Ward has finally removed the offending page from his website.

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