05 March '11
The British Liberal Party, which was on the wane and in the political wilderness during the mid-twentieth century, having been eclipsed by Labour, had a friendly (indeed, sometimes very friendly) attitude towards Israel until 1976, when the pro-Arab David Steel became leader.
And today, in its current reincarnation as the Liberal Democrats, the party, a catch-all for radical lefties of various stripes, possesses numerous obsessed Israel-bashers, not only at “grassroots” level but also at Westminster.
On 22 February our old friend (pictured) Baron Phillips of Sudbury – the Lib Dem life peer who declared not so long ago that “America is in the grip of the well-organised Jewish lobby” – chaired a panel discussion at the Senate House, London University, on the theme “The Palestine Papers: Under the Spotlight”. It was organised by Middle East Monitor, and featured a cast of speakers mainly reflecting in various degrees that body’s anti-Israel stance. Thanks to the indefatigable blogger Richard Millett (remember when he was thrown out of the Palace of Westminster by PC Plod? http://daphneanson.blogspot.com/2010/07/its-unfair-cop-guv-mr-plod-shows-some.html) there is a reliable record of the event, although two heavies tried to relieve Mr Millett of his recorder and his camera!
One speaker, Tim Llewellyn – a former BBC Middle East correspondent (just fancy that!) – declared his support for boycotting Israel, whose “government is uncivilised and Israelis who support it take part in that uncivilisation. Israel is a rogue state in the Middle East.”
Another, former CIA political analyst Kathleen Christison, author of Palestine in Pieces, opined that “the only just solution” is the dismantling of the “exclusivist Jewish state” with its “Jewish exclusivist government” in favour of a single binational state. She stated that “The Palestine Papers laid bare the Israel-America relationship in all its obscenity” and observed that it was difficult to raise that subject in the United States for fear of being labelled “antisemitic”.
The latter remark struck a chord with the noble lord, who drew an analogy with McCarthyism and – presumably recalling the storm he had unleashed on that earlier occasion – lamented “We have a bit of that starting here, I’m afraid.”
Summing up, he said:
“Everything I hear from the platform speakers makes me think that the world we are now moving into has been turned upside down and that, er, the Jews aren’t lacking in intelligence, they may be deeply prejudiced, many of them, but they are going to be saying the same sort of thing as you on the panel are saying. It seems to me that it is not at all safe to rely on the past to interpret the future and that American, indeed American Jewry, quite apart from the progressive elements within Israel, who have been overshadowed in recent years, all of this could change quickly and rapidly in the face of a Middle East that suddenly becomes hostile.” See http://richardmillett.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/lord-andrew-phillips-of-sudbury-many-jews-may-be-deeply-prejudiced/
(Read full "Lib Dem Lords a-Leaping to Kick Israel")
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