Cowardly Nick Clegg’s Little Problem With David Ward
IS Nick Clegg a hypocrite or just weak? The Jewish Chronicle says he’s the former: “There is only one word for Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister: hypocrite.”
Anorak can think of many others. word for Clegg. But the JC is calling out the Deputy Prime Minister for his unwillingness to address his LibDem colleague, David Ward.
But it is quite another thing for Mr Clegg to have the gall to turn up at a Board of Deputies reception, speak about the importance of countering “expressions of intolerance, of extremism, of hatred”, demand that society “stand up for the values of unity and respect”, stress the need for “sticking to the values you believe in through thick and thin” — and then refuse to answer a single question or utter a word of condemnation of a LibDem MP who plainly believes that Jews buy their way to power which they then exercise unduly.
Clegg was at a Board of Deputies event for Hanukkah. He said the holiday’s message - “confronting adversity, sticking to the values you believe in through thick and thin” — remained resonant.
This follows an earlier column in the JC by Daniel Finkelstein, Associate Editor of The Times:
Dear Deputy Prime Minister,
As I hope you know by now, I have great respect for you. I believe it took substantial courage and imagination to agree to the coalition deal and to see it through in the way that you have. So I write now in full confidence of your goodwill and your willingness and ability to do what is right.
After an intro more loaded than George Bush as a frat party, Finkelstein continues:
…At the beginning of the year, Mr Ward told Holocaust survivors like my mother that they had failed to learn the lesson of experience. They should treat people better and they don’t. He kept pressing this opinion, and talking about Jews, until you felt that you needed to withdraw the party whip. However, as a compromise, the whip was taken away from him only while the House wasn’t sitting. I was a bit disappointed by this, but I saw the problem. You didn’t want a huge party row with him about Israel and you didn’t want to lose an MP. You thought perhaps that a warning would do.
Mr Ward has now given himself of the opinion that the Board of Deputies is powerful and well financed. Your party has dismissed this as a flattering observation but I think we both know better than this. It is a classic and freighted description of a Jewish lobby that reflects Mr Ward’s view that, for financial reasons, Jews have acquired great power.
By themselves it would be easy to dismiss the comments, but the comments are not made by themselves. They form part of a pattern of remarks deeply offensive to Jews.
I am sure you would never conclude that Jews don’t matter because there aren’t many of us and we don’t live where you need us. Or that Mr Ward’s constituents will support him, and Jewish feelings are collateral damage in his election campaign. But perhaps you think this a niche problem that will go away. This is an error.
And then a word of warning:
Mr Ward will make another offensive remark, probably worse than this one. It’s just a matter of time. He will do it closer to an election, in a more highly charged atmosphere, and you will be put in a very difficult position. He may also tie his remarks closely to his view of Israel, making action just as necessary but more awkward.
And then a note from history:
If these strategic thoughts don’t convince you, let me try something a bit more direct. Mr Ward’s comments are simply not acceptable. You didn’t go into politics, surely, to stand by someone saying that Jewish money makes them powerful. Or to compare Jews to Nazis. You can’t allow yourself to be responsible for that. And you don’t have to. Because, guess what, you are the leader.
“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.”
Got that? Jews are comparable to Nazis. And on he went:
“It appears that the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated”
I live in a mildly anti-Semitic country, and Europe is mildly anti-Semitic, and they hold Israel to a higher moral standard than its neighbors. If you bring up Israel in a public meeting in England, the whole atmosphere changes. The standard left-wing person never feels more comfortable than when attacking Israel. Because they are the only foreigners you can attack. Everyone else is protected by having dark skin, or colonial history, or something. But you can attack Israel. And the atmosphere becomes very unpleasant. It is traditional, snobbish, British anti-Semitism combined with present-day circumstances.
He’s right. I’ve heard it.
David Ward might not be a fan of Israel, a country with many flaws. It’s just odd that with all the world’s wars and injustices happening right now, he selects Jews to be the Nazis… Holocaust Memorial Day marked the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, where more than one million people – mostly Jews – died. Pictures of that death camp are here and here.
So. What else did Mr Ward say?
He “refused to apologise for writing on his twitter page on 13 July: ‘Am I wrong or am I right? At long last the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?’”
Raheem Kassam writes:
As one Lib Dem source told me last week though, “Ward is very careful not to use the word ‘Jews’ anymore, because he knows doing so would mean his immediate expulsion from the Liberal Democrat party. In the meantime, the Lib Dems will let him get away with all sorts of other nods to his blatant anti-Semitism, for fear of losing a Member of Parliament they desperately need to shore up numbers in the House of Commons.”
So will the Lib Dems step up to the plate this time? Or is it going to be stone cold silence yet again?
And then, as Trending Central notes:
Blogger Richard Millett reports that Ward, who appeared on a panel alongside the disgraced Baroness Jenny Tonge, moaned about his suspension from the Liberal Democrat party after his anti-Semitic comments on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. At the time, Ward described the situation in the West Bank and Gaza a result of “the Jews” – a classic anti-Semitic trope blaming the entire race of people for the situation caused by an ongoing conflict between Israel and those claiming to act on behalf of the Palestinian people.
He was suspended after the affair, and his rhetoric since has been less that cautious on the matter. But last night Ward bemoaned his party again, stating, “Actually I never said that [Israel shouldn’t exist] but that it should never have been created.” His criticisms reportedly lay with the fact that he sees a difference between calling for the end of the Jewish State, and stating that it should never have been brought to existence in the first place.
The matter will be taken as yet another serious incident by Jewish groups who will no doubt see the creation of the State of Israel as a response to the atrocities of the Holocaust, and indeed as a historical right over the ancient land of Israel. Ward’s contention that Israel should never have been created is to both deny the historical relevance of the region to the Jewish people, and to ignore the atrocities of the Holocaust and the desperate need for a Jewish state that resulted from it.
Mark Gardner at Cif Watch notes:
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.
This is not a freedom of speech issue. I don’t think David Ward should be pilloried for making these remarks and if he was a Guardian journalist, rather than an MP, I wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow.
Of course, it’s partly about free speech, It has to be. Ward should be allowed to make his point and debate it, however abhorrent it is. What is clear is that Clegg is not up for the debate. He shies away. He’s worse than a hypocrite. He’s a coward.