February 09, 2013

David Ward defended from antisemitism charge

I didn't see this letter from Tony Greenstein to The Guardian (6th Feb 2013).
Aida Edemariam writes that Lib Dem MP David Ward "still seems unable to comprehend why he has caused offence" ('The solid ground I stand on is that I am not a racist', G2, 6 February). David Ward's offence is accusing "the Jews" of inflicting atrocities on Palestinians, within a few years of their own liberation from the death camps.
This is much ado about nothing. Ward's error in referring to "the Jews" rather than "Jewish people" is entirely understandable. The sole purpose of the synthetic outrage Ward's remarks have generated is designed to stifle criticism of Israel and suppress free speech. Israel's occupation is carried out in the name of a state which calls itself Jewish and claims, according to the 2004 Jerusalem Program of the World Zionist Organisation, to represent "the Jewish people" as a whole. Ward's critics cannot have their cake and eat it. They cannot claim Israel represents not merely its own Jewish citizens but Jews worldwide and at the same time accuse people who associate "the Jews" with Israel's atrocities of antisemitism. The Board of Deputies of British Jews has repeatedly proclaimed the support of British Jews for Israel's attacks on the Palestinians and Lebanese. It has even organised demonstrations in support of those attacks. Perhaps the board is also antisemitic? Certainly they can't complain when people take them at their word.
Ward is accused of antisemitism for making comparisons between the Nazi period and what is happening to the Palestinians. Of course Israel has not set up death camps for Arabs. But when Gerald Kaufman spoke in the Commons about his grandmother who had been killed in her bed by a Nazi soldier, he stated that "my grandmother did not die in order to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza". Is Gerald Kaufman also antisemitic?
Tony Greenstein
Brighton, East Sussex
 These bogus allegations of antisemitism are coming in thick and fast these days so you might not know the story that Tony was referring to.  If that's the case then the link is in his letter above but here it is again. Also, here's the letter on Tony Greenstein's blog.

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