I had hoped to report on a meeting in Parliament (Conference Room 1) on 28 March. It was the ‘Balfour Apology Campaign’, chaired by Jenny Tonge. Unfortunately the Chair, Lord Warner (not Tonge – yes I’ll get to that later), threw out the only two Jews in the room, probably in order that the hatefest could not be witnessed.
So who knows what lies, demonisation and anti-semitism were voiced?
But of course, throwing out the only two Jews in the room – on an unfounded accusation in one case and with no reason whatsoever in the other (mine) – itself stinks of anti-semitism.
Down to speak was David Cronin. He writes for Spinwatch, that strange organisation which seems obsessed with ‘Jewish power ‘. Cronin writes from Brussels and is a specialist in demonising Israel and its supporters.
Here for example he writes ‘the Israel lobby is a force not only on Capitol Hill, but in Brussels, too, and … it is attempting to stifle debate about Israel’s sadistic treatment of the Palestinian people.’ He is famous (more accurately, infamous) for attempting (and failing) to make a citizen’s arrest of Avigdor Lieberman in Brussels. And look what he said about Jonathan Freedland in March 2015, when Freedland was thought to be a candidate to become Editor-In-Chief of the Guardian: ‘In a perverse way, it might be a good thing if he gets the job.
With Freedland at the helm, it would be easier to show how a supposedly progressive newspaper is in thrall to the toxic ideology of Zionism’.
The meeting was not chaired by Jenny Tonge. It was instead chaired by Lord Warner, a former civil servant who quit the Labour Party and sits as a cross-bencher.
He is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society. He is also one of the four European Parliamentarians who are trustees of the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) (there are six trustees in all). CEPR reportedly ‘serves as Hamas’ representative in Europe’ and if its trustees – including Lord Warner – attempted to land in Israel, they might well be arrested, following Israel’s proscribing of the organisation at the end of 2013.
Lord Warner did visit Judea/Samaria in April 2016 on a CAABU trip but presumably he went via Jordan, not Israel. Might fear of arrest explain why Warner does not appear to have visited Gaza since 2011?
Lord Warner began by explaining why he – and not Jenny Tonge – was chairing. Tonge – he said – was in hospital after a heart attack and had had two stents inserted. (I made a note to ask whether they were made in Israel – which is the leader in stent technology. I do hope when she signed the consent form ‘Jihad Jenny’ insisted on ‘no Israeli medicines or technology’………).
Lord Warner then announced that no recordings were allowed “otherwise the Israeli Ambassador will be complaining”. He also denigrated the people who had complained to the Lords Standards Commissioner about Tonge (one of whom was me): “Many people are pushing the line that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic”. (Only antisemites say this – when pressed they can never give an example of a supporter of Israel who has called a critic of Israel an anti-Semite). He seemed to think that those of us who complained – including of course six ‘noble Lords’ – were simply trying to suppress criticism of Israel.
In this connection he mentioned the Israel Ambassador who complained – but (of course) he did not mention Lord Beecham, Lord Carlile of Berriew, Baroness Deech, Lord Mitchell, Lord Palmer of Childs Hill or Lord Stunell ……………..I wonder what they would like to say to him?
After the meeting had started (and after Lord Warner’s warnings about recording) a journalist entered the room. He sat down and placed his recorder on the table. Someone from the ‘Balfour Project’ noticed it, went over to Lord Warner and alerted him that someone was recording. After the speaker finished speaking, Lord Warner told the journalist that he was not supposed to be recording.
The journalist said that he always recorded and that he had never had a problem before – including with Jenny Tonge. Lord Warner – incredibly – said that the reason recording wasn’t allowed was so that “people could speak their mind without fear of their words being published and then being intimidated”.
He said that recording “would make it easy to name speakers in a report”. After the meeting I checked the rules with Black Rod’s Office. Recording for transcription purposes is permitted – which is what the journalist intended. Lord Warner was plain wrong.
And in a public meeting in Parliament you CANNOT (effectively) declare that the Chatham House Rule applies! People are responsible for what they say. Just like the Neturei Karta member at the last Balfour Apology meeting who said that the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves. Parliament is a public building, taxpayer-financed. No Chair can suggest that people should not be publicly accountable for what they say.
What was Lord Warner afraid of? That someone would say (like ‘Audience Member 8’ at the last Balfour Apology meeting) the “Zionists control Parliament”? Zionists can “put people into a very invidious situation”?; Zionists suppress “open debate”? Well if they do, they need to be publicly accountable for it. Why should they hide behind anonymity – like some antisemitic Troll on Twitter? No – Just No.
I could not believe what came next from Lord Warner: “Misrepresentation of these debates by those who take their instructions from the Israeli Ambassador is an intimidatory act”.
Err …. for one thing accurate representation is precisely WHY people record meetings. And the suggestion that we both ‘misrepresent’ and ‘take our instructions from the Israeli Ambassador’ is contemptible. It comes from the mentality that cannot believe that Israel’s supporters do it because it is the right thing to do!
I think I said (politely) that I thought that the rules permitted sound recording but not video recording. (I was right – Black Rod’s Office confirmed on the phone the next day that recording for transcription purposes is permitted).
And then …. Lord Warner asked both of us to leave the room! I had done absolutely nothing to deserve this. Neither had the journalist (who is also Jewish). It was an act of pure prejudice. Let’s not beat about the bush. Our ejection by Lord Warner was an act of anti-semitism.
Lord Warner of course has form. That’s why he was chairing the ‘Balfour Apology’ meeting instead of Tonge. He has been a consistent visitor to Gaza and Judea/Samaria as a guest of CAABU and the Council for European Palestinian Relations.
He vilifies Israel without ever mentioning Hamas terror; claims Gaza is under siege; has called Gaza “the largest openair prison in the world and [it] represents a collective punishment of Gaza’s citizens”; and he blames Israel for “the appalling conditions under which Palestine’s children are living”. He supported the failed RIBA boycott.
Check his speeches and articles. He never mentions Hamas terror, never mentions Hamas TV (a form of child abuse which brainwashes children). He never mentions (as Lord Palmer responded in a debate last year) the Palestinian children who are brought to Israel and treated in Israeli hospitals.
In 2014, the daughter of Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in Gaza, was allowed to exit Gaza just after Israel’s military operation there. In September 2016 alone, there were nearly 600 approvals for those age 17 and below to go to Israel for health-related reasons.
He never mentions the widespread exploitation of children (child soldiers) for attacks against Israelis.
Well at least he has now been revealed for what he is. A trustee of the organisation allegedly representing Hamas in Europe. Hamas is proscribed in its entirely in the EU. The UK holds to the pretence that Hamas’ ‘military wing’ can be separated from the rest – and just proscribed its military wing.
Why is a man who allegedly represents Hamas sitting in the House Of Lords? And why is he throwing Jews out of anti-Israel public meetings? You may well ask…………