Baroness Tonge. If there was any justice in the world, she'd be looking down at the shattered remains of her political career.
Though she recognises Israel's honourable and impressive attempts to help the earthquake-hit Haitians, pointing out that the country is “to be commended for their fantastic response to the Haitian earthquake," her thoughts on the ridiculous claims that IDF rescue teams harvested organs from victims are extremely misguided and offensive. “To prevent allegations such as these — which have already been posted on YouTube — going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti,” she says. Is she unaware that these claims started life on websites that in many cases don't even try to disguise their rabid hatred of Jews, Judaism and the Jewish state? Has she not heard of blood libel, the centuries-old accusation made by just about anyone who seeks to destroy Jews and Jewish communities, of which the recent allegations of organ harvesting are simply the most modern version?
By stating that Israel needs to investigate the claims, she suggests only that the allegations are legitimate when in fact they are nothing more than a spectacularly offensive and ridiculous example of anti-semitism. As Ed Fordham, LibDem candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn points out, “It’s abhorrent that anyone should suggest that something as perverse and sick as this should be investigated.” (We'll just have to hope this is his true and heart-felt opinion on the matter and that he's not just saying it because there's a healthy Jewish community in what he hopes will become his constituency).
Meanwhile, party leader Nick Clegg refuses to discipline the peer; though a spokesperson admits that "we understand why the idea would be offensive to the Jewish community,"obviously making the all-too-common mistake of assuming the Jewish community and Israel are one and the same. When disaster struck Haiti, many of the world's nations came together and worked side-by-side to save lives. It was not a time for individual nations to achieve glory, but a time when humanity in general earned praise - for that reason, Baroness Tonge's statements are offensive not only to Israelis and Jews, but to everybody who donated money or physical help to Haiti.
In the past, there has been a question over whether Baroness Tonge is an anti-semite - an accusation regularly made against her; but those that defend her have argued persuasively that she was merely expressing views and opinions to which she is entitled. Baroness Tonge is an intelligent woman, whatever her views when it comes to ethnicity, and she cannot have failed to understand the overtones of what she has said. Her recent comments, it seems, confirm that her accusers were correct all along.
(By the way, if you click on Nick Clegg's name in the paragraph before last, you will be whisked as though by magic off to his very own homepage where you can find details allowing you to contact him - so you can tell him what you think of Baroness Tonge's comment and encourage him to withdraw her party whip. Please do!)