An update on the situation of Liberal Democrat MP David Ward after his particular use of words in criticising Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.
Following a meeting with leader Nick Clegg and the party's Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael, the case was adjourned, with Ward, effectively, cautioned and compelled to have any further comments pre-checked by pro-Israel monitors. As reported by the BBC:
"In the meeting, Mr Ward agreed to work with the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel to identify "proportionate language" he could use in the future to express his views."In more loaded tones, Jennifer Lipman at the JC wrote:
"More than a month after his outburst about Israel, the Jews and Auschwitz, David Ward has been ordered to "work along with Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel and Simon Hughes MP to identify and agree language that will be proportionate and precise in your future interventions in this debate"."A further piece by Lipman reported that leading Jewish groups were unhappy about the party's "fig-leaf" actions against Ward, further noting that:
"The party's disciplinary process with the MP will be reviewed after Mr Ward meets LDFI members.
Gavin Stollar, LDFI chairman, said that if the group "doubted Mr Ward's sincerity in engaging in this process, or his willingness to take on board what's coming, then there's no question about our intention to feed that back.Contrary to claims of token censuring, this is truly Orwellian action and terminology, particularly coming from those who have denounced and hounded Ward for his own misuse of language.
"LDFI has essentially been appointed as probation officers for David Ward," said Mr Stollar. "If we are not convinced that he is salvageable then we'll be in the position to report back to the leader and the chief whip and express our views.
"Rather than making him a martyr, LDFI welcomes the opportunity to educate one of our MPs."" (Emphasis added.)
The instructions and words of Clegg, Carmichael and Stollar are highly revealing of how the party machine works to keep Israel's critics in check, illustrating, in this case, the dutiful role of LDFI in the surveillance and "probation" of David Ward.
It remains to be seen from Ward's next 'report card' whether he is "salvageable" or, if not, to be 'discarded' on the advice of LDFI.
Judging from these dark comments, one has a fair idea of the 'teaching' approaches Mr Stollar and his Friends have in mind for helping to "educate" Ward rather than see him become a "martyr" to such a 'spurious' cause as justice for Palestinians. A more censorious kind of 'lesson', no doubt, awaits: 'we'll teach him'.
Meanwhile, here's independent journalist Jonathan Cook (via Facebook) registering some more welcome support for David Ward:
"I've been following the case of David Ward, the British MP accused of anti-semitism, with some interest. As in most of these cases, it's clear he is not actually anti-semitic (or more importantly, racist) but, of course, that's not the purpose of the "controversy" the UK Zionist lobbies have generated in the media. As we know, it's all about silencing criticism of Israel.
Here's the problem quote:
"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."
It's good to see Larry Derfner, a Zionist Israeli, come to Ward's defence, calling out his political hounding for what it is. The statement that got Ward into trouble is certainly clumsy: he tried to elide two ideas - that Jews were the victims of persecution, and now Israelis are the perpetrators of persecution - and in doing so he can be interpreted as conflating Jews and Israelis.
Outside the hardcore Israel lobby and our craven media, that should be [a] fairly minor matter, needing only clarification, which he has since provided. Instead, both the lobby and the media are making hay in wilfully misinterpreting his words and fuelling the illusion that anti-semitism is the potent force among the political class it was a few generations ago."
(Cook's link to Derfner's piece follows.) Larry DerfnerPredictably, these wilful intimidations by the lobby are receiving little or no media attention as both continue to misrepresent Ward and his primary message.
The Israel lobby at its intimidating worst – in Britain
Update, 4 March 2013.
David Ward has cast serious doubt on both party and media interpretations of his meeting with leader Nick Clegg and Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael, rejecting, in particular, claims that he will attend any kind of "language classes".
Claims that Mr Ward has agreed to partake in any compulsory meeting with Gavin Stollar and LDFI also seems highly questionable.
As stated in this piece from the Telegraph and Argus (and reproduced here), Mr Ward fiercely contests the version of events released to the media by Carmichael:
According to the article, Mr Ward intends seeking clarification of Nick Clegg's own "recollections" of the meeting."The MP told the T&A: “I’m very disappointed and angry about this, because what has been said does not reflect what I believe was decided.“And, as someone who has run race awareness classes, I find the idea that I have been sent on some sort of correctionary course to be patronising and quite offensive.”"
Jonathan Cook has commented further (via Facebook) on David Ward's case:
"Many thanks to John Hilley for keeping us up to date with the David Ward saga. Ward is the British MP accused by the UK Jewish establishment of anti-semitism for making the patently obvious point that most Israelis appear to have ignored the universal lesson of the Holocaust and instead gone from being members of a persecuted people to being a nation of persecutors (of Palestinians).
Ward belongs to the Liberal Democrats, a liberal party currently in coalition with the Conservative government and one that has a dismal track record on allowing dissent about Israel within its ranks.
Like the other two main (and bigger) parties, it has one of these strange "Friends of Israel" groups within the parliamentary caucus. These groups have been growing and becoming much more powerful within the three parties over the past decade - just as the rank and file members (like the British people) have, according to polls, become much more sceptical about Israel and its policies.
Ward has effectively been disciplined by the party leadership and has now been sent to a re-education camp run by - yes, that's right - the Liberal Democratic Friends of Israel (LDFI), chaired by Gavin Stollar.
"'LDFI has essentially been appointed as probation officers for David Ward,' said Mr Stollar. 'If we are not convinced that he is salvageable then we'll be in the position to report back to the leader and the chief whip and express our views.
'Rather than making him a martyr, LDFI welcomes the opportunity to educate one of our MPs.'"
This is great news for the UK's Jewish establishment. Now they don't need to dirty their hands terrifying the country's elected representatives into silence on Israel's crimes. They have outsourced it to the party machines instead."