Tim Farron urged to expel top Lib Dems over anti-Semitism comments
Anti-Semitism campaigners have demanded Tim Farron expel two senior Liberal Democrat figures for allegedly “baiting” Jewish people on social media.
Baroness Jenny Tonge, who is a party member but sits as an independent peer, said a rise in anti-Semitic incidents reflect the “disgust amongst the general public” over Israeli government policy.
Councillor and former MP David Ward said on Twitter that “Zionists” were “winning despite the appalling racism of the state of Israel and its supporters”.
Their comments followed the publication of the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into anti-Semitism, which condemned Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for inaction on the issue.
The campaign against anti-Semitism said Mr Farron must expel both members to prevent “signalling that the Liberal Democrat Party is a safe space for anti-Semites”.
Yesterday’s Home Affairs Committee report accused Mr Corbyn of creating a “safe space” for hostility towards Jews by not stamping out anti-Semitism within Labour.
It added: "The failure of the Labour party to deal consistently and effectively with anti-Semitic incidents in recent years risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally anti-Semitic."
But in a Facebook post Baroness Tonge complained that the Guardian had refused to publish her letter responding to the report.
It read: “It is difficult to believe that a 75% increase in anti-Semitism it reports, have been committed by people who simply hate Jewish people for no reason.
“It is surely the case that these incidents are reflecting the disgust amongst the general public of the way the government of Israel treats Palestinians and manipulates the USA and ourselves to take no action against that country's blatant disregard of International Law and the Geneva Conventions.”
A Lib Dem spokesperson said: “Jenny Tonge is not a member of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords and does not speak for the party on these matters.
"If a complaint is made we will investigate quickly and thoroughly."
Bolton and Undercliffe councillor Mr Ward meanwhile tweeted late last night: “The Zionists are winning despite the appalling racism of the State of #Israel and its supporters — don't give up — good will triumph bad”.
Mr Ward was suspended by the Lib Dems for three months in 2013 over previous comments questioning the right for Israel to exist.
Mr Farron last week told the Home Affairs Committee that Mr Ward had “served his time”.
But Gideon Falter, the chair of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, said Mr Farron would be equating himself with the inaction of Mr Corbyn unless he expelled the members.
“For Tim Farron to leave this matter here would amount to a similar display of hypocritical and weak leadership,” he said.
“He should comply with the Select Committee’s recommendations by expelling both David Ward and Baroness Tonge, or he will be signalling that the Liberal Democrat Party is a safe space for antisemites.”
The report said the word ‘Zionist’ as a term of abuse has “no place in a civilised society” and said holding Jews to account for the actions of the Israeli state was a definition of anti-Semitism.