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British peer quits party post after anti-Israel comment

JTA

February 29, 2012 | 2:18 pm

Jenny Tonge in 2008. Photo by Keith Edkins

Jenny Tonge in 2008. Photo by Keith Edkins

British peer Jenny Tonge resigned as party whip of the Liberal Democrats after saying that Israel would not survive for long in its present form.

Tonge’s remarks, made at a meeting last week at Middlesex University, included the observation that the American people would soon “get sick” of the billions their government sends annually “to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East—that is Israel.” Party leader Nick Clegg called on Tonge to apologize, but Tonge refused and resigned instead, the Guardian reported.

“The comments I made have been taken completely out of context,” Tonge said. “They followed a very ill-tempered meeting in which Zionist campaigners attempted continually to disrupt proceedings. They mouthed obscenities at the panelists, to the extent that university security attempted to remove them from the premises.”

Tonge has a well-known history of making inflammatory comments about Israel. In 2004, as a member of Parliament, she was fired as the children’s spokeswomen of the Liberal Democrats after she said she might consider becoming a suicide bomber if she were forced to endure the same conditions as Palestinians.

In 2006, she said, “The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips.” That comment also was condemned by the party leadership.

Tonge’s most recent remarks were first disclosed by the Guido Fawkes website and rapidly condemned across the British political spectrum. Clegg said they were “wrong and offensive.” John Woodcock, a Labour parliamentarian, called them “outrageous” and urged Clegg to take disciplinary action.

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