So embedded is such demonisation of Israel in parties and opinion organs of the Left (and as Wistrich notes, not only the Far Left) that it's easy to overlook the fact, and good to be reminded, that there's a staunch pro-Israel life peer among the Lib Dems. Baron Palmer of Childs Hill, a former chairman of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel and a member of the Golders Green Synagogue, is a splendid antidote to such inveterate and unsavoury critics of Israel as Baroness Tonge (pictured) and David Ward (see a summary of his odious stance here), to name but two of the most notorious among a monstrous regiment of Israel-demonising Lib Dems.
Lord Palmer, who was born almost a year before the Second World War broke out, is a councillor in the London borough of Barnet, and was made a life peer in 2011. The following video shows him being introduced into the House of Lords in the traditional ceremonial appropriate to such occasions:
In February this year, during a Lords' debate on the Middle East, Lord Palmer said:
.... Arab Israelis have served as elected representatives of the Knesset since Israel was founded and were elected in the recent election. They also serve on Israel’s powerful Supreme Court, which a noble Lord mentioned previously. However, despite equality in the law, socioeconomic gaps remain—an issue which the Government of Israel, together with numerous Israeli civil society organizations, are rightly seeking to tackle...."The following month, during the infamous David Ward affair, Lord Palmer received a hectoring letter (by no means the first one: "I do not normally reply to Morley missives ...") from Elizabeth Morley, an Hungarian-born anti-Israel activist who happens to be of Jewish extraction, and is quoted here as once saying
"if I wanted, I could make Aliyah. But I believe it would be wrong to do so because non-Jews have been ethnically cleansed from Palestine to make way for people like me who have no family connections on that land".Mrs Morley arrived in Britain with her mother shortly after the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, she once told her local newspaper, writing elsewhere:
"My father ended up going to Palestine on his own after failing to persuade the mother of his under-age sweetheart (my mother) to let her and the baby go with him. I like to think that he learned from the Holocaust. I like to think that he did not kill or expel any Palestinians. I think that when David Ward made those comments he was thinking of people like my father, European Jews who went to Palestine immediately after the Holocaust."Thus explained the woman who, as secretary, runs the Palestine Solidarity Campaign branch in the little Welsh seaside resort and university town of Aberystwyth.
That remote branch, whose inner core consists of a trio of elderly women who meet weekly in a campus restaurant to plan their latest assaults on the Zionist Entity (here's a recent one, by the look of it), makes up in zeal what it lacks in numbers, as indicated by its secretary's numerous screeds hither and thither, including this clumsy venture onto CiF Watch, her ludicrous letter to David Cameron, her risible e-petition asking David Cameron to apologise for the Balfour Declaration, and her badgering communication to the Board of Deputies of British Jews:
'She has also written to the Board of Deputies of British Jews expressing her concern about the way it exploits the memory of the Holocaust in order to gag criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. “I cannot find evidence of the board having ever issued its own criticism of Israel’s policies... Several of my relatives died in the concentration camps, but that has not made me insensitive to the suffering of the Palestinians, who have been made to pay the price for what the Christian world did to the Jews.”'Then there's her recent insistence here that Gilad Atzmon, widely perceived as a Jewish antisemite, is more sinned against than sinning:
"I have heard the same old tosh from several people, that Gilad is this, Gilad is that. When I ask them to point to the passages in his book which subsantiate the accusations, they can’t. Gilad is asking Zionists to take the painful journey of self-examination, discovery, realisation and admission of truths they have tried to avoid. Not many are capable of taking this journey, of incorporating the message into their psyches. So they try to shoot the messenger instead."what she wrote to others outraged by Ward's remarks, including Karen Pollock, CEO of the UK Holocaust Memorial Trust:
"[W]hat’s wrong with saying that the Jews in Israel commit atrocities in Palestine? They do. Is one not allowed to use the word ‘Jew’ in any negative context? Is that it?
.... Holocaust Memorial Day should sear our consciences and, more to the point, it should inspire us to defend all who continue to suffer injustice and oppression. I believe that you should be supporting David Ward and, moreover, expressing your admiration for him.”His Lordship responded:
"David Ward made very inappropriate comments as he signed a Holocaust Memorial Book. Can anyone think of a more crass moment to say the JEWS should have learnt lesson from The Holocaust. Firstly he said Jews not Israelis which are not the same. Secondly to compare actions of Israel which he disapproves of with the Nazi death camps is responsible[sic] and offensive.
I lost a grandmother in the Holocaust. I lost an uncle as a British soldier in 1st World war. My late father served in British Army in 2nd World War. What does Ms Morley and others believe I should have learnt. I was deeply hurt by Mr Ward’s comments. I await his apology.
Ms Morley and others criticise Israel; that is their democratic right even if they are wrong. It would just seem less ‘anti-Jewish’ if they criticized killings and murders in other parts of the world...."At the close of last year, during a Lords' debate on Arabs in Israel initiated by the Israel-criticising Bishop of Exeter, Lord Palmer reminded the House:
"Sadly, to be a Jew in most countries of the region is not comfortable or even possible in many places. Indeed, Christians such as the Copts of Egypt are under severe pressure....
The right reverend Prelate told mainly a story of a half-empty glass. I will try to tell a story of a half-full glass and how the Israeli Government, unlike their neighbours, are working hard to improve the situation of their minorities ....
As an example of a half-full glass, in 2010 Israel approved a $220 million five-year development plan for thirteen Arab cities and towns, including $30 million for the expansion of public transportation. The plan is actually being implemented by the Authority for the Economic Development for Arab, Druze and Circassian Sectors, based in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, and is focused on twelve specific Arab and Druze localities, including Nazareth and Rahat... The Israeli Government are also allocating funds for thirteen industrial parks in Arab communities.
“The Arab sector is a main growth engine for the Israeli economy”
....In July 2012, the Israeli Government launched a new affirmative action campaign to encourage companies, especially in the high-tech sector, to employ Israeli Arabs, with the Government contributing 25 per cent of their salary. The hope is that this will encourage companies which are, as has been mentioned, reluctant to take on Arab employees to do so. Once this had been done, it will reduce discrimination in the workplace. In June 2012, the Israeli Government launched a public awareness campaign against prejudice and discrimination by Israeli companies against Arabs. That cannot be tolerated. Also in June 2012, Cisco chief executive officer John Chambers announced a four-year plan to create 12,000 new technology jobs for Israeli Arabs. He said:
“We have an opportunity to show the rest of the world what we can do together with a government that really gets it and with citizens who really get it”.
....This is all against a background of Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, on his very recent visit to Gaza, referring to the liberation of Palestine in Ramallah, Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa while the crowds yelled, “Hit, hit Tel Aviv”.
This is also at a time when 40,000 have been killed in Syria without a demonstration in the UK. Nor were there Motions in this House when Hamas shot men accused of being Israeli spies without even the pretence of a trial. Their bodies were then dragged through the street behind motorcycles.
I am not saying that there are not inequalities for Israeli Arabs—or Israeli Palestinians if you want—that need to be dealt with and are being dealt with, but perhaps we should also reflect on the bloody conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims, the hounding of the Christian Coptic community in Egypt, the unrest in a number of Middle Eastern states and the toppling of regimes.
Israel’s first Muslim consul general was appointed in Atlanta in 1997; Israel’s first Muslim ambassador was appointed to Finland in 1995; Israel’s first Druze ambassador was appointed to Vietnam in 1999; in 2004 Bnei Sakhnin was the first Arab Israeli football team to win the State Cup; and—still on the soccer theme—the Arab Israeli football star Walid Badir is the captain of Hapoel Tel Aviv. The Arab-Israeli Mira Awad represented Israel at the Eurovision Song Contest; and the Arab Israeli Rana Raslan was Miss Israel.
Do noble Lords remember the amazing time—amazing to me and I am sure to everyone else—when Majalli Wahabi, a Druze, was the acting President of Israel? Noble Lords may have read the Bedouin Israeli diplomat Ishmael Khaldi’s book A Shepherd's Journey. In academia there are Bedouin professors and others whom I do not have enough time to relate.
Of course, if there was no problem, no action would be required. The reasons advanced
The reasons for inequalities in Israel, Britain and elsewhere are generally due to education, employment and where you are in the food chain of life. The aim in Israel and the UK is to improve the conditions of all by improving opportunities for a better life.
Finally, it would be good if the right reverend Prelate could also acknowledge that 850,000 Jews have been forcibly displaced and exiled from Arab countries since 1948, and that justice for such Jewish refugees from Arab countries has been expunged from the peace and justice narrative for the past 65 years...."