That outrageous interview on Today was but a mere chapter in the Jenny Tonge saga.
She may not have anticipated that her recent ill-advised antics at the Middlesex University would make the headlines so spectacularly. That is, apart from on the BBC.
The BBC were particularly reticent about the event, waiting till her ‘resignation’ was announced before they realised they had little option but to report it. Even the Guardian was quicker off the mark. Martin Bright suspects that the report in the Guardian “not known for its Zionist views” was what finally did for “Jihad Jenny”. Of course Ed Miliband’s Tweet obviously helped:
“[There is] no place in politics for those who question [the] existence of the state of Israel. Nick Clegg must condemn Jenny Tonge’s remark and demand [an] apology.”
Motes and beams.
Despite Baroness Tonge’s record of making antisemitic speeches of varying degrees of virulence and her relentless pro Palestinian campaigning, which frequently veers into full-on conspiracy theory paranoia, Nick Clegg dragged his feet interminably before deciding to dump her from his party. Previously the Lib Dems had dealt with her by imposing a series of cautious incremental demotions.Of course the BBC itself has used Mrs Tonge before, as a roving reporter. In 2004 they sent her to Israel, or rather to Gaza, as an apologist for the suicide bomber.
The clutch of below the line comments “reflecting the balance of opinion” were gratifyingly hostile to the line she took, and I’m pleasantly surprised that the BBC let them through.
The Web Article.
The BBC is not alone in giving the impression that the Baroness ‘quit’ the party – rather than being presented with an ultimatum that forced her resignation, but I think it’s fair to say that anyone who hadn’t been following the tale through Richard Millet, Student Rights, The Commentator, Guido Fawkes, etc., might glean from the BBC’s report that she was made a martyr. Martyred for the cause, scuppered below the line by the all powerful Jewish Lobby.
The strap-line implies that she had been unfairly punished for making a relatively trivial observation, which stated the obvious:
“A Liberal Democrat peer has resigned from the party after saying Israel “is not going to be there forever”
Many people have taken this line and defended her on various blogs, remarking that she was ‘only saying what’s true.’ I imagine John Humphrys would identify with this notion.
She herself complains that her comments were taken ‘out of context’, but clearly anyone who viewed the video in which she played a prominent role in what she disingenuously calls the “ill-tempered meeting” would realise that taking her comments ‘out of context’ as the BBC does here, effectively does her a huge favour. It’s viewing them in context that damns her out of hand and justifies the Lib Dems’ ultimatum and her dismissal.
The sub-heading “Proud Record” stands out. An odd choice, because it alludes, not to Jenny’s personal record, as any casual reader might assume, but to the Lib Dems’ proud record of campaigning for the rights of the Palestinians.
She was given a considerable amount of space to defend herself in the article, which included a generous number of direct quotes, although her accusation that the Zionist campaigners mouthed obscenities at her, and her complaint that:
“the leadership of my party” (ex party) did not consult me….”
“…………...seems always to abet the request of the pro-Israel lobby” looked like desperate straw clutching.
The Today Interview.
Throughout the interview John Humphrys was clearly sympathetic to Baroness Tonge. He spoke to her warmly, and sounded ‘sorry for her troubles’. He allowed her to speak virtually uninterrupted, whereas while Robert Halfon was speaking Humphrys continually interjected with helpful counter-arguments on Jenny‘s behalf. “She’s saying what she believes”
He addressed Mr. Halfon with amused cynicism. Robert Halfon seemed sadly unprepared. He kept calling her Mrs Tongue, and over-used the word ‘delegitimise’ which has become meaningless. Through over-use.
Baroness Tonge spoke with the confidence of someone who knew she was among friends, sure that what she was saying would be welcome.
“Oh, come on Robert,” she laughs beguilingly at one stage, like a person who knows the world is on her side.
“Israel is making enemies all over the Middle East” she states. She knows she can get away with insinuating that Israel has deliberately made enemies of Turkey or Egypt. She can make wildly inaccurate comments with impunity under John Humphrys’s compassionate chairmanship. She knows quite well that with the aid of – or in her words ‘abetted’ by the BBC, many listeners languish in ‘psychologically embedded’ denial of the irrational Jew-hate that Islam drums into its followers. The BBC prefers to pretend that the Islamic world – Turks, Syrians, Iranians, those liberated Egyptians and Libyans, Muslims from Arab and North African Islamic states are ‘just like us’, only perhaps, being more devout, they’re all the more motivated by benevolence and goodwill.
Although I doubt that John Humphrys has watched the video of that “Ill-tempered meeting” he was evidently aware that Jenny Tonge had been sitting next to Ken O’Keefe the dangerously unhinged antisemite who the pro Palestinian fraternity have been busy distancing themselves from recently. Oh how the BBC fawned over him not so long ago, when they hailed him as a hero after the Mavi Marmara debacle.
John Humphrys wanted to hear why Jenny Tonge hadn’t challenged crazy Ken, but failed himself to challenge her likely story: “I didn’t know I was sharing a platform (with him)”. He asked if she had applauded him, knowing full well that she had indeed, and that it was captured on the film. She got away with a blustering justification “Probably at the end of his speech I did, y’know, at the end everyone gives a little clap.”
But the most outrageous thing was that she got away with her appalling little history lesson:
“Israel was a good concept at the beginning. I wish they’d left the Palestinians where they were. Jews were in a minority when the state of israel was founded. there were very few of them there.
If they’d gone in and said okay we’re going to help you, we’re going to build up this state and we’re gonna include Palestinians from the very beginning – If they’d done that instead of persecuted(sic) them and now trying to take the whole area for themselves it would have been a very different story.”
Pointing out that this is all wrong is not an attempt to enter the debate about the history of Israel. What I am saying is that anyone who knows the first thing about the birth of Israel (and if they don’t they shouldn’t really be opining) knows that there are conflicting ‘narratives’.
The Arabs allege that they were physically displaced in 1948 to compensate European Jews for the holocaust. The Jews say that when Israel was born they begged the Arabs to stay. It’s easy to find out what each side has to say on the matter. All you have to do is read a bit from both sides to gather that there are different versions of the story, and it’s up to you to decide which version, or which parts of which version, you believe. Which story seems more credible? Which bits are evidenced? Who do you trust?
“WE APPEAL – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
WE EXTEND our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
We all know that the surrounding Arabs merely responded by launching their war of intended annihilation against Israel.” (H/T Bio)
The BBC has been methodically portraying the Jews as greedy, untrustworthy, and recently, completely batty. They’ve reported Israel in a systematically negative manner and have continually portrayed the victim as the aggressor / aggressor as victim. At the same time they’ve been doggedly whitewashing Islam, and the more crazed the Islamists appear, the more the BBC whitewashes them. So the chances are that the majority of viewers will identify with Arabs and be suspicious of Jews. They’ll follow Jenny Tonge’s propagandistic defamation-by-short-cut, referring, knowingly, to “What Israel is doing” or “How Israel is treating the Palestinians.” Having established that Israel is a brutal, heartless, racist, supremacist, expansionist pariah state, they are confident that there’s no need to explain what’s already understood. Their obsession with the notion that Israel is oppressing the Palestinians is so ingrained that any mention of any measure Israel might take in self defence is reflexively treated with derision.
Some of this might stem from antisemitism of the type with which the foreign office is tinged, or the traditionally ‘Arabist’ proclivities of those who view Johnny Arab with a mixture of awe and amusement. The Queen has never, for example, visited Israel. In the political left this uneasy feeling about Jews is coupled with a misguided empathy towards Muslims whose intolerance towards everything, including themselves, they view with an illogical disregard. The need to be thought of as liberal and tolerant could explain the BBC’s policy of treating all Muslims, bar the bogeymen Al Qaeda, with exaggerated sensitivity, and re-branding them as ‘the new Jews’. This has taken political correctness to stratospheric heights, where almost any less than reverential reference to Islam is deemed offensive.
They needn’t worry about Jenny Tonge though. She will still be keeping herself busy.