Baroness Tonge: Anti-Semitism in the House of Lords

Baroness Tonge, a member of the House of Lords, a former Liberal Democrat (left of center) member of the House of Commons, and until very recently the party’s spokesperson for public health affairs, is advising Israel to set up an independent inquiry on the alleged Israeli crimes in Haiti.

She really means it: Haiti. In the wake of the January 12 earthquake, the Israeli army sent an emergency surgical unit there. Its work elicited instant admiration from the media covering the devastation.

A dissenting voice was heard, however. AfriSynergy Productions, based in Seattle, claimed that the Israelis came to Haiti only in order to snatch organs and put them on the world human organ market for sale. A video of these libels was posted on YouTube, and that’s what Baronness Tonge had in mind on February 13 when, in an interview with -- really -- the London Jewish Chronicle, she said the following:

To prevent allegations such as these, which have already been posted on YouTube, going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti.

As far as law is understood by contemporary democratic standards, no charge can be introduced against a person, a group, or an organization without some serious preliminary scrutiny by legally empowered persons or bodies. Yet Baronness Tonge sees a YouTube rant as reasonable evidence for subjecting the Jewish State, its army, and its doctors to something very much like a second Gladstone report.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal-Democrat leader, dismissed Baroness Tonge as party spokesperson on February 17. Liberal-Democrat lords and members of Parliament said she should have been expelled from the party altogether. Indeed, this is not the first time she has been appalling: in 2004, when she still was known as the Liberal-Democrat member of Parliament Jennifer Louise Smith, she had already been dismissed as the party’s spokesperson on children for having said the following regarding suicide bombers:

If I had to live in that situation -- and I say that advisedly -- I might just consider becoming one myself.

Two years later, as a recently promoted member of the House of Lords, she said:

The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they've probably got a grip on our party.