British ex-lawmaker says Jewish friends rejected her over Gaza resignation

Marcy Oster

Baronness Sayeeda Warsi resigned her position in the UK's Foreign Ministry because the government refused to condemn Israel's Gaza operation. (Wikimedia Commons)

Baronness Sayeeda Warsi resigned her position in the UK’s Foreign Ministry because the government refused to condemn Israel’s Gaza operation. (Wikimedia Commons)

(JTA) — A former British government minister — the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet – said Jewish friends rejected her after her resignation over her government’s position on Israel’s Gaza operation.


Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former senior minister of state at Britain’s Foreign Office and minister for faith and communities, resigned Aug. 5 after the British prime minister failed to unequivocally condemn Israel’s Gaza ground operation and the Palestinian death toll.

Warsi on Monday responded to claims made at the annual Limmud Conference by Laura Marks, senior vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, that her resignation caused Jews and Muslims to question how they relate to each other and heightened distrust between the two communities.

“People whom I considered friends from the British Jewish community stopped all communication with me after my resignation,” Warsi said Monday in a tweet.

She also tweeted that she was ” shocked at the vitriolic abuse I got for resigning from people self identifying as British Jews.”

Marks responded that she “tried to reach out to her after she resigned, but I found it very hard. I tried her office, her phone, she never replied. Despite trying to reach out, I couldn’t get through,” she told the Jewish Chronicle. “I understand she’s saying the Jewish community has cut her off — but personally, and from the Board, that’s not the intention at all.”

Warsi, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, responded in a tweet: “Pleased to learn today that Laura Marks tried to reach out to me post my resignation. Tea in the new year?”

She also added: “I hope that in 2015 my friends in the British Jewish community can judge me on my 20 years of fighting anti-Semitism and interfaith work and not just on my principled resignation. We all have a duty to defend human rights, the rule of law and international justice.”

Warsi visited Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank last week. During the visit she called on Britain to unilaterally recognize an independent state of Palestine and called on government ministers to unambiguously condemn Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and to stop what she called the government’s policy of “Israeli appeasement.”