British party shows mixed views on lawmaker’s vilification of Jews

(JTA) — A British lawmaker’s accusation that “the Jews” perpetrate atrocities has drawn criticism from within his party, but also support by a fellow representative.

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The Liberal Democrats party has condemned the statements made last week by party Member of Parliament David Ward, who wrote on his website: “I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

A party spokesperson said the Liberal Democrats “deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable.”

But messages on the official Twitter account of Chris Davies, who represents the party as a member of the European Parliament, endorsed Ward’s message and repeated it. “David Ward’s words could have been better chosen, but why do people who have suffered so much now inflict suffering upon Palestinians?” Davies wrote.

Another message posted under Davies’ name said it was “quite wrong” of the party’s leadership to “reprimand” Ward as it makes Nick Clegg, party leader and deputy prime minister, “look like being in Israel’s pocket. In fact he is a fierce critic.”

The party has not commented on Davies’ tweets, but Ward, who posted the original message on his website, has been summoned to a meeting with party whips next week, according to the BBC. He told the corporation’s Radio 5 he had chosen his words carefully and did not regret the timing of the statement.

A spokesperson for the European Jewish Congress has characterized both statements as a “cynical use of the unique tragedy of the Holocaust as a stick against Jews and the Jewish State that is morally indefensible and politically unacceptable.”

“To do it on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day shows more than ever the need for this annual commemoration and its educational message which apparently, Mr. Davies has yet to learn,” the spokesperson added. 

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