Dangerous, delusional speakers descend onto London campus (Update: Baroness Tonge resigns from Lib Dems)
UPDATE: Following an 'apologise or resign' ultimatum from Nick Clegg Baroness has resigned from the Liberal Democrats. Student Rights, who covered this story early this morning and passed it to mainstream media, commend Nick Clegg for his decisive action.
UPDATE: Student Rights have asked the Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg to honour a promise he made in 2009, when he said that should Baroness Tonge make any anti-Semitic remarks “on my watch” he would ensure that she was disciplined.
Here at Student Rights we have recently highlighted the way in which unbalanced platforms on the issue of Israel and Palestine allow extremist speakers to spread hatred. This was shown all too well last Thursday when an event at Middlesex University allowed its speakers to air delusional and anti-Semitic rhetoric of the highest order.
Sponsored by Interpal, the event brought together a number of anti-Israeli activists and provided no balance whatsoever, with even the chair shouting down those who objected to the views on show. On the panel was Ken O’Keefe, a former US Marine turned Palestinian activist. During the event he stated the ridiculous and delusional view that “Israel and Mossad were directly involved in 9/11” and that it “continues to foster false flag terrorism”.
This was by no means the worst statement he made, in his speech he remarked that “if Israel is inherently a racist state, if it is inherently an apartheid state, then I want no part of Israel, it has no place in this world. And it must in its current form, if you want me to use some inflammatory language, in its current form should be destroyed”.
He continued by saying “I make no special bones about Jewish people, but the bottom line is this. The Jewish state, that’s not my expression, the Jewish state of Israel is, therefore, acting on behalf of the Jewish people. You, like the Nazis, have now a special obligation. The decent Germans, the so-called decent Germans of World War Two Nazi Germany, what did they do, what did the decent Germans do when the Nazis came to power and started to institute their policies, what did they do? They didn’t do enough, did they?
Did they do enough to stop the Nazis? No, they didn’t. And what are the Jewish people doing right now? Are you doing enough to stop your racist apartheid genocidal state? If you think that you are I beg to differ. You have a special obligation brought upon you just like the Nazis brought upon the decent Germans. Good luck to you because the way of Israel, the way of Palestine is the way of the world. And you can mouth at me all you want, good luck to you, because guess what, you are making enemies of all the people, not just me and the falsely accused anti-Semites.”
Despite spouting these delusional views he was supported on the panel by none other than Baroness Tonge, a Liberal Democrat peer who has a history of specious claims about Israel's role in the world and who has allegedly met with leaders from terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
She was sacked as the Liberal Democrat Health spokeswoman by Nick Clegg in February 2010 for giving credence to allegations that Israeli Defence Force (IDF) relief workers were harvesting human organs, saying that "To prevent allegations such as these - which have already been posted on You Tube - 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."
This was not her first controversy regarding the conflict though. In 2003 she was sacked as the Liberal Democrat Children’s spokeswoman by Charles Kennedy after she stated of Palestinian suicide bombers that "If I had to live in that situation - and I say that advisedly - I might just consider becoming one myself."
She resigned as an MP after this incident, yet in 2006 was severely reprimanded by Sir Menzies Campbell after saying that she felt the Pro-Israel lobby had “got its grips on the world”, something which Campbell said had “clear anti-Semitic connotations”.
At this event she sat quietly whilst O’Keefe espoused 9/11 conspiracy theory and anti-Semitism of the worst kind and then sent out her own chilling message that “Israel is not going to be there forever” and that one day “Israel will lose its support and then they will reap what they have sown”. That a Liberal Democrat peer would share a platform with a 9/11 ‘truther’ and not object to simply ludicrous conspiracy theory is shameful. However, her later comments will be interpreted as threatening and genocidal by some students at the university, and she should face the full sanction of her party for this.
This event shows the level to which the debate has sunk on some university campuses, and the loud applause and cheering that followed O’Keefe’s comments comparing Israel to the Nazis is deeply worrying. On the Middlesex University Free Palestine Society Facebook page today support for O'Keefe is evident despite his views, one video of him speaking is posted with the comment "Ken O'Keefe tell [sic] the Zionists to shut their mouths...Legend!!"
Raheem Kassam, the Director of Student Rights has said in response that “This drastically biased event serves as a terrifying example of how academic institutions are routinely perverted by dangerous ideologues posing as experts. Baroness Tonge’s comments on Israel can be construed as both anti-Semitic and genocidal and are cause for great concern both intellectually and legally. Ken O’Keefe, who she voluntarily spoke alongside, believes that 9/11 was an ‘inside job’ and that Britain, America and Israel in their current forms should be destroyed. These extremists have no place on campus and Middlesex University should publically apologise for hosting them”.
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