A Liberal Democrat MP in Britain faces expulsion from the party for saying Jews had not learned from the murder of six million in the Holocaust in their treatment of Palestinian Authority Arabs, the Daily Mail reports.
“Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – 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,” Ward wrote.
He later defended his comments in interviews, saying they were a “just a statement of fact”, and adding that “it appears that the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated.”
His remarks were made ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday, reported the Daily Mail. He has been summoned to a meeting with party whips on Monday, but has insisted he stood by the statement and its timing and claimed it was “regrettable” he had been reprimanded.
A Liberal Democrat spokesman said, according to the report, “This is a matter we take extremely seriously. The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable.”
Holocaust Memorial Day marks the 68th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where more than one million people, mostly Jews, were killed – many shot, starved or victims of the gas chambers.
Ward, who said he had attended a Holocaust memorial event in Bradford on Thursday which was “extremely moving”, said he hoped the chief whip would respect his views.
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, told the Daily Mail, “I am deeply saddened that at this somber time, when we remember those who were murdered by the Nazis, Ward has deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust causing deep pain and offense – these comments are sickening and unacceptable and have no place in British politics.”
Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said, “We are outraged and shocked at these offensive comments about Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the suggestion that Jews should have learned a lesson from the experience.”
“For an MP to have made such comments on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day is even more distasteful, and we welcome the fact that the Liberal Democrats have sought to disassociate the party from David Ward’s comments,” added Benjamin.
According to the Daily Mail, Tory MP Robert Halfon said Ward’s comments were “a tragic trivialization of real evil.” He added, “It should be remembered that Israel withdrew from Gaza completely and yet has faced a barrage of 7000+ missiles from Hamas and been the victim of hundreds of terrorist suicide bombers and been attacked by all its neighbors in 1948, 1967 and 1973.”
Ward has previously described Israel as an “apartheid regime”, the report noted.
Earlier this week another British politician exploited the upcoming Holocaust Memorial Day to attack Israel, saying the Jewish state has “evolved into a racist oppressor.”
In the comments posted to his Facebook page, Lee Jasper of the Respect Party wrote, “We are asked to remember that which Israel has forgotten, that religious racial hatred is a sin against God,” wrote Jasper on his page, as he incorrectly noted the date of Holocaust Memorial Day.
Liberal Democrat Baroness Jenny Tonge has twice been fired from the frontbench for her anti-Israel comments.
In 2004, she claimed she might become a suicide bomber if she lived in Judea, Samaria, or Gaza, and was sacked as the party’s spokesman on children’s issues.
She was sacked as health spokesman in 2010 for accusing Israeli soldiers of harvesting body parts in Haiti while doing humanitarian work after the earthquake.
The same year, Tonge accused Israel of being the “cause of terrorism” and said that the West’s treatment of Muslims was caused by what she called “Holocaust guilt” and the “power of the pro-Israel lobby”.
Last year she resigned as party whip after she said that “Israel is not going to be there forever.”
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