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Saturday, 3 March 2012

Two well-reasoned pieces on Baroness Tonge

In The Independent, Howard Jacobson writes with his usual insightful brilliance about Baroness Tonge's resignation from the Liberal Democrats. All I ask, colleagues, is that you read his column with an open mind, one sentence at a time, and give serious thought to what he is saying, even if it differs from what you might previously have thought about this issue. To anyone who now says "Well, Howard Jacobson would say that, wouldn't he, he's Jewish", I'd say that that is like saying, if a black or gay columnist commented on an issue to do with racism or homophobia, "Well, he would say that, wouldn't he, he's black/gay". Are Jews to be the only minority group that is accused of bias when it comments on the prejudice faced by that minority? And to those who say "It's nothing to do with prejudice, it's to do with criticism of Israel", I would say that you remind me of a saloon bar bore saying: "You can't say nothing about immigration without them calling you a racialist." You can say a great many critical things about Israel without being accused of antisemitism and people do, all the time. It is when certain lines are crossed that reasoned criticism of Israel can stop being that and can become something else, just as reasoned criticism of Saudi Arabia, or of the governments of African countries, or of proposals for gay marriage, can stop being that and can become something else. Also, my Lib Dem colleague Iain Sharpe has blogged about this with his usual moderation and good sense and is definitely worth a read

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