15 February 2010
Baroness Jenny Tonge, a senior member of the British opposition party Liberal Democrats, has been sacked as her party’s health policy spokeswoman in the House of Lords after she called on Israel to disprove allegations that its medical teams in Haiti harvested the organs of earthquake victims and sold them on for transplantations. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said Tonge’s comments had been “wrong, distasteful and provocative and I recognize the deep and understandable distress they have caused to the Jewish community. While I do not believe that Jenny Tonge is anti-Semitic or racist, I regard her comments as wholly unacceptable.”
He said Tonge apologized "unreservedly" for any offense she may have caused. The baroness is a patron of the news website ‘Palestine Telegraph’, which printed the allegations. In the past, Tonge often launched scathing attacks against Israel. In 2004, she told a pro-Palestinian lobby group on the issue of suicide attacks by Palestinians against Israel: "If I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming [a suicide bomber] myself."
The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed Baroness Tonge's dismissal, saying her support for an investigation into accusations of organ harvesting by the Israeli rescue teams was "outrageous and a calumny. Baroness Tonge has promoted this libel against Israel by utilising historical themes that are classically deployed to attack the Jewish people. She has dishonored the noble efforts of Israelis who engaged in a selfless humanitarian effort to save lives in Haiti."
The umbrella body of British Jews declared in a statement that "any further use of anti-Semitic rhetoric must result in Tonge's expulsion from the party and loss of the whip."
Read CNN columnist David Frum's opinion piece on this issue here.
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