Baroness Jenny Tonge is facing heavy criticism after she claimed that the “pro-Israel lobby won our general election by lying about Jeremy Corbyn,” Labour’s leader who was accused of anti-Semitism and who lost the elections by a wide majority to the Conservatives last week.
Tonge commented on Facebook after the Simon Wiesenthal Center published its listing of Corbyn as the world’s worst anti-Semite for 2019 and said that “the Chief Rabbi [of the UK] must be dancing in the street. The pro Israel lobby won our General Election by lying about Jeremy Corbyn.”
She was alluding to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’ article in which he warned that “a new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party.”
Responding to Tonge, 88 members of the House of Lords published a letter in The Daily Telegraph condemning her remarks.
Tonge is an Independent peer at the House of Lords.
In their letter, the peers wrote that they believe that “members of the House of Lords are required to conform to the highest standards of public life. The use of language by Baroness Tonge in a published statement that the general election outcome was a result of “the pro-Israeli lobby… lying about Jeremy Corbyn” falls well short of that high standard.”
“Her language is both shameful and in clear contravention of Britain’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. Baroness Tonge has brought Parliament into disrepute and we demand that she withdraws her remarks and issues a full and unqualified apology without delay,” they demanded.
Tonge was suspended from the Liberal Democrats before eventually resigning.
The London-based Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) noted that she has “a long history of Jew-baiting,” including the suggestion that the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in November 2018 which claimed 11 lives of Jewish worshippers might be Israel’s fault, and the sharing of a cartoon comparing Israel’s policies to those of the Nazis.
In 2003 she compared conditions in Gaza to those in the Warsaw Ghetto, for which she was criticized by the chairman of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. In 2004, during a wave of suicide bombings targeting Israelis, she said that she “might just consider becoming [a suicide bomber] myself” if she was a Palestinian
The CAA’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that anti-Semitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right, and that Labour leader Corbyn is “the party leader of choice for those who hold multiple anti-Semitic views.”