May 4, 2010
The distinguished Anglo-Jewish historian David Cesarani has given me permission to share this email, sent by David recently to a friend who had been planning to vote Lib Dem, but had swung back to Labour for reasons of communal concern; David writes:
I think you are wrong about the Liberal Democrats and I cannot understand why you want to waste your vote on a Labour party that has betrayed almost everything you hold dear and that harbors in its ranks people who hate Israel and blithely utter anti-Jewish stereotypes without reproach from the party's leadership.
In all the fuss about Jenny Tonge's despicable outbursts one name has been conveniently been forgotten: Ken Livingstone. Livingstone remains a respected member of the Labour Party and has been out campaigning for Labour candidates in London. Whereas Jenny Tonge has been roundly condemned by the LD leadership, sacked from her front bench role and marginalized, Livingstone is fast becoming a respected elder statesman of London Labour. Why hasn't the Jewish Chronicle paid as much attention to his record as it has to Jenny Tonge's? Why hasn't it reminded Jewish voters of the appalling experiences we had while he was mayor and dominated the GLA? Remember that Livingstone, in the name of London and under the banner of a Labour municipal administration, hosted an Islamic thinker who justified the murder of Israelis (not to mention homophobia etc.)?
By contrast, a few days ago I attended a meeting of the Lib Dem Friends of Israel addressed by Ed Fordham and Matthew Harris at which I heard only good sense and deeply informed comments about Israel, the ME and the situation of Jews in Britain. If Ed is elected on 6 May - and I will do my best to see that he becomes my MP - the British Jewish community will have a real champion in Parliament who will matter a lot more than Jenny Tonge.
Last night I listened to the leaders' debate. Once again Nick Clegg was way ahead of the other two on the important things - including Trident, immigration, Europe, climate change, and the perils of international relations. All parties are coalitions and all include rogues and renegades. Knowing you as I do, I believe that the balance of your values favors the Lib Dems.
For reasons that can only be guessed at, the JC has run what amounts to a pro-Tory campaign - to the extent of defending Cameron's alliance with neo-fascists in eastern Europe - who Nick Clegg rightly called anti-semitic 'nutters'. That may explain the distorted reporting of the comments made by Lord Wallace who - as the transcript shows, is solid on the things that matter.
Lib Dem party policy on Israel is the policy of the Israeli peace movement for which you have been such a powerful voice. Jews have no stronger defenders against anti-semitism, racism and intolerance. The Lib Dem commitment to civil liberties is vital for Jews. But their fight for social justice is even more crucial for stopping this country from sliding into social division and discord - which could have terrible consequences for Jews and other minorities. Labour is appeasing white working class racism. Only the Lib Dems are challenging it and seeking to remedy the causes. How can you vote Labour? Stay with the Lib Dems : a vote for the Lib Dems is best for Britain, for British Jews, and for peace and justice in the Middle East.