Video: Nick Clegg's speech to Lib Dem Friends of Israel meeting


By MatthewHarris
September 23, 2010
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Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minister of the UK, gave this excellent speech at Lib Dem Friends of Israel's packed party conference fringe meeting on Monday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A37wHgqCKeo

COMMENTS

Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 09/23/2010 - 19:54

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As we have seem time and time again the Lib Dems cannot be trusted on Israel.

It was Clegg himself who advocated an arms embargo on Israel during Cast Lead.


MatthewHarris

Thu, 09/23/2010 - 20:23

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Thanks, Jonathan. What's your view of my party's Conservative partners in the Coalition Government? Do you agree with Prime Minister David Cameron's remarks on the Gaza situation?


amber

Thu, 09/23/2010 - 23:19

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Matthew Harris, how can you support Clegg who is viscerally hostile to Israel? He advocates boycotts - are you happy with this? Is this what has happened to the Jewish community - lacking the self-respect to stand up to people like Clegg? Is the community that desperate?

Cameron for his part also stinks - he speech in Turkey was a disgrace.


MatthewHarris

Fri, 09/24/2010 - 13:28

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Amber, I would never support any leader who was "viscerally hostile to Israel". Who told you that Nick Clegg "advocates boycotts"? That is quite simply a lie - what is your evidence for this false allegation?Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have never advocated boycotts - quite the contrary! In 2007, the Liberal Democrat Party Conference overwhelmingly passed a motion (drafted by me) condemning proposals for an academic boycott of Israel. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives passed such a motion at either of their conferences.

In 1982, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher imposed an arms embargo on Israel, which the Conservative Government then maintained for many years. They were following in the proud Conservative traditions of Prime Minister Edward Heath, who had imposed an arms embargo on Israel in 1973. So, yes, Nick Clegg did indeed call for an arms embargo on Israel last year, which I have dealt with previously here: http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/jabs-against-viral-emails. I have never agreed with an arms embargo on Israel. Such an embargo is not now the policy of the Coalition Government.


amber

Fri, 09/24/2010 - 16:15

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matthew Harris

Thanks for replying. But such a boycott is not policy because of the Conservative part of the coalition, not the LibDem one. Clegg is viscerally hostile precisely due to the boycott he advocates - which other countries does he want to boycott? Just the Jewish one?

And why is Jenny Tonge still a LibDem peer? Clegg has not withdrawn the whip from her - and she is a raving antisemite.

How you can support such a horrible anti-Jewish party (its secular values such as commitment to abortion hardly chime with Judaism either) is beyond me. Whenever a LibDem person comes to my door, I give them a piece of my mind - and point out the party's antisemitism.


amber

Fri, 09/24/2010 - 16:18

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Matthew, I would point out that Cameron and Hague are both anti-Israel as well. Cameron's sucking up to the jihadist leader of Turkey was disgusting. Frankly, being a Zionist (or a self-respecting Jew) in post-moral Britain is pretty dire.


Yvetta

Fri, 09/24/2010 - 16:22

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Matthew, any idea what the fringe meeting chaired by Chris Davies with Tonge as a speaker was like?


Jonathan Hoffman

Sat, 09/25/2010 - 09:02

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Matthew

The spectacle of you trying to defend Clegg by saying that the Conservatives - who are supposed to be your coalition partners - are just as bad, is simply breathtaking.

It's this kind of shoddiness which has made many people utterly cynical about all politicians.


MatthewHarris

Sat, 09/25/2010 - 18:06

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No, Israel is not the only country on which the Lib Dems have proposed to impose an arms embargo - there are many other conflict situations to which the Lib Dems have responded by urging an arms embargo. I just Googled Liberal Democrats arms trade and the first thing that came up was: http://www.caat.org.uk/press/recent.php?url=20100922prs, which tells you a lot about my party's views on the arms trade! I have always opposed an arms embargo on Israel and I always will.

Jonathan is right that two wrongs do not make a right, but, while Jenny Tonge has been relegated to the Lib Dem back benches, Labour has just selected Ken Livingstone as a candidate for London Mayor - despite all the offensive things that he has said! A comparison that speaks volumes.

I am pro-choice on abortion, as are most people in our country; like the Conservatives and Labour, the Liberal Democrats have no policy on abortion, but instead allow MPs a "free vote" on this issue. Incidentally, Judaism does not prohibit abortion (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/jewishethics/abortion_1....).

Yvetta, because of Yom Kippur, I didn't travel up to Liverpool until Sunday, and the Davies/Tonge meeting was on the Saturday, so I wasn't there. I imagine that it was pretty awful from a pro-Israeli point of view! People are allowed to hold fringe meetings at which they say things that I strongly disagree with, so long as nobody says anything that breaks the law on incitement to violence, incitement to racial hatred, etc. Again, two wrongs don't make a right, but I wonder what the fringe meetings of Labour Friends of Palestine will be like this week?

Jonathan, I'm a very strong supporter of the coalition. I am genuinely very enthusiastic about it. I have a very high regard for the Conservative ministers in the coalition. For "my kind of Liberal", a coalition pursuing these policies is an extremely positive development. I wasn't saying that "the Conservatives are just as bad", I was pointing out that some Conservatives' past support for arms embargoes did not alter the fact that those same Conservatives were often staunch supporters of Israel. I think many friends of Israel would, for example, have a high regard for Margaret Thatcher, e.g. for her refusal to yield to terrorism and her hawkish defence posture - but her government also imposed an arms embargo on Israel, upheld for many years until John Major reversed it. I genuinely believe that, whatever has happened in the past, Nick Clegg, as Deputy Prime Minister, is doing many things of which friends of Israel can approve, e.g. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23881630-nick-clegg-conde...

By the way, Jonathan, many people may be utterly cynical about politicians, but turnout rose (yes, rose) at both the last two General Elections; Labour and the Lib Dems have both announced recent big increases in their paid-up party memberships, and I imagine the Conservatives' membership is rising as well - surely evidence of increasing enthusiasm for the political process, albeit from a low base?


Yvetta

Sat, 09/25/2010 - 19:28

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Thank you, Matthew. (I wasn't trying to bait you in asking that question, btw. I am genuinely curious about the topic.)


stephenb

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 20:01

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Matthew have you met my friend Amber ?

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