David Ward blames pro-Israel 'machine' for HMD comment controversy

By Jennifer Lipman, February 6, 2013
David Ward

David Ward

The Liberal Democrat MP who was disciplined by his party's chief whip last week for accusing "the Jews" of failing to learn the lessons of the Holocaust has blamed "a huge operation" of Israel supporters for the controversy.

David Ward told a Guardian interviewer that there was "a machine… designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism. And that comes into play very, very quickly and focuses intensely on anyone who's seen to criticise the state of Israel.

"And so I end up looking at what happened to me, whether I should use this word, whether I should use that word – and that is winning, for them. Because what I want to talk about is the fundamental question of how can they do this, and how can they be allowed to do this."

In the interview, published on Wednesday, Mr Ward argued that he had not drawn a direct comparison between Israel now and the Nazis during the Holocaust, but said that what was comparable "was the treatment of people by people".

He said that in the 1930s, before the concentration camps were built, persecution of the Jews started with "what was regarded as low-level cases of nastiness and harassment to begin with, and then escalated.

" And when you look at – wherever it may be – the West Bank, and a declared intent by the Israeli Defence Forces to harass, often just annoy Palestinians – in terms of a checkpoint that will be only open on certain days," he continued.

Mr Ward also denied that it was his use of the term "the Jews" that had prompted the outrage. "We would have been having this same conversation if I'd not used those words. It would simply have been on something else," he said.

The MP also told the Guardian that his main concern was to look after his constituency, and that international affairs were "secondary to me".

Last updated: 10:33am, February 6 2013