David Ward digs deeper, backed by Chomsky

By Jennifer Lipman, February 11, 2013
David Ward

David Ward

Liberal Democrat MP David Ward has stated that it is "important to ask" whether Israel's behaviour toward the Palestinians is "because of the Holocaust".

Asked on Twitter whether he thought "agents of the Israeli state are doing such things because of the Holocaust?" the Bradford East MP said he did not know.

But he added: "But it is important to ask the question and we cannot allow the horror of the Holocaust to stop us asking."

The MP, who has a majority of less than 400, was disciplined by his party for accusing "the Jews" of failing to learn the lessons of the Holocaust, in a statement released as he signed the Book of Remembrance recalling those murdered by the Nazis.

Last week it emerged that he had subsequently questioned whether it would be acceptable for him to replace the phrase "the Jews" with "the Jewish community".

Following that remark, the chief whip for the party pledged that Mr Ward's latest comments would be "dealt with as a fresh issue".

Mr Ward also claimed on Twitter that he had received 5,000 emails supporting him, but just "100 (pretty vile) against".

He wrote: "Let's return to basics - stop the inhumanity (both sides) in Israel."

Although he has been condemned across the board, including by Respect's George Galloway, Mr Ward was backed this weekend by Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguistics professor and prominent Israel critic Noam Chomsky.

Mr Chomsky said he agreed there was "nothing remotely antisemitic in his remarks, which are in fact familiar in Israeli discussions".

In a response on his personal website, Mr Ward thanked the academic for his support: "The intention behind my comments was to start a genuine discussion about Israel's treatment of Palestinians and how the Israeli government seemingly acts with impunity for its actions in Gaza and the West Bank. I now intend to work with groups around the country to start a discussion that can take a frank look at this conflict and what we can do to bring an end to atrocities committed by both sides in this appalling and long lasting conflict."

Last updated: 12:22pm, February 11 2013