Lib Dem MP David Ward told to meet peers over Shoah remark

By Marcus Dysch, May 30, 2013

An MP who accused Jews of failing to learn the lessons of the Holocaust is expected to meet senior Jewish peers to discuss the offence caused by his remarks.

Liberal Democrat David Ward was condemned by politicians, Jewish groups and Shoah survivors in January after using his blog to equate Jewish suffering in the Holocaust with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

After signing a Holocaust Educational Trust book of remembrance, Mr Ward had blogged that he was “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”.

The Bradford East MP subsequently apologised for the “unintended offence” but caused controversy by asking whether he could make the same remarks again using the term “Jewish community” instead of “the Jews”.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, deputy leader Simon Hughes and chief whip Alistair Carmichael had originally intended to force Mr Ward to meet the party’s Friends of Israel group to agree “proportionate and precise” language for his future comments on Israel.

But the plan was scuppered when the Friends group referred the case back to Mr Clegg, saying Mr Ward had not removed the original blog. Lib Dem Friends of Israel said this week that it had not changed its position over the MP.

A Lib Dem spokesman confirmed that the disciplinary process against Mr Ward has now been adjourned in anticipation of a meeting with peers Lord Carlile and Baroness Neuberger.

The Lib Dem spokesman said the party believed it was “unacceptable and offensive to conflate criticism of the actions of the Israeli government with an entire people. David Ward accepts this and has apologised for the inappropriate remarks he made in January”.

The meeting is expected to take place after Parliament returns from recess on Monday, although the JC understands there is no guarantee it will go ahead. Lord Carlile and Baroness Neuberger both declined to comment.

Mr Ward took to Twitter this week to ask his followers for “advice” ahead of the meeting. He declined to comment further when approached by the JC, saying it would be “inappropriate”.

Last updated: 10:22am, May 31 2013