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Published on Mar 4, 2012
Baroness Jenny Tonge has long been a target of the Israeli lobby in the UK for her outspoken remarks on Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. But now her own party leader, Nick Clegg, has turned on her, after she spoke at a meeting at Middlesex University.
Her words were in the context of a debate on whether Zionism equated to apartheid.
Her remarks are shared by a growing number of activists and critics of Israel who are calling for a one-state solution. But venturing down that path seems unacceptable within the British establishment.
Nick Clegg, leader of the liberal democrats and deputy Prime Minister, ordered Baroness Tonge to apologise, and when she refused, he announced her departure from the party. That, while at the same time claiming that the Lib Dems are proud to campaign for Palestinian rights.
It seems politicians are falling over each other to condemn her remarks. Labour leader Ed Miliband has gone further, stating that there is no space in British politics for questioning the existence of Israel.
Jenny Tonge had in fact only questioned the sustainability of the status quo, including Israel's siege of Gaza, and its occupation of the West Bank which prevents the existence of a Palestinian state.
Activist Ken O'Keefe, who also spoke at the meeting, says pro-Israel activists had been heckling and goading the panellists all evening.
As deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg broke with previous party policy in supporting a change in the law of universal jurisdiction, making it more difficult to prosecute alleged Israeli war criminals in the UK.
And ultimately this incident will be seen by many as political censorship of criticism of Israel, from a party leader who has become increasingly keen to court the Israeli lobby in the UK.