Archbishop Exclusive: ‘My Cousin The Rabbi’

Justin Welby’s comments, on the eve of his enthronement at Canterbury Cathedral today, came during an interview with the Jewish News in which he also voiced opposition to Israel boycotts, revealed plans to visit the Jewish state this summer and praised the Chief Rabbi as “one of the most significant religious thinkers”.

The past few months since being named as Archbishop have been transformative for Welby, not just because of his elevation within the Church of England but because he learned for the first time – as a result of a Daily Telegraph investigation – of his family’s Jewish roots.

Chemist Dr Gerhard Weiler, a cousin of the Archbishop’s father Gavin, fled with his family after Hitler came to power, later being registered as an “enemy alien” in the UK.

The 57-year-old former bishop of Durham said he was “really, really pleased” to discover details of his Jewish ancestry, but added: “It’s quite sobering to think I had a bunch of second cousins that didn’t escape.”

The great-grandfather of the man who will be formally confirmed today as the leader of 80 million Anglicans worldwide, along with three of his brothers, headed to London more than four decades earlier. The father-of-five told the Jewish News: “Once we’ve moved in properly, we’re going to meet up with some cousins who I had no idea about. One of them is a rabbi who recently wrote to me. He’s one of the senior teachers at a Jewish college in London. We’ll try to meet up, or get them to Lambeth Palace to do something fun to celebrate. To discover you’ve got a family you didn’t know about is really exciting.”

He also revealed he hopes to visit the grave at Hoop Lane Cemetery in Golders Green of his great-grandmother Amalie, who lived in Hampstead until her death in 1914. The Cambridge-educated former oil executive comes to office just eight months after Anglican-Jewish relations were severely strained when the Church’s Synod voted to affirm support for a programme accused by the Board of Deputies of producing “very partisan activists” on the Middle East.

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel takes participants to the region for around three months, but critics point out that only a fraction of that time is spent in Israel, before accompaniers return to give public talks about their experiences. The private member’s motion also expressed support for Israelis and Palestinians working for peace and for aid agencies in the region.

Welby said last summer’s vote – on which he abstained – had “clearly” damaged relations.

And in an unusual step he said: “On reflection, I’d have voted against. I wasn’t quite up to speed when I went into that vote. I think the situation in the holy land is so complicated that we always have to show we recognise this and I don’t think the motion adequately reflected reflected the complexity.”

He said he would have wanted something added to the text saying the Jewish state, like any other legitimate country, has the right to “live in security and peace within internationally-agreed borders and the people of the region have the right to justice, peace and security, whoever they are.”

While Welby said the situation caused by the Synod vote was “a concern and something we keep an eye on”, he stressed that he was not in a position to instruct the democratic Synod on how to vote.

Given that the EAPPI is not a CoE initiative, he added, it also wasn’t in the church’s “gift” to introduce a system of oversight of presentations made by returning participants, as urged by community leaders amid concern over the content of some talks.

But the 105th Archbishop wanted to “encourage” an “excellent” proposa, recently announced, for participants to spend a weekend with a Jewish family in Haifa.

The Archbishop – who said interfaith relations have always been “very important” to him – has gained vast experience in the field of reconciliation over the past decade, lecturing on the subject at the US State Department and undertaking work in Africa and elsewhere.

Asked whether he planned to voice his views on overcoming the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the 57-year-old said his reconciliation work had, in fact, taught him to speak out “extremely carefully… and only if I think I can make a significant difference.”

Welby said he was “very much looking forward” to making his first visit to Israelin his new role in June, when he will continue the series of meetings started by Dr Rowan Williams with Israel’s chief rabbies. “My wife and I went on honeymoon there and it’ll be her first time back since.”

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Opinion: Hamas Scurrying From Peace Like Cockroaches From Light

This time, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system will be on display when the aircraft arrives at the airport. This is more than just a PR move to show off the Israeli-developed and US-funded system. Israeli officials are worried the Obama visit could spark a third Palestinian intifada.

According to Adam Kredo, writing in the Washington Free Beacon, unrest has been growing in the Palestinian territories ahead of Obama’s visit, which starts on March 20.

Firebombs have been thrown at police by worshippers inside the al-Aqsa Mosque, a potential hotspot for a return to violence, especially if Obama were to visit the holy spot. This was the putative excuse for what Arabs term the al-Aqsa intifada of September 2000, after Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount. It was nothing of the sort. Months later, PA communications minister Imad Faluji admitted the violence was planned in July, some three months before the visit.

“The Palestinians have not said the final word yet, and we expect there will be attempts to take advantage of the upcoming events, like the visit by Barack Obama, to continue the violence,” Israel public security minister Yitzhak Aharonovich was quoted as saying on Monday by news outlet Arutz Sheva.

To be fair, Mahmoud Abbas does not want this, but Hamas, which is in a power struggle with the PA, has been promoting the idea. Hamas operatives, according to reports, are based in the West Bank and Israeli intelligence officials are reported to have “uncovered a Hamas terrorist network in Hebron,” Kredo reports. This is a dangerous situation for Abbas; a Hamas-engineered intifada would be as much against him and his weak grip on power, as it would be against the Israelis.

“We call on the masses of the Palestinian people to change this path and demonstrate against receiving he who considers Israel ‘the closest ally in the region,’ and to refuse the return to futile negotiations,” a spokesman for the youth group Palestinians for Dignity said on Monday, according to Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

Besides the current unrest at al-Aqa, there has been an upsurge of violence in the West Bank and at checkpoints in the northern portion of Gaza, involving stones, Molotov cocktails and a number of riots. Islamic militants in Egypt have also begun launching military drills that include the firing of long-range missiles. One rocket, fired from Sinai, bordering the Israeli south, travelled 28 miles and landed in the desert, leaving a large crater, according to Ma’an news. This may be why Israel reportedly moved her missile defence system to the airport.

Obama will find out one doesn’t need to go to the Temple Mount (Judaism’s holiest place of worship) to give Palestinians an excuse to riot. The Palestinians, who may be planning simple demonstrations to take advantage of his visit in front of the world’s media, may find they spark a flame that cannot be controlled, with Obama finding he has more in common with Benjamin Netanyahu than he previously thought.

It is instructional to note that when the 2000 intifada was pre-planned that July, it was just after Yassir Arafat’s return from Camp David when he “turned the tables on the former US president and rejected the US conditions” (Mitchell Bard, Myths & Facts, p250). Arafat had scorned overtures of land and of peace then and instead used it as an excuse to start a brutal uprising.

So it is the same today. Obama may learn the hard way from his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories that the Palestinians – Hamas in their power struggle with the PA to be sure – are neither interested in land nor in peace. In fact, peace to Hamas is an anathema and any overtures to violence on its part are not the result of Israel’s actions, the “stealing of land”, visits to holy places, or conditions in Gaza.

Instead any violence or possible sparking of another uprising is a direct response to any peace initiative on the part of the president or the Israelis. Hamas will scurry from even the thought of peace quicker than cockroaches from light.

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Blair speaks of Israel friendship as he opens new Mill Hill shul centre

The new £3.2 million Ner Orre Community Centre, which took a little over a year to build, is set to become a “hub” for the local community, which with 1,000 member families had outgrown previous facilities. It features six classrooms, a hall and youth lounge in addition to the rebuilt Annie and Samuel Levy Hall, named in memory of longterm member Lord Levy’s parents.

The former prime minister wished those involved a hearty “mazeltov” and, in front of an audience that included his wife Cherie, Chief Rabbi-elect Ephraim Mirvis and Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub, described the driving out of Jews from England in the 13th century as a “disaster”, before hailing the work of today’s communal institutions, including Jewish Care, Norwood and the CST.

He insisted such bodies were underpinned by values including family, education and charity “as an aid for people to make more of their lives and be empowered to do what they wish to do”. He added: “That, for me, is what the Jewish community at its best represents in our country. And its vibrancy is a testament to the fact the Jewish faith is based on compassion and sense of obligation to the broader community and to others.”

Blair touched on his role as envoy to the Quartet – for which he will shortly embark on his 98th visit, saying: “People say I am a friend of Israel – sometimes it’s a compliment and sometimes it’s not. But I am and I’ve become more so since I’ve begun visiting there regularly.” While he said he could level criticism at Israeli governments, he added: “I’ve got to know the country and the people,
but also something of what makes Israel, Israel. These values of respect for the family and education and community are there.”

The centre’s unusual spelling of Orre – meaning light – forms an acronym of the
names of the parents of Rita and Stanley Davis, the project’s principal donors. During the ceremony, Stanley affixed the mezuzah to the front door of the building, while Lord Levy added the mezuzah to the Levy hall.

Blair said he joined the celebration at the centre “with a sense of gratitude for what you do in this community centre, for what the Jewish community do in our country and for what the Jewish community and the Jewish faith represent in our world today. I’m proud to have been part of (today).”

Mill Hill’s Rabbi Yitzchak Shochet said: “The commitment and generosity of so many enabled this dream to become reality. It reflects the incredible community spirit in one of the fastest growing and leading communities in Anglo-Jewry.”

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Miliband: ‘My Debt To Israel’

His comments came during a session with 300 community members last Thursday, organised in partnership with the Board of Deputies, at which the Labour leader also stressed the importance of religious practises being preserved and fiercely condemned George Galloway’s recent refusal to debate with an Israeli.

Offering a glimpse into how his background informs his views, Miliband, who is bidding to become Britain’s second Jewish-born premier in 2015, recalled visiting his grandmother in Israel when he was aged just seven and asking about the identity of relative in a photograph on the mantelpiece. “My grandmother teared up,” he said. “It was her husband who’d been killed in the camps. From that moment onwards, I realised the state of Israel was giving my grandmother incredible sanctuary. So, I have huge respect, admiration and a debt not just to Britain but also to Israel.”

While he told the audience at the Royal College of Surgeons that “it doesn’t mean I always agree with the government of Israel”, he added: “I am totally intolerant of those who question Israel’s right to exist – totally intolerant.”

Asked by one audience member if he’d describe himself as a Zionist, Miliband said: “The answer is ‘yes’, because I consider myself a supporter of Israel. I think it’s important… that as somebody who supports not only Israel’s right to exist but has huge respect for what Israel does. I count myself in that category.”

But following a flurry of media reports on those comments and frenzied debate on Twitter, a Labour source later stressed: “Ed did not use the word ‘Zionist’ to describe himself” but had “made absolutely clear that he is a strong supporter of Israel”.

On boycotts, the Leader of the Opposition left no room for interpretation, describing such campaigns as “totally wrong”. He added: “We should have no tolerance of boycotts. I’d say that to any trade union leader, any Labour Party member, anybody who asked me. How do you create a two-state solution? Not with boycotts.”

Becoming the highest profile political figure to wade into Galloway’s recent walkout from a debate at Oxford. He told the gathering he’d been “shocked” by the Respect MP’s “shameful behaviour”.

Turning to some of the most pressing issues facing the Jewish state, Miliband expressed hope that the incoming Israeli administration will help advance the two-state solution. Pressed by Board vice-president Jonathan Arkush on Iran, he echoed the British Government by urging a “twin track” approach of sanctions and attempts at negotiation.

“No, it isn’t bound to work,” he conceded. “But it’s absolutely essential that we pursue that with all the vigour we can.”

Quizzed on domestic issues, the Labour chief pledged to accept for as long as he heads the party the right of the community to perform circumcision and religious slaughter and to “look in to” a new proposal to make studying a foreign language in primary school compulsory from next year (currently Hebrew is not one of seven designated languages).

Miliband said after the event: “It was a great privilege to
address the Board of Deputies at the Jewish News-sponsored event and have the opportunity to answer questions on a range of subjects. I’d like to thank everyone who took part.”

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Miliband: I’ve No Tolerance with Boycotts

The Labour leader’s comments came as he was quizzed on a wide range of Jewish and general issues at a question and answer session, organised by the Jewish News in partnership with the Board of Deputies.

Asked whether he was a Zionist, Miliband said: “Yes, I am a supporter of Israel.” Widespread debate followed on Twitter, with Respect MP George Galloway among those to weigh in with their thoughts, but Miliband’s office have since claimed that the comments were misinterpreted, and that the politician was simply emphasizing his support for the state.

While stressing that he didn’t always agree with Israeli policies, he stressed: “I have no tolerance for boycotts” and would be happy to say so to trade unionists. “You don’t create a two-state solution with boycotts.” And he stressed that “we should have no tolerance” for those who question Israel’s right to exist. Miliband once again spoke of how his upbringing helped propel him to high office and of his family’s experiences in fleeing the Nazis.

“I have respect, admiration and indeed a debt to Israel for the sanctuary it gave my grandmother,” he said. Turning to other issues, he spoke of the importance of protecting shechita and brit milah and insisted that Galloway’s recent refusal to debate with an Israeli at Oxfo0rd University had been “shameful”.

The event – attended by a capacity audience of 300 including Louise Ellman, London Assembly member Andrew Dismore and columnist Jonathan Freedland – also saw Miliband being presented with a seder plate and haggada by Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer and Laura Marks, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies.

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Opinion: Was The ZF Right To Reject Yachad? … NO

Long-frustrated at having been told their support for Israel was not good enough, people wanted a seat at the table.

It is no surprise Yachad grew so quickly. It captured the hearts and minds of so many thousands of our community, many from a younger generation, who, graduating through Zionist youth movements and active on university campuses, wanted a new framework by which they could support Israel, rather than simply defending the status quo.

When Yachad applied to affiliate to the Zionist Federation we did so in good faith, hoping to be able to represent this perspective within an organisation that claimed to be an umbrella movement of Zionism in the UK today.

After nearly ten months of answering questions, inviting council members to our events and doing everything that was required of us, we were told our application had been rejected ‘on no grounds’.

It was simply put to a vote and the vote went against us. We know from those present at previous discussions within the Zionist Federation, members of
the constitution committee ‘found no strong grounds to reject the application’, but nonetheless did so.

We thought this community had long ago done away with the notion that being ‘pro-Israel’ and ‘pro-Palestine’ – or, more accurately, ‘pro-the creation of a Palestinian state’ – were mutually exclusive. Apparently not. We’ve been told that our desire to show Anglo-Jewry Palestinian areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem means we are ‘too pro-Palestinian’ and not ‘pro-Israel’ enough.

The fact that we vocalise concerns in relation to settlement expansion is apparently indicative of our lack of support for Israel, despite the fact that 70 percent of this community does not support settlement expansion.

But supporters of Yachad stand with large numbers of current and former political, military and cultural leaders inside Israel whose opinions are no different to ours. Ehud Olmert, former Prime Minister of Israel, recently said of Yachad: “A two-state solution is the only possible road to peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. The work of Yachad, which takes a strong and firm approach in support of this outcome is to be commended as the work of a truly Zionist organisation.” Is he too not welcome at the table?

When Yuval Diskin, most recent former head of the Shin Bet, was quoted as
saying tensions cannot be diffused so that a resolution can be found while settlement expansion is ongoing, did he forgo his right to call himself a Zionist? The chairman of Meretz, Zahava Gal-On, supported Palestine’s upgrade at the United Nations. Yet Meretz in the UK remains a member of the Zionist Federation. Had Meretz applied to join today, would its application, too, have been rejected?

Zionism has never been a monolithic ideology. One only has to look at the
disagreements between Ben Gurion and Ze’ev Jabotinsky as proof of this.
However it appears the Zionist Federation today perceives its role as policing the term, deciding what is Zionist behaviour and what is not, and in doing
so, chooses to exclude large numbers of this community.

A supporter of Israel, who desires to see a two-state solution and chooses to visit East Jerusalem with Yachad, in order to better understand who lives
there and the options for how the city could be shared in a final status agreement, can, it seems, no longer claim to be a Zionist.

The Zionist Federation of course has a right to make any decision it likes, but surely it has lost the right to define itself as the ‘umbrella of Zionism in
the UK’?

It is clear from the depth of feeling inside the community that has been shown this past week, that many people are looking to understand why supporting Yachad and being represented at the Zionist Federation are mutually exclusive.

This is now a conversation about what, and who, defines Zionism in 2013, and is too important to remain behind closed doors.

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Opinion: Was The ZF Right To Reject Yachad? … YES

Organisations, such as Yachad, wishing to join and participate as affiliate members, can do so through a democratic process. Within that process, there are criteria to be fulfilled and thereafter brought forward for vote by National Council (NC) members representing more than 50,000 people. Part of this process requires the Constitution Committee (CC) to consider all applications. In considering Yachad’s application, the CC confirmed that, while Yachad had signed up to the Jerusalem Program (set out by the World Zionist Organisation), in practice it does not comply with it, after examples were shown where Yachad’s overall support for Israel was found lacking.

Despite this non-recommendation, the application was not rejected, but put to the NC for vote. By a clear majority and following months of discussion on the matter, its application was not accepted at first attempt.

As Yachad is well aware, when an application is not accepted, there is the opportunity to discuss issues and reapply after six months. Yachad is not unique. Herut, a centre-right organisation, applied in the same way as Yachad and was also not confirmed on first application. Herut was subsequently accepted into the ZF as an affiliate organisation, upon later satisfying all constitutional requirements. This democratic process lies at the heart of
the moral fibre of the ZF and no single NC member or board member can override it.

The ZF is proud to be pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian and pro-peace. Our affiliated members range from the left, like Meretz and Pro-Zion, and also from the right of the political spectrum. Difficult issues are discussed and debated regularly in NC meetings. Even when views are radically polarised between members, we have always reached common ground through dialogue and respect. I firmly believe our differences should not divide us, but make us stronger to support a strong Israel in peace with its neighbours.

I do not believe the reasons of each of the members for their vote should be discussed publicly, as this would do harm to the ZF, Yachad and the wider community. Respect and decency will ultimately be the only way to work alongside one another. I don’t believe in making this dispute public and I will not respond to the public outburst by Yachad by denigrating this newly formed organisation within our community. Where I respect an alternative point of view, no matter how strong, I request that others should respect mine.

The ZF will be advocating for and bring people closer to Israel, never more so than in the upcoming months. On Sunday, we will hold our annual Gala dinner for more than 450 people, where the former head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, Sir Richard Dearlove, and the former head of Mossad, Efraim Halevy, will be in conversation with each other. This will give an idea about the strong ties between Britain and Israel’s national security establishment.

To illustrate some of the best Israel has to offer, there will be a performance by The Israeli Opera. Furthermore, an Israel 65 Art Exhibit will be created by David Shilling. At a time when support for Israel is needed more than ever, our annual dinner helps bring all those together who are active in supporting Israel in the UK.

We will also be at the forefront of celebrations for Israel’s 65th birthday. We are holding the largest concert in Europe to mark the occasion at Wembley Arena, with more than 12,000 people attending. The event will showcase Israeli talent including Ishtar, the Israeli lead singer of Alabina, who has sold millions of records worldwide. Also performing will be Ivri Lider, one of the most successful Israeli musicians of his generation. Furthermore, those attending will hear the world famous Chico, founder of the Gipsy Kings, performing with his band, The Gypsies. There will be guest appearances from well-known celebrities, with more names to be announced soon.

This is a day to celebrate Israel’s existence and strong future and all the achievements that make us proud to be Zionists and I am delighted that the ZF is at the centre of this. This concert would not be possible without the support from all of our partner organisations; Jewish and non-Jewish groups united together under a single roof for a single purpose.

The ZF is a broad umbrella group inclusive of all types of Zionism and will remain representative of the Israel advocacy community, containing people from the left to the right of the political spectrum, to religious and secular, young and old, male and female, in support of Zionism.

Consequently, the ZF will continue to effectively challenge those who demonise Israel, as it has been doing for more than 100 years and will continue to do so for many more.

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Two Weeks Before Passover… The 8th Plague Returns

Israel sent out planes to spray pesticides over agricultural fields to prevent damage by the small swarm, which numbers about 2,000 locusts, said the Agriculture Ministry.

The ministry set up an emergency hotline and asked Israelis to be vigilant in reporting locust sightings. The locust alert comes ahead of the week-long festival, which recounts the biblical story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt.

According to the Bible, a huge swarm of locusts was the eighth of 10 plagues God imposed on Egyptians to persuade Pharaoh to free the ancient Hebrews from slavery, led by Moses (pictured right, played by Charlton Heston).

Pharaoh did not agree to let them go until after the 10th plague, the death of the first born in every Egyptian family. This year, the first seder night is 25 March.

Locusts can have a devastating effect on agriculture by quickly stripping crops. Farmers told Israeli media they were worried about a potential onslaught.
“(The locusts) may not have ruined Pharaoh, but they could ruin us,” Tzachi Rimon, a farmer, told Israel’s Channel 10 TV.

The Agriculture Ministry said the number of locusts was relatively small, but “just because they aren’t many doesn’t mean we are ignoring them”.

Locusts are known to move with the wind, and the swarm was swept eastwards from Egypt, said Amir Ayali, who heads Tel Aviv University’s zoology department. The last time Israel experienced a major locust outbreak was in 2004. Egypt’s state news agency MENA said more than 17,000 locusts were exterminated in an area spanning more than 84,000 acres.

No significant economic losses were reported, as the locusts were not mature enough to cause damage.

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Senior British Diplomat Attacked at University

Sir Vincent Fean was not hurt, although one demonstrator was seen kicking him in the shins.

Student activists said they were protesting over British policy towards the Palestinians. They said their chief grievance was Britain’s support for a Jewish homeland in what was then British-ruled Palestine in a letter known as the Balfour Declaration, issued in 1917.

The letter also said “nothing shall be done” that would prejudice the civil rights of non-Jews. Israel gained independence in 1948.

Britain has been highly critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, especially settlement construction in the West Bank. In recent days, tensions have risen in the West Bank, with demonstrations, some of them violent, in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons. Some have predicted the protests could escalate into a full-scale uprising.

“We asked the university to cancel his visit because Britain is the cause of the Palestinian tragedy,” said Taha Afghani, student leader of the Palestinian Fatah group, one of several political factions that organised the protest. Fatah is headed by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Sir Vincent was returning to his vehicle after meeting Birzeit University officials when the incident erupted. Campus officials decided to cancel the lecture after dozens of students, some waving Palestinian flags and signs, gathered outside the office.

The Foreign Office said Sir Vincent had hoped “to engage in an open dialogue” about Britain’s policies in the Middle East. “Sadly, such a dialogue was not possible on this occasion.”

Birzeit University condemned the incident. “We believe it would have been much more useful if the students had a dialogue with the guest and expressed their political views in a peaceful way,” it said.

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Forward or backward? Moment of Truth for Lib Dem-Jewish Relations as Clegg Decides Fate of David Ward

The Bradford East MP was censured by his party’s chief whip two weeks ago after writing, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, that he was “saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust could, within a few years of liberation, be inflicting atrocities on the Palestinians in the new state of Israel – and continue to do so”. Despite issuing an apology for “unintended offence” and pledging not to use the term “the Jews” again in that context, he later emailed the Jewish News asking if it would be more acceptable to replace the words “the Jews” with “the Jewish community”.

Lib Dem Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael met Ward over those emails on Monday and has since invoked the party’s full disciplinary procedures – which allow for a member’s possible suspension from the party or, in the most severe cases, permanent removal of the whip. A Lib Dem source said: “The chief whip was previously given an undertaking there would be no repetition of this language. On the face of it the emails to the Jewish News would appear a breach of that undertaking.”
Under the party’s procedures, Carmichael and Ward must now be joined at a further meeting by the party’s leader and deputy leader, but Nick Clegg’s participation in G8 talks in Mozambique prevents this from taking place before the weekend.
Carmichael told the Jewish News however that the parley would take place “at the earliest opportunity. It would be wrong to prejudge the outcome of that meeting. Obviously the use of these procedures is a very rare occurrence and is an indication of the seriousness the party attaches to this situation.”
While falling short of saying if further action would be taken against Ward when quizzed by Conservative MP Robert Halfon asked in the Commons on Tuesday, the deputy prime minister said: “I am unambiguous in my condemnation of anyone from any party including my own who uses insensitive, intemperate, provocative and offensive language to describe a long-running conflict about which people have very strong feelings. Everybody is duty bound to choose their words carefully and tread carefully when entering into this very heated debate.”
Following a Downing Street meeting last Thursday, Jewish community leaders said the chief whip had made clear the new case would be pursued in the context of a commitment by Carmichael in last week’s Jewish News that if “anything of this sort” happened again the consequences “would escalate significantly” beyond the official censure already imposed.” The leaders also pointed to the fact the original offending statement remains on Ward’s website. Speaking at Jewish News’ latest Q and A event last week, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander, describing Ward’s words as “repugnant”, urged the Lib Dems to “be true to their word” about what would happen if sentiments were repeated. The JLC Jeremy Newmark said last night: “We respect the need to the chief whip to follow party processes and understand that the party leader’s overseas trip has contributed to the delay. However we are confident that this is being taken seriously and that there is an understanding that the timeframe is not elastic. Party processes must allow for swift action on anti-Semitism.” The Board of Deputies Jon Benjamin said Ward’s defiance “appears to be escalating rather than abating”. Weighing into the latest row, Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel Chairman Gavin Stollar said: “David Ward continues to dig himself into a hole. I was always taught when you’re in a hole stop digging.” The BBC reported that Ward acknowledged there was a “difference of opinion” on whether he had breached the party’s standing orders. He added; “I have already apologised. It’s a question about finding a form of words that make it possible for me to continue to ask questions about these things that are allowed to happen year after year.”

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