Anti-Israel UK lawmaker who blamed anti-Semitism rise on Jewish groups retires

Baroness Jenny Tonge to step down this month but says she will ‘continue to campaign for justice for the people of Palestine’; last year called Israel the ‘puppet master’ of the US

Baroness Jenny Tonge (screen capture: YouTube)
Baroness Jenny Tonge (screen capture: YouTube)

Baroness Jenny Tonge, who was suspended from the British Liberal Democrat party for anti-Israel rhetoric and has faced numerous accusations of anti-Semitism, will step down from the House of Lords on February 19, she said Thursday.

“I have always promised myself and my family that I would retire when I am 80 years old which is in mid- February. I informed the authorities some months ago,” she told the UK Jewish News. “Indeed I think many of us should retire from the Chamber at my age — there are far too many people in the [House of] Lords.”

However, Tonge said she would continue her activism: “I shall continue to campaign for justice for the people of Palestine.”

According to the Daily Mail, a non-binding petition calling for her expulsion from the House of Lords gained 10,000 signatures online.

A general view of the House of Lords chamber in session at the Houses of Parliament in London, September 5, 2016. (AFP/POOL/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Tonge, who was suspended from the Liberal Democrat party for anti-Israel rhetoric and later quit over the suspension, last month blamed rising anti-Semitism on British university campuses on the “illegal actions of the Israeli government.”

She came under fire last year when she said Britons must “not allow our country to fall under the shadow of the United States of America and its puppet master, Israel.”

In 2019 she said that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party won the election due to attacks on then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by the “pro-Israel lobby” and that the chief rabbi would be “dancing in the street” over the result.

In 2018 she suggested that the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting was the fault of Israel’s policy toward Palestinians.

A makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Pittsburgh, on October 29, 2018, in which eleven Jews were killed while at Shabbat services. (AP/Matt Rourke)

“Absolutely appalling and a criminal act, but does it ever occur to Bibi and the present Israeli government that it’s [sic] actions against Palestinians may be reigniting anti-Semitism?” she wrote on Facebook, using the nickname for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Tonge’s text was accompanied by a link to an article about the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. She later posted a quasi-retraction.

In 2017, Tonge accused pro-Israel Jewish groups of increasing anti-Semitism in Britain by not criticizing the Jewish state.

“Do you NEVER consider that the actions of the Israeli government are contributing towards this rise?” Tonge wrote after a report showed an increase in anti-Semitic attacks.

“If the Board of Deputies and the CST spoke up against the abuse if [sic] human rights, flagrant disregard of international law and the Geneva Conventions they would do much to improve the situation here,” she said, naming two British Jewish organizations.

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