British MP takes back anti-Semitic slur… sort of

Facing flak over his criticism of ‘the Jews,’ David Ward says he’d be ‘happy’ to change terminology to ‘the Jewish community’

LONDON — A British Member of Parliament who last month was censured for accusing “the Jews” of inflicting atrocities on the Palestinians is facing fresh action after he suggested blaming “the Jewish community” instead.

David Ward, a member of the Liberal Democrat party, which is in coalition with the ruling Conservatives, made his original comments after signing a book of remembrance ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27. He said 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.”

Following an outcry from the Jewish community, the Liberal Democrat chief whip, Alistair Carmichael, whose job it is to enforce discipline within the party, gave Ward a written warning, and Ward pledged never again to use the phrase “the Jews” in the same context.

However, asked by the London newspaper The Jewish News this week why the original statement remained on his website, Ward replied in an email, “Can you provide me with a more acceptable choice of words that I could use to criticize the treatment of the Palestinians?”

In a later message, he asked the paper whether it could ask the Board of Deputies, Anglo-Jewry’s main representative organization, “if they’re in agreement that I should replace the words ‘the Jews’ with ‘the Jewish community’?”

“If so,” he added, “I’m perfectly happy to do so.”

In a meeting with Jewish community leaders on Thursday morning, Carmichael pledged to deal with Ward’s latest comments, in line with his previous promise that the consequences for Ward “would escalate significantly” if he repeated his behavior.

The meeting was attended by the heads of the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism in the UK.

“During the meeting we repeated our bewilderment that the original statements remain on Ward’s website and our view that his prior apology has no credibility,” they said in a statement.

Ward represents the constituency of Bradford East.

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