Gotcha! Don’t you love it when journalists corner a politician or pundit with an outrageous or offensive quote, which makes afore-mentioned politician/pundit look mad, bad or both?
I don’t. I find it frustrating, juvenile and, above all else, lazy. It tends to happens a lot when the issue under discussion is controversial and/or sensitive: e.g. the Israel/Palestine conflict.
make Baroness Tonge withdraw these remarks.
Martin Bright, political editor of the Jewish Chronicle, tweeted:
I can only assume Nick Clegg will finally remove the whip from Baroness Tonge. That would be consistent with what he has said in the past
Even Ed Miliband’s weighed in with a tweet:
No place in politics for those who question existence of the state of Israel. Nick Clegg must condemn Jenny Tonge’s remark & demand apology
(n.b. One wonders what Marion Miliband makes of young Edward’s remarks.)
Admittedly, Tonge has made some pretty dodgy remarks in the past about Israel and Israelis – which cost her a position on the Lib Dem frontbench – but this latest controversy seems rather manufactured. Her comment, in full, doesn’t seem so controversial:
Israel is not going to be there for ever in its present form.
Shock! Horror! Tonge doesn’t think Israel “in its present form” – that is, as a Jewish and democratic state that also happens to illegally occupy Palestinian land while denying Palestinians both self-determination and voting rights – can survive. After all, the demographics make a one-state, non-Jewish, binational state almost inevitable.
Hmm, I wonder who else has taken a similar view? Oh yeah. That’s it: Ehud Olmert, Israel’s former prime minister, who once talked of how “the State of Israel is finished” if it continues on its current, rejectionist trajectory. Outrageous, eh?
Here’s the then Israeli premier’s full quote from Haaretz in November 2007:
If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.
An article on the BBC news website was devoted to Olmert’s words. Guess what it’s headline was?
Olmert warns of ‘end of Israel’
So condemn Tonge for her comments on the future of Israel if you want to. But you’ll have to condemn Ehud Olmert too. Funny old world, isn’t it?
And, on a related note, the truth is that a single, secular, binational, one-state solution is now a mainstream, much-discussed alternative to the Middle East status quo. Polls show it has the support of a third of Palestinians and, astonishingly, even a quarter of Israelis. It also has the backing of, among others, the late Edward Said, the late Tony Judt, Ilan Pappe, Shlomo Sand, Virginia Tilley, Meron Benvenisti, Ahmad Khalidi, Ali Abunimah, Noam Chomsky, Jeff Halper and Sari Nusseibeh. Oh, and, perhaps a little reluctantly, me too.