The Wall Street Journal
Anti-Semitism Goes to Parliament
Modern-day Holocaust denial went on full display last week—in the seat of Britain‘s government.
Europe’s descent into a new kind of anti-Semitism hit a new low last week in, of all places, the Palace of Westminster. There, at an event in the House of Lords, Jews were blamed for the Holocaust, Israel was compared to Islamic State and Zionists were said to have power over Parliament. Jenny Tonge, a baroness and former member of parliament who hosted this showcase of anti-Semitic lies on behalf of the Palestinian Return Center lobby group, was launching a campaign to press Britain to apologize for the Balfour Declaration. The centenary of this historic promise to create a home for the Jewish people in Palestine will be marked next year. One unidentified speaker blamed the “heretic” American Rabbi Stephen Wise for having “antagonized Hitler over the edge” with calls for a boycott of Germany in 1935. He quoted Wise’s 1905 statement that there were “six million bleeding and suffering reasons to justify Zionism” and made special note of the number. This is a classic trope of Holocaust denial, suggesting the number of the Nazis’ victims has been fabricated to match this earlier number. Not only did Ms. Tonge fail to interrupt or dispute this speaker: she responded by demanding a boycott of Israel. The baroness’s reputation as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist has earned her notoriety but never ostracism. Six years ago she suggested that Israel’s humanitarian mission to Haiti was harvesting the organs of disaster victims. This modem version of the medieval blood libel was tolerated by her center-left party, the Liberal Democrats. Even after last week’s event was publicized by the Israeli embassy in London, the baroness was merely suspended from the party. She has since resigned, blaming Israel for manipulating British politics: “They like to be in control of things.” The precincts of Westminster ought never again be desecrated by anti-Semites acting on behalf of Islamist lobbyists. The Conservative floor leader of the House of Commons, David Lidington, has protested on behalf of the government. Free speech doesn’t require turning Parliament into a safe space for Holocaust denial. It is now for members of Britain’s upper chamber to put their house in order. But an avalanche of such propaganda can be expected, as Palestinians and the left exploit next year’s anniversary to mobilize support for their delegitimization of Israel. The Balfour Declaration plays a crucial role in their mendacious narrative depicting Zionism as a form of imperialism. It is vital to put the record straight: Israel is not and never has been a colonial enterprise, but—in the words of Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in his “declaration,” which was actually a public letter to Baron Rothschild—a “national home for the Jewish people.” Zionism is the political expression of the legitimate aspiration of Jews to have their own state. What gives anti-Semites a sinister significance in Europe is the traction they gain from postcolonial guilt and postmodernist ideology. On university campuses, basic concepts such as truth and justice have been relativized. Jews and others who protest are silenced by intimidation, as happened at University College London last week when protesters allegedly attacked people who had gathered to hear a talk by an Israeli speaker. Like the Liberal Democrats, the larger and more leftist Labour Party was tarnished by anti-Semitism earlier this year when Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, claimed that Hitler had supported Zionism. He refused to retract his remarks, citing the far-Left American writer Lenni Brenner as the source of what he insisted was “the truth.” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded with nothing more than an enquiry, generally seen as a whitewash. Mr. Corbyn, like Mr. Livingstone and his successor as London mayor Sadiq Khan, hails from the hard left. All three have shared numerous platforms with Islamist extremists. The Labour leader is also an admirer of some of the worst Arab dictators. A photograph has surfaced of Mr. Corbyn alongside Syrian President Bashir Assad, on a parliamentary visit in 2009 paid for by the same Palestinian Return Center that organized last week’s Westminster event. Also in the picture is Jenny Tonge. The demographic context of such increasingly visible anti-Semitism is Europe’s rapidly growing Muslim population. There is panic in the political establishment about how to halt the rising tide of radicalization in these communities. All too often, appeasement and hypocrisy prevail, with Israel becoming the scapegoat. Unesco has just written Jews out of the history of Jerusalem. Next year, attempts will be made to persuade the United Nations to declare the Balfour Declaration illegal. Some EU members have been so upset by Brexit that they may just allow such resolutions to pass—especially if they are under pressure from the Islamic world—meaning Britain may have to pay trillions in “compensation” for the Palestinians. Will Europe stand firm against such perversions of history? I wouldn’t bet on it.