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British party slams lawmaker’s vilification of Jews — though it’s not unanimous

(JTA) — A British lawmaker’s accusation that “the Jews” perpetrate atrocities has drawn criticism from his party, but also support from a fellow representative.

The  Liberal Democrats party condemned the statements made last week by Parliament member David Ward, who wrote on his website, “I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

A party spokesman said the Liberal Democrats “deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable.”

Ward said Sunday, “I never for a moment intended to criticize or offend the Jewish people as a whole, either as a race or as a people of faith, and apologize sincerely for the unintended offense which my words caused."

But messages on the official Twitter account of Chris Davies, who represents the party as a member of the European Parliament, endorsed Ward’s message and repeated it.

“David Ward’s words could have been better chosen, but why do people who have suffered so much now inflict suffering upon Palestinians?” Davies wrote.

Another message posted under Davies’ name said it was “quite wrong” of the party’s leadership to “reprimand” Ward as it makes Nick Clegg, party leader and deputy prime minister, “look like being in Israel’s pocket. In fact he is a fierce critic.”

The party has not commented on Davies’ tweets, but Ward, who posted the original message on his website, has been summoned to a meeting with party whips next week, according to the BBC. He had told the BBC’s Radio 5 that he had chosen his words carefully and did not regret the timing of the statement.

A spokesman for the European Jewish Congress has characterized both statements as a "cynical use of the unique tragedy of the Holocaust as a stick against Jews and the Jewish state that is morally indefensible and politically unacceptable."

"To do it on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day shows more than ever the need for this annual commemoration and its educational message which apparently, Mr. Davies has yet to learn."

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