British lawmaker Jenny Tonge quits party that suspended her over anti-Israel rhetoric
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British lawmaker Jenny Tonge quits party that suspended her over anti-Israel rhetoric

(JTA) – British lawmaker Jenny Tonge said she left her Liberal Democrat party hours after her suspension from it amid an outcry over her latest anti-Israel rhetoric.

The party suspended Tonge, who serves in the upper house of the Parliament, on Thursday after she hosted an event earlier this week at the House of Lords that featured critical observations about the Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which the United Kingdom committed to viewing favorably the establishment of a Jewish national home in what would later become the British Mandate on Palestine.

According to reports from meeting participants, some in attendance made anti-Semitic statements, including blaming Jews or Zionists for the Holocaust. Participants also reportedly drew comparisons between Israel and Islamic terrorists.

“The party has suspended the membership of Jenny Tonge. We take her comments very seriously and have acted accordingly,” The Daily Telegraph quoted a party spokesperson as saying. The Guardian quoted Tonge as saying she quit at “about the same time” as her suspension.

In July, Tonge, who has hosted and participated in many anti-Israel events, said that “the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel is a major cause of the rise of extreme Islamism and Daesh,” using the Arab-language acronym of the Islamic State terrorist organization.

In 2012, Tonge resigned her position as whip, a task equivalent in the United States to speaker, for her center-left Liberal Democrat party, which has eight seats among the 650 in the House of Commons, the British lower house, and 104 out of 813 in the upper house, the House of Lords. Her resignation as whip came after she spoke about Israel’s demise at an event promoting a boycott of the Jewish state.

“Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there forever in its present form,” she said at the time. “One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: Enough is enough. Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, which has called repeatedly for Tonge’s dismissal, welcomed her suspension.

“She is a repeat offender, propagating the worst anti-Semitic tropes over and over again,” Jonathan Arkush, the board’s president, said in a statement.

Gideon Falter, the chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism charity, also called the suspension a step in the right direction.

“Baroness Tonge specializes in baiting Jews,” Falter said, “and her ongoing membership in the House of Lords and the Liberal Democrats is a disgrace to both institutions.”