Lord Pickles has called for reform in the House of Lords after Jenny Tonge called Israel America’s “puppet master” and received no sanction.
The peer, who is the UK’s Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues, has called on the authorities in the upper chamber of Parliament to “address the anomaly” that the disgraced Baroness Tonge, whom he described as a “Jew baiter”, can make an antisemitic statement in the Lords without censure.
Last week, Baroness Tonge described Israel as “America’s puppetmaster” in a remark in the House of Lords. According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, “Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions” is an example of antisemitism, as is: “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism to characterise Israel or Israelis.”
In response, Lord Pickles said this week that he has “not the slightest doubt that she has breached” the Definition, adding: “It is shameful that the only place where Jew-baiters are immune from the consequences of their bigotry is the Chamber of the House of Lords. The House Authorities must address this anomaly.”
Baroness Tonge, who was suspended from the Liberal Democrats before eventually resigning, has a long history of Jew-baiting, denouncing Campaign Against Antisemitism, suggesting that the antisemitic attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue might be Israel’s fault, blaming Israel for a rise in antisemitism, and sharing a cartoon comparing Israel’s policies to those of the Nazis, which is a breach of the International Definition.
In December 2019, Campaign Against Antisemitism joined 88 members of the House of Lords in condemning remarks on Facebook by Baroness Tonge following the general election, in which she commented: “The Chief RabbI must be dancing in the street. The pro-Israel lobby won our General Election by lying about Jeremy Corbyn.”