Having found himself at the center of a controversy of his own making, UK MP David Ward has picked up at least one high profile supporter: devoted Israel-basher Noam Chomsky.
Ward caused a stir after he equated Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Arabs to that of the Nazi’s treatment of Jews. However, it wasn’t only the statement that was the issue, but how he phrased it.
“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.”
Last week he dug himself into a deeper hole when it emerged that he had subsequently questioned whether it would be acceptable for him to replace the phrase “the Jews” with “the Jewish community.”
Chomsky said that he believed there was “nothing remotely antisemitic in his remarks, which are in fact familiar in Israeli discussions.”
In a response on his personal website, Mr Ward thanked the academic for his support: “The intention behind my comments was to start a genuine discussion about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and how the Israeli government seemingly acts with impunity for its actions in Gaza and the West Bank. I now intend to work with groups around the country to start a discussion that can take a frank look at this conflict and what we can do to bring an end to atrocities committed by both sides in this appalling and long lasting conflict.”
In the meantime, over the weekend Ward Tweeted that he had received 5,000 emails supporting him, but just “100 (pretty vile) against.”
Asked by an interlocutor whether Israel’s actions are “because of the holocaust? Is that what you’re trying to say?” Ward responded: “I don’t know….but it is important to ask the question and we cannot allow the horror of the Holocaust to stop us asking.”
Ward has been condemned in every corner of British politics for his remarks, including by Respect’s George Galloway, himself a devoted critic of Israel.