In a debate called by CAA honorary patron Baroness Deech over the adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism by universities, the disgraced Baroness Tonge called for an “investigation into why these [antisemitic] incidents are increasing”, noting apparent upswings during conflicts between Israel and the antisemitic genocidal terrorist group Hamas in Gaza in 2009 and 2014.
Baroness Tonge continued: “Whenever I suggest a connection between the two, I am told this is ‘victim blaming’, which it is not. The victims are innocent Jewish people — students, in this case. They are victims because of the illegal actions of the Israeli Government. Please will our Government investigate the connection?”
While Baroness Tonge is correct to note that conflagrations in the Middle East can have an impact on antisemitism in the UK, this is not always the case. For example, the rise of the antisemite Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party — and the unlawful anti-Jewish racism carried out by the Party during his time in office — were not in some way a response to developments in the Middle East.
Moreover, if there is such an upswing in antisemitism in the UK during Middle East skirmishes, it is likely because antisemites in Britain are holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel (or its perceived actions), which is itself antisemitic, according to the International Definition of Antisemitism. It is regrettable that, in a debate about whether universities should be adopting the Definition, Baroness Tonge did not allude to this point or to the Definition at all. She remains more concerned to blame Israel for the rise in antisemitism instead of the antisemites.
Earlier in the debate, Baroness Tonge was skewered by Lord Polak as someone who has had “a career of repeating old, medieval tropes.”
Baroness Tonge 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.”
In 2020, Lord Pickles called for reform in the House of Lords after Baroness Tonge called Israel America’s “puppet master” and received no sanction.