(RNS) The event hosted by Baroness Jenny Tonge in the British Parliament, live-streamed on Facebook, included a speaker who compared Israel to the Islamic State and blamed the Jews for the Holocaust.
“If anybody is anti-Semitic it’s the Israelis themselves,” the speaker also said.
His remarks were met with applause at the meeting, organized by the Palestinian Return Center, a group that is trying to get Britain to apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which expressed the nation’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The PRC considers Israel “a rogue state.”
In response to Tuesday’s meeting, the Liberal Democrats Thursday (Sept. 27) suspended Tonge from their party, which she then quit. She later said the offending speaker was conducting a “rant,” that she wasn’t sure what he was saying and felt it best to thank him and move on.
Tonge, a supporter of Palestinian rights and outspoken critic of Israel, served in Britain’s House of Commons, an elected body with the power to legislate, from 1997 to 2005. She was her party’s whip, but stepped down after she was criticized for saying that that Israel “will not last forever.”
She then gained a title and became a member of Parliament’s upper House of Lords.
Israeli officials in London called the meeting “shameful” and said it “gave voice to racist tropes against Jews and Israelis alike.”
“If anybody is antisemitic, it’s the Israelis themselves”; panel applauds; hard to believe, but this happened this week at House of Lords pic.twitter.com/L8v4cARnK8
— Yiftah Curiel (@yiftahc) October 26, 2016
Though Jews were a minority in the meeting room, the remarks about Israel and ISIS and blaming Jews for the Holocaust appear to have been made by a member of Neturei Karta: a group of ultra-Orthdox Jews that opposes the founding of Israel, believing that only God can create a Jewish state.
The Facebook video of the meeting has since been removed.
Anti-Semitism watch groups say it has been rising in Europe in recent years with the ascent of right-wing parties and animus toward Israel that is often directed at European Jews. Last week, a multiparty British Parliamentary committee lambasted the leftist Labour Party for its tolerance of anti-Semitism within its ranks.