Baroness Tonge to step down from the House of Lords

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Baroness Tonge to step down from the House of Lords

Exclusive: Anti-Israel peer said she 'promised' to quit when she turned 80 but will 'continue to campaign for justice for the people of Palestine'

Jack Mendel is the former Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Baroness Tonge
Baroness Tonge

Anti-Israel peer Baroness Jenny Tonge is to step down from the House of Lords on 19 February.

The politician who resigned from  the Liberal Democrats after being suspended for comments deemed to be antisemitic, said she will however continue her activism for Palestinians.

Speaking to Jewish News, she said: “I have always promised myself and my family that I would retire when I am 80 years old which is in mid- February. I informed the authorities some months ago.”

Indeed I think many of us should retire from the Chamber at my age—there are far too many people in the Lords.”

However, I shall continue to campaign for justice for the people of Palestine.”

Tonge faced criticism in March 2020 after saying politicians must “not allow our country to fall under the shadow of the United States of America and its puppet master, Israel”.

Shortly after the General Election in 2019, almost 90 peers urged her to apologise, after she claimed the Chief Rabbi “must be dancing in the street” after the General Election, which was won by “the pro-Israel lobby”.

Baroness Tonge has repeatedly courted controversy which has led to her being suspended by her former party, the Liberal Democrats, investigated by the Commissioner for Standards in the House of Lords, and forced to stand down as patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

She has been criticised for sharing an article about “Jewish power”, and for claiming that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians was a “major cause” of jihadism and Islamic State. After 11 people were killed at The Tree of Life Congregation in the US, she appeared to blame Israel for a rise in antisemitism.

Her retirement was welcomed by Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation, who cited her repeated controversies saying it “should be clear to the reasonably-minded that her activism in support of the Palestinian people had morphed into antisemitism long ago.”

“Our House of Lords should never provide a platform for its Peers to espouse such hateful and outrightly anti-Israel and antisemitic comments whatsoever.”

“We hope the House will be a better place for all without her.

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