Martin Horwood’s careful picking over of what Jenny Tonge actually said is worthy of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: he has quoted her wrongly, but what of that?  The Inquisitors have decided that her language at Middlesex University was  offensive and inflammatory.

Offensive? Of the 549 emails Jenny has so far received 517 strongly supported her.

One email from a surgeon who worked  in appalling conditions for two years in the besieged Palestinian camps in Beirut,  spoke for many:  ‘Your courage and refusal to be bullied is a mark of honour.’’ Courage, justice, principle were words which occurred again and again in the mail which has poured in from the UK, France and the United States.  ‘’un peu de courage et determination dans un ocean europeen de couardise,’ wrote one Frenchman.

It appears not so much words, but silence that offends the majority of voters.  ‘’…sickened by the craven cowardice…. in the face…. of illegal brutality’’   ‘’……heartily sick of the craven duplicity most politicians show…’’.

Politicians do not tell it as it is in the Middle East.  Clegg has himself spoken of ‘’vandalism’’ with regard to Israeli settlement building and the’’ peace process,’’ but vandalism is mindless.  Now we need  the courage to say that the whole settlement enterprise  and deliberate humiliation of Palestinians since the Oslo agreement has been carefully thought out, that settlement and road building activities have always been  strategic, designed to make a viable Palestinian state impossible.

In a recent Parliamentary debate on Gaza, no speaker dared to point out the real purpose of the blockade: that Israel is deliberately ruining the fishing, agricultural and manufacturing industries of Gaza  in order to reduce a proud, talented and hard-working people to  unemployment and grinding poverty – which must be subsidised by the British taxpayer.

’You were wound up, then stitched up by the Israeli lobby,’’ wrote one correspondent to Jenny. Remember when Alan Duncan put a clip on his ministerial website attacking the Israeli colonisation of the Jordan Valley? It had to be removed within days. The lobby had spoken and the government caved in.

These bullying methods are designed to give Israel impunity.

Those who read Hansard know that our government’s methods of dealing with Israel’s violations of international law, consist of ‘’urging restraint’ and ‘’expressing concern.’’  But these gentlemanly expressions have not so far stopped the ethnic cleansing, the land expropriation, the economic strangulation, the terrorisation by the Israeli air force. The current Israeli government does not recognise Palestinian rights in international law and thus has no intention of negotiating in good faith.

And yet absurdly there is outrage over semantics.

No wonder we are losing members.

Comment by Sally Fitzharris