Somewhere in Westminster the Head of Communications for the Liberal Democrats head has just hit his desk. “Why oh why” he will be asking anyone who will listen, “does David Ward MP keep tweeting?”
This is his latest contribution:
The big question is – if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? – probably yes
— David Ward (@DavidWardMP) July 22, 2014
Wow. Put another way, he is saying that he would undertake committing a war crime. Why? Because these rockets fired by Hamas and other armed militant groups in Gaza do not have capability to distinguish between civilian and military targets.
Or, put another way, this is a MP saying that he would perpetuate a climate of fear in Israel that is, at least in part, responsible for the on-going conflict. This would be a badly thought out comment from an average Joe on the internet, but coming from a MP…just wow!
Of course, David Ward has a history with his twitter account and the Israel/Palestine conflict. Back in January 2013 Hynd’s Blog reported on his comments on “the Jews” and how they “should learn from the holocaust”.
Just like in 2013, the Liberal Democrats have had to distance themselves from him and his comments. A spokesperson for the party was quoted by the BBC as saying:
“We utterly condemn David Ward’s comments, they are not representative of the Liberal Democrats. “The party takes this matter very seriously and will treat it as a disciplinary issue.”
Quite right as well.
Apart from the fact that comments like these distract from the atrocities being committed in the Gaza Strip at the moment, it also highlights a minority of the public who sympathise with such badly thought out views (although it is also noteworthy that most responses on and off twitter are condemning his comments). That said, his comments clearly struck a chord with some people:
Everyone being ridiculous about @DavidWardMP Israel doesn’t have an exclusive right to defend itself. Gaza has no Army, no Navy, nothing
— Nicola Duke (@NicTrades) July 22, 2014
@twitspvfc @DavidWardMP @LibDemPress he’s making a fair point to be fair. I think I would.
— Damien Jarrett (@DamoJarrett) July 22, 2014
Finally, it is also worth remembering that Ward is not the first elected politician to express such sentiment. Remember one Ehud Barak saying, “If I were a Palestinian I would have joined a terrorist organisation.”?
From The Guardian:
This morning Ward told Radio 5 Live that he was not condoning the Hamas missile attacks on Israel; he was trying to understand why they happen.
The comment was about understanding why people are firing rockets. I am not condoning that. In fact, yesterday in the House of Commons I condemned it. I’m saying I understand why people are so desperate that they are doing it ….
Why are they firing the rockets? When the rockets are fired, they’re done by people who know what is going to happen, the repercussions of that, this horrendous military force that Israel have will result in further Palestinian [casualties]. Why are they doing that? The answer is they are so desperate to retaliate for what is happening to them …
This is supposedly about the security of Israel. Why is it insecure? Why is it under threat? It’s because of the occupation. So what do we do? We have a ceasefire, a so-called ceasefire, where there isn’t rockets being fired out of Gaza, and then what? We go back to a situation where there’s a brutal oppression of the Palestinians and we call that peace.
I have always maintained that the occupation and associated human rights abuses act as a partial explanation to crimes committed by Palestinians but cannot act as a justification. Equally, I reiterate that it can only act as a partial explanation otherwise you patronizingly remove all agency from Palestinian actors who chose to take to arms as well as those who don’t!