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Lord Sacks speaking in the Lords

Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks has told the House of Lords that Islamists know they cannot win support for their violent ways so they attack Israel instead.

In a lively Lords debate on the Middle East, during which a range of views were heard, Sacks said the Middle East was “de-secularising”. “They are uninspired by the secular culture of the West,” he said, and “have come to believe that salvation lies in a return to the Islam that that bestrode the narrow world like a colossus for the better part of 1,000 years”.

He added: “When power is secularised, peace is possible” but “when ancient theologies are used for modern political ends, they speak a very dangerous language indeed”. Lord Sacks was among several Jewish peers who spoke in the debate. Lord Mitchell agreed with Maureen Lipman, who said Ed Miliband “got it wrong” on Israel after he criticised the ground assault in Gaza.

Leigh added: “I support a Palestinian state, but not quite yet.”

Baroness Warsi made her first speech since stepping down from the government over what she called its “morally indefensible” lack of criticism of Israel. She agreed with Tory International Development minister Sir Alan Duncan, who said “settlements are simply an act of theft, initiated and supported by the state of Israel”. She added that they created “enclaves of Palestinians cut off from each other and from a viable existence… It is an organised and planned strangulation of what we call a two-state solution”.

Baroness Warsi

Baroness Warsi

Baroness Jenny Tonge, a Lib Dem peer known for her pro-Palestinian views, cited “the thing that dare not speak its name – the lobby, in this country and in America – AIPAC there and BICOM here, plus the Friends of Israel groups” which, she said, was involved in “fundraising, cajoling, launching websites and writing letters”.

Lord (Howard) Leigh, who is Jewish, said insinuations that he was part of a lobby were “a slur”. And while sharing Mitchell’s “concern” about settlements, he added that no country in the world had been more “completely misunderstood”.

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