Nick Clegg has spoken publicly of the tensions that have arisen between his party and the Jewish community.
The eputy prime minister made the comments in front of an audience of community leaders and politicians during a Chanukah reception he hosted last week.
“I’m acutely aware – and there’s no point in pretending otherwise – there are pinch points between the Jewish community and the party I lead.
We have to accept that as long as we do so in a spirit of mutual respect.
That’s very much the spirit in which I’ve also sought to deal with, address, discuss and, in a heartfelt manner understand the issues which arise from time to time.”
He continues to say that “I’m very grateful to you that the dialogue that exists between my party and many of you has always been conducted in that spirit – it hasn’t been easy at times.”
Clegg and his party faced criticism over Israel’s operation against Hamas this summer and urged a full arms embargo against the Jewish state.
The continued presence of David Ward MP in the party and the perception among some that the Lib Dems had not taken enough action against him is also an ongoing source of tension.
Turning to the increase in anti-Semitism in Britain this summer, the Lib Dem leader said Jews were experiencing “heightened anxiety”, adding it is “simply unacceptable” for people not to feel safe in their homes and on the streets. “I will continue to do everything I can to speak out against the politics of vitriol, of blame of grievance, of hatred while defending the raucous freedom with which we express different views.
If we give up on the idea of that we can’t disagree with each other without toppling into violence and extremism then we give up on the very idea of what a free, democratic society is all about.”
“Upsurge of politics of them and us, division, blame. Populism on rise in western world. North and south of border left or right “they say to people with mixture of guile and cynicism all our problems can be blamed on forereigners. All the problems of the day and your family have to be blamed on somebody else. That is something you’ll never find the liberal democrats do.
“New depths of depravity” “new depths depraved evil ways humans can act if their hearts are poisoned by dehumanising hatred “need to remain vigilant never mind how prosperous, free our society is”.