A student journalist fisks Yvonne Ridley’s recent lecture at Imperial College in London:
Yvonne sits on the national council of Respect and stood as a Respect candidate in the last general election. “[Respect] is a Zionist-free party… if there was any Zionism in the Respect Party they would be hunted down and kicked out. We have no time for Zionists.” She explained that government support “goes towards that disgusting little watchdog of America that is festering in the Middle East”. She went on to attack the Tories and Lib Dems, saying that all the mainstream parties are “riddled with Zionists”. I found it hard to comprehend how the notion that “[Respect] encompasses a broad church of ideas and opinions” could be compatible with the hunting down of supporters of an Israeli state.
Ridley then plugged Respect’s attempt to take control of Tower Hamlets and Newham councils. “When Respect takes control of those councils in the May elections, they will be hoisting up the Palestinian flag”. She claimed that Respect’s candidates in East London were “a reflection of what I see before me in the room today a rich multicultural mix of people”, (clearly assuming that nobody at the event was a Zionist as they’re not too welcome in Respect).
Overall, the debate was not so much that of `what now for Israel and Palestine?’ as advertised but an all-out attack on Israel. Ridley criticised “the West’s” ignorance of Islam and the situation in Palestine. What is clear is that Respect’s policy on the Middle East, if that is what Ridley advocated, is pretty much in line with that of Hamas and effectively calls for the destruction of Israel.