The campaign of demonisation against George Galloway constitutes incitement

The latest edition of BBC Question Time from Finchley in north London was a low point for the flagship show. The treatment meted out to Respect MP George Galloway was a disgrace, made more so by the fact his car was attacked as he was leaving the venue, despite a police presence outside.

The ugly events witnessed by millions began in the weeks leading up, as soon as his appearance on the panel in Finchley was announced. An orchestrated campaign of intimidation and provocation was waged through the media, designed to intimidate both him and the BBC. But as George said, the idea that someone who has been an MP on a near uninterrupted basis since 1987 should be prevented from speaking or appearing in any constituency in the country is an attack on democracy. The Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, played a key part in instigating this media campaign, which given that the Respect MP was physically assaulted in the street just a few months ago by a fanatic wearing an IDF t-shirt, is surely grounds for Mr Freer to be held to account.

During the show, the question directed at Galloway re the rise of antisemitism in the UK should have been censored. It straddled the line of defamation, not to mention taste, and brought the BBC into disrepute. It was an organised attack, involving an audience in which an array of hate mongers were given free rein. Even the gentleman who reminded the audience of Galloway’s past record in correcting antisemitism when it arised on his Press TV show Comment, went on to assert that antisemitism was directly related to the number of Muslims living in Europe.

Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian’s statement, “the resumption of violence in Gaza”, during his attack on George was a studied and cowardly attempt to minimise one of the most barbaric military operations against a civilian population the world has witnessed. That he could not bring himself to acknowledge this, when we consider the 500 Palestinian children who were slaughtered during this massacre, was suggestive of a man who has had his humanity surgically removed.

The free speech ‘merchants’, those who were so up in arms over matters related to the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, who use free speech as a sword rather than a shield, would like nothing more than to silence one of the only voices in the country’s national life who dares challenge the demonisation of Muslims and the Muslim community, establishment support for the apartheid state of Israel, and a political status of quo of military intervention overseas and social and economic injustice at home.

That George is a polarising figure is beyond doubt. But the reason they hate him because he knows them, knows what they are and consistently and tirelessly exposes their hypocrisy and double standards. Consequently, it would be a huge reverse if he fails to get re-elected as the MP for Bradford West in May. Fortunately, though, given the disgraceful lynch-mob-audience on Question Time, and the orchestrated campaign of incitement we have seen rolled out against him, his re-election is now more likely than ever.

Someone tweeted last night after the show ‘Je Suis George Galloway’. It is hard to argue with that sentiment after the attempted political and public lynching of the Respect MP on Question Time.

There is nothing wrong with this cartoon


From Haaretz

…this was not anti-Semitic by any standard. Here are four reasons why.

1. It is not directed at Jews: There is absolutely nothing in the cartoon which identifies its subject as a Jew. No Star of David or kippa, and though some commentators have claimed Netanyahu’s nose in the cartoon is over-sized, at most this is in line with Scarfe’s style (and that of cartoonists) of slightly exaggerating physical features. Jew-noses are prevalent in truly anti-Semitic cartoons that routinely appear in Arab newspapers – you can find them easily on the web. They are big, bulbous and hooked snouts, and look nothing like Netanyahu’s nose a-la-Scarfe. Furthermore, Netanyahu is an Israeli politician who was just elected by a quarter of Israeli voters, not a Jewish symbol or a global representative of the Jews.

2. It does not use Holocaust imagery: It has become generally accepted – justifiably I think – that comparing Israel’s leaders and policies to those of the Third Reich is borderline, if not full-on anti-Semitism. Not only because there is no comparable genocide in human history, but because choosing it to describe the actions of the Jewish state is a nasty slur identifying Israelis as the successors of the Holocaust’s victims turned into perpetrators of a second Holocaust. But there is nothing in Scarfe’s cartoon that can put the Holocaust in mind. Perhaps someone thinks that the wall should remind us of the ghetto, but don’t forget, Scarfe is the original designer of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Should the Sunday Times have not published the cartoon on International Holocaust Memorial Day? Only if one believes that is a day in which Israeli politicians have immunity from being caricatured. Such a belief would certainly cheapen the memory of the Shoah. The Sunday Times, as it names indicates, appears only on Sundays and this was the end of elections week in Israel – when else did you expect them to feature a cartoon of Netanyahu?

3. There was no discrimination: If Gerald Scarfe had been a benign and gentle artist, treating the subjects of his cartoons with due respect and reverence, sharpening his pencil only on Israeli and Jewish figures, there would be grounds here for assuming he was tainted by the most ancient of hatreds. Anyone who has had even a casual glance at Scarfe’s oeuvre of over half a century knows that is not the case. Netanyahu’s depiction is grossly offensive and unfair, but that is only par for the course for any politician when Scarfe is at his drawing-board. Scarfe has spent his entire career viciously lampooning the high and mighty – Netanyahu is in illustrious company.

4. This is not what a blood libel looks like: Some have claimed that the blood-red cement Netanyahu is using in the cartoon to build his wall indicates a blood libel motif. Well of course it’s blood but is anyone seriously demanding that no cartoon reference to Israeli or Jewish figures can contain a red fluid? The classic European blood libel, like many other classic European creations, had a strict set of images which must always contain a cherubic gentile child sacrificed by those perfidious Jews, his blood to be used for ritual purposes. It was a direct continuation of the Christ-killer myth. Scarfe’s cartoon has blood-cement but no blood libel components – it almost seems he was careful not to include any small children among his Palestinian figures (one of the eight is arguably an adolescent) so as not to have any sort of libel scenery. The blood libel was a terrible feature of Jewish life in Europe up until the beginning of the 20th century, and the myth still occasionally emerges from between the cracks in some East European backwaters to this day. To ascribe Scarfe’s cartoon with any of its features distorts another chapter of Jewish history.