George Galloway is currently running for mayor of London. You can follow him @georgegalloway
George Galloway, who was defeated by Naz Shah in Bradford West at the general election last year, says her Facebook posts were not anti-semitic and the witch-hunt against her is driven by a campaign to clamp down on anti-Israel criticism and to target Jeremy Corbyn.
For the second day running parliament and press have been giving the greatest attention to the social-media scribblings of rookie parliamentarian Naz Shah. Moreover, scribblings that were scribbled when she can have had no idea she’d be an MP, let alone parliamentary private secretary to the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer less than a year later.
Ignoring the frankly astounding news from the Hillsborough Inquiry the Daily Mail ( formerly associated with the British Union of Fascists, its founder openly fraternised with Hitler) gave over its whole front page to a fake media storm around Naz Shah and her uneducated views on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Shah has buckled, thrice issued ever more grovelling public apologies, resigned as a PPS, said she no longer believes the things she believed last year, knows better now etc. The psychobabble is in full flow – “healing,” “deep empathy,” “sorry I hurt my family, my friends, parliament” etc.
It is said, and seems to have been accepted in some unlikely places, that Shah is guilty of “anti-Semitism”. But she is not, at least on the evidence which has emerged to date. Her comments are half-witted to be sure, and their appearance at this time will prove a mighty headache for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (who is actually what this is all about) and may prove very significant in British politics over the next few months. But they are not anti-Semitic.
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I have no reason to defend Naz Shah except that it is necessary to stand up for the truth always. Not just morally but practically, for the Naz Shah affair is just another straw being laid on the back of Corbyn, and it may prove the last one. It is part of a bigger, wider political operation being mounted by supporters of Israel to redefine not just the political narrative but the language itself.
But before all that, this must be said. Anti-Semitism exists. It is a foul poison which subjected Jews for centuries to discrimination, bigotry, pogrom followed by the Holocaust, the greatest crime in human history in which millions of Jews were exterminated by Hitler-fascism and their “Christian” European allies while the rest of the world barred their gates against those fleeing the early stages of the industrialised attempt at genocide.
Anti-Semitism is a right-wing “nationalist” curse which deems, for example, British Jews as not British at all but aliens who should be encouraged by all means necessary to leave their own countries and leave to wherever, anywhere but here.
It was the standard narrative in British fascism until the 1950s when black non-Jewish immigrants began to take the place of the Jews as the scapegoats and whipping boys for societal ills. Jewish “control” of banks and many businesses, landlords and mountebanks of all kinds were presumed by default to be Jews.
This British fascism crystalised around Sir Oswald Mosely, a former Tory and Labour grandee whose attempt to ape Hitler and Mussolini had the full support of the family which still owns the Daily Mail (including straight financial support). It could (if Mosely had been successful) have led to a very British Holocaust, which would I am sure have been supported and facilitated by sections of the ruling class.
Such anti-Semites still exist today, a very grand now deceased Tory MP regularly described to me both former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind and former Home Secretary Leon Brittain as “Jew Boys”. Another leading Tory personally said to me that Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet contained “more Estonians than Etonians”, and he didn’t mean it as a compliment.
There is no doubt either that amongst some opponents of the state of Israel, anti-Semitism exists. I have had to ban, from both my radio and TV shows, and on social media platforms, callers who supported the Palestinians and in doing so exhibited clear anti-Semitic views. Many others I have had to chastise for the potentially deadly sin of conflating Jews, Judaism, Zionism and Israel. These are all to be found on YouTube by the way.
While, I think, none of those I have banned were Muslims, there is no doubt that anti-Semitism exists amongst some poorly educated Muslims in Britain also.
So I am certainly not here to argue that anti-Jewish hatred, like other forms of nascent hate crimes does not exist, It does.
Since the late stages of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, when the establishment began to panic over his potential victory, an offensive began to paint him and his principle ally John McDonnell MP the now shadow Chancellor as somehow anti-Semitic. Nothing could be further from the truth, literally.
McDonnell is a former Trotskyite. Trotsky was a Jew. Both men are influenced by Karl Marx. Marx was a Jew. Both men are anti-racist as an article of faith. They have spent their lives fighting racism in all its forms. Given their politics, how could it possibly be otherwise?
Both, and here’s the rub, have also been life-long campaigners for the Palestinians. Every platform they shared, march they attended, donation they made, was made in good faith in support of the just cause of the Palestinians. They may have made mistakes along the way, may have chosen words poorly from time to time, but only the malignant could maintain that any mistakes they made were as a result of some deeply concealed hatred of Jews. For those who know them, as I have for forty years, such a suggestion would be laughable if it were not so serious.
For some of the malignant, the permanent plotters of various potential coups against Corbyn all this is just another stick to beat Corbyn out of office with. Many such plotters probably have no real interest in the Palestine Question, or care particularly for Jews. Others transformed themselves into super-advocates of Israel because during the Blair era, Zionism became hegemonic in New Labour politics.
But for others, the real Zionists, all Corbyn’s difficulties are Israel’s opportunities. Not just to replace Corbyn with a pliant alternative, but to rework the very definition of anti-Semitism. For them their work will not be done until opposition to Zionism and Israel becomes synonymous with anti-Semitism. And they were already half-successful before they sent their guru Mark Regev to London as their new Ambassador (the previous one turned out to have “something of the night about him”).
Naz Shah’s scribbles
Time then to turn to Naz Shah MP and her no doubt late night social media scribbles.
There are three (at least so far) posts in the eye of this storm. I shall enumerate them for ease of reference.
1. She commented that it would be a good idea to relocate ISRAEL (my emphasis) to the United States. This was accompanied by a map showing the hugeness of the USA and the smallness of Israel. After all she said, the US was spending plenty of tax-dollars maintaining the Zionist state where it currently is, it would be cheaper to relocate it. This a foolish idea of course, but contains a serious point.
If the maintenance of the Zionist state is so important to the US, why does it have to be maintained on the land that clearly belongs to someone else, the Palestinians? Palestine was small, and was obliterated to make way for Israel. Why?
It isn’t as if the founders of the state of Israel were always committed to building their state in Palestine. There was no Biblical reason for doing so, the Zionist leaders were overwhelmingly atheist. Zionism is a nationalist idea not a religious one (which is why some of the most religious Jews continue to oppose it to this day.) The founders of Zionism negotiated seriously with the then dominant British Empire over proposals to locate their European settler state in all manner of places, Uganda, the Seychelles and Argentina being just three of them.
And it isn’t that there has been no “transportation” or “relocation” of populations in this story already. The transportation of 800,000 Palestinians from their homes and their lands is no Facebook post, it actually happened! This 800,000 driven from their land by mass murder and terror in the lifetime of some people alive today, have become millions of Palestinians “transported” to the four corners of the earth as usually stateless refugees.
Neither is the idea of a country ceasing to exist alien to this conflict. Look at your map and see if you can find the country formerly known as Palestine.
As it happens I believe the only way this conflict can now be resolved rules out the transportation of any more people from this tiny, Holy Land. I am against any further relocation of anybody, except the right of the Palestinians to return to their homes. I fight for one democratic secular state from the Jordan River to the sea in which all the Jews in Israel, together with all the Christians and Muslims as equal citizens live – one person one vote – in a new country called Israel-Palestine.
But those who reject this idea and who endorse the wiping of Palestine off the map and the permanent disinheritance of its people have no right to a fit of the vapours over Naz Shah.
Of course a more experienced politician, with a better grasp of history, would not have placed the word “transportation” in the same sentence as one which was dealing with the even fictional fate of millions of Jews. That politician would have had in mind the “transportation” to the death camps of millions of Jews in the Holocaust. Naz Shah isn’t that politician. But she was not supporting the transportation of anybody to their deaths, but to America, where most of the Jews in the world already live overwhelmingly successful lives. The idea is foolish, a joke even, but to pretend a political activist as she was at the time is somehow the re-embodiment of Eichmann over it is self-serving rubbish.
2. By writing, again on Facebook, in trying to get people voting in an internet poll on Palestine the words “the Jews are rallying” Shah is supposedly guilty of some anti-Semitic outrage. This is even more risible than the first charge. If I wrote the words, say, “the Muslims are rallying” for Sadiq Khan in an internet post it would be (I hope) completely untrue, but it would be no kind of Islamophobic slur. And then there is the small matter of Israel’s PM Netanyahu going on TV on Israel’s last election night to warn his supporters that, er, “the Arab voters are…rallying”
3. Over a picture of Martin Luther King under arrest, Shah wrote that one should remember that everything Hitler did was legal. This point is obvious. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is right. Do I really need to waste more of your time with that?
You may well ask why I have taken this many words to oppose the witch-hunt against Naz Shah. She, after all smeared me relentlessly during our election campaign in 2015 – including on these very matters – with the support of the very forces seeking to devour her now.
It is not because I am some St Francis of Assisi or uniquely forgiving by nature. It is not because when she wrote these things she was a member of my party Respect and hoping to be our candidate in Bradford. It is because if we allow opposition to Israel to become virtually a criminal offence, and on the eve of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration which first gave Palestine away, this would be the ultimate betrayal not just of the Palestinians but our own rights to speak out.
And if we allow false charges of anti-Semitism to be the rope to hang Corbyn, everything will be lost. Which is, why, of course the Israel lobby is trying so very very hard.
This article first appeared on the American Herald Tribune and we have reproduced it with their permission.