When we appease antisemitism, this is shameful result

British authorities have ignored, excused or tried to appease Islamist extremism and the demonisation of Israel, all of which has been sanitised and applauded by progressive circles


A placard supporting George Galloway in Rochdale (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

March 06, 2024 16:44

George Galloway’s election in Rochdale as the dishonourable member for Gaza has been greeted in many quarters with the undiluted horror it deserves.

Galloway himself made his campaign platform absolutely clear by proclaiming the by-election to be “a referendum on Gaza”.

His victory was hailed by Nick Griffin, the former leader of the far-right British National Party, who exulted that Galloway would be “an eloquent voice” against “Zionist ethnic cleansing”.

Some have tried to dismiss this result as a one-off caused by the Labour Party’s eleventh-hour withdrawal of its candidate and the fury of Rochdale’s sizeable Muslim community over Israel’s war in Gaza.

Rishi Sunak hasn’t taken that view. In apparent panic, he denounced Galloway’s victory as “beyond horrifying”, condemned the Gaza protests and warned of an “alliance between Islamists and the far-right” spreading the “poison of extremism”.

His speech on this broader crisis was welcomed as long overdue. However, he struck some false notes. The alliance that so threatens Britain and the Jews is principally between Islamists and the far-left. Griffin and the far-right are relative bit-players.

He also voiced the false equivalence between antisemitism and anti-Muslim prejudice that has fried so many minds. While attacks on Muslims have increased and should indeed be condemned, he failed to note that attacks on Jews are proportionally far more numerous and serious — and a disproportionate number are being perpetrated by Muslims.

The government has announced new public safety measures including a broader definition of extremism and denying visas to dangerous foreign extremists. But what about the extremists who are already here?

The Charity Commission is examining concerns about “utterly repugnant” sermons delivered in British mosques since the October 7 Hamas pogrom. These suggested that the 260 Supernova festival-goers who were mown down deserved to be murdered, praised Hamas for its “moral victory” over Israel and called for “jihad” in Britain.

But there are already laws criminalising incitement or the glorification of terrorism and so on. The problem is that the police don’t use them. For more than two decades, British authorities have ignored, excused or tried to appease Islamist extremism, the interpretation of Islam which mandates the imposition of Islamic precepts on wider society. Not all Muslims are Islamists; but all Islamist extremism is based on Islam.

For even longer, the authorities have also ignored a key fact about support for the Palestine cause pushed by the BBC and the cultural establishment. Demonising Israel through relentless double standards, distortions and blood libels, this too was created by the far-left-Islamist alliance and is supported by neo-Nazis.

Worse still, it’s been sanitised and applauded by progressives in general (including Jewish ones) and the Muslim world. The convergence of the hard-left, Islamists and fascists has been termed the red-green-black alliance — by an amazing coincidence, the colours of the Palestinian flag.

The result of this establishment myopia is the current tsunami of antisemitism and the need to give dozens of MPs protection from the anti-Israel mob.

The Rochdale debacle also indicates the potentially huge destabilising factor of a British Muslim vote based on antisemitism and hatred of Israel.

Given the disproportionate levels of Jew-hatred in the Muslim community and the genocidal euphoria that erupted immediately after the October 7 massacre — an excitement over the defeat of the “Zionists” which Galloway’s election, and his likely deployment of the parliamentary megaphone, will galvanise still further — it’s hardly surprising that the security service is already warning of a hugely increased threat of Islamist terrorism. To talk about the real cause of such dangers is, of course, to provoke the charge of “Islamophobia”, the sinister term that silences as delusional and bigoted anyone who condemns any aspect of the Islamic world.

Which is why it’s so unfortunate that Britain’s Jewish community leaders themselves equate “Islamophobia” with antisemitism, and have correspondingly failed to conduct a vigorous public campaign against Muslim Jew-hatred.

The second important lesson from Rochdale is that the Labour Party is still not a safe place for Jews.

Despite Sir Keir Starmer’s attempts to erase the stain of Jew-hatred from the party, it still selected as its candidate in Rochdale a man who spouted grotesque Jewish conspiracy theories.

Furthermore, had Starmer not put forward his “humanitarian ceasefire” compromise motion in the Commons, an estimated 100 Labour MPs would have voted instead for an “immediate ceasefire” that effectively supported the survival of Hamas and the likelihood of more October 7-style pogroms.

And after Galloway’s election, senior Labour MPs told Starmer to harden his position against Israel because they said an “opening” had been left in Rochdale by failing to speak to “the anguish that millions of people feel about what is happening in Gaza”.

So in order to appease hatred of Israel, these Labour MPs advocate throwing it to the genocidal wolves.

Now Galloway’s Workers’ Party of Britain, which promises to field candidates in dozens of general election seats, says it has recently amassed a “huge number of new members”.

Chickens are coming home to roost.

Melanie Phillips is a Times columnist

March 06, 2024 16:44

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive