George Galloway has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for legal action against Jon Lansman, after the Jewish founder of the left-wing Momentum group accused him of antisemitism.
In a message on social media, Mr Galloway, a former MP for both Labour and the Respect party, announced: “It’s time to end the fake narrative that standing up for the Palestinian people equals antisemitism. It's time to establish in court once and for all the utter falsehood of this smear.
“I don't stand alone in this. Huge numbers, including Jewish members of the Labour Party, have been expelled, suspended and excluded from the party on fake allegations like the one Lansman has made against me. A victory for me will be a victory for them.”
Mr Galloway launched the drive for funds after he became involved in a dispute with the Jewish comedian, David Baddiel.
On January 28, Mr Galloway tweeted in reference to Mr Baddiel’s apparent support for a march protesting against Donald Trump visiting the UK.
Mr Galloway wrote: “There will be no supporter of the Palestinian people marching behind vile Israel-fanatic ‘comedian’ David Baddiel. There will be no opponent of Imperialist wars marching behind Stella Creasy [Labour MP for Walthamstow]. #JustSaying.”
Mr Baddiel responded, accusing Mr Galloway of antisemitism. The comedian wrote: “Since I've always made it entirely clear that my attitude to that country [Israel] is entirely meh, I think we can only conclude that by "Israel-fanatic" George just means Jew. Vile Jew. And that therefore he is an antisemite. Now let him come at me with his stupid f***ing lawyers.”
Mr Lansman became involved when he expressed his “solidarity” with Mr Baddiel.
“Since he’s a Jew who’s talked about being non-Zionist, there’s no possible reason to call him a “vile Israel-fanatic” other than antisemitism. There clearly should be no place for @georgegalloway in @UKLabour or in the employment of @talkRADIO,” Mr Lansman tweeted.
Mr Galloway tweeted 24 hours later that “I was wrong to tweet that David Baddiel was an ‘Israel fanatic’, he is not and I have deleted it. I should have said that David Baddiel routinely slanders Israel critics like me as ‘antisemites’.” He did not provide any further proof to back up this claim.
However, he announced his intention to sue Mr Lansman for his comments.
“Please donate everything you can”, he wrote on Facebook, giving his lawyers’ bank account details.
“I am fighting this case via crowdfunding because I don't have the money myself to do so. I am not a ‘multi-millionaire’ or a ‘millionaire’ in fact I don't have four figures in the bank.
“If successful all proceeds after reimbursement of donations will go to the family of Ahed Tamimi and other brutalised Palestinian children.”
Ahed Tamimi is a Palestinian teenager who was arrested late last year, after video footage showed her punching and kicking two Israeli soldiers, neither of whom responded other than to attempt to block her blows. She is currently awaiting trial.
In the past, Mr Galloway has shown no hesitation in threatening to sue people who have accused him of antisemitism. In 2015, he said he had begun libel proceedings against Hadley Freeman, a Jewish journalist for the Guardian, after she accused him of antisemitism. He also sent legal letters to a number of people who had retweeted the accusation that he was an antisemite, demanding £5,000 compensation and threatening legal action.