According to George Galloway, Hamas and Hezbollah aren’t, nor have ever been, terrorist organisations. However, Israel is.
On the strength of this eccentric taxonomy he proposes turning the Yorkshire city he represents in Parliament into an ‘Israel-free zone’.
Speaking ostensibly to Respect activists (an appropriate name for his party, wouldn’t you say?), but in effect urbi et orbi, he clarified his meaning:
“We don’t want any Israeli goods or services. We don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the university or the college.
“We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford, even if any of them had thought of doing so. We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel. And you have to do the same.”
Since Israeli visitors look like Jews from anywhere else, the only way to keep Israelis out is to bar Jews in general.
I don’t know if George has studied German history or language, but there places successfully purged of Jews in compliance with the Nuremberg Laws were in times olden called Judenfrei (‘free of Jews’) or Judenrein (‘clean of Jews’).
George didn’t specify how far he’d be prepared to pursue this obvious parallel, but he’ll be happy to know that the German manufacturer of Zyklon B is still in business, if nowadays restricting itself to a more benign product line.
Considering that 24.7 per cent of Bradford’s population are Muslims (and that’s just those we know about), George’s seeds fall on a fertile ground.
But most Brits aren’t far from his general assessment of Israel’s moral character. For example, 62 per cent believe that the current Israeli government is guilty of war crimes.
Yet my friend George stands out even against this background. While agitating to ban dual British-Israeli nationality, he himself holds two passports. One is British, the other Palestinian, which he gratefully received from Hamas in 2009.
Now, one can understand how commitment to Hamas’s noble cause, which is to do to every Israeli, ideally every Jew, what Isis is doing to Iraqi Christians, can outweigh commitment to truth.
Still, George may regard Israel as an illegal state, but even he has to admit that a state it is. Hamas isn’t, much as all progressive people hope it will be soon. Hence its right to consecrate outlanders to citizenship seems rather questionable.
Yet if such a keen student of legality as George has no problem with it, who am I to argue?
And not just legality: George is also qualified to rule on Judaic doctrine. This privilege has been traditionally reserved for scholars who devote their whole lives to pondering the original texts.
I’m sorry if I’m maligning our Hamas citizen, but I don’t believe he has devoted his whole life to Talmudic scholarship. Yet here he is, explaining that “Israel blasphemes against the Torah by calling itself a Jewish state.”
My grasp of Judaism isn’t all that firm either but, as I recall, Jews acquired the Torah on the way to Palestine which they in short order turned into a Jewish state. Moses on the mountain, voice out of the burning bush, Tabernacle, that sort of thing?
Hence, though Israel ‘calling itself a Jewish state’ may be regarded as offensive to people like George, it’s certainly not blasphemous.
But then George denies Israel’s right to call itself anything, or indeed to exist. The amazing thing is that even some British Jews express views that, if logically developed, would spell Israel’s Armageddon.
For example, Hugo Rifkind, that living argument against nepotism, wrote an article bemoaning the rise of anti-Semitism in Britain. He remarked, correctly, that such sentiments flare up whenever the Israel Defence Force is in action.
But then came a disclaimer, which was pure George ibn-Galloway, or would be if George learned to speak rather than to rant:
“I mean, look, it’s not as though I think Israel is doing the right thing. Far from it. In my view, if your only military success entails bombing a country where 50 per cent of people are under 18, then it’s not a military strategy that you should be following.”
What if that youthful country fires thousands of rockets at your own towns and digs tunnels through which prepubescent terrorists crawl to murder your own people?
What would be the proper military strategy to defend yourself, according to that Clausewitz of The Times? Roll over and play dead? You will be, before long.
And what if that country sites its rockets in a way (for example, at or in hospitals and schools) that’s guaranteed to maximise collateral damage for propaganda purposes?
Should Israel just sit back, dig in and let Hamas rockets reduce the country to rubble?
Or is this son of Margaret Thatcher’s frontbencher unaware of the constant bombardment of Israel by Hamas, which left Israel with no non-military options?
Unlike Hamas, Israelis don’t bomb ‘the country’. They bomb the military installations the country uses to kill them. Some people under 18 inevitably die in the process, though Israel does more than any country in the history of warfare to reduce their number.
So what would be ‘the right thing’ for Israel to do? What strategy would satisfy Hugo’s exacting requirements?
Bien pensant lightweights like him, who insist on making progressivist noises, in effect converge with evil anti-Semites like Galloway, a meeting of minds that would displease both sides should they be aware of it.
The story goes that, when the Nazis ordered all Jews in occupied Denmark to wear the yellow star, the king himself put one on and called on all his subjects to follow suit.
The story is unfortunately apocryphal, but the idea is good. At a time when the only civilised nation and our sole true ally in the Middle East is desperately fighting for its survival, we, Christians, Jews or atheists, should close ranks and declare: “We are all Israelis now!”
As to George, he should really renounce one of his passports, and I don’t mean the Hamas one. Our parliamentarians do make a strong case for democracy, don’t they?
P.S. My new book, Democracy as a Neocon Trick, is coming out this autumn. You can pre-order at roperpenberthy.co.com.