Leah Sacks also contributed to this article.
The adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in May 2016 has many important aspects. These include that it greatly simplifies the teaching of anti-Semitism. One way to do this is through case studies of people who make anti-Semitic slurs. One such IHRA-definition based analysis has already been published about Lady Tonge, a former Liberal MP and now an independent member of the House of Lords.
A second natural candidate in the U.K for such an analysis, is the former parliamentarian George Galloway. He represented Labour in two Glasgow constituencies from 1987 until 2005. In 2003 the party expelled him. In 2004 the Respect party was founded of which he became the leader. He was elected on behalf of Respect as an MP in Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005 and as an MP in 2012 for Bradford West.
The IHRA definition document includes as an example of anti-Semitism the making of demonizing allegations concerning the myth of a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institution. Galloway makes such accusations frequently. In a 2008 broadcast by Al Jazeera of an address he gave in Amman he said: “There is a conspiracy in this region all right – but it’s an American-Israeli conspiracy.”
In a 2013 video on the internet about chemical weapons used against Syrian civilians Galloway said without any proof: “If there has been use of chemical weapons, it was Al Qaeda who used the chemical weapons. Who gave Al Qaeda the chemical weapons? Here’s my theory: Israel gave them the chemical weapons.”
Some of Galloway’s anti-Semitic smears fall under more than one of the examples accompanying the IHRA definition. The following two false accusations of conspiracies also meet the IHRA example of “accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.”
The first is when, in a television broadcast, Galloway said: “the Zionists sent gunmen to the Maidan in Kiev to help a revolution…being done by outright Nazi anti-Semites…if these Nazis come to power in Kiev and they hate Jews so much, the remaining Ukrainian Jews will feel that they have to go and settle in Palestine.”
The second example involves Baroness Oona King of Bow, who was the Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow from 1997 until 2007. Galloway defeated her in 2007. She said during the election campaign: “Galloway is all over me like a rash. The Respect lot go out and imply to my Muslim community that I shoot Muslim babies between the eyes. They've even superimposed my head on to a photograph of a man driving a tank. It's gone through everyone's letter box. And they point out that I'm Jewish, there's a Jewish world conspiracy and I must be part of it. They shout 'Murderer! Murderer!' all the time.” King has herself made an anti-Semitic claim when she compared Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto, after she traveled there in 2003 with Lady Tonge.
The IHRA document also mentions as anti-Semitic “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” In an article titled “Dark Echoes of the Holocaust” Galloway writes that the Israeli government has refused to hold anyone accountable “for playing mini-Mengele on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.” At a demonstration protesting the Gaza War in 2009 he said that “today, the Palestinian people in Gaza are the new Warsaw Ghetto, and those who are murdering them are the equivalent of those who murdered the Jews in Warsaw in 1943.”
There is more: The IHRA document includes as yet another example of anti-Semitism: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” Galloway said at a rally against the Gaza war in August 2014: “The entire state of Israel is a completely illegitimate enterprise.” In a TV interview on Al Jazeera he told an Israeli general in 2014 “The gangster terrorist State of Israel…its days are numbered.” Galloway’s use of the term “gangster terrorist state is also an example of “employing sinister stereotypes and negative character traits” for Israel and Israelis. This is mentioned in the IHRA definition, where it refers to Jews as subjects.
Many other statements by Galloway are on the periphery of the definition of anti-Semitism. One of Galloway’s techniques is to lump together Zionists with people generally perceived as evil. After losing in 2015 his Bradford West seat to Labour MP Naz Shah, he said in his concession speech, “There will be others who are already celebrating: the venal, the vile, the racists, and the Zionists will all be celebrating. The hyena can bounce on the lion’s grave but it can never be a lion and in any case, I’m not in my grave. As a matter of fact I’m going off now to plan the next campaign.”
One of the ways to demonize Israel is to call it an Apartheid state, which Galloway has also done when he refused to debate with an Israeli student at Oxford. This calumny indeed should have been included in the IHRA definition of anti-Semitic slurs. The lie that Israel is an Apartheid state has been dismantled in detail by former Israeli foreign office legal advisor Robbie Sabel, as well as others. Also on the periphery of the definition of anti-Semitism is Galloway’s defense of Ken Livingstone who said that “Hitler supported Zionism.”
The IHRA definition says that “anti-Semitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others.” Galloway did exactly this with Israelis when he proclaimed that no Israelis should be allowed in Bradford saying, "We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone. We don't want any Israeli goods, we don't want any Israeli 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."
One may think that Galloway is in the margins of society, however, he had the elective support of two constituencies with substantial Muslim populations - Bradford West beating out Labour by more than 10,000 votes and winning the Bethnal Green and Bow where he was elected with 15,801 votes. In the London mayoral elections he received 37,007 votes. His twitter site has 256,000 followers. This shows that even such an extreme producer of anti-Semitic aspersions still has support that is far from negligible.
When teaching anti-Semitism it is preferable to start with analyzing extreme examples of those who utter anti-Semitic smears, such as Tonge and Galloway. Those who want to fight anti-Semitism can learn easiest from them to apply this methodology to others who produce such calumnies.