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George Galloway stands accused of profiting from the pain of Gaza – and rightly so. But he is not the only one | Jonathan Freedland

George Galloway stands accused of profiting from the pain of Gaza – and rightly so. But he is not the only one | Jonathan Freedland

George Galloway stands accused of profiting from the pain of Gaza – and rightly so. But he is not the only one | Jonathan Freedland
Mar 01, 2024 1 min, 32 secs

“He also understands the position of working class white Brits on immigration.” Offered the chance to reject that support on Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday, Galloway’s deputy – the former MP Chris Williamson, who was suspended from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party over comments he made about antisemitism – pointedly refused.

In 1994, he stood before Saddam Hussein of Iraq, the man who had jailed, tortured and killed so many of his own people, and declared: “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.” In 2002, he told this newspaper that “the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life.”When an estimated 1,300 Syrians were killed by chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, Galloway did not, as most did, blame Bashar al-Assad – who he had long praised for his “ dignity ” – but rather pointed the finger at an imagined, if improbable, alliance of al-Qaida and … Israel.

As he memorably put it, “I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.” If campaigners against sexual violence disliked that, LGBTQ+ advocates might similarly recoil from some intriguing lines that appeared in Galloway’s election literature in Rochdale.

The former Conservative party deputy chair Lee Anderson was playing the same game when he baselessly accused Sadiq Khan of being so in thrall to his Islamist “mates” that he was failing to police pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London sufficiently harshly.

Anderson was trying to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment, following a lead set by Suella Braverman when she spoke of “hate marches” and “mobs” – and followed again, if codedly, by Rishi Sunak in his address outside Downing Street late on Friday.

Sunak, Braverman and Anderson all affect to have the purest motives – offering themselves as protectors of British Jews in particular, as that community faces a record surge of antisemitism – but, like Galloway, they’re in the exploitation business.

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