Day: September 9, 2006

Antisemitism in Britain – II

Listening to the last hour of George Galloway’s 3-hour programme on Talksport radio, devoted to the subjects of the parliamentary report on antisemitism in Britain and the political fallout in Britain as a result of the conflict in Lebanon, I had the strange feeling that I was hearing something from the second or third decade of the twentieth century – a kind of Goebbelsian propaganda discourse that tried to insinuate its way into the listener’s consciousness, doubling back on itself as it tried to appear reasonable and moral, while all the time preaching a cynical message of hatred. It may sound naive, but I didn’t think I would hear such a discourse on the airwaves of this country in my lifetime.

Galloway read out the emails and text messages sent by listeners, and almost invariably added his own commentary at the end of those messages which criticized his virulently anti-Israel opinions – “fool”, he would say, or “confused”, or “I don’t think anyone would want to share a street with you, Ian,” and so on. His voice held a distinct note of dark and aggressive menace, which would then almost at once be replaced by the smooth and kindly tones in which he addressed those with whom he agreed. Some callers were genuinely puzzled by the term “Zionism” Galloway uses so often, so he promised to explain what it meant. When it came to the point, he told his audience that what it signifies is a minority belief “not shared by the vast majority of Jews”, involving “all the Jews in the world getting together and leaving the countries where they were living and going to live in someone else’s country without their permission”. At that point there was a break in the transmission, a silence, and then Galloway’s voice could be heard again continuing the “explanation”. There was another silence, and then he said “there’s a technical glitch, something wrong with this microphone – I could believe that they’re out to get me, but I’m not that paranoid, though because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” One can only assume that someone in the studio had signalled that what he was saying was not to be continued, and for that one was grateful. And that was the end of the “explanation” – the show moved to more discussion of the hated Blair and Brown, and their support for the “Zionists”.

I’d never really taken Galloway seriously before – but listening to him at some length, I became aware that with a radio show on which he appears each week, not just for one night, but for three nights in succession (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), and for several hours at a time, he has the potential to become a real problem.

See also: Antisemitism in Britain

Harry’s Place has a fuller account of the broadcast here.