On Friday 29 August the British parliamentarian Adam West, Conservative MP for South Benfield, was viciously attacked by a Muslim fanatic while posing for a photograph on a London street. Horrified onlookers watched helplessly as the MP was punched in the head and knocked to the ground during a three-minute assault in which his assailant rained kicks and blows down on him, shouting ‘this is for Iraq and Gaza’ and calling him ‘Netanyahu.’
The 61-year-old Mr West suffered a cracked rib and a broken jaw and his face was badly bruised. Mr West is well-known for his outspoken support of Israel and his fervent and provocative advocacy of British military interventions. His attacker, who was arrested shortly afterwards, is reported to be a second-generation immigrant of Arab origin, and had previously expressed a desire on Twitter to ‘cut West’s throat.’
Leaders of all three parties have united to condemn the attack. Labour leader Ed Miliband called it an ‘assault on democracy and free speech’. Prime Minister David Cameron, who visited Mr West in hospital, condemned what he called a ‘cowardly’ and ‘vicious’ attack against ‘all of us’, and promised that there would be a robust response to the ‘radical and violent fanatics in our midst who do not share our common values.’
Hundreds of MPs have sent messages of support and sympathy to Mr West, including some of the maverick parliamentarian’s bitterest critics. ‘ An assault like this is an assault on all of us, regardless of our differences, ‘ declared Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, while former Education Secretary Michael Gove has called upon Muslim community leaders to condemn the attack and reject what he called the ‘extremist cancer’ in their midst.
OK, I’ll stop now. Because all of you know that neither Adam West nor South Benfield exist, that the MP who was attacked on the 29th was George Galloway, MP for Bradford West, and that his attacker was a ‘Jewish carer’ named Neil Masterson. And because his attacker was white and a Zionist, and because his victim was George Galloway, his actions elicited a very different response to my counterfactual.
Here is Ben Cohen, an analyst for JNS (Jewish and Israel News).org, in a ‘reflection’ on the Galloway assault:
[stextbox id=”alert”]I will readily admit that, like many Jews, my reaction to the news was one of unbridled joy, tempered by the guilty realization that, in a democracy, violence is rightly frowned upon as a means of dealing with one’s political opponents. However distasteful someone’s views—and Galloway’s views are, without question, highly distasteful—there are legal and constitutional channels available to challenge them.[/stextbox]
Well thank you so much for pointing that out Mr Cohen. We Brits will always be grateful in the future for your insight, wisdom, and your commitment to democracy – not to mention your touching honesty in sharing your ‘unbridled joy’ with us at the fact that an MP was savagely assaulted on a London street.
Still, Cohen’s ‘reflection’ is positively nuanced in comparison with this response from the Jewish Press blog:
Galloway has been released from the hospital, but it is doubtful that the attacker was able to beat some sense into his head. The MP, who has built his political career on loving Saddam Hussein and Hamas and hating Jews and Israel, was posing for pictures in west London Friday night when the attacker jumped on him while calling him “Hitler.”
The name of his one-MP party is Respect, which indicates his ignorance of the English language. The party’s name is a very contrived acronym for Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environmentalism, Community and Trade Unionism. A more accurate acronym would be “Racist, Extremist, Satanic, Pisher, Ethnic=hatingt, Crude and Twisted.
We wish Galloway a speedy recovery and hope that some of the medicine he needs is made in Israel.
Noble words, that positively sizzle with humanity and intelligence, and there is a lot worse than this out there, where the notion that ‘Galloway had it coming’ has been oozing out of numerous crevices in the Internet. Much of it comes from Israeli or Zionist websites; just read some of the comments underneath the above-mentioned pieces if you want to get the flavour.
No one will be entirely surprised by such a response from these circles. But what of the British political class? Surely one might expect to see some expression of outrage and condemnation from Galloway’s fellow-MPs? After all, on the same day that Galloway was attacked, David Cameron condemned Yes-campaigners in Scotland for throwing eggs at Labour MP Jim Murphy, saying ‘ ‘People shouldn’t throw eggs at somebody, full stop.’
Eggs, it seems, are clearly worse than kicks and fists, at least when George Galloway is on the receiving end of the latter. And so, more than a week after the attack, Cameron has said nothing about it. In fact, so far, only one MP out of 650 members of parliament has publicly condemned it – and it won’t come as any surprise to know that that MP was Caroline Lucas, who tweeted ‘ Attack on ‘Georgegalloway was cowardly & shocking – wishing him a speedy recovery.’
From the other 649, there has only been a pathetic, shameful silence. And we should be clear why this is. Personally, there are things that I don’t like about George Galloway, such as his 2012 comments about rape, but what you or I think about him is irrelevant in this case. There are many politicians I don’t like, and some that I positively detest, but that doesn’t mean I want to see them beaten to pulp in the street.
Many of the politicians who have remained silent about the Galloway attack worshipped and continued to worship Tony Blair, the man who launched a criminal and reckless war in Iraq that killed people in their hundreds of thousands and wrecked Iraqi society.
Yet they regard Galloway as a pariah because he has persistently and loudly condemned that war and many other ‘interventions’ of the last decade. Galloway was attacked in the aftermath of the savage destruction of Gaza – an event that was greeted for the most part with silence or outright support for Israel by most British MPs.
Galloway condemned that assault in his usual outspoken fashion, declaring West Bradford an ‘Israel-free zone’. This exhortation was presented as proof that he was antisemitic by the Zionist lobby, and also by his many enemies who have neither the integrity nor the intelligence to recognize any distinctions between ‘Jews’ and ‘Israel.’
So the refusal of the political class to condemn the attack is partly driven by reluctance to be seen as a ‘Galloway supporter’, and it is also driven by the fear of any association with his ‘antisemitic’ criticism of Israel. No one can say that these MPs don’t know what is required to get on in Westminster.
Today I listened to Galloway being interviewed by Peter Oborne on the Week in Westminster. Oborne is that rare phenomenon – a Tory journalist with integrity, and despite his tendentious suggestion that Galloway’s views ‘offend all right-thinking people’, he too was shocked at the response to the assault.
Galloway himself spoke calmly, eloquently, and with some dignity. He pointed out that he wasn’t asking for sympathy from his fellow MPs, which he rightly said would be ‘hypocritical’, but he did ask why none of them except Lucas had even condemned an attack that was, in effect, an attack on all of them.
It was a good question. And it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that too many MPs are self–seeking careerists, who either lack the guts to say aloud what ought to be a very simple and unproblematic observation: that kicking an MP into the street because you don’t like what he says is immoral, undemocratic and just plain wrong, or perhaps they too believe privately that ‘ Galloway had it coming.’
Either way, their silence stinks.