UK Jewish org declares ‘dark day’ after anti-Israel demagogue returns to Parliament

‘George Galloway is a demagogue and conspiracy theorist, who has brought the politics of division and hate to every place he has ever stood for Parliament.’

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

The UK’s main Jewish organization on Friday expressed horror at the return to the British parliament of George Galloway, a far-left populist whose election campaign in the northern town of Rochdale centered on the current war in Gaza between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization.

“George Galloway is a demagogue and conspiracy theorist, who has brought the politics of division and hate to every place he has ever stood for Parliament,” the Board of Deputies of British Jews declared in a statement. “His election is a dark day for the Jewish community in this country, and for British politics in general.”

Standing on the ticket of the Workers Party of Britain, whose platform is a combination of protectionism, socialism and a foreign policy hostile to the NATO alliance, Galloway won a resounding victory, polling 12,335 votes — 6,000 more than any other candidate. Muslims compose approximately 20 percent of Rochdale’s population and were heavily targeted by Galloway in the run-up to the vote, sparked by the death of its previous MP, Sir Tony Lloyd. The campaign of the opposition Labour Party, which had been expected to easily win the constituency, collapsed in disarray after it withdrew support for its candidate, Azhar Ali, following an interview he gave in which he endorsed the conspiracy theory that Israel knew of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in advance, describing it as a “massacre that gives them the green light to do whatever they bloody want.”

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During his victory speech, Galloway aimed at a barb at Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has attempted to stamp out the antisemitism in the party that flourished during the tenure of its previous far left leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

“Keir Starmer – this is for Gaza,” Galloway stated. “You have paid, and you will pay, a high price for the role you have played in enabling, encouraging and covering for the catastrophe presently going on.”

The 69-year-old Galloway has long been one of the more polarizing figures on the British political scene, widely detested in the Jewish community for his visceral attacks on Zionism and support for Israel’s elimination as a sovereign state.

A one-time ally of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Galloway frequently boasted of his friendships with regime figures such as the former foreign minister Tariq Aziz, and famously told Saddam during a visit to Baghdad, “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.” Expelled from Labour in 2003 for inflammatory remarks on the eve of the war in Iraq, Galloway subsequently founded Respect, a far-left coalition that placed its campaign for “Palestine” front and center.

Once derided as the “MP for Baghdad Central,” Galloway has developed a reputation for parachuting into constituencies with large Muslim populations and standing as an election candidate. Prior to Rochdale, which forms part of the Greater Manchester area, Galloway has previously represented constituencies in Glasgow, east London and Bradford. In 2014, Galloway was the subject of a police investigation for antisemitic comments, after he declared Bradford to be an “Israel-free zone,” declaring, “We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel. And you have to do the same.”

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On social media, critics of Galloway pointed out that he had run his campaign in Rochdale along ethnic lines, with separate appeals to the Muslim and white British communities.

In a letter sent to non-Muslim residents, Galloway made no mention of the Middle East, portraying himself as a traditionalist who values family and who emphasized, “Unlike the mainstream parties, I have no difficulty in defining what a woman is.” Galloway added that his priorities would be aiding small businesses, helping the local soccer team to achieve financial stability and a tougher stance on crime. But in his appeal to Muslim voters, Galloway began with the greeting “A’Salaam o Aleikum,” claiming, “I, George Galloway, have fought for Muslims at home and abroad all of my life. And paid a price for it.”

One BBC reporter revealed that his phone had “pinged with texts from MPs from a range of parties expressing depression at [Galloway’s] return to Westminster” following the Rochdale result. In a post on X/Twitter, the Campaign Against Antisemitism recalled previous clashes between Galloway and British Jews, including his statement “that the institutional antisemitism within the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn was really ‘a disgraceful campaign of Goebbelsian fiction’, in reference to Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propagandist.” and his description of the Oct. 7 Hamas atrocities as a “concentration camp breakout.”

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