The ‘lynch mob’ audience George Galloway described having faced on Question Time was cringeworthy to watch, but also far too familiar for the spearhead of the BDS movement.
Galloway, who is (in)famous for his powerful oratory skills and his anti-Zionism, experienced the ugliness of a tactic he helped to spawn.
When he was invited on to the BBC1 show in Finchley, which has a large Jewish community, there was anxiety about the provocation.
Millions tuned in to watch Galloway proclaim, “you will not stop me speaking” after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
‘You want freedom of speech for some, but not freedom of speech for others’.
As he spoke, the amount of heckling and shouting directed at him seemed unprecedented for a live TV debate. Virtually every Galloway sentence was interrupted, which meant an extraordinarily chaotic show.
The heckling was a failure in disrupting him, and it fed his victim complex.
Little ‘Hymie’ in the audience with his kippa shouting at an experienced MP did not look good on TV. It made it look like many of those in the audience with visibly Jewish attire didn’t respect the debate. It made them look weak and out of their depth.
When you need to shout someone down and interrupt them, it often means you are losing an argument.
All one could really do was recoil at the manufactured anger, and the completely artificial narrative of this somehow being a product of freedom of speech.
It was a ‘George under the microscope’ evening – or as he said, “am I on trial?”
With a representative of north London’s Jewish community heckling him, or as George said, a ‘lynch-mob’, it didn’t really matter what he said. Whatever he said, he was going to get heckled.
Indeed, After the show, George posted a tweet on twitter that read as follows:
‘03700 100222 is the BBC number to call to register your complaints about the lynch-mob masquerading as @bbcquestiontime last not. Please do.’
Having graduated in the last year, I am all too familiar with this ‘lynch-mob’ concept, on campus.
Those that engage with it, hide behind it.
Their right to ‘freedom of speech’ is aggressively pushed to the front of the queue, whilst denying others by shouting, heckling and showing a lack of respect for debate.
As long as the means justifies the ends, according to those who do it, people turn a blind eye.
Stalling a speaker event because you don’t like the speaker is legitimate, if it’s about Israel.
Sneaky amendments are shoed into motions, and motions themselves are highjacked, to ensure that even at the very top level of student politics, BDS reigns, and nobody says a thing.
Most recently in the National Union of Students National Executive Council, an amendment was attempted to be introduced into a counter-anti-Semitism motion, to ensure that supporting Israel could not register as a legitimate form of Jewish identity. Not a matter of weeks later, NUS refused to pass a motion condemning ISIS because it might oestrasice Muslim students on campus.
It’s OK for some, I guess.
Events held by Jewish societies and Israel societies are disrupted, with most recently; Daniel Taub having been constantly heckled upon speaking.
Glorifying death and terrorism are also only OK if it’s against Israel – as was seen at a joint Palestine Society – Feminist society at University College London, recently, whereby a panelist glorified the murder of an Israeli convoy in the 1980s.
Any means that justify the ends when it comes to the public enemy number one, Israel, are legitimate. Palestine activists on campus show a contempt for freedom of speech, and especially academic freedom, blocking speakers and enforcing boycotts, with no regard for people’s choice.
This is the scene when the Deputy Ambassador spoke at Essex University.
What would George say about this ‘lynch-mob’?
Galloway’s encouragement for people to complain against the ‘lynch-mob’, were crocodile tears.
He tried to bring attention to someone abusing his right to free speech. But ultimately, he is the figurehead of a movement which represents that across the UK and beyond.