Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Pro Israel group response to BBC's provocation to invite Anti-Israel George Galloway MP to appear on a Question time Panel in a Jewish Area.
As many of you will be aware George Galloway will be appearing on BBC’s Question Time this coming Thursday due to be filmed in Finchley. Both SFI and PIRG have been closely monitoring the situation. We have seen the level of frustration and disappointment on line and read various positions on demonstrating/boycotting/ignoring the programme. We have been in touch with the police, CST and other Jewish organisations. We have also been monitoring Facebook groups and Twitter. Having weighed up all the information we have received and with the safety of our community as paramount, we strongly feel that a demonstration of any kind would not be sensible at this time. We do not shy away from making our feelings know nor are we afraid to demonstrate publicly and we have utmost faith in the ability of the police to protect us. However, we believe that it is necessary to know when the right time to take to the streets is and when not to. This is one of those occasions.
The recent actions by the BBC have caused us all concern, from their refusal to sanction Tim Willcox for his outrageous comments in Paris to asking on The Big Question, two days before Holocaust Memorial Day, "Is it Time to Lay the Holocaust to Rest?". This latest action of inviting Galloway to the most heavily populated Jewish area in the country was not coincidental. It was at best insensitive and at worst intended to provoke a reaction and increase viewers, something it will most probably achieve. We in no way wish to curb Golloway's right to spout anti-Israel hatred and defend his right to have the opportunity to speak on Question Time. However, we do question the logic of inviting him to this particular location at this particularly sensitive time. We are pleased to know that there will be a few Jewish audience members and hope they will be afforded the opportunity to pose a question to the panel. The inclusion of Jonathan Freedland and Tristram Hunt on the panel also will hopefully provide some balance.
Mr Galloway has also played his role in inflaming tensions by comments he has made on Twitter. He was fully aware of the reaction his appearance would provoke but he chose to incite even more anger by his comments. Both his actions and those of the BBC are insensitive, infuriating and unnecessary. We will continue to oppose such blatant disregard for the feelings of our community and will always convey our message to those responsible. We hope that our vigorous response will help avoid similar actions happening in the future
It is vital that we all let the BBC know of our feelings and are not afraid to make complaints. The BBC thus far has appeared to have chosen to ignore the issue of the location of Galloway's appearance, the focus of our complaints, and have only responded to his right to appear, which we have never questioned. We will continue to hold the BBC accountable for their decisions and their presenters. Remember, as a public broadcaster, funded through our license fees, the BBC is answerable to us, their viewers.
Finally we must ask ourselves if, in some very small way, by a small number of people, events in 1930’s Germany are being replicated here - the slow acceptance and tolerance of anti-semitism, often masquerading as anti-Zionism. The speed, accessibility and immediacy that the internet provides today both facilitates this but also allows us to monitor it and take prompt action. There are some who feel that action is needed immediately to stop any potential threat in the future. There are some who recognize that there is a potential threat but are unsure what to do about it and manage only to 'muddy the waters' for others. Some believe that if they just ignore it and bury their heads in the sand it will miraculously disappear and then of course, and unfortunately, there are some who are swift to join the enemy in the hope that they will be recognized as ‘good Jews.’ Undoubtedly at some point in the future, a line in the sand will need to be drawn. We have all seen the fear and concern a proposed March through Stanford Hill has unleashed, even though it is now clear that no such March will take place. The vigilance and prompt action taken by many in our community have ensured that events and lunatics like this are brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities immediately. But we must remain vigilant, the threat is real. It is our hope that if that time comes, this community will recognize that time and act with the passion, commitment and determination that will be required.
Sussex Friends of Israel & Pro-Israel Response Group