'Galloway Not An Anti-semite'

by TJ Reporter - Thursday 7th August 2008


‘You can call me bad, you can call me mad, but don’t call me anti-semitic.’ That’s the warning from George Galloway writing in the Jewish News this week after a High Court judge ruled that the Respect leader had been libelled by community radio station Jcom and awarded him £15,000 in damages.

The Bethnal Green and Bow MP brought the action after he was alerted to a spoof segment in a show last year featuring a presenter calling himself ‘Georgie Galloway’ whose catchphrase was ‘Kill the Jews, Kill the Jews’.

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The controversial politician became aware of the broadcast after Richard Ford, the founder of rival Jewish radio station Shalom FM, wrote a letter of complaint about the programme to industry watchdog Ofcom.

Describing the show as being “in appalling taste”, last Wednesday, Judge Eady saidGalloway was “prominent in denouncing racism and discrimination, and has no anti-semitic or racist views”.

As readers will know, however, the MP is no friend of the Jewish state. Indeed, he openly admits in the paper this week to being “an opponent of the political ideology of Zionism”.

He also defends his decision to pursue the matter through the courts, even though the financial impact of legal action has forced the team behind Jcom - who were hoping to apply for a permanent license - to shut up shop.

The station, which launched on the radio last October, had continued to broadcast on the internet once its temporary four-week license had expired. But last Thursday, after ten months, it fell silent. Jeremy Silverstone, Chairman of Jewish Communications Limited said: “As a result of this case, the station has now had to close down.

“Whilst we accept the judge’s view that Mr Galloway is not anti-semitic, it is somewhat ironic that in his determination to prove it, Mr Galloway has effectively shut down London’s only Jewish radio station and deprived the community of an increasingly popular focal point.”

Ford - who pulled the plug on Shalom FM last October claiming ‘a rival group of ex-Shalom FM colleagues and friends have set up a rival station which has diluted the whole radio project’ – stood by his decision to complain to Ofcom. Claiming the Jcom team were “demeaning the good name of Jewish broadcasting”, he said, “I wanted to make it clear that the Jewish community did not condone this sort of behaviour on air.”

He added: “I have no idea how George Galloway’s solicitors obtained a copy of this letter and it certainly was not my intention for him to use it in any action he could bring against Jcom.”

Expressing “real sadness” that a member of the community “had been involved “in the station’s downfall”, Silverstone said: “It is despicable that someone who was once so passionate about Jewish radio could act so spitefully against it.”

However, praising “the dedicated team of volunteers” and the otherwise “unblemished record of providing the community with a balanced and respectful mix of culture, music, entertainment and debate”, he added: “What we have created is bigger that any individuals, and we very much hope that before too long our community will pull together and create the station it so richly deserves.”

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