Not even the worst offender

In the Independent, Ben Judah says that to understand Naz Shah and the things she said you have to understand Bradford.

Because Naz Shah, and everything she said, is normal politics in Bradford.

Had Britain a writer as dark and politically incorrect as Michel Houellebecq, the French author of the dystopian novel Submission, in which France converts to Islam, he would, without doubt, set his first novel in Bradford. This would be his dystopian plot.

Along comes a by-election. A dark and unknowable force with a Dickensian name – Mister Galloway – descends on the unsuspecting, segregated, depressed Northern town. Suddenly he is everywhere, the white Scotsman, and the large and miserable Muslim population apparently think that by voting for him – a total outsider – they can change the course of conflict in the Middle East.

And yet it’s not a dystopian plot but reality.

George Galloway became Bradford West’s MP in 2012. By the time I started visiting the town in 2015, as a reporter for Jewish magazine Tablet, he had made local politics about Palestine. I contacted all the candidates vying to replace him. Most had photos exhibiting themselves at pro-Palestine rallies. One Labour hopeful responded, rather bizarrely, to my request for an interview with a video of herself speaking at a pro-Palestine rally. Naz Shah herself, whom I contacted over Twitter, stopped responding to me when I explained Tablet was a Jewish publication.

Within months, every local candidate was imitating the man in the fedora. Across town, in the constituency of Bradford East, the Liberal Democrat[ic] MP David Ward was using Twitter to question how long the “apartheid state of Israel” could last, and tweeting that he too would probably “fire a rocket” if he lived in Gaza. Later, he declared himself “#JeSuis #Palestinian” in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks on a kosher supermarket, after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Naz Shah didn’t like Galloway, Ben Judah goes on, but he shaped her, as he shaped all other Bradford politicians.

When it comes to anti-Semitic comments, Shah is not even the worst offender. In 2014, former councillor Istiaq Ahmed, who works at the charity Shah chairs, posted on social media “Is Kosher slaughter in the Eternal Jew accurate?” – a link to an anti-Semitic propaganda movie originally commissioned by Goebbels. The YouTube channel that hosted it? ”HitlerMyFuhrer”.

The former Lord Mayor of Bradford Khadim Hussain commented on Facebook that Israel was “no doubt” arming Isis, and shared another Facebook post that complained that the deaths of millions of Africans are not taught in schools but “your school education system only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists that were killed by Hitler”. The list goes on and on.

It’s a popular trope that anti-Zionism must not be confused with antisemitism, but by the same token, Jews must not be confused with Zionists. It is very far from the case that the six million Jews Hitler killed were all Zionists.

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