The Canadian government’s recent decision to prevent the odious British MP George Galloway from entering the country has prompted a storm of criticism, mainly from Canadian editors that find Galloway’s pro-jihad views despicable, but nevertheless think his freedom of speech is being violated.
Tom Oleson of the Winnipeg Free Press, for instance, writes in a column entitled “Canada is bigger than this,” “[E]ven though Galloway is a foolish and hateful man who preaches foolish and hateful things, that is not enough reason to bar him from speaking in Canada.” And in an early blog post reacting to the controversy, the National Post’s Jonathan Kaye wrote, “A better solution would have been to let the guy in, but then have police on hand to apprehend him as soon as he violated Canada’s anti-terror laws — say, by fund raising for a banned terrorist group (something he’s done before).”
It’s something he’s done again. Indeed, it wasn’t Galloway’s “preaching” that got him barred from Canada; it was his self-confessed financing of Hamas, which, according to Canadian law, is very much a terrorist group.
Galloway, who was due to deliver a speech at the Metropolitan United Church in Toronto on March 30, was denied an entry permit by Canadian border security agents associated with the Ministry of Public Safety. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a foreigner who has “engag[ed] in terrorism” may be deemed a security threat and prohibited from traveling to Canada.
Galloway has vowed to appeal the decision, and this week he told an audience at Columbia University in New York — he’s still persona grata in the United States — “I have not now, nor have I ever been a supporter of Hamas.” However, Galloway’s deeds in the Palestinian territories earlier in the month prove otherwise. He took a much-publicized trip to Gaza as part of a convoy coordinated by Viva Palestina, a so-called “charity” that was formed in protest to the Israeli assault on Hamas in February. While there, Galloway publicly handed over more than £1.5 million in cash, vehicles, and other goods to Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas and the elected prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.
This Al Jazeera clip, reproduced by the Middle East Media Research Institute, shows Galloway handing over the money and telling his hosts:
We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of the contents, and we make no apology for what I am about to say: We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine. Just in case the British government or the European Union want to face me in any court, let me tell them live on television: I personally am about to break the sanctions on the elected government of Palestine. Many of my friends have to give their cash to charities. By Allah, we carried a lot of cash here. You thought we were all fat. We are not fat. This is money that we have around our waists. And we have to give this. … Some of my friends have to give this money to charities, and they will do this in private later this evening, because they need receipts and it’s not practical to do it here.
But I, now, here, on behalf of myself, my sister Yvonne Ridley, and the two Respect councillors — Muhammad Ishtiaq and Naim Khan — are giving three cars and 25,000 pounds in cash to Prime Minister Ismail Haniya. Here is the money. This is not charity. This is politics. The government of Palestine is the best people where this money is needed. We are giving this money now to the government of Palestine. If I could, I would give them 10 times, 100 times more. We are against this siege. We are opposing this siege. We are breaking this siege. We are breaking this siege.
I am saying now to the British and European governments: If you want to take me to court, I promise you, there is no jury in all of Britain who will convict me. They will convict you for the siege of the Palestinian people. Revolution until victory! Revolution until victory! Revolution until victory! Viva, viva! There’s more money coming in from my friends. Viva viva, Palestine!
There is every chance that his flamboyant challenge to British authorities will be met and that he will be prosecuted back home for providing material aid to a terrorist organization, because that’s what Whitehall also considers Hamas. Viva Palestina is already under investigation by the British Charity Commission for failing to provide the necessary documents that detail its purpose, its fund raising activities, and the actual recipients of its largesse.
Galloway is quite the ham pseudo-radical of a species that only Britain, in its venerable, centuries-long tolerance of cranks and eccentrics, could condescend to produce. He is unafraid of abasing himself before tyrant and transsexual alike (see his unforgettable performance as a kitty lapping at a saucer of milk at the behest of Dead or Alive singer Pete Burns on the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother), and he is adept at navigating the fault line between tragedy and farce. Galloway is the suicide bomber of Western politics.
A former member of the Labour Party, Galloway was expelled in 2003 when, as acting vice president of the Stop the War Coalition, he told an interviewer on Abu Dhabi TV that the Labour government had become “Tony Blair’s lie machine” and that “the best thing British troops [in Iraq] can do is to refuse to obey illegal orders.” Since then, he has been an ostentatious member of the so-called RESPECT Coalition, made up of the all-but-irrelevant Socialist Workers’ Party and a hodgepodge of obscurantist Islamists. (RESPECT has since succumbed to a fratricidal dispute that nearly parodies the violent clash between Fatah and Hamas: the unelectable Marxists want dominance over the electable theocrats, and the theocrats want nothing to do with “progressive” events such as gay pride parades.)
There really hasn’t been a totalitarian regime in the last quarter century to which Galloway has failed to lend his support. He once said the disappearance of the Soviet Union was “the biggest catastrophe of [his] life,” prefiguring Vladimir Putin’s woozy nostalgia for good the old days. Although naturally an opponent of the Anglo-American overthrow of the Taliban, Galloway did previously endorse the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. He also openly supported Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War, telling the Iraqi dictator in Baghdad, “I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability,” words he has since claimed were — what else — taken out of context. Surely this admission in Galloway’s autobiography I’m Not the Only One is as pellucid as any statement he makes on his largely ignored late night radio talk show: “Just as Stalin industrialized the Soviet Union, so on a different scale Saddam plotted Iraqis own Great Leap Forward. He managed to keep his country together until 1991.”
Of the jihadists now operating in Iraq, Galloway declared, in a 2005 speech at the al-Assad Library in Damascus, “These poor Iraqis — ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons, are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable by the people who occupy it.” Of the Assad dynasty in Syria, he also said on that occasion, “I have one hundred percent agreement with Syria’s policies on the international level, but on domestic level there are points of difference. But, when it comes to defending Syria’s integrity and dignity from foreign attack, this is another point. And I am with Syria.”
Both the U.S. Senate and the independent Volcker Commission implicated Galloway as an illegal profiteer of the U.N. Oil-for-Food program. Although the British House of Commons found “no evidence” to substantiate this charge, the key bank accounts used to funnel the ill-gotten Baathist cash were never examined or audited by the investigating committee. It did, however, suspend Galloway from parliamentary service for a different infraction, this one relating to his affiliation with another dodgy “charity,” Mariam Appeal, whose unstated goal was ending the Iraqi sanctions. Galloway’s Iraq point man for Mariam Appeal was a Jordanian businessman, Fawaz Zureikat, whose name turns up repeatedly in recovered Oil-for-Food documents produced by the former Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization. Indeed, on the substantive merits of the case against him, Galloway has never adequately answered the questions that Christopher Hitchens and I posed to him in our 2005 dossier regarding his involvement in this international crime. (Lest you think it presumptuous of us to have expected him to read our little pamphlet, copies of it were distributed outside the venue in Manhattan where Hitchens that same year debated the Scottish terrier, to the accompaniment of much media coverage.)
Perhaps most relevant to the current news cycle is the fact that Galloway has been to Canada before. Two years ago he visited Ottawa as the guest of honor at the 74th anniversary of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, the black shirt outfit responsible recently for roughing up Hitchens, Michael Totten, and Jonathan Foreman in Beirut. The SSNP’s flag carries a logo that is a conspicuous imitation of the Nazi swastika, and its anthem is sung to the tune “Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles.”
How nice, then, that a liberal democracy often assailed for its capitulation to Islamic speech codes and political correctness has managed to turn away an abettor of terrorism and a preening blimp that has never refused an ideology that would gladly have him for a martyr.