MP receives death threats for Israel support (JERUSALEM POST) By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 03/28/12)
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A British MP says he fears for his life after receiving death threats
for defending Israel in an exchange with a constituent.
The Conservative MP for Henley, John Howell, has been offered police
protection for meetings with voters after an email exchange with the
constituent was posted online.
He has also been forced to remove the details of his district offices
from his website.
Constituents who want to meet him must now call a constituent hotline.
Pro-Palestinian activist Harry Fear, from Watlington in Oxfordshire,
sent Howell an email on March 10 asking what he was doing “to see
that Israel halts the military actions that are taking place in
defiance of international law and basic human decency.”
A photograph of a building exploding accompanied the email with a
caption stating: “Only a few hours ago, Israel felt it necessary to
inflict this destruction and death on the [Gaza] Strip.”
Responding to the email, Howell said: “And what is your position,
Harry, on the 100 rockets which have landed in Israel over the
weekend?” Fear posted the question, together with the MP’s reply, on
his blog and Facebook page. He included the MP’s contact details and
instructed people write to Howell “civilly, expressing discontent
with his conduct.”
The Conservative MP said he received around 30 emails; some
“There are a huge number of emails from pro-Palestinian and Arab
fanatics, some from the UK and some clearly not, some equally
threatening,” Howell said.
One email said: “You will suffer the consequences of this corruption
There was also a series of emails from some calling himself “Jihad
Alshamie,” who told him: “It is people like you who deserve to die.”
“The last thing I want to appear as is a drama queen, but you have to
take seriously a threat when it says, ‘I would like to see you
dead,’” Howell said.
“It is not just a question of me, it is my family and my staff. All
it takes is one person out there who is weird enough, with a
distorted view of life, to make an attempt to carry this out.”
In 2010, Labor MP Stephen Timms was stabbed at a constituency meeting
by Roshonara Choudhry, who was said to have been inspired by radical
websites, for his support of the Iraq war. She was found guilty of
attempted murder and jailed for life.
Last year, members of the Muslims Against Crusades group made death
threats against Conservative MP Mike Freer for his support of Israel,
when he visited constituents at a north London mosque.
“I have been helped by the House authorities in Parliament, who are
assessing the level of risk, and also by Thames Valley Police, who
have provided extremely good security advice. If I feel at all unsafe
there can be a policeman with me at a surgery [district office],”
Howell said that Fear was not responsible for the threats but
questioned the way Fear interpreted his response. He said he only
wanted to address the lack of balance in Fear’s email.
“My stated position on the Middle East is that in order to have peace
we need a secure and universally recognized Israel alongside a
sovereign and viable Palestinian state,” Howell said.
Continuing to pursue the issue, Fear said that the MP’s response
was “deeply disturbing” and “latently abusive,” as Howell “did not
extend me the professional practice (or even human courtesy) of
writing a proper and serious reply.”
Fear has sent a complaint to Parliament and the Conservative Party.
He has also sent the correspondence to The Guardian and The
The Zionist Federation of the UK has called for people to write
letters expressing support for Howell. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem
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