MP John Howell 370.
(photo credit: www.johnhowellmp.com)
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.
has also been forced to remove the details of his district offices from his
Constituents who want to meet him must now call a constituent
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.” The photo was in circulation back in 2009 and is completely unrelated to recent events in Gaza.
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 were “worrying.”
“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.
said: “You will suffer the consequences of this corruption and
There was also a series of emails from some calling himself
“Jihad Alshamie,” who told him: “It is people like you who deserve to
“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
“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.
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.
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.
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.