George Galloway is a British Member of Parliament (MP) from Bradford West, and he’s had a rather checkered career. Expelled from the Labour party, he’s now a member of the Respect party He was also reported to have converted to Islam (not confirmed), and has been a vociferous critic of Israel and defender of Palestine.
Well, be that as it may, he simply went too far in the past few days. As the the Guardian reports, Galloway was asked to debate a student, Eylon Aslan-Levy (Aslan-Levy? A hybrid between a Jew and a Christ-lion?) on the motion that “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank.” When Galloway learned, as the debate began, that Aslan-Levy was an Israeli, he walked out of the room. Here’s the video:
Although the Guardian says that he was accused of “racism” after this, I argue that it’s not really racism, but plain religious bias (I don’t see Jews as a “race,” since they’re genetically heterogenous). But regardless of that, if you don’t see this as a case of rudeness motivated by antisemitism, you’re blinkered.
And yes, it would have been equally rude had somebody walked out of the room had the debater been a Palestinian. Everyone deserves a hearing, especially in a debate.
Galloway is unrepentant. The Guardian notes:
Galloway said on his Facebook page: “I refused this evening at Oxford University to debate with an Israeli, a supporter of the apartheid state of Israel. The reason is simple: no recognition, no normalisation. Just boycott, divestment and sanctions, until the apartheid state is defeated. I never debate with Israelis nor speak to their media. If they want to speak about Palestine – the address is the PLO.”
Never mind that Hamas is viciously antisemitic, calls for the destruction of the Israeli state, and touts the odious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a czarist forgery touting a fictitious plan for world domination. That’s okay. It’s just another example of the double standard whereby Israelis are held to a higher standard of behavior than Palestinians. This was recognized by one student:
Michael Baldwin, a third-year student at New College, noted that Galloway had once been given an honorary Palestinian passport, and said the MP would be “rightly indignant” if someone refused to debate him because of it. He added: “I would encourage Mr Galloway to reconsider his position, which is open to accusations of xenophobia.”
A spokesman for the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign moved to distance itself from Galloway’s actions, saying the movement rejected “all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism”.
He added: “BDS does not call for a boycott of individuals because she or he happens to be Israeli or because they express certain views. Of course, any individual is free to decide who they do and do not engage with.”
I will lift my boycott of name-calling temporarily so I can call Galloway a moron, and add that he should be voted out of office. He’s certainly injured himself by this thoughtless and rude act. If any peace is to be forged in the Middle East, it will be through Israelis and Palestinians talking to each other.