WATCH / British MP: I do not debate Israelis

Pro-Palestinian activist & British MP George Galloway storms out from a debate at Oxford University after his opponent declared to be an Israeli.



British Member of Parliament George Galloway shocked the audience when he stormed out of a debate at Oxford University on Wednesday, declaring that he does not debate Israelis.

British MP George Galloway with Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, March 11, 2009.

British MP George Galloway with Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, March 11, 2009. Photo: REUTERS/Mohammed al-Ostaz/Handout

The debate, in which Galloway was arguing in favor of the statement, “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank”, was held by the Oxford Union at Christ Church College.

Midway through a statement by his debate opponent Eylon Aslan-Levy, whose comments made his nationality clear, Galloway interrupted, asking “Are you Israeli?” Upon receiving a reply in the affirmative, Galloway promptly gathered his belongings and departed, announcing to the visibly shocked crowd: “I don’t debate Israelis.”
Then he and his assistant departed, amid cries of “racism!”

Tweeting after the debate, Galloway told his 111,000 followers that, “I don’t debate with Israelis or speak to their media. If Israelis want to speak about Palestine they can talk to the PLO.”

Galloway is notoriously anti-Israel, and strongly identifies with the Palestinian cause. In his Twitter bio, Galloway identifies himself as “pro-Palestine, anti-war, pro-equality, anti-Islamophobia”. In 1994, he visited Iraq and met with Saddam Hussein, whom he told “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.”

Britain’s main Jewish umbrella group said in response to Galloway’s walkout that his actions, as well as of those who tried to shout down the deputy Israeli ambassador at a recent event at the University of Essex, exposed the true face of anti-Israel activists.

“British Universities are rightly cherished as places where debate and discussion can thrive,” said the Board of Deputies in a statement. “Yet it would seem that those intent on demonizing the State of Israel would rather crush freedom of speech in pursuit of their own agenda of blind hatred.

“George Galloway’s refusal to debate an Israeli at Christ Church College, Oxford, and attempts by violent protestors to disrupt a talk by the Deputy Ambassador of Israel at the University of Essex, reveal the true nature of the anti-Israel movement in the UK. Insecure in their own position, they are intent on denying a voice to those who speak up for Israel.”

Board of Deputies Vice President Jonathan Arkush added, “All right minded people should condemn these acts against free speech and all universities should take steps to ensure that people are safe and secure to visit our campuses, irrespective of their race, faith or nationality.”


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