They won’t silence Galloway with half-truths

George Galloway

After providing days of holocaust coverage the BBC is slammed for inviting “anti-Israel MP” George Galloway to a chat show

By Stuart Littlewood

BBC TV are being bad-mouthed for inviting MP George Galloway onto the Question Time panel in the Finchley and Golders Green constituency next week.

Golders Green especially, and neighbouring Finchley to a lesser extent, are large Jewish enclaves in North London. I grew up in Finchley and as a lad used to jump on the number 660 trolleybus that took me through Golders Green en route to the West End. A standing joke among bus conductors was the warning to passengers to have their passports ready.

Smearing for Israel

The Jewish Chronicle, reporting the story, describes Galloway as an “anti-Israel MP” who “refuses to debate with Israelis”. Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer said the BBC’s invitation was deliberately provocative. “Given what’s going on in the world, it is a slap in the face for the local community.”

… what is going on in the world that we must pay no attention to the Israeli terror that has stalked the Holy Land for nearly 67 years?

But not half as stinging as the slap in the face felt by British taxpayers, struggling against austerity cuts, when Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced this week that GBP 50 million of our money will be lavished on a holocaust memorial and education centre.

And what is going on in the world that we must pay no attention to the Israeli terror that has stalked the Holy Land for nearly 67 years?

The Jewish Chronicle reminded viewers that two years ago Galloway walked out of a debate at Oxford University after discovering his opponent was Israeli, saying: “I don’t debate with Israelis”. And earlier this month Galloway interviewed “Israeli anti-Semite” Gilad Atzmon on his Russia Today television show.

But the Jewish Chronicle tells only half the story. At the Oxford debate the motion was: “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank.” Galloway spoke in favour and was followed by another panellist who said: “We wanted peace, we got war, we must not make the same mistake again.”

Galloway interrupted: “You said ‘we’, are you an Israeli? I don’t debate with Israelis, I’ve been misled, sorry. I don’t recognise Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis.” Whereupon he put on his coat and left.

At least that’s how the Jewish Chronicle told the story at the time. According to the Daily Mail, the opposing speaker, one Aslan-Levy, complained: “To refuse to talk to someone just because of their nationality is pure racism, and totally unacceptable for a Member of Parliament.”

Which is pretty rich coming from a citizen of a racist state.

The following message then appeared on Galloway’s Facebook: “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 [Palestine Liberation Organisation].”

The PLO, of course, acts as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

In Galloway’s terms, boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) means

no purchase of Israeli goods or services, no normal contacts with individuals or organisations in Israel who support the existence of the racist apartheid creed of Zionism. That’s what I mean by boycott. That’s what I do. Israelis who are outside of and against the system of Zionism are comrades of mine… My opponent at Oxford University did not meet this test.

The Jewish Chronicle failed to mention that bit.

As for Gilad Atzmon , he was born and raised in Israel but is a fierce critic of the criminal Israeli regime, as many right-thinking Jews are. He is therefore a comrade in the battle to free Palestinians from the hell of Israeli occupation and brutality. So there is nothing odd about Galloway’s decision to interview him.

Besides, Galloway chooses his words carefully. He says he doesn’t debate with Israelis, not Jews. Others cannot bring themselves to debate with North Koreans or ISIS or al-Qaeda. British foreign secretaries refused to talk with their Iranian counterparts for 30-odd years while turning the sanctions screw. The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury would rather hobnob with Israeli rabbis and dignitaries than visit their beleaguered Christian brethren in Gaza. And there’s no chance of Netanyahu dropping in on Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza to discuss their love of football.

Mike Freer is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel. He and the people he represents among Jewish communities of Finchley and Golders Green, might learn something valuable if they sit down and listen carefully to George Galloway when Question Time is screened.

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