Posted 25 Feb 2013 by Walaa Idris
Last week, at an Oxford University debate, the Respect MP George Galloway was invited to debate in favour of the motion that ‘Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank’. But, when he discovered during the early part of the debate, that his opponent, Mr Aslan-Levy, was an Israeli, the Respect MP grabbed his coat, stood up and said he does not debate with Israelis, before leaving the debate hall.
Was any of it shocking? Not if you know Mr Galloway, understand his politics and tactics. Nonetheless, some were more than shocked, found his actions controversial and called him a racist for refusing to debate with someone for their nationality.
I can see why that would be more the case if he refused to debate with Mr Aslan – Levy because he is a Jew. However, since George Galloway, like many Arabs and Muslims, does not recognise the state of Israel and considers it an illegitimate occupier, then some would say he was making a point – to only negotiate with what he regards a legitimate state.
While Debate is the only peaceful way to resolve conflicts, and the Palestinian Israeli conflict will not go away without both sides sitting down together many times for lots of debate and negotiations. Mr Galloway storming out in some courts is regarded as strong if not stronger than standing in the hall debating for 20 – 30 minutes when we already know what he will say.
For his actions, Mr Galloway was called a racist, even though his opposition is not to the people of Israel but where and how they chose to create their state. That feeling of intense opposition to the state of Israel is shared across most of North Africa, the Middle East and large parts of Asia from Mauritania to beyond Pakistan. Nonetheless we don’t vilify many of these nations, and with some, we even trade and have special friendships.
The sense of injustice felt by the pro-Palestinian anti occupation lobby is what propagates today’s anti-West agenda. And, to not fully appreciate it and the causes behind it, is one of the main reasons why the Arab Israeli conflict lasted this long and continues to escalate rather than move towards a peaceful resolution.
I am not a fan of Mr Galloway or his politics but do respect his resolve and consistency. He is a man who knows and stands by what he believes in and will do it at all costs. At a time when politicians daily change their minds with the wind, it’s somewhat refreshing to see one who stands his ground – even if it looks like attention seeking.