When I first entered politics, I used to respect George Galloway, he was one of the only prominent politicians with an alternative viewpoint that seemed to resonate with my own. Having been drawn more into active politics through seeing the horror of the Iraq war beginning to unfold, and through seeing the continuing injustice perpetrated upon the Palestinians, I grew fond of the beacon of hope that Galloway appeared to be.
I liked the way he could run rings around ignorant TV presenters, his eloquent and devastating oratory gave comfort to me that my anti-war feelings weren’t either as isolated, or as naive as every contemporary analyst made them out to be.
However, any bone of affection I ever held for Galloway, has long since disintegrated, further fueled by his latest ridiculous outburst at an Oxford University debate, whereupon hearing his opponents tone of reference to Israel he questioned him, asking… “You said ‘we’, are you Israeli?” Hearing the response he stated: “I don’t debate with Israelis, I have been misled, sorry.” and exited the debating chamber reiterating again as he left the room: “I don’t recognise Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis.”
We should be clear at this point, he didn’t say:
“I don’t debate with apologists for war crimes”
“I don’t debate with vulgar propagandists”
His refusal to participate further was made abundantly clear that it was based on his opponent’s race/nationality, and no other factor.
If we want the politics of Israel/Palestine to be understood, and acted upon by a broad, engaged and receptive public so that a peaceful solution can entail, we would do well to disassociate ourselves from the kind of politics that the ilk of Galloway subscribe to.
That ilk bears exactly the same lack of moral standard as our contemporary politicians do; the denial that moral standards are universal and that their group has a rightly earned exception to them. In this case Galloway’s mantra will be that his racism is based on ‘a refusal to recognize Israel’, or an “academic boycott” of Israel.
Imagine a converse situation: A prominent Israeli exiting a debate on seeing his opponent, stating, “I don’t debate with Arabs”. The entire left of the political spectrum would be ablaze with denunciation, and rightly so.
But Galloway’s politics for a resolution of the Israel Palestine issue bear no difference in character to his treatment of his debating opponent. He is a supporter of the ‘one state solution’, one that involves the entire return of all Palestinian refugees, and their descendants to a democratic, bi national, secular state. The logical conclusion of the direct implementation of such a plan however, would lead to a vastly ethnically imbalanced state, the demography of the state changed to the extent it is no longer remotely reflective of the state desired by the population of Israel today.
There are two peoples living in the land that is historic Palestine, both seeking self-determination for separate states. Ignorance and racism towards one nation’s right to exist will only help to protract the conflict, exacerbate tensions and undermine the hard work of reconciliation that serious leftists and socialists are engaged in. Cheers George.