George Galloway and his antisemitic behavior

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.”

And even supporters of an Israeli boycott (the BDS) didn’t get behind Galloway’s action, with the BDS implying that it was either racism or antisemitism:

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.

98 Comments

  1. truthspeaker
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Galloway is a class-A douchebag, which is too bad because he was one of the few in the Labour party to stand up to Tony Blair’s warmongering.

    • Nick Evans
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      He’s a prick and an anti-semite, which isn’t a huge surprise given the party he now represents. Sadly, when he does get voted out of office, he roams the country looking for constituencies where his anti-war stance is seen as more important. However, he was far from the only anti-war Labour MP: 2 Cabinet Ministers quit and 139 Labour MPs voted against the war – far more than any other party.

      By the way, Jerry, while Hamas does have odious aims, they’re not the same thing as the PLO, which essentially became Fatah. Hamas are more like the Palestinian opposition to the PLO.

      • Chris
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Let’s be clear. Galloway wasn’t thrown out of the Labour Party for being anti-war. He was thrown out for calling on British servicemen to disobey their orders… and he was thrown out, despite later attempts to conjure up a “resignation”.

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        . . . given the party he now represents . . .

        What the heck is the Respect party?

        • Matt Bowman
          Posted February 22, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

          Never heard of it. But I think Respect is an appropriate name for a political group with thin-skinned, smug members.

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

            😉

            • Sarah
              Posted February 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

              Galloway invented the Respect Party to give himself a platform.

              • Diane G.
                Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

                Really? Does it have any other members? 😀

              • Sarah
                Posted February 23, 2013 at 4:16 am | Permalink

                Respect must have a few members, but it is mainly a Galloway vehicle.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted February 24, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

                …. with the active assistance of several dozens to hundreds of others. Which is what you need to “be” a political party in Britain. As the British Nazi Party, English Defence League, Scottish Socialist Party, Solidarity, and so on demonstrate.
                You may not like them (I’m pretty dubious about them and their tactics), but their provenance itself doesn’t make them illegitimate. If “Respect” were a child, rather than a corporate entity, you might have a point, but I think even that legal concept has been pretty much discarded.

              • Sarah
                Posted February 24, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

                Respect isn’t illegitimate, it is just Galloway’s means of taking in voters.

              • Nick Evans
                Posted February 25, 2013 at 5:02 am | Permalink

                This isn’t quite right. Respect started up in 2004 as an anti-war coalition of various leftist parties – such as the Socialist Workers – and Islamic organisations – such as the Muslim Council of Britain. Galloway joined later.

                Being a left-wing party, it had an inveitable factional split, in 2007, at which point the Socialist Workers went one way and Galloway and his supporters went the other. Galloway’s side ended up with custody of the party name. So it’s now his vehicle, but didn’t start out that way.

              • Sarah
                Posted February 25, 2013 at 5:27 am | Permalink

                Thanks for the correction.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

          “What the heck is the Respect party?”

          Would that it were an Otis Redding/Aretha Franklin fan club!

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

            LOL!

          • Matt Bowman
            Posted February 23, 2013 at 6:57 am | Permalink

            For Galloway R-E-S-P-E-C-T means—don’t be an Israeli Jew and challenge him to a debate. That’s just disrespectful!

          • Diane G.
            Posted February 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

            Damn, you’ve planted an earworm!

            SockittomeSockittomeSockittomeSockittome…

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted February 23, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

              OK — as long as you’re not quoting Dick Nixon’s one line on Laugh In. (Though in Nixon’s stilted cadence, it came off as “Sock it to … me?”)

              Here’s Elvis’s old Oval Office buddy delivering his infamous line-reading: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qRZvlZZ0DY

              • Diane G.
                Posted February 23, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

                Ha ha ha!

                Sad to say, I can remember watching that when first broadcast…sigh.

                (Boy, too bad he didn’t have that make-up during his first debate with JFK! Or maybe, “good thing he didn’t have…”)

      • truthspeaker
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        There were other anti-war Labour politicians, but he was the most high profile, in part because of the thing that got him thrown out – calling on British soldiers to disobey illegal orders. I wish other Labour MPs had done the same.

  2. gbjames
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I wish Hitch was around to comment.

    • Benjamin
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I always though Christopher Hitches’ description of George Galloway as being “both a pimp and a prostitute for fascism” was pretty accurate.

      He really is a quite an appalling person: from his association with despots and dictators, to effectively telling the people of New York that they got what they deserved on 9/11.

      • ealloc
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        Although I am no great supporter of Galloway’s, I feel those accusation are dishonest.

        Plenty of our leaders have associated with despots, in worse ways that Galloway. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/31/cameron-galloway-saudis-bahrain-dictators

        Second, I don’t know what quote you’re referring to, but what “effectively telling the people of New York that they got what they deserved on 9/11” is to one person, might simply be “aknowledging that our past actions in the middle east fuel islamic terrorism” to another, which while not justifying terrorism seems to have a grain of truth.

        • Heber
          Posted March 2, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

          How does the fact that “Plenty of our leaders have associated with despots, in worse ways that Galloway” make the accusations dishonest? If the accusations are true (and they certainly are), then it doesn’t matter what are own leaders have done. The accusation still holds.

  3. Posted February 22, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    You are too kind. For a politician to refuse to debate with a member of the very group he needs to persuade is a total abdication of responsibility.

  4. Posted February 22, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    George Galloway is very much regarded as a fringe loon in Britain nowadays. A leader in The Times this morning was pretty scathing and derogatory about him.

  5. Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Galloway is a bit of a moron, but I think you’re failing to understand British culture if you think his action was antisemitic. It’s a far more secular society, and that applies not just to Xtians but to Jews. One can be virulently anti-Israeli without people shouting abuse about antisemitism (as they do here in the US), because it’s understood the viewpoint being expressed is political rather than racial.

    And, remember, Galloway turned up perfectly happy to debate against a Jew. It was only on discovering his opponent was an Israeli national that he balked.

    Back in South Africa’s apartheid days, many Brits (and many UK-dwelling refugees from South Africa) thought an effective way of combating apartheid was to disengage from discussion with apartheid-supporting white South Africans, to let them know they were international pariahs because of their support of the racist regime. Were they right? I don’t know. But you wouldn’t have described their tactic as racist, any more than it makes sense to describe Galloway’s rule of not debating with Israelis as antisemitic.

    Is he right to reckon that Israel’s an apartheid state? That’s a completely different question, and one I’m not addressing.

    • eric
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      During apartheid, the Brits kept their embassy open and continued political dialogue with the SA government about what they would have to do to end the international economic boycotts. I believe the US did the same, but I didn’t look that up so I could be wrong about the US. Anyway, the UK had a two-pronged approach: trade/sports/everything boycott one one hand, but ongoing political negotiations over the terms needed to stop said boycotts on the other.

      Seems to me a discussion with Israelis about whether and how they should withdraw from the west bank is exactly parallel to this second prong.

    • Brygida Berse
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      I agree that an anti-Israel stance alone cannot be automatically considered antisemitic. But to refuse the Jewish state the very right to exist carries more than a whiff of antisemitism. And the whole spectacle of refusing to discuss Israeli policies with an Israeli citizen is beyond moronic.

      • Tulse
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        to refuse the Jewish state the very right to exist carries more than a whiff of antisemitism

        Perhaps, although there are Jewish sects that are anti-Zionist.

        • Brygida Berse
          Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          there are Jewish sects that are anti-Zionist.

          Yes, and I believe that they do the Jewish nation a disservice. It was one thing to oppose Zionism in the 1930s, when it was viewed by many as a politically unrealistic goal. It is quite another to do it now, when it means denying several million born Israeli citizens the right to the only country the have ever known. In that context I believe Alvin Rosenfeld was right when he called anti-Zionism “a respectable form of antisemitism”.

          No honest person can insist that the policies of Israel are always just and fair, but I find it striking that Israel is consistently held to a much higher standard than any other country in the region, to the point where the country’s political problems supposedly justify the calls for its eradication.

          • Sarah
            Posted February 22, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

            I completely agree, Brygida, and I think that is where anti-Israel becomes antisemitic: applying different standards to Israel while there are worse things going on in lots of other places. Syrians are slaughtering each other, but Israel is committing a “war crime” when it builds a wall to deter snipers. If the condemnation were applied universally that would be one thing, but when it is applied only to the one Jewish state in the world, what else is it but antisemitism?

    • Ravi Venkataraman
      Posted February 23, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      I strongly agree with this comment. It is not racist to walk out of a debate with an Israeli. Long ago Indian passports had the stipulation that it was not valid for travel to South Africa or Israel. And sports teams would not play matches against Israel, being ordered to forfeit. Was that racist? Not at all, since this was a way to express strong objection to the apartheid regime and the policies of Israel.

      Galloway walking out is akin to that – no engagement with Israelis until they change their policies. If any of you would have walked away from debating issues with a white South African during the apartheid regime, then you should not complain abput Galloway’s behaviour, much less accuse him of anti-semtism.

      All I see is a double standard when it comes to any criticism of Israel, the anti-semite card comes out immediately, almost reflexively.

      • Sarah
        Posted February 24, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        The “double standard” in regard to Israel is the way it is held to a different set of rules from those expected of other countries. The comparison with the old South Africa doesn’t work–Israel contains a range of colors, races, religions, life-styles, and you can’t say that about any of the surrounding Arab countries. This double standard is the reason people say that anti-Israel views can be antisemitic. It’s the double standard, not the criticism, that is dishonest.

        • Ravi Venkataraman
          Posted February 24, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

          Sarah,

          Your response is a good example of the double standard in favour of Israel that is current in the Western world.

          What will it take to convince you that the way Israel treats Palestinians in the occupied territories is akin to apartheid in South Africa? What is the difference between the two? In both places, people belonging to a certain group have severe problems created for them by people of another group, disrupting their normal lives. It is worse in the case of Israel since they exercise despotic authority over a land they do not own and is universally recognized as belonging to the Palestinians. Any attempt to rectify the situation is deemed as terrorism by the West, yet it is Israel that is the aggressor and occupier and mass murdered! A classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. Were Israel to lift the occupation and cede the territories to the rightful denizens, most problems in the area would be solved, I believe, since that would remove one of the primary causes of the problem.

          Fact: Israel is occupying land that does not belong to it. Fact: Israel treats the populations of these occupied territories very cruelly. Fact: Israel’s aggression have killed disproportionately large number of civilians than combatants. Fact: Israel demolishes houses that it claims were used for “terrorist” activities, without offering the residents a chance to present their point of view in a court of law, thereby demolishing its own credibility as the “morally superior” party. Refusal to look at facts is not an admirable trait; it makes one no different from a religious person.

          But this discussion will never end meaningfully; you will continue to believe that any disagreement with Israel is anti-Semitism, while most of the world disagrees with your belief.

          • Sarah
            Posted February 25, 2013 at 4:48 am | Permalink

            There is little similarity between apartheid South Africa and Israel. The unfortunate Palestinians are not Israeli citizens; Israel treats all its citizens equally under the law. It is not “their land” until the PA agrees to borders and recognizes Israel. That is what is holding things up. Until then Israel is legally obliged to administer the territories–although most of the administration has already been delegated to the PA, leaving only about 2% still under Israeli direct control. Your “facts” are badly flawed. For example, Israel has killed remarkably few civilians in its targeted air strikes considering that Hamas uses other Gazans as human shields.
            I have never said that “any disagreement with Israel is antisemitism”–those are your words. Fair play is not a double standard and is not a matter of “belief”.

  6. Tulse
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    While the behaviour may be massively non-productive, I think it is a dangerous and incorrect conflation to argue that “anti-Israeli” is the same as “anti-semitic”, as the title of this post does. Whatever his actual motivations, Galloway’s ostensible reasons for leaving have to do with the actions of a government, not a religious group. (After all, there are various Orthodox Jewish groups that are themselves anti-Zionist.)

    One can oppose the policies of the current Israeli government and not be anti-semitic. It is precisely this conflation that gets used by the US right wing, particularly the Christianist Right, to smear anyone with legitimate concerns about the direction of the Israeli government.

    • eric
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      But that’s the thing – he didn’t voice opposition to Israeli policy. He refused to voice his opposition of those policies as long as there was an Israeli at the same table with him.

      • Tulse
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        He refused to voice his opposition of those policies as long as there was an Israeli at the same table with him.

        Right, but “an Israeli” is not identical to “a Jew”. Again, being against the policies of Israel does not automatically make one anti-semitic. This is a conflation that the US right makes all the time (just look at how they treated Hagel’s nomination). It’s important to be precise, especially when accusations of racism are so toxic. Galloway may very well be an anti-semite, but refusing to meet with Israelis is not in itself “antisemitic behavior”.

    • Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      “Galloway’s ostensible reasons for leaving have to do with the actions of a *government*,” but his response was to refuse to debate with an *individual*. Semantic issues aside, that is where he crossed the line between criticism and prejudice.

      By the same criterion, he would refuse to talk to the Israelis involved in making the films “5 Broken Cameras” and “The Gatekeepers”, both bitterly critical of the occupation, and currently up for the Oscars.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      I’m posting this comment on behalf of reader Malgorzata, who is having trouble posting:
      _________

      I wonder if Mr Galloway would remove himself in quite such rude manner if the Israeli in question were Ahmad Timi, an Arab-Israeli member of Knesset.

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I thought Chris Hitchens took down Galloway quite effectively. They have both debated and been guests together on Bill Maher. While I differ from CH’s politics on occasion Hitch is at his best against this kind of extremism.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZnUIeKOIgc

    BTW, Aslan was the Turkish word for lion long before CS Lewis appropriated it for the Jesus-figure in his Narnia books.

    • Posted February 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      “BTW, Aslan was the Turkish word for lion long before CS Lewis appropriated it for the Jesus-figure in his Narnia books.”

      Thank you. I knew he wouldn’t have conjured it out of thin air, the way he does his theology.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        It seems to me Lewis’ theology is a combo of ideas from a variety of Christian epic poets (especially Milton and Spenser) with elements of 19th-century Romanticism, Celtic paganism, and a watered down version of the apologetics of religious rationalists like Kant. A few elements of his science-fiction novels strike me as having overtones of Buddhism. It’s really an eclectic mix.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted February 24, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

          Pastiche is the word. That is all.

  8. marycanada FCD
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I was quite surprised when Canada denied Galloway entry into the country a few years back. I’m not at all fond of him but considering him a security threat based on his political leanings was inept on the part of the Canadian government.

  9. Joshua
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    “Never mind that Hamas is viciously antisemitic, calls for the destruction of the Israeli state…”

    Hamas is a political party, and not representative of the Palestinians as a whole. In fact the PLO is separate from Hamas. Even Wikipedia has this to say on the PLO:

    “It [the PLO] has been widely criticized, however, over the lack of Hamas presence in the Organization, even after Hamas won almost two-thirds of the seats in the 2006 legislative council elections.”

    Showing support for the PLO does not necessarily imply support for Hamas and vice versa.
    On the larger issue, political parties in general are not representative of an entire people. Any political party can adopt any stance it wishes. For example, Likud, the leading party is Israel at present has the following statements included within their 1999 Charter:

    * “The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.”

    * “Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem…”

    You may not agree with these positions, but in a free society, political party are free to assemble and create whatever statement of purpose they wish. I don’t happen to agree with Likud or with Hamas on either of their aims. But, to mistake Likud for Isralis in general is part and parcel to mistaking Hamas for Palestinians: a logical fallacy.

    • Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      This reply of yours comes across to me as a ‘No True Antisemite” argument.

      Somebody has actually been casting a hell of a lot of votes for Hamas candidates whose position is that Israel has no right to exist and all Jews must be drowned in the sea. Somebody has been answering repeated research poll questions about their feelings for Israel and their right to use terrorism as a political vehicle. Somebody has been smuggling weapons into the Palestinian camps and using them to kill Israeli civilians.

      You seem to be saying that, whomever those people are, they are not the real Palestinians?

      • Joshua
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        If you’ll read carefully, you’ll see that’s not what I’m saying. I’m not in denial of that fact that the extremist faction does exist. Nor am I in disagreement about the danger of such views.

        What I am saying is that it’s misleading to characterize Hamas as being representative of Palestinians as a whole. That was the only issue I was arguing. I realize the last sentence was a bit misleading though. It should have read as follows:

        “[T]o mistake Likud for Isralis in general is part and parcel to mistaking Hamas for Palestinians [in general]: a logical fallacy.”

        The “in general” part is what’s operative in both cases.

        • Sarah
          Posted February 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

          I think you are assuming that Hamas is a political party like a party in a democracy. It is true that it was elected to power in Gaza, but it is also true that they then did away with (as in “killed”) the opposition, and there hasn’t been an election since. It hardly matters whether they represent the people now because the people are stuck with it in any case.

          • Joshua
            Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

            It is indeed unfortunate that Hamas has driven out the Fatah representation. In the proper sense though, Hamas is a political party whether we like it or not; whether or not Gaza is thought of as a democracy. There are just as many forms of democracy as there are nations that claim to practice it.

            I take issue with whether the people are “stuck with it”, as you put it.

            I presume you and I both are non-supportive of Hamas. My government (the U.S.) is not supportive of this group either.

            However, my government IS supportive of blockading the border to Gaza; allowing shortages of food and other humanitarian aid to the population of Gaza. The U.S support for Israel is practically in isolation with the rest of the world. My country supposedly represents me. Yet, they are no where near my values in this respect.

            As stated, you and I both don’t defend the efforts of Hamas. Why should we support the brutality that’s evident on the side of Israel? It’s supported by the U.S., and if you are a U.S. citizen, you have a greater burden to bear in this respect. The U.S. is a major arms supplier to Israel, bought with your tax dollars.

            • Sarah
              Posted February 23, 2013 at 4:15 am | Permalink

              I said they were stuck with Hamas because they cannot vote them out, supposing a majority wanted to. There may be many forms of democracy, but Gaza isn’t one of them. There is every reason to blockade a region that shoots rockets at you and has vowed to destroy you! Plenty of supplies get through–they just have to be checked first.

  10. Jeremy Rodell
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    There’s a story that George Galloway once asked his political agent why people took an instant dislike to him. After a pause, the answer was “It saves time later”.

    But the fact that he got elected, in a constituency with a large Muslim population, demonstrates that, obnoxious though he is, he should not be dismissed. There are clearly people who feel the mainstream parties are not listening to them.

    • godsbelow
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      The same can be said of people who vote for the British National Party.

      • Jeremy Rodell
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        …yes, but they’ve never had an MP.

        • godsbelow
          Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          Not yet. But there are clearly people who feel the mainstream parties are not listening to them.

          • godsbelow
            Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

            Not yet. But there are clearly people who feel the mainstream parties are not listening to them, who vote for the BNP. By your logic Nick Griffin’s views ought not to be dismissed either.

  11. eric
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    There is something Orwellian or Catch-22ish about refusing to debate Israel on whether they should withdraw from the west bank. It kinda misses the point that there is no realistic chance of withdraw in the absence of discussion and negotiation.

    If the pro-Palestinian groups were holding a lot of the territory, economic power, and the big guns, they could pursue a ‘no talking’ policy and might reasonably expect to accomplish their goals. But when you’re the little guy, the people out of power, a seat at the table is a win, not a loss.

  12. Bonzodog
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    He is not only an anti-Semitic moron, he is a selfless publicity seeking moron. A few years ago he appeared in a dreadful TV programme called Celebrity Big Brother with predictably dire results.

    and

    • SA Gould
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      So he’s been on programs like this, he walks out on debates, and he’s a member of the *Respect* party? Maybe’s he’s really an American.

      • Sarah
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        He’s from Dundee, but he knows better than to try to get elected there.

        • madscientist
          Posted February 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          It’s good to see that at least Dundee upholds the tradition of drumming the idiots out of town.

  13. neil
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Anti-semitic, no doubt. But he was probably motivated mainly by cowardice.

  14. godsbelow
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Galloway went too far long before this little performance, Jerry. He’s been a vocal supporter of the Ba’athists in Iraq and Syria for years, an apologist for Hamas, a defender of dictators who considers the assassination of democratically elected politicians justified if he happens to disagree with their policies.

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Galloway were an anti-Semite, since the latter tends to go hand-in-hand with fascist inclinations.

    But let’s not conflate ‘defender[s] of Palestine’ with this grotesque misanthrope. Christopher Hitchens was a lifelong defender of Palestine, but he loathed and denounced Galloway for the fascist apologist he is.

  15. Scott P.
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    “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). ”

    Race is socially constructed, so I don’t know what genetics has to do with it. Blacks are even more genetically heterogeneous, considering that the racial identifier “black” includes Africans, Aboriginese, and even groups in South Asia.

    • Posted February 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      “Race” is an ambiguous and confusing word. I think ethnicity or ethnic group is preferable. In the case of “Jew” or “jewish” it is particularly confusing because those terms can refer to a religious group, ethnic group, or cultural group. Someone can be a religious Jew who is ethnically Chinese, or an atheist who is ethnically Ashkenazi Jewish (me, and I suppose Dr. Coyne). Since the Jews of eastern Europe tended to be genetically separated from their christian countrymen (and women) due to low rates of intermarriage and interbreeding, a Polish jew would be ethnically (and genetically) more similar to a Russian jew than to a Polish catholic. This is why certain genetic diseases occur more commonly in jews. It is not the religion which predisposes them (us) to these diseases. And the fact that there is a clear association between jewish heritage and these genetic diseases, it evidence that there is more to being “jewish” than cultural or religious inclinations. “Jewish” is an ethnicity (though Ashkenazi and Sephardic should be considered separately), and inasmuch as ethnicity is synonymous with race, it may also be considered a race. I would be very interested to hear from Dr. Coyne, if this does not change your mind, why not? Or would you just prefer that when using the term Jewish, one should specify if it refers to religion, ethnicity, or culture?

  16. Veroxitatis
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Galloway is a self publicising nonentity.
    Minor point – he is the MP for Bradford West: he is not from Bradford West. He is from Dundee, Scotland (some 30 miles from my home, I am embarrassed to say.) He was the Member for Hillhead, Glasgow for 8 years or so until expulsion from the Labour Party.

    • Occam
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Let’s try a slightly different angle.
      Nonentity or not, George Galloway is the current MP for Bradford West. And a known quantity. It’s not like he was some nondescript backbencher squire parachuted to Plumshire West by an irresistible national party machine.

      To that extent, his antics reflect on his constituents, their political judgment, attitudes and prejudices. Will they sanction him or chastise him? (Wanna bet?)

      Politicians being what they are, we must consider, in theory at least, the possibility of Galloway playing up for his constituents.

      So, if the Honourable Member for Bradford West is just being a putz, it’s a minor annoyance. After all, based on precedent, he would, wouldn’t he?
      The prospect of George Galloway truly representing Bradford West would be a far more serious, and scarier, problem.

  17. Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    First of all, I’ll concede Galloway is a bit of an ass in the same way the surface of the sun is ‘kind of hot.’

    And that I have far less sympathy for the various Palestinian ‘leaders/governments’ than many read/project into my comments because they’re too busy playing ‘team politics’ instead of trying to grasp the nettle of the issue.

    BUT.

    It’s really sad when someone plays the “Anti-Semitism” smear when dealing with people’s issues with Israel’s pro-apartheid mindset and policies. And, no, I’m not pulling this out of my ass. FIrst of all, there is no legitimate reason to believe Jews can’t be just as bigoted, racist or assholes as any other group of people.

    Second, the majority of Israelites polled agree with me. From the Guardian reporting on an article in Haaratz of a poll of the Jewish population in Israel: (Or as they (Harratz) put it: Survey, conducted by Dialog on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, exposes anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews.)

    … (because it’s long and full of horrible and we need to get to the point instead of belaboring the obvious…)

    Three out of four are in favour of segregated roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, and 58% believe Israel already practises apartheid against Palestinians, the poll found.

    … (because the rest of the details are all kind of horrible and sad)…

    A commentary by Gideon Levy, which accompanied the results of the poll, described the findings as disturbing. “Israelis themselves … are openly, shamelessly and guiltlessly defining themselves as nationalistic racists,” he wrote.

    So is LEVY an anti-Semite? Is Haaratz an anti-semitic newspaper? Or do we just ignore this stuff and pretend that it’s all hunky-dory over there and that anyone who speaks against this shit-storm is anti-semitic?

    I see nothing wrong with the peaceful boycotting and refusal to legitimize racists and apartheid states/populations. Even if it’s rude.

    I have questions, though: If 58% of Israelis believe Israel is an apartheid state that discriminates against Arabs, are they also anti-Semites?

    And what do we say? Nothing? Because telling the truth makes us ‘anti-semitic?’ Do we cave in? Because, to me, if we do, the racists win.

    So do we want to support racism and nationalism? Directly or by giving it cover by attacking its critics as racists?

    I know I don’t.

    And, like I said, don’t read too much into this as ‘pro-Palestinian.’ Because I’m not.

    But I’m not willing to lionize one side and demonize the other because some people want to control the field by calling people racists for pointing out BOTH ACTORS in this drama are the villain.

    • Sarah
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      You are basing a lot on one opinion poll reported by a notoriously far-left, low circulation Israeli newspaper which very often gets things wrong and, in the English version at least, comes out with startlingly anti-Israel stuff. Best look at some other polls from other sources. Israel is far from an apartheid state. If “apartheid” exists in Israel what do you call the PA law making the sale of land to Jews a capital offense?

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Reader Malgorzata has asked me to post this comment as she can’t seem to get a comment to go through:
      ______________
      From Malgorzata in response to moseszd:

      I suggest you read a bit about this Haaretz survey which made such a impression on you. A good place to start is Haaretz itself:
      To quote Haaretz’s editors:

      CLARIFICATION: The original headline for this piece, ‘Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel,’ did not accurately reflect the findings of the Dialog poll. The question to which most respondents answered in the negative did not relate to the current situation, but to a hypothetical situation in the future: ‘If Israel annexes territories in Judea and Samaria, should 2.5 million…

      But it would be most enlightening to see also this article:

      http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/haaretz-gideon-levy-and-the-israel-apartheid-canard/

  18. RFW
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, imo the ongoing conflict between Arabs and Israel is insoluble and no short term resolution is possible or likely. In these regards it resembles other conflicts in the world: the squabbles in the former Yugoslavia (squabble being far too weak a word); those between Georgia on the one hand and Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the other; that between Azerbaijan and Armenia; the North Korea – South Korea split; and so on.

    Only time will settle these. Final resolution may be generations away. So who am I to pontificate on them?

  19. revjimbob
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    This is the man who had no problem in chewing the fat with Saddam Hussein.

    • ealloc
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Galloway’s response to this accusation:

      “I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is that Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country – a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defense made of his. “

  20. Posted February 22, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    In contrast to Galloway’s rudeness, I was happy to hear the laughter accompanying his exit. According Pinker’s Better Angels, a younger generation helped end dueling by mocking from the sidelines. Maybe these students’ chuckles are a sign of coming success.

  21. Anita
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Galloway IS a MORON. Gideon Levy and Haaretz are blind on one eye, they have as an unwritten principal to be anti-Israel. Being critical, is absolutely necessary, but then with two eyes open – looking at both sides of a problem. My five cents…..

  22. gravityfly
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Galloway is an ass! I’m an Arab and I’d like to ask him if he thinks Arab Israelis would prefer to live in any country in the Middle East other than Israel.

    I wonder if he himself would d enjoy living in a country ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood or any of the other authoritarian regimes in this region. Sheesh.

    • godsbelow
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

      Hear Hear! He’s a hypocrite.

      If Galloway were truly pro-Palestinian and pro-Arab, he wouldn’t support the groups that oppress the people of the Near East, like Hamas and the Ba’ath Parties.

      • Anita
        Posted February 22, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Exactly! The same is right for most Israel bashers.

      • Posted February 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Why do you say Hamas oppresses the Palestinians?

        They keep getting elected. And before that they kept reelecting the PLO. Maybe, just maybe, the Palestinians aren’t being oppressed by Hamas (and Israel, etc). Maybe they are getting exactly what they want?

        And doesn’t Hamas build schools, clinics? Is that just cover for the oppression or it part of it?

        Do you think they oppress them because the Palestinians have remained in political limbo for more than sixty years? That’s three generations. Maybe Hamas is just the ineluctable outcome of three generations of culturally-enshrined hatred, resentment, and antisemitism?

        • gravityfly
          Posted February 22, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

          Roger Lambert-I understand what you’re saying. Decades of hostility and warfare probably explain the extreme attitudes on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. But I still find the actions of Hamas towards its people inexcusable.

          Ever since Hamas came to power in 2007, they have regularly committed human rights violations and media censorship against their own people. Read this report from Human Rights Watch for the details: http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-israeloccupied-palestinian-territories

          I have Palestinian friends living in Gaza and they tell me of the beatings, hangings and torture that Hamas dishes out to those suspected of collaborating with Israel and even to peaceful protesters.

          Most of the Arab/Muslim world sympathizes with Hamas, since Hamas is seen as valiantly standing up to arch-enemy Israel, but if you talk to people actually living in Gaza, many (most?) will tell you they have anything but sympathy for their government.

        • Sarah
          Posted February 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          “They keep being elected”? Tricky, since they don’t keep having elections.

    • SLC
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Relative to that comment, there was an article in the Ynetnews several months ago about a law suit brought against the Government of Israel by Knesset member Hanin Zoabi in which she claimed that she was being oppressed. One of the talkbacks was from someone in Syria who suggested that she relocate to Syria where she would find out what oppression really was.

  23. Tom
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    the same Galloway said people must not walk out of Ahmadinejad’s holocaust denying speeches in the UN:

  24. Dominic
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Just search You Tube for Galloway & cat – that is his level & his only forte.

  25. boguspurr
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    It seems, from the partial description of what happened given here, that Galloway was not told truthfully who he was going to be on air with.

    So he was perfectly within his rights to refuse to walk into a set-up and to tell his co-debater to piss off.

    (I have met Galloway, a long time ago. Didn’t like him all that much, but the accusations above are mostly spin and fabrication).

    • Sarah
      Posted February 22, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      A set up, you say. If he had suddenly discovered that he was debating a woman when he had expected a man, or if he suddenly discovered that he was having to debate a black African instead of a white person, would you similarly defend him for marching off in a huff? Should the organizers have to pander to Galloway’s prejudices?

    • Nick Evans
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 4:48 am | Permalink

      Speaking of partial descriptions, according to the event organisers, Galloway’s representatives didn’t ask the nationalities of the other participants. Anyway, having been given a name, it’s not too hard to use Google to find out more about your opponent.

  26. Steve Reilly
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    “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 think nationalist bias. He must have figured that the guy he was debating was a Jew, from his name if nothing else, and yet he went along with it. Only when he found out he was an Israeli Jew did he pathetically bow out.

  27. MikeN
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    This particular action is obviously neither racism nor religious bias against Jews, whether or not Galloway is actually anti-Semitic. You think Galloway didn’t realise that the name Eylon Aslan-Levy was Jewish when he agreed to the debate?

    “Israel” is a nation, so unless you are saying ‘all Jews’=’Israelis’ than the accusation doesn’t hold water.

  28. dth
    Posted February 23, 2013 at 4:03 am | Permalink

    This comedian named Galloway is pretty lame. Sacha Baron Cohen did the same skit as dictator Aladeen and as Borat years ago:


  29. Sarah
    Posted February 23, 2013 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    There’s a possibility that no one has mentioned yet, and that is that Galloway knew perfectly well who he was debating and where he was from, but wanted to stage a dramatic walk-out. It would fit Galloway’s drama-queen style.

    • Nick Evans
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 4:50 am | Permalink

      This is probably right.

  30. Posted May 7, 2014 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Race isn’t genetic. It’s socially constructed. So it doesn’t matter what the genetic make-up of Jews are as we are socially constructed as a race.

    • Posted May 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, I don’t agree. Jews aren’t a genetic “race,” but there are human population subgroups that differ genetically, and can be distinguished through genetic analysis. They are not socially constructed; that’s just a PC trope used to dismiss the idea that populations of humans are genetically distinguishable.

      • Posted May 7, 2014 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        Except you’re wrong because science. Race isn’t genetic. There is no scientific basis for the concept of “race” that exists outside of the field of sociology. Populations of humans aren’t genetically distinguishable enough to fit them in to clear groups. It is a fact of science.


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