‘George Galloway shouldn’t be allowed on campus’

This is another example of antisemitism being shrugged over


You would have to be living under a very big rock to not know about rising antisemitism. In the Labour party, Ken Livingstone called Hitler a Zionist and Naz Shah said Jews should be “deported”.

On campuses around the country there have also been some nasty incidences. The President of the Oxford University Labour Club stepped down because of the belief they “had some kind of problem with jews”. Closer to home, in York, “Seven Jewish Children” was performed which although was deemed to be anti Israel, from just looking at the title, had some antisemitic overtones. This has all reached the mainstream media with Malia being elected head of NUS who supports armed resistance to Israeli Occupation and has called Birmingham a “zionist outpost”.

Sometimes, being a jewish student is scary. We are the one minority who are not supported by the NUS in any campaign. Often, when a jew claims something is antisemitic, people are quick to dismiss it. At York in particular, but that’s what I’m going to try to do now, I think Galloway is antisemitic and on those grounds, he should not  speak at the University.

Just to clarify, I fully support a Palestinian State, wish for a swift end to occupation and openly condemn Israel’s current government. However, like 90% of British Jews, I recognise and support Israel as a Jewish State. Of course, it is perfectly legitimate to be an anti-Zionist, and that, in itself, should not stop anyone being permitted to speak at the University. However, Mr Galloway’s extreme brand of anti-Zionism is ignorant to the point of being offensive. When Galloway openly calls for “the destruction of the political State of Israel”, he is not only sanctioning the end of the only Jewish State in the world, but advocating a position which would all but certainly lead to the ethnic cleansing of millions of Jews. Giving support to Hamas and Hezbollah, is not only unforgivable, but also downright bizarre, considering they are far-right extremist groups that are both openly anti-Semitic, as well as being fiercely misogynistic and homophobic

I understand the argument of free speech, and yes, anyone should be entitled to talk. However, inviting Mr Galloway to speak is, in a sense, an abuse of that freedom.  If people really want to understand the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, he is not the person to ask. A man who sees what is, by description, a two-sided conflict in such single dimensional accusatory terms is unhelpful, and is not going to deepen anyone’s understanding of the nuanced, complicated history and issues. Would it not have been more helpful to invite both a Palestinian and an Israeli who actually have some real-life experience of the conflict, or at least a specialist Middle-East academic with detailed knowledge and insight from both perspectives?

I also get that he will be challenged, but with a man who is so offensive, is this going to be constructive? We already know what Mr Galloway’s views are; it is not as if he is likely to offer us any new pearls of wisdom. There is a difference between a person offering a controversial view which sparks more conversation and thought, and a controversial view which is so offensive it does not even warrant discussion. When Galloway said that Jews “don’t have to be on the side of apartheid” at the Oxford Union, that was not only deeply simplistic but also anti-semitic. It does not matter whether you believe Israel is an Apartheid State or not, the fact that he used the term “Jews” instead of “Israelis” should put him beyond the Pale.

Milo Yiannopoulos was banned from speaking because of his hatred of feminism and belief that “rape culture is a fantasy”, which goes without saying are pretty repugnant opinions to have. Milo and Galloway are from different sides of the political spectrum, but in the way Milo forms and expresses his views, he is not so different to Galloway. If Milo is banned on the grounds of offending minorities, shouldn’t Galloway be banned as well? Is this another example of antisemitism being shrugged over?

It is not that YorkX should not have the right to invite Galloway to talk; it is that they should have had the sense not to exercise that right. As a Jewish, pro-solution, pro-peace student, I worry that such invitation is just part of a bigger problem that York now faces.