George Galloway has confirmed that he will refuse to host Israeli mayors at London’s City Hall if he wins the London Mayoralty in 2016. In the interview with Jewish News the controversial Respect Party leader also insisted that there is nothing to admire about the state of Israel.
When he sat as an MP, first for the Labour Party and later for Respect, George Galloway was one Parliament’s most prominent critics of Israel. Last year he provoked strong criticism when he called for Bradford, the city in which his constituency sat, to be ‘Israel free’.
In this latest interview he did concede that he could not make London ‘Israel free’ but insisted that he could make the mayoralty and deputy mayoralty conform to that vision. He would do this by snubbing mayors from cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
In contrast, Boris Johnson has received the mayor of Tel Aviv in his capacity as London mayor. Mayor Johnson will also be visiting Israel later this year. This comes as links between Israel and the UK have strengthened in recent years, as shown by the fact that last year Israel led in the number of foreign IPOs on the London Stock Exchange.
Galloway told his interviewer there is nothing admirable about the state of Israel. He was presented with a list of areas, including science and high tech, where the country is a world leader, which can also be evidenced by recent Israeli advances in the development of an HIV vaccine reported by Breitbart London yesterday. Despite this he reaffirmed his stance.
Galloway was also asked about what he would say to Londoners who may be “sickened” by the idea of him as their mayor. He replied:
“Anybody that’s sickened by the idea of the people of London’s choice has chosen to alienate themselves. So my answer to your question is ‘nothing’.
“Except I have all my life opposed all racism, including anti-Semitism, which is the most deadly form of racism. I have never – will never – think a thought, say a word or do a thing which can be described as racist or anti-Semitic.”
He could have left the matter there, but instead continued:
“I realise that so pervasive is the Zionist ideology that you and your newspaper [Jewish News] represent that that’s actually not all that important to many of your readers. They are more concerned about the defence of the policies of a foreign government. There’s nothing I can do about that. I certainly cannot start apologising or being silent on the policies of a foreign government.”
Galloway was challenged on this point, with the interviewer pointing out that Jews in the UK can be proud of both their British identity and their Zionism. He replied:
“Jews and Israel are not the same thing. My views on Israel are an absolutely different thing from my views on British Jews, whether they’re Zionists or not. Any person in Britain is allowed to have any view that they want about the actions of a foreign country. What they’re not allowed to do is have discriminatory impulses against British people whatever their religion.
“So these are two entirely different things. It is entirely a dichotomy, and one which I am happy to seek to navigate. You may make it impossible to navigate. I suspect you’re going to try. But I’m absolutely cast iron on this. I hate racism.”
To be fair to Galloway he did point out to the interviewer that he was not fixating on Israel himself, he had in fact been setting out his vision on transport and policing, adding: “The word Israel didn’t cross my lips until you raised it.”
In doing so Galloway maintained the self-discipline he displayed at the launch of his mayoral campaign, reported by Breitbart London in June. No doubt he will continue to stear clear of his usual colourful invective aimed at “the venal, the vile, the racists and the Zionists” but past comments will not be forgotten.