British lawmaker Galloway called ‘racist’ for quitting debate with Israeli

(JTA) — British lawmaker George Galloway walked out of a debate upon finding out that his interlocutor was Israeli, prompting the Zionist Federation to call him a racist.

A video of the Feb. 20 debate at Christ Church, Oxford between Galloway and Eylon Aslan-Levy — an Israeli student at the University of Oxford — shows Galloway leaving the auditorium saying, “I don’t recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis.”

In a statement Thursday, the Zionist Federation said it was “appalled” at Galloway’s “racist” walkout. Zionist Federation Chairman Paul Charney said it reflected a “xenophobic” attitude.

Galloway had left midway into Aslan-Levy’s address, in which the third-year student in the philosophy, politics and economics department referred repeatedly to Israel as “we” and “us.” The lawmaker asked whether Aslan-Levy was Israeli and left upon hearing the answer. 

Speaking first in the debate, Galloway had opined for 10 minutes in favor of the statement “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank.” He said he had been “misled” before he began.

Galloway was expelled from the Labor Party in 2003 for allegedly calling on Arabs to fight British troops — a claim he has denied — and now is an independent for his Respect party. He has visited Hamas-run Gaza, reportedly giving thousands of dollars raised in donations to Hamas officials.

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