British lawmaker George Galloway, known for his vehemently anti-Israel views and support for Hamas, stormed out of a debate at Oxford University on Wednesday night after learning that his opponent was Israeli.
The Respect Party MP for Bradford West advocated that “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank”, while his opponent, Eylon Aslan-Levy, claimed that a withdrawal should take place only as part of a negotiated peace agreement.
After Levy used the term "we" to describe Israel's stance, a perturbed Galloway interrupted asking "You said 'we,' are you Israeli?"
After his opponent answered in the affirmative, Galloway said, "I don't recognize Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis," as he stormed out of the room.
The British MP’s departure caused an uproar in the lecture hall, with a number of onlookers calling out out the word “"racism" as he left, and another shouting, “he’s a human being.”
Galloway attempted to justify his behavior on his Facebook page saying, “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 Normalization, Just Boycotts, divestment and sanctions, until the Apartheid state is defeated.”
Aslan-Levy, 21, who grew up in Finchley in north London and holds Israeli citizenship, said Galloway’s action were indicative of “pure” racism.
“I am appalled that an MP would storm out of a debate with me for no reason other than my heritage,” he told Oxford student newspaper Cherwell. “To refuse to talk to someone just because of their nationality is pure racism, and totally unacceptable for a member of parliament.
An organizer of the event, Mahmood Naji, condemned Galloway’s decision to walk out on a debate as a result of his opponent’s nationality.
“At no point during my email exchange with Mr Galloway was Eylon's nationality ever brought up or mentioned, nor do I expect to have to tell the speaker what his opponent's nationality is,” Naji told the student newspaper.