Galloway Attacks Israel Ambassador's Visit to 'Israel-Free' Zone
Anti-Israel British MP George Galloway expressed anger and frustration at the Israeli Ambassador's decision to visit his "Israeli-free" city of Bradford.
"[The ambassador’s visit] is a provocation to the 10s of 1,000s of people in Bradford who regard the Israeli ambassador as the plenipotentiary of a rogue and terrorist state," Galloway told the BuzzFeed website on Monday night.
"As has just been proved, I cannot make Bradford an Israel-free zone, but I am certain that the Israeli ambassador was not welcome," he added.
The Respect Party leader is being investigated by police over comments made earlier this month, in which he declared that Israeli nationals were not welcome in his constituency.
"We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone," he told a gathering of party activists. "We don't want any Israeli goods. We don't want any Israeli services. We don't want any Israeli academics coming to the university or college. We don't even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford even if any of them had thought of doing so. We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel. And you have to do the same."
The comments prompted Israel's envoy to London, Daniel Taub, to embark on a visit to the MP's city in northern England, in "defiance" of Galloway's "decree", following the example of a group of Israeli activists who previously "infiltrated" the "Israeli-free zone".
Contrary to Galloway's response, Taub said he had actually been invited by constituents in the aftermath of the controversy, and was glad to take them up on the offer - noting that many of the people Bradford were a lot more tolerant and welcoming than their extremist MP.
He told the Telegraph & Argus, "My sense, even from a short visit, is that the real voice of Bradford is not the voice of exclusion we hear from George Galloway but the voice of inclusion.
"It is an important model of how people from all faiths and backgrounds can live and work and co-operate together," said Taub.
"That is an important model for our region as well," he added.