Political veteran George Galloway refuses to host Israeli counterparts if he is elected as mayor of London, he told Jewish News’ Justin Cohen in an interview on Wednesday.
The former MP has said he would brush off the mayors of cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but didn’t believe the capital should rid itself completely of Israel ties, as he had urged for Bradford last summer.
“I would not be able to do that, but the mayoralty could,” he said. “The deputy mayor could.” He also admitted there was nothing he admired about Israel, despite being presented with a list of areas where the country is a world leader.
In response to those in the community who would be “sickened” by the idea of him at City Hall, he said: “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.
“I realize that so pervasive is the Zionist ideology that you and your newspaper represent that that’s actually not all that important to many of your readers. They are more concerned about the defense of the policies of a foreign government. There’s nothing I can do about that. I certainly cannot start apologizing or being silent on the policies of a foreign government.”
Galloway, who will be stepping in for James O’Brien on LBC next week, suggested he would not “be using the London mayoralty to constantly talk about Israel. I will not. I’m not running to be the president, the pope, foreign secretary or prime minister. The word Israel didn’t cross my lips until you raised it.”
The former MP induced widespread anger last summer when he called for the constituency he represented to be Israel-free. He argued that Parliament has a remit over foreign policy whereas City Hall does not.
“Jews and Israel are not the same thing,” said Galloway, when told that many British Jews are proud Zionists. “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.”