'I don't recognise Israel and I don't debate with Israelis': Shocking moment George Galloway storms out of Oxford University discussion because of student's nationality
George Galloway was debating Israel's settlements at university event
Left the room after he found out student who was speaking was Israeli
Faced Twitter backlash but wrote, 'I never debate with Israelis'
By Hugo Gye
PUBLISHED: 13:57, 21 February 2013 | UPDATED: 16:32, 21 February 2013
George Galloway has been caught on camera storming out of a debate simply because the other speaker was Israeli.
The outspoken MP was speaking at an event at Oxford University last night when he discovered that the student who was debating against him was a citizen of the Jewish state.
He immediately left the room, saying: 'I don't debate with Israelis,' in explosive scenes caught on camera by the student newspaper.
Walkout: George Galloway left a debate at Oxford after discovering one of the speakers was from Israel
Out of the door: The controversial MP stormed out and later said he had been misled about the debate
Mr Galloway, elected MP for Bradford West in a by-election last year, had already spoken for 10 minutes on the motion that 'Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank' at the time of the incident at Christ Church, an Oxford college.
Eylon Aslan-Levy, a third-year student, stepped up to the podium to respond, but after he used the word 'we' to refer to Israel, Mr Galloway interrupted him.
'You said "we",' the MP said. 'Are you an Israeli?'More...
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'I am, yes,' Mr Aslan-Levy replied.
'I don't debate with Israelis,' Mr Galloway muttered as he stood up and put on his coat. 'I have been misled, sorry. I don't recognise Israel and I don't debate with Israelis.'
Speakers: Mr Galloway, left, and Eylon Aslan-Levy, right, speaking at the debate on Wednesday night
Anger: Mr Aslan-Levy says that the MP's 'hardline views' should bar him from sitting in Parliament
He then left the room followed by his wife, Putri Gayatri Pertiwi, as shocked students who were attending the debate looked on. Speaking after the debate, Mr Aslan Levy - who studies Philosophy, Politics and Economics at David Cameron's alma mater, Brasenose College - said: 'I am appalled that an MP would storm out of a debate with me for no reason other than my heritage. 'To refuse to talk to someone just because of their nationality is pure racism, and totally unacceptable for a Member of Parliament.'
Mr Galloway, a former Labour MP who was expelled from the party and helped set up the far-left Respect, is a strong opponent of Israel's policy towards the Palestinians, which he has repeatedly denounced as 'apartheid.'
Stunned: The audience of students looked shocked by Mr Galloway's outburst
He wrote on Facebook: '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 normalisation. Just boycott, divestment and sanctions, until the apartheid state is defeated. I never debate with Israelis nor speak to their media.'
The strident socialist later tweeted: 'Christ Church never informed us the debate would be with an Israeli.' Mahmood Naji, who organised the debate, told student newspaper Cherwell: 'At no point during my email exchange with Mr Galloway's secretary 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.'
Michael Baldwin, a third-year student who was moderating the debate, said: 'I was disappointed that a possibly fruitful discussion was prematurely ended by Mr Galloway’s refusal to debate someone just because of their nationality.
'As he himself is a Palestinian citizen, he would rightly be indignant if an opponent of his were to refuse to debate him on the basis of his passport. I would encourage Mr Galloway to reconsider his position, which is open to accusations of xenophobia.'
Advert: A poster promoting the debate between the left-wing MP and the Oxford student
Advert: A poster promoting the debate between the left-wing MP and the Oxford student Mr Aslan-Levy, who is a citizen of both Israel and the UK, argued that Mr Galloway should be barred from the House of Commons.
'He clearly had a problem not because I am Israeli - I'm sure he would have talked to an Israeli Arab, he didn't want to talk to me because I am an Israeli Jew,' he said. 'I absolutely do not think someone with those kind of views should be allowed to continue as a Member of Parliament.
'He clearly had some very hardline views and I do not think any good would come of him saying he would come back to debate with me.' The MP faced a backlash over his comments from his followers on social media.
Christine Quigley, a former Labour candidate for the London Assembly, wrote: 'As a former constituent of George Galloway and pro-Palestinian, I'm deeply unimpressed he refused to debate someone because he was Israeli.' When asked whether or not he would agree to represent an Israeli living in his constituency, Mr Galloway replied: 'An Israeli citizen could not by definition be my constituent.'
Watch the shocking video here
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