Friday, May 22, 2009

George Galloway at UC-Irvine

Cross-posted by Gary Fouse

George Galloway in his diatribe at UCI

Last night, the Muslim Student Union at UC-Irvine hosted controversial British MP George Galloway as its concluding act in the "Israel-Politics of Genocide" extravaganza. Galloway lived up to his reputation as a pugnacious advocate for the Palestinian cause. Approximately 6-700 people were present, almost all members of the Muslim community. It was obvious that to them Galloway was a rock star as dozens of the folks came up to the dais to introduce themselves to Galloway and have their pictures taken with him.

Prior to introducing Galloway, the president of the Muslim Student Union announced to the crowd that the MSU was being treated unfairly by the university in various and sundry ways. He alluded to a written statement made recently by UC President Mark Yudof, in which he (Yudof) condemned the MSU for alleged hate speech.

Then it was on to the main event. Galloway opened by referring to the fact that not all the members of the audience were on his side. How did he know? Because he had been reading their blogs prior to his UCI appearance. He more or less dared them to try and debate with him. He also said that if anyone were to try and disrupt or engage in violence, that he was a former boxer, had a lot of friends in the crowd and it was a long way to the door. (??!!?) Of course, nobody disrupted his speech nor tried to engage in violence-not because we were afraid of Galloway, rather because it's not what we do-it's what the other side does.

Galloway's speech focused on the Israel/Palestinian conflict. He excoriated the State of Israel over and over for stealing the Palestinians' land and killing the Palestinian people. He called George W Bush an imbecile and criticized the US for "writing a blind check" to Israel (after telling us how much he loved America and the American people). He denied being a supporter of Hamas and denied being anti-Semitic. He referred several times to the Holocaust and questioned why the Israelis (Zionists), having been victims of that crime, would then victimize the Palestinians (I am paraphrasing and summarizing, of course).

When it came time for Q&A, members of the audience were invited to come to microphones in front of the stage. The ground rule was that Mr Galloway would not answer the question until the questioner had returned to his/her seat and sat down (a convenient rule designed to preclude follow-up questions).

My question, which was not delivered in a belligerant manner, went something like this:

"I heard many references to anti-Semitism here tonight. During the recent fighting in Gaza, there were many demonstrations in the US. In places like Ft Lauderdale, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto, some demonstrators-not all- were heard saying things like, Long live Hitler", "Jews, go back to the ovens"....

At this point, Galloway interrupted, "First of all, I think you are a LIAR."

(Hoots and hollers from the audience as I invited Galloway to check it out on YouTube).

"May I finish?"

Moderator: "Finish the question."

"A few years ago, on this campus, a man named Mohammed al-Asi, an imam, said, "Jews are low-life ghetto-dwellers. You can take the Jew out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew." In your country (UK), there are reports of Jews being afraid to walk in certain parts of British cities. Do Jews have a reason to be afraid in the UK?" (someone in the audience yelled out to me something about quoting al-Asi accurately.)

I took my seat in the first row.

Galloway then replied, "I am 99.9% sure that what you say is false". From my front row seat, I said, "a minute ago you were 100% sure", and again told him the statements were on video (YouTube). He then went on to condemn the statement I had reported by al-Asi. He then added he wished I would shed a tear for the Palestinian children killed by Israeli bombing. He never answered my question about Jews in the UK. (a friendly lady in the crowd shouted for him to answer the question.)

There were several more questions from the audience, a couple mildly critical, but the rest friendly. Boxes were passed around for the audience to make contributions for Galloway's Viva Palestina drive to deliver supllies to Gaza.

Contrary to his fears, nobody tried to disrupt him or instigate violence. We followed the rules set forth for the question and answer session. Since each questioner is limited to one question so as to give everyone a chance, there were many things I had to leave unsaid. I would have liked to tell Mr Galloway that outside the cozy confines of that hall and the university campus, nobody in America cares what he thinks of our country or George Bush. I would have liked to tell him that ten George Galloways don't make one George Bush. I would have liked to tell him that Bush removed the two most horrific regimes in the world and gave some 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq (Muslims) the chance to live in freedom-while he was making pilgrimages to Iraq and having tea and crumpets with Saddam and Uday Hussein. Had Mr Galloway had his way, the mass graves, rape rooms and torture chambers would still be in full throttle in Iraq and women would still be executed at half-time in Kabul soccer stadiums. So much to say-so little time.

Now comes the good part.

Mr Galloway, you called me a liar for bringing up the statements about Hitler and ovens during recent pro-Palestinian rallies in the US and Canada. You are much too intelligent and well informed not to know of their existence. For your viewing pleasure, here they are.

(New York City)

Now who is a LIAR, Mr Galloway?


  1. Good for you Gary. Thank you for representing us at these disgusting events. Your questions were perfect, and your follow-up proofs unassailable. He is the Lord Haw-haw of Islam.

  2. Hello Garry,
    My name is Amir and I was there last night when you asked that question from Mr. Galloway.
    Couple of things:
    I am not affiliated with the Muslim student association or any other pro Palestinian associations. In fact, I consider myself agnostic.
    When you asked that question, I knew that you were telling the truth because I had seen that video myself before. When Mr. Galloway was telling you that he thinks that you are a liar, I immediately turned to my friend and said, 'no, he is not, I have seen the video' BUT...
    I don't think your summary of the event is really accurate because Mr. Galloway spent at least couple minutes condemning those remarks and expressed how disgusted he was with them and he made it very clear that those are not his ideas and then he used example of great Jewish scientists and thinkers who have greatly contributed to the humanity in order to explain what he really thinks about Jewish people ….all that you summarized in “He then went on to condemn the statement I had reporting by al-Asi.” You spent couple paragraphs quoting word by word your question but then paraphrased a good portion of his response in one sentence?
    Also, that friendly lady shouted “answer the question” while Mr. Galloway was waiting for you to go back to your seat.
    You also fail to mention anything about the fact that it was mentioned several times by the speakers that they have no issue with Jewish people and that the Israeli Palestinian conflict goes beyond religion or race. (The speaker even said that he likes the “I’m proud to be a Jew” stickers and pins that some students wear around the campus.) Mr. Galloway explained many times that Pro-Israeli does NOT equal Jewish!
    Also I think your question was not an extremely informative question and I tell you why. What you were citing regarding some individuals who shouted disturbing anti-Semitic slogans during protests is not unique to one side. For every single of those comments, you can use the same site, YouTube, to find pro Israelis who compare same disturbing remarks about the other site and comparing Palestinians and Arabs to dogs, animals, cockroaches and etc…What is your point? There are hundreds of videos on YouTube about people making racist remarks about my ethnicity, how does that justify killing thousands of innocent people? How does that explain the situation in GAZA? How does that explain kicking people out of their houses and taking their land?

  3. Amir

    I appreciate your comments, and I would like to respond.

    First, thank you for confirming that such incidents have occurred and are documented on Youtube. I made a point to say that some-not all- the demonstrators were saying those things.

    As far as the event with Galloway is concerned, it is my recollection that he was condemning the statement I attributed to Al-Asi, but it was over the statements that are on Youtube that he called me a liar. I have not accused Galloway of being an anti-Semite, and you are correct that he went to great lengths to make the point that he was not against Jews per se.

    Whether or not I wrote too much about my question and not enough of his response-I think I was fair and accurate in my description of his response. On the point about the Youtube protest-he called me a liar. He condemned in strong words the statement by al-Asi. As to the actual question I posed about anti-Semitism in UK-he didn't address that question.

    As for the lady who shouted "Answer the question", my recollection is that she said it as I was sitting down. I don't recall if Galloway was talking at that moment.

    You are certainly correct in mentioning the remarks made by the MSU president about not being anti-Jewish and the stickers.

    Also, I do not excuse any person who makes similar comments about your ethnicity.

    As for Israel/Palestine- I support the same thing that the US government wants-a peaceful negotiated setttlement that results in a 2 state solution as long as the new state can live peacefully next to Israel.
    Basically, I feel Israel has a right to exist in peace and defend itself from attack by armies or terrorists.

    The MSU. For years now they have brought in speakers who not only vilify Israel, but many of them vilify America as well and some (like al-Asi) vilify jewish people. The msu at uci is projecting a very negative image. They are aggressive and at times try to intimidate their opponents. There have been multiple incidents of MSU members following critics and filmers back to the cars and taking their license plates. For what purpose? The main point is that speakers like Galloway, Ali and Al-Asi leave one with the impression that there is an anti-American bent to this group. I would hope that is not the case, and I ceertainly hope not all MSU members are that way.

    Finally, for me, the Israel-Palestine issue is the least important of my concerns-though I do support Israel's right to exist. More important to me, however is the issue of anti-Semitism and hearing a succession of MSU sponsored speakers who also defame America. Though I am Christian, I am very sensitive to anti-Semitism. I have lived in Germany and am an expert, I guess, on the Third Reich. I have visited Auschwitz and other similar sites. Thus, I am very sensitive to anti-Semitism, and I see a resurgence of anti-Semitism in America and Europe that I feel must be confronted. I am also a proud American who will stand up for my country. (Actually, I had two comments prepared for Galloway depending on his talk. The other was to tell him basically to go home if he wants to trash America and our presidents, past or present. I chose the one you heard.

    As for Galloway, I have no issue with his passion for the Palestinian cause. Yet, he is a man with many issues and controversies surrounding him including the oil for food scandal though while never proven conclusively against him still seems to hanging over his head to some extent. I think he revealed a lot about his personality and character the other night.

    I do welcome your comments, however.

  4. I believe that people should make up their own decisions once they have some good information.

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