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By Matt Handley
The Respect Party MP will take on Brasenose student Eylon Aslan-Levy on the motion ‘Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank’ on 20th February.
Galloway, who will propose the motion, was bullish about the upcoming encounter, saying: “I intend to annihilate my opponent using the facts of the case.”
Aslan-Levy, who will argue for the opposition, said that he was “unfazed by Galloway’s threat”.
He added: “I thought that I couldn’t possibly pass up an opportunity to put Galloway in his place.
“I am looking forward to it immensely. I imagine that Galloway will try to use this as a platform for an anti-Israel rant, but if I can keep my cool then I am confident that we can engage in a constructive debate.”
A spokesman for the former ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ contestant said: “The fact that it is even up for debate is what’s controversial.”
He continued: “Israel’s occupation is wholly illegal under national law. There are more UN resolutions condemning Israel than there are for all of the other countries in the world.”
Encouraging students to come along to watch the discussion, he suggested that attendees could expect a “memorable punch-up” between the Member of Parliament for Bradford West and Aslan-Levy.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank are controversial in the international community, with many deeming them illegal under international law, whilst in 2010 the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated: “The world has condemned Israel’s expansion plans in East Jerusalem. Let us be clear: all settlement activity is illegal anywhere in occupied territory, and this must stop.”
Galloway has been consistently outspoken in his views on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and in 2009 received a Palestinian passport from Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Hamas are considered a terrorist organisation by the US and the EU.
This will be the second time this academic year that Galloway has visited Oxford. In October the Dundonian spoke at the Oxford Union, where he was met with protests by members of Oxford Feminist Network. These came after Galloway described allegations of rape facing Wikileaks leader Julian Assange as constituting “bad sexual etiquette”, but added “not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion”. These comments led to the NUS passing a motion adopting a ‘no platform’ policy towards the MP.
The anticipation of further protests have meant that the debate will be open to bod card holders only. Mahmood Naji, who runs Oxford Debates and selected Galloway to speak, said: “We are having to do these things to ensure that freedom of speech can be preserved and we don’t get disruptions that prevent opinions from being expressed.”
Naji, a student at Christ Church, was confident that the invitation was an appropriate one: “I chose Galloway because he is probably the most vocal and well-known voice on this issue.
“Oxford is an establishment that should prize free speech and open dialogue more than any other. This is the kind of institution that will put extreme or controversial views up to academic scrutiny and then shoot them down accordingly.”
He added: “Suppressing dialogue is not something I would expect from the leading university in the world.
“I’m expecting a rigorous, academic discussion of the Arab-Israel conflict that hopefully will allow the audience to see through the usual rhetoric. I hope that this debate will inform those who come so that they better understand the conflict. I also hope to motivate students to volunteer themselves for future debates on topics they’re interested in or passionate about!”
The debate will take place at 6.30pm at the Christ Church’s Blue Boar lecture theatre next Wednesday.