Oxford student in George Galloway Israel row had first run in with MP at University College School
- Credit: Archant
A student who condemned George Galloway for “storming out” of an Oxford University debate has revealed he had a previous run-in with the outspoken MP as a pupil at University College School, Hampstead.
Last week the Respect Party MP was accused of racism for walking out of a debate at Christ Church College in the middle of his opponent’s speech, when he learned that undergraduate Eylon Aslan-Levy held an Israeli passport.
The pair had assembled to discuss whether Israel should withdraw from the West Bank. But when the MP heard Mr Aslan-Levy refer to Israel with the word “we”, he asked if the 21-year-old was an Israeli citizen and promptly responded, “I don’t debate with Israelis, I’ve been misled” and made a rapid exit.
Mr Aslan-Levy, who attended University College School (UCS) from 2003 to 2010, said he was shocked by the behaviour.
But he revealed that six years ago the MP called him a “liar” when he came to speak with senior boys at the school in Frognal.
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The politics, philosophy and economics student said: “When Galloway came to UCS, I pulled up a quote of his – ‘No decent person should trade with or talk with the state of Israel’ – and I said, ‘Well citizens are part of the state and I’m an Israeli citizen, would you talk to me?’.
“And he flat out denied it [the quote]. He said, ‘You sir are a L-I-A-R’. A liar.
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“He made his position clear then that he didn’t advocate boycotting Israeli individuals, but the debate at Christ Church just proved that he lied all those years back.”
Mr Aslan-Levy said the confrontation at the UCS debate was met with whoops from the other boys as they cheered on the then 15-year-old for speaking up against the politician.
Six years later a similar scene was caught on camera as the audience at the Oxford debate gasped when Mr Galloway walked out, with one student shouting “racist” down the aisle.
Mr Aslan-Levy said he could not see the point in engaging or debating with Mr Galloway ever again.
“He speaks so many lies and distortions of the truth and arguments that don’t hold water when held up to logic and that is something I would have liked to have done at the debate,” said the young man, who plans to become a barrister.
“My only regret is that he stormed out before I could.”
A spokesman for Mr Galloway said: “His position is clear – he won’t debate with Israelis who represent the state of Israel or Israel’s interests.
“He has and will converse with Israelis. He’s been on platforms with Israelis, including Ilan Pappe, who is an Israeli academic, but he will not go on platforms and debate with Israelis who support or represent the state of Israel.
“That’s not to say he won’t answer questions from Israelis.”