Mahmood Naji, the founder of Oxford Debates, has written a very eloquent open letter expressing his disappointment at George Galloway’s decision to refuse to debate an opponent after discovering he was Israeli. He concludes, with understandable irritation:
As the organiser, am I to know about every one of your views? Should I let you know if your opponent is a vegetarian in case you have a policy of not debating vegetarians? Am I misleading you if I do not tell you your opponent’s shoe size? Think hard about the absurdity of your position. In none of the previous debates I had organised did it even occur to me to inform the debaters of their opponents’ nationalities. This particular debate was no different.
Please know that I had been looking forward to seeing you put forward the case for Palestine and the Palestinian people. Instead I was left humiliated in front of a room full of people who had waited an hour and a half for your arrival, only to be subsequently accused of being deceptive and misleading. Does that seem fair to you Mr. Galloway?
Naji clearly has a genuine interest in Israel/Palestine. Here’s a link to a piece he wrote about Operation Cast Lead last year which backs up his assertion, in the letter to Galloway, that he is sympathetic to ‘the case for Palestine and the Palestinian people’. Yet his reaction to Galloway, very commendably, equally supports his assurance that he has ‘no interest in painting Israel as a monster’.
Hat Tip: Shiraz Maher