VIDEO: Galloway accused of damaging Bradford with 'Israel-free zone' call

CONTROVERSY: Bradford West MP George Galloway speaking in front of a Palestine flag at the Respect Party rally

CONCERN: Bradford Council leader, Councillor David Green, who has warned Mr Galloway's comments are damaging the city

CONDEMN: Bradford East MP David Ward has accused Mr Galloway of making a "schoolboy error"

CALL: The Conservative group's deputy leader, Cllr Simon Cooke has urged people to ignore Mr Galloway's remarks

First published in News
Last updated
Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

COMMENTS by Bradford MP George Galloway that the city should be an "Israel free zone" have damaged Bradford's reputation, according to politicians from all the main parties.

A video of the Bradford West MP making the comments at a Respect Party event in Leeds last Saturday has attracted condemnation from different quarters and is being probed by West Yorkshire Police.

The video features the MP saying: "We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone.

"We don't want any Israeli goods, we don't want any Israeli services, we don't want any Israeli academics coming to the university or the college, we don't even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford, even if any of them had thought of doing so.

"We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel."

Councillor David Green, leader of Labour-run Bradford Council, said: "Mr Galloway does not speak on behalf of the district of Bradford.

"We have always welcomed people from all over the globe regardless of race, religion or colour, and will continue to do so.

"There is a lot of local concern about what is going on in Gaza and I'm aware of the boycott campaigns, but they have to be done appropriately.

"These comments will potentially be damaging to Bradford. They add nothing to the discussion and debate to find a resolution of this conflict and I ask him to re-consider them."

The Conservative group's deputy leader, Councillor Simon Cooke took to Twitter to urge people to ignore the MP and said all people were welcome in Bradford.

He added: "What is most disappointing about this is that whatever your view is on Gaza, it doesn't justify saying a group of people aren't welcome in Bradford. It gives us a bad name and what he said is damaging Bradford. This is not the message we want out about the district."

Bradford East Liberal Democrats MP David Ward spent much of yesterday speaking to constituents and said Mr Galloway's views were not shared by the majority of people he spoke to.

He has been collecting signatures for a petition calling for an end to Israeli military action in Gaza that has attracted almost 77,000 signatures.

Mr Ward said: "We don't want to be branded as a community that is racist. Theses comments are very dangerous in terms of community cohesion.

"It is a schoolboy error to brand an entire group of people in this way. The people who live in Bradford day in day out don't want this said in their name."

Mike Hookem, MEP for Yorkshire and UKIP Defence spokesman, said: "It is unacceptable and ridiculous for a British politician to call for a multicultural city such as Bradford; that is steeped in both the Islamic and Jewish cultures, to become an ‘Israel free zone’. Galloway’s words do nothing other than heighten tensions in Bradford and the country as a whole.

"Rather than stirring up racial hatred, Galloway should be looking to use any influence he has to calm the tensions and look for ways to build bridges in the communities he serves, rather than giving fuel to further divisions.”

A spokesman for Mr Galloway said: "Anyone is welcome in Bradford who doesn't support the mass bombing and genocide of the Palestinian people.

"That rules out 95 per cent or more of the Israeli population according to recent surveys."

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree