Promoting peace?

The former British Member of Parliament and supposed anti-war activist George Galloway embarked on a cross Canada tour Nov. 16, with a stop planned in Winnipeg Nov. 26. This tour is being organized by Palestinian solidarity campaigns across Canada. While many of these organizations sponsoring Galloway’s tour claim to be promoting peace, I fail to see how Galloway’s funding of terror and denial of genocide will bring said peace.

Galloway named his tour “Free Palestine, Free Afghanistan, Free Speech.” The first half of the name implies Galloway will be giving his distorted opinion on the political situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan. While the latter half of the title comes from the cancellation of his March 2009 tour.

I wholeheartedly support free speech, but I do not support hate or the support of terror groups. This leads me to question the reasons organizers are bringing Galloway across Canada. It is a known fact that Galloway supported Saddam Hussein, denies genocide in Darfur, praises Syria’s oppressor Bashar al-Assad, claims Hezbollah is not, nor has ever been a terrorist organization, and hands large sums of cash and goods over to Hamas, another internationally recognized terror organization.

In early 2009, Galloway instigated an aid convoy to Gaza called Viva Palestina. This convoy brought cars, trucks, ambulances, blankets and money to Gaza, with a personal donation of three cars and £25,000 to Hamas. I would applaud Galloway’s humanitarian efforts, but if Galloway truly wanted to help the Gazans, why did he choose to give his charity to Hamas and not a legitimate NGO or the UN who would ensure proper use and distribution of these goods? Historically, Hamas has been taking humanitarian aid given to Gazans and using the goods for personal use or used them to build their deadly rockets, which have killed both Israelis and Palestinians.

In his speech Nov.16 at York University, Galloway acknowledged the aid he brought to Palestinians was humanitarian in nature and continued to state that while he doesn’t support Hamas, he does support democracy. While it is true that Hamas was democratically elected to govern Gaza, they have since oppressed Gazans, abused human rights and have taken away many of the democratic rights Gazans used to possess.

Galloway ended his speech at York University with a call for a single state with a single government, rather than the two-state solution that myself and others would like to see. One day, sooner rather than later, I hope to see a sovereign Palestinian state alongside a sovereign Israeli state with peaceful relations. However, I cannot see Galloway’s one-state logic ever working since Hamas and the Palestinian Authority do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, and Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of Israel. While I do not deny the regretful and unfortunate suffering of Palestinians, many Palestinians chose to accept Israeli citizenship.

Galloway is without a doubt a great friend of the LGBT* community. In 1994, he voted in support of equalization of the age of consent for homosexuality — 21 years old at the time — with that for heterosexuality at 16 years old; he also voted in favour of permitting unmarried gay couples to adopt children. The irony in this is that he supports Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, and terror organizations such as Hamas, and neither accept homosexuality.

Based on Galloway’s endorsements, statements and hypocrisy, I am extremely confused as to how his presence in Canada promotes peace, nor do I understand his anti-war stance when he supports such hate-filled and murderous groups and individuals.

Ashley Faintuch is a University of Winnipeg student and a supporter of peace.

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