Critics round on MP as Israeli ambassador visits Bradford

Leaders of Bradford Council yesterday told the visiting Israeli Ambassador that “ridiculous and damaging” statements by George Galloway did not represent mainstream opinion.

Bradford West MP George Galloway.

Ambassador Daniel Taub met religious leaders and councillors from the main political parties. He was critical of Bradford MP George Galloway, calling his comments “very troubling”.

Mr Galloway was filmed saying the city should become an Israel free zone, without academics, tourists, goods or services from that country.

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The Israeli Ambassador said he was visiting at the request of supporters of Israel concerned about “the impression that Bradford was not open for Israelis”.

Mr Taub said Bradford was a “model community where people of all faiths work together”.

Council leader David Green said there had been a frank exchange of views about the deaths in Gaza. A council spokesman said: “The three leaders...were also very clear that George Galloway MP does not speak on behalf of the district of Bradford, referring to his recent comments about ‘an Israeli free zone.’ People who claim to speak for Bradford and make such ridiculous and damaging statements, obviously know very little about our city and district.

“They (senior councillors) also told the Ambassador that George Galloway’s comments are completely contrary with the values and activities of Bradford Council.”

Among those invited to meet the Ambassador was Zulfi Karim, of the Bradford Council of Mosques. Mr Karim declined to meet Mr Taub because of events in Gaza.

Mr Galloway attacked Councillor Green, calling the visit “utterly shameful”.

In a statement issued after the visit, Mr Taub said: “In the best spirit of Yorkshire, the real voice of Bradford knows that there has only ever been one good boycott – and that’s Geoff Boycott”.

He also criticised Bradford’s Liberal Democrat MP David Ward, who drew criticism after tweeting: “The big question is - if I lived in #Gaza would I fire a rocket? - probably yes.”

Mr Taub said: “Is that an insult to all those Palestinians who try to stand up against the terrorists and raise their kids to reject violence? Probably yes.”