George Galloway’s tour of 11 Canadian cities in 12 days was a resounding success. His appearances were all sold out and people had to be turned away. Close to 8000 Canadians attended his events, and many more heard him through the media.
Galloway delivered three firm messages everywhere he spoke: denunciation of the Harper government’s attempts to muzzle freedom of speech; opposition to Canada’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan; support for the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, justice, equality, self-determination and the refugees’ right of return.
Those who accuse him of anti-Semitism are liars, he said, and are throwing sand in the public’s eyes: “We are not against Jews; we are against the racist apartheid state of Israel.
There are thousands of Jews here, all over the world and in Israel supporting us in this campaign.”
He went on to say: “It is time we fought for the principled, democratic solution to this conflict, which must be for one democratic secular state from the Jordan river to the sea, where Jews, Muslims and Christians live as equal citizens under the law."
Galloway expressed his belief that there should be an end to Western occupation of Muslim lands and the propping-up of dictators and tyrants who rule in some of the Muslim countries. According to Galloway, if Western powers would not support these dictators, the people of those countries would themselves bring them down.
Galloway was warmly received by all those who heard him. This exposed the extent to which most of our political elite and the mainstream media are out of touch with how most Canadians feel on issues. “In a way,” he said, ‘we must thank this … Jason Kenney, who thought that Canadian people would accept being treated like children, being told what they could watch, what they could listen to, who they could hear.”
Both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff have ignored the views of 75 percent of Canadians who oppose Canada’s continued military involvement in Afghanistan by extending it to 2014 without even allowing their MPs to debate it in parliament.
Both leaders have not paid attention to information such as that given recently by Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, who said on her recent Canada tour that 25 Israeli laws discriminate against Christian and Muslim citizens of Israel.
Both leaders continue to ignore Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights and international law and proclaim support for the contradictory idea of “Israel as a democratic and Jewish state.” It is an idea that contravenes all international laws and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which reject discrimination based on ethnicity and religion.
Galloway said we must tell the truth: “The truth is that European settlers came to Palestine and stole somebody else’s country, drove them out, drove them from pillar to post, massacred them, occupied them, imprisoned them, assassinated them. We are with the victim rather than with the criminals.”
Most importantly, Galloway’s tour was a victory for free speech and academic freedom.
The Harper government failed to bar him this time after it was slapped by a federal court decision for denying him entry on false grounds last year. Other opponents of free speech, including apologists for Israel, failed in their use of threats and bullying tactics to intimidate university administrations and students from hosting and attending his speeches.
The Canadian Arab Federation applauds George Galloway and Canadians who are standing up for free speech, supporting Palestinian rights, and opposing censorship, occupation, racism and war.