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On Wednesday 3 December, the St John’s Senior Politics Society welcomed George Galloway MP to the School to discuss the causes, consequences and solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Around 100 pupils and staff packed the Old Chapel to listen to one of British politics’ most skilled speakers.
Controversial to some and a principled supporter of justice to many, Mr Galloway has been an MP, first for Labour and currently Respect, since the late 1980s. In recent years, he has won two remarkable election victories (in Bethnal Green and in Bradford). He is a passionate advocate of Palestinian rights, instigating the Viva Palestina aid convoys, and an anti-war campaigner, founding the Stop the War coalition. It was during the aftermath of the war in Iraq that he gave one of his most memorable public performances at a US Senate hearing, a video of which has been watched millions of times on YouTube.
During his talk, Mr Galloway’s maintained that there could never be peace until Palestinians get justice, arguing that the only viable solution was a single secular state where Christians, Jews and Muslims had equality. The pupils did not waste the opportunity to ask many pertinent questions: ‘How could peace be achieved?’, ‘How could the Israeli government be persuaded?’ and ‘Even if the governments agreed what would happen if millions of Israeli citizens opposed any sharing of power. Wouldn’t violence be inevitable?’. In response, Galloway drew on the experience of South Africa and the way relative peace was achieved in a post-apartheid era.
Overall, those attending found it most engaging to hear from a leading political figure on an issue seen by many as most significant for our time.
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