Dear Mr. Galloway,
I hope you’re well. I couldn’t help but notice that as Member of Parliament for Bradford West, you recently declared the city an ‘Israel-free zone’, barring Israeli goods, academics and citizens from entering. Having grown up in West Yorkshire, just a short drive away from where you made this declaration, I’m simply writing to you as an interested voter with a few questions about how this new unilaterally-declared policy of yours is going to operate in practice. Specifically, I had a few minor queries about how your visa process for prohibiting Israeli citizens from entering Bradford will work.
Will all holders of Israeli passports be banned from stepping foot in the City of Bradford? I ask only because I wonder about the practicalities of whether Palestinian Israelis (the 20% of Israel’s citizens who are of Palestinian Arab ethnicity) will be banned from visiting the rather lovely Bradford Industrial Museum or Alhambra Theatre.
With Bradford being the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, I’m also curious about the fate of the Jewish and Arab Israeli filmmakers whose cinema is a voice within Israeli society that often challenges the status quo and the hate that exists on both sides of the divide. Are they forbidden from visiting the (quite excellent) National Media Museum as well? Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian father who lost his daughter in the conflict, studied in Bradford. He also made a film with Rami Elhanan, an Israeli who lost a daughter in a suicide bombing, and the two of them now campaign for an end to the violence and a better way. Is Rami allowed to take in a film at the Bradford IMAX cinema?
I also have a humble question about the status of non-Israeli Zionists within the new border controls process that you’re seeking to establish for Bradford. Are Zionists – for example, liberal Zionists who wholeheartedly advocate for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza – also proscribed from enjoying the architecture of Bradford City Hall? And for that matter, are right-wing Zionists not encouraged to visit one of the UK’s most multicultural cities to learn from its successes, in order to understand that the existence of different ethnic groups side-by-side does not have to be a recipe for conflict?
Please excuse my questions, but I only ask to try and clarify the details of the plan you laid out to refuse civilian tourists of one single country entry to Bradford. I am sure that you have a perfectly coherent logic behind it, and it is my own ignorance – not being an elected Member of Parliament myself, you see – that causes me to view your actions as collectively punishing a group of innocent civilians (Israelis) as a response to disapproving of what you deem collective punishment of a group of innocent civilians (Gazans).
Much of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stems from, and is perpetuated by, an unwillingness on the part of some to engage with others who don’t share their worldview. Please don’t bring that darkness to West Yorkshire.
I eagerly await your response to these enquiries, and look forward to hearing from you.