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George Galloway



by Rhonda Spivak, November 30, 2010

 As the editor of the Winnipeg Jewish Review, I had a choice last Friday night November 26, 2010. I could  choose to spend Erev Shabbat with George Galloway at the Broadway Disciples United Church, or  could choose to spend Erev Shabbat with my family. It was an easy choice. I have no regrets.

But speaking of  Galloway, Paul Graham really didn't like my last week's article .  Here's what he wrote on his blog, entitled Manitoba NDP WITCH HUNT  REGARDING PARTY MREMBERS SUPPORT OF GEORGE GALLOWAY:  :

"Is the Manitoba NDP preparing a public witch hunt, or at least a private spanking, of members who attended George Galloway’s Nov. 26 speech in Winnipeg? That certainly is the impression left by an article by Rhonda Spivak in the Winnipeg Jewish Review entitled BRANDON NDP WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION ENDORSES GALLOWAYS SPEECH IN WINNIPEG NOV 26.

"In the article, Spivak trots out all the shop-worn distortions of Galloway’s anti-war and anti-Zionist activities and quotes Manitoba’s Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick as saying:

“It is important to know that this issue was not brought before Greg Selinger, the Leader of Manitoba the New Democratic Party nor the Manitoba NDP Provincial Council. This action is neither sanctioned nor endorsed by either the Premier or the Manitoba NDP. The NDP Brandon Women’s Association does not represent the Manitoba NDP on this issue . . .
“I want to ensure people that the Manitoba NDP is taking this incident very seriously and are already looking into the matter.”

"Back to the present. I’ve heard that functionaries in the Brandon Cabinet Office were not amused by the uppity women who endorsed Galloway’s event. Whether this goes farther remains to be seen. Surely if the NDP heavyweights start trying to muscle Seymour and others over their attendance at the Galloway meeting, it will be time for them to remove the word “Democratic” from their party’s name. Ditto for “New” which is really shop-worn after all these years.

"Readers who share my outrage are encouraged to express themselves in a polite, but assertive reminder to Minister Melnick that Canada remains a free country where all, even NDP members, are entitled to the freedoms associated with a democracy. You can write to her at [email protected]."

Well,Paul, for starters, no one is denying that any Brandon woman  could  attend and hear Galloway, but whether  it was wise for  Brandon NDP Women's Association to  spend $50.00 for the  priviledge of endorsing Galloway is another question altogether. (By the way, I wonder just how much the NDP women in Brandon would enjoy living under a Hamas regime in Gaza. Last I heard, Hamas wasn't particularly strong on women's rights, let alone on FREE SPEECH, which  you seem to hold so dear. I wonder how easy it is for those who disagree with the Hamas terror state to "express themselves in a polite but assertive" way, to use your turn of phrase.)

Nonetheless, after reading your column, I think that writing letters to  Minister  Melnick is a very good idea. In fact, I encourage readers of the Winnipeg Jewish Review to  bombard her with letters thanking  her for her responsible statement.

By the way, keep reading Paul because you may be interested  in learning about my conversation with Janice Chaboyer, President of the Brandon and District Labour Council.


Januice Chaboyer, who is a newly elected Brandon City councillor and is the President of the Brandon  and Labour District Council, expressed some surprise that  on the website of Peace Alliance, The Brandon Labour District Council was named as endorsing  Geroge Galloway.

She told the  Winnipeg Jewish Review that "I don't endorse any particular side [in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict]."

On the other hand, at one point in the conversation, she said that she "approved giving  $100.00" to the Galloway event, but then  said that maybe she wouldn't send the money in becasue "I don't know what we've been dragged into." She also said she was thinking about writing a letter to the organizers of the Galloway event.

Chaboyer said she personally favoured "a two-state solution," but had no clear idea what Galloway's position was, and that she really knew "very little about the  Palestinian -Israeli conflict", and had not considered what Galloway's position may  or may not be before committing to $100.00. She  also said in one point of the conversation, that she had given the endorsement but on the understanding that she  "believed in a peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue."

When asked whether she would say Hamas is a terrorist organization, she replied "I don't know."

When asked whether she knew that Galloway had handed thousands of dollars to Hamas in cash, she replied , "No, I wasn't aware of that."

When asked  if she was aware that last year there was a controversy over whether Galloway ought to be allowed into Canada, she said she hadn't heard of  anything about that.

She said that she guessed she "should have asked for more details."

The conversation ended with Chaboyer asking whether I would like to come to Brandon to talk to her and  her group about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and about Galloway.

It was a sincere invitation and though I personally may not make the trip,   I know an active member of the Jewish community who has offered to contact her, which I hope happens. 

 MY CONTACT IN GAZA: $25.00 U.S. Per Kassam Rocket

In light of Galloway's appearance in Winnipeg, I have been thinking of someone I met from Gaza (I will not disclose the circumstances out of concern for  this person's safety). 

"One good thing about Hamas is that under Fatah, there would be tribal wars between clans and people would start shooting, and no one would do anything…Neighbors would be woken up at night, we’d hear ambulances...and no one would do anything. Now, Hamas takes control-there is no weapons or families fighting, but if you are against Hamas, they’ll kill you."

 Omar (not his real name) called me from Gaza three days later than he said he would.

 “I couldn’t call you before because for the last three days the electricity has been cut off, and I could e-mail you either,’ he said, rather apologetically.

I know  Omar quite by accident. We spoke for  a long time about what it was like for him living under Hamas rule.
“My friend was walking own the street at 10 at night, on his way home. A Hamas[gunman] saw him and shot him for being out on the street past the curfew…He couldn’t walk for months. We hate Hamas,” he said.
“Hamas paid people who fired rockets at Israel   $25.00  U.S. per rocket.…And if you work smuggling in a tunnel in Gaza and you die, Hamas pays $50,000 dollars to your family. It is your insurance”
“During the war [Operation Cast Lead] I stayed inside. I was afraid from Israel and also from Hamas...At first the people supported Hamas, but now many people hate them,” he said.
Omar lives in fear of expressing his political opinions. “I am for Fatah, but I don’t show it. I won’t write what I think on facebook or internet. Hamas will know.”
Omar even  said he thought that  at the crossings to leave Gaza, Hamas had spies, posing as luggage carriers.  'They listen to people’s conversations and overhear who they are calling.”

I was also told about a village in  Gaza  that was not damaged in any real way by the  Israelis in Operation Cast Lead. "It was bad for the people [of that village] because Hamas and other Gazans assumed they were collaborators with the Israelis, which really wasn't the case at all."     



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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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