UK

Israeli Tourists Visit Bradford To Troll George Galloway

11/08/2014 11:15 BST | Updated 11/08/2014 18:59 BST

A dozen "Israeli tourists" made a pilgrimage to Bradford this weekend, after local MP George Galloway said they were not welcome in the city.

Yorkshire Police have since said they will investigate comments made by the Respect MP, who was caught on video standing in front of a Palestinian flag, declaring Bradford an "Israel-free zone".

Former Ukip candidate Shneur Odze, who lives in Manchester but has an Israeli passport, took a small contingent of Israelis to spend the weekend in the city.

"We didn't do much sight-seeing," he told HuffPost UK. "We had a picnic in front of the town hall but we went mainly to make the gentle point that you can't make a city and Israel-free zone. We didn't want it to be too provocative, people suggested we plant an Israeli flag at his office but we wouldn't do that."

Odze told HuffPost that he had a warm reception from many people, even pro-Palestinians. "Actually that was more touching than people who came up to use who were obviously pro-Israel. People came over and said that, they disagree with me on Gaza, they hate the photos coming out of the war, but they didn't think Israelis should be banned from Bradford, that they were ashamed of what he had said.

"I was surprised how many had actually heard of his speech and knew what he said and were embarrassed. I don't think he has as much supports as he thinks. Later in the day, some pro-Palestinian demonstrators came from another demo happening at the same time. We spoke about the conflict, and even though one side is never going to convince the other, it was a respectful discussion and we shared our biscuits."

Michael Dickson, the director of the pro-Israel activist group Stand With Us also tweeted a picture of an Israeli friend in the city on Sunday.

The Israelis held up their passports at sites around the city:

The tourists who visited on Sunday appeared to spend relatively little time at any of Bradford's key tourist attractions, though Odze said he would like to visit again and was fond of the city.

Here's what they could have seen:

Bradford tourist attractions

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Last week, Galloway told party members in Leeds: “We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone. We don’t want any Israeli goods. We don’t want any Israeli services. We don’t want any Israeli academics, coming to the university or the college.

"We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford, if any of them had thought of doing so. We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel. And you have to do the same.”

Galloway has been criticised previously for directing his anger at the actions of the Israeli government toward ordinary citizens of the country. Speaking at an event last year at Oxford University in favour of the motion "Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank", and less than three minutes into his opponent Eylon Aslan-Levy's speech, Galloway interrupted, asking "You said we. Are you an Israeli?"

Third year student Aslan-Levy answered "I am, yes." Galloway promptly stood up and replied: "I don't debate with Israelis, I've been misled, sorry." As the Bradford West representative left the room, a member of the audience shouted "racism", to which the MP replied: "I don't recognise Israel and I don't debate with Israelis." Another student added: "But he [Aslan-Levy]'s a person, he's a human being!"