Thursday, December 02, 2010

George Galloway in Edmonton

After a ban on him entering Canada in 2009, British Parliamentarian George Galloway recently finished a cross-country tour. He was in Edmonton on November 25 to deliver a talk entitled "Free Palestine, Free Afghanistan, Free Speech." The lecture theatre was packed with over 600 people eager to hear his message of peace as well as an elaboration of what went down last year when he was accused of being a terrorist because he provided aid for the Palestinian people directly to Hamas, the elected government in power in Palestine.

Galloway made it very clear that anti-Semitism is evil and that the Holocaust is one of the worst atrocities in history. He also emphasized that he does not support Hamas, but believes that when you are working for peace and providing aid, you have to work directly with the government in power. He is currently suing the Canadian government for defamation.

Rather than me go on about what Galloway said, you can view the videos from the event:

Introduction (Professor Yasmeen Abu-Laban)

Music (Paula Kirman & Maria Dunn)

George Galloway: Speech

George Galloway: Q&A

As well, here are some photos.

I am a member of the Edmonton Coalition Against War & Racism (ECAWAR), one of the local organizers of the event, as well as Independent Jewish Voices, one of the national organizers. In what has been the biggest audience of my musical career thus far, I was honoured to be asked to sing a song (along with the incredible Maria Dunn) to get the evening started.

In addition, this event had a personal connection for me for other reasons. An online friend of mine in England used to write to Mr. Galloway and rave about me, even sending him some of my music. He mentioned me on his radio show twice because of her - once in response to him asking the audience to send in names of famous Canadians, and the other time as part of a list of my friend's top five women. She also put together a mashup of one of my songs with one of his speeches.

As a result, when I approached Mr. Galloway after his talk, he already knew who I was - amazing, because the events described above happened around three years ago or so. And, he must meet a lot of people. So I felt very complimented.

Finally, when Mr. Galloway was banned from Canada last year, I felt so moved, that I recorded this video blog about the situation - and took a load of abuse, which led me to film a follow-up. I am so privileged to have had the opportunity not only to hear him speak, but to take part in the event.

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