By Rabbi Ariel Abel
The stranger in your midst occupies a special category in the Torah.
The Torah places all citizens under obligation to “love the stranger” among us, as if that person was ourselves. The Torah insists that Jews must protect the rights of the foreigner in every way.
This includes the rights of a foreign resident to trade with us. A foreigner is asked to agree to abide by public law and order, but there is no requirement for the foreign resident to account for the politics of his or her country of origin. In ancient times, traders made their way through the homelands of ancient Israel.
There are records of many different nationalities recorded in the Bible as having been resident of ancient Israel, such as Lebanese, Egyptian and Ethiopian, living in a sovereign Jewish state.
The Torah specifically requires Jews to adopt a strictly unbiased position, because we were Hebrews and were strangers in Egypt three millennia ago.
George Galloway has always taken a vociferously aggressive stance against Israel.
Last month, the MP committed the gravest error anyone in politics could make – to equate a nationality with a government. Ironically, to declare Bradford a city unwelcoming to Israelis was to exclude one-and-a-half-million Israeli Arabs.
Moreover, collective punishment against all Israelis, simply for the perceived sin of holding nationality of a country, is immoral.
Consider the case of Serbia, whose armed forces were seen by the world to carry out the organised genocide during the 1990s of Muslim citizens living in Bosnia – a crime of which Israel’s army is not remotely guilty.
Even there, this did not at any point generate a ban on Serbs to any other state, and rightly so. George Galloway MP would do well to learn from the example Israel has set in welcoming refugees from Sudan and other countries suffering discrimination and oppression.
Israel abides by the principle “Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you”.
Neither George Galloway nor his colleagues should be doing anything other than throwing their cities open in welcome to all nationalities and creeds, so that Bradford can be a beacon of hope to the world – not despair.
• Rabbi Ariel Abel is consultant to NW For Life Projects, a multi-faith ethics programme