18th February 2016

SPSC has for many years developed a tradition of active grass roots campaigning to win support for the Palestinian call for BDS against Israel. Our approach has drawn harsh criticism from Zionists and their supporters, praise from allies and, most importantly, has delivered a string of successes that has placed this small country firmly in the ranks of those delivering effective solidarity with the injured and violated people of Palestine.

This statement is a response to queries regarding the departure of SPSC members in Edinburgh.  This episode has highlighted areas where we need to amend our processes and procedures, particularly with regard to education and communications.  Notwithstanding these changes currently underway, we believe that essentially the disagreements are to do with a difference in political and campaigning approach.  This statement reiterates SPSC policy and campaigning record on the matters in question.

SPSC is a volunteer based, BDS-focussed campaigning organisation.  SPSC is not, has never been, and has no ambitions to become, an umbrella formation for everyone who is angry at Israel’s ethnic cleansing and British Government complicity. We are a campaigning organisation committed to building effective solidarity mainly by BDS.

In line with BDS principles, SPSC will not engage in dialogue, negotiations or hold joint events with Israeli state officials and their representatives in Scotland.

SPSC stands on our BDS record.  SPSC has worked hard since 2001, even before the Palestinian civil society call for BDS in 2005, to organise boycott campaigns that have successfully challenged visits to Edinburgh by Israeli State-sponsored and promoted cultural, sporting and political ambassadors.

This has led to Israeli Embassy sponsorship money for cultural events being returned following widespread protests in 2006, 2009, and 2014 – strong protests against the Jerusalem Quartet and Batsheva dance troupe that has seen both avoid any return to Edinburgh. Protests at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe saw the two State-funded Israeli troupes ejected from the Fringe while two other Israeli troupes not connected to the Israeli State performed unimpeded.  The message that our campaigns target the Israeli state and not Israeli performers per se has got through very clearly to Israeli artists.

Boycott since Captain Boycott has been a powerful weapon, a non-violent weapon but a weapon, to pressure the opposition to abandon an action that is profitable and take steps they would rather not. Non-violent BDS action forces even very powerful states and corporations to change their behaviour, usually very unwillingly. Others who support the Palestinian people advocate lobbying and persuasion rather than boycott and that is their right. SPSC, however, and the rising world-wide BDS campaign are committed to BDS as a central strategy to contribute to Palestinian freedom.

SPSC is committed to open discussion of varying views on how to deliver effective solidarity and encourages critical evaluation of all proposals and analyses.  We encourage all SPSC members to engage with each other on an ongoing basis and to utilise the democratic structures of the organisation to amend or develop SPSC policy.

Israel has allocated 100 million shekels to combat the BDS movement and billionaires like Sheldon Adelson have added many millions of dollars. With Zionists well financed and increasingly organised, we  need careful and critical evaluation of our work. That includes unequivocal support for the Palestinian opposition to normalisation and intensified pressure on our elected representatives to move from words to active support of the Palestinian people facing genocide.

On the basis of our record and our approach to solidarity campaigning, we ask you join SPSC to take that project forward in 2016 and beyond.

Edinburgh Branch Committee
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
16 February 2016

David Cameron & Margaret Thatcher: defenders of apartheidThe UK Government plans to criminalise the adoption of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) policies by local authorities, health boards and student unions. It will act directly "against organisations that impose boycotts" and it will encourage "others to take such bodies to court”.  Tories echo the dishonest Zionist claim that BDS campaigning against Israeli apartheid leads to "anti-semitism”.

Israel no longer dismisses the international BDS campaign, viewing us as a “strategic threat”. The Government attacks mean that solidarity with the Palestinian people is now linked to our right to oppose the crimes of Government. Not even disgraced Tony Blair thought of outlawing opposition to his crimes.

Cameron is far from original: domestic opponents of Britain’s invasion of foreign lands and massacres of colonial peoples have always faced repression, although nothing like the insane levels of naked violence faced by those resisting British invaders on their own soil. Gordon Brown made moves to criminalise BDS when he was Prime Minister.

SPSC calls for defiance of the UK Government’s effort to stifle non-violent opposition to the violent crimes of Israel. We call on student unions to pass motions supporting the Palestinian call for BDS, and for citizens to organise support for councils adopting BDS positions.

Powerful and wealthy enemies cannot be defeated unless you act. The Israeli Government, unworried by decades of sombre denunciations of their crimes as long as the weapons and aid kept flowing, has allocated 100m shekels to fight the BDS threat. The Israeli Embassy in London funds lobbying efforts north of the border to deny Palestinians solidarity, while Israeli bulldozers destroy homes, and settlers and soldiers steal, terrorise, torture and murder Palestinians at will.

Palestinian people are being slaughtered by highly profitable British and Scottish weapons technology. To oppose this effectively we also have to defend our own rights to free association and free expression. These rights were hard won and we must not allow them to be taken away by a Tory Government held in widespread contempt, who lack any democratic mandate in Scotland.

Scottish PSC is an extension to the Palestinian struggle for freedom against Israel's ethnic cleansing and genocide in Palestine. Friends and foes acknowledge our determined efforts; join us to strengthen the effective and dynamic Scottish component of the global BDS campaign, to send a powerful message of solidarity to the Palestinian people and a warning to Israel that its crimes must end.

The Scottish Government has condemned "any attempt to limit local authority’s autonomy and people’s right to protest, and we have made it clear that we do not dictate to cultural institutions, organisations or individuals on what approach they should take.” The fight is on and we need to let every MP and MSP know how we feel:

Write to your MP - Defend right to protest

Write to your MSPs - Defend right to protest

Join SPSC

Donate

 

Together Against Prevent

We are a signatory to the 'Together Against Prevent' statement that says:

  • We recognise and condemn the damage that Prevent’s “spot the potential terrorist” approach has made primarily in stigmatising and criminalising entire Muslim communities, but also to a growing number of political activists and campaigners labelled with ill-defined terms like “non-violent extremist” or “domestic extremist”.
  • We view Prevent as a policy that is based on insufficient evidence to support the flawed assumption that 'extremist' ideology opposed to subjective 'British values' is the single most important cause of terrorism. We therefore support closer collaboration between different campaigning, religious and community organisations to call on the government to end its Prevent strategy.
  • We support and encourage more political debate in schools, colleges and universities and reject attempts to close down and censor dissenting voices. We welcome open discussion with all young people about potentially radical ideas and call on all educational institutions to vigorously defend the right to free academic inquiry on issues considered 'controversial'.
  • We pledge to take no Prevent funds and support non-cooperation, wherever possible, with local Prevent programmes.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission has produced a comprehensive page of Prevent Strategy Campaign resources and the following links are also helpful:

CAMPCC 'Prevent Duty Guidance' response

Palestine Solidarity Campaign ‘Prevent Duty Guidance’ response

Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) - The Prevent Duty: a guide for branches and members July 2015

View list of supporters: http://togetheragainstprevent.org/supporters/

Talk & discussion introduced by
Mick Napier
(SPSC National Committee)


Israel is often usefully co
Killmpared with the colonial-settler project in South Africa but comparison with the Scottish/British settler colonisation of the North of Ireland can be instructive. The Irish experience of Captain Charles Boycott, for example, of being isolated and ostracised in 19th Century Ireland has given pro-Palestine campaigners and many others a powerful weapon to fight oppression.

Britain's leaders during WWI saw clearly that the settler-colonising project by Zionist Jews in Palestine was in British imperial interest. Sir Ronald Storrs, the first British military governor of Jerusalem, explained that the Zionist “enterprise was one that blessed him that gave as well as him that took, by forming for England ‘a little loyal Jewish Ulster’ in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism”. The Jewish colony in Palestine would counter what Storrs termed the “present aborigines” and protect the Suez Canal and communications with India, the jewel of the world’s superpower at that time, the British Empire.

The British template forgas the arabs the colonisation of Palestine after 1918 was the settlement of Ulster centuries earlier in Britain’s oldest colony. The colonial power granted privileges to colonists who naturally incurred the hatred of the local people by their seizure of resources and racist arrogance towards the natives; as with settler-colonialism in Ulster so the same dynamic was set in motion with the settler-colonial project in Palestine. From the 1920s onwards, the British mobilised Jewish settlers in Palestine to crush mass Arab resistance just as they periodically mobilised Irish loyalists in violent opposition to Irish nationalism.

Both settlement projects:

  • successfully set up sectarian states for over half a century- "a Protestant State for a Protestant people"/a "Jewish State"
  • violently dispossessed the native people of the best land
  • saw the Old Testament as authority for a Chosen People to violate the rights of the native people
  • relied on the incoming settlers being protected and privileged by Britain
  • experienced settler revolts against the imperial protectors
  • forced mass emigration on the native people
  • set up state-enforced systems of discrimination and privilege alongside democratic forms, e.g. universal suffrage
  • used state-armed militias to maintain sectarian privileges
    Ultimately, the settler-colonial project in the North of Ireland failed, while
    the Zionist colonisation of Palestine is still proceeding.

    The talks will compare
    these two settlement projects, the better to learn how to deliver solidarity to the Palestinian people.
    Edinburgh:  Thurs
    day 14th January  7.00pm   Tollcross Community Centre
    Glasgow:     Monday 1
    8th January    7.30pm   Quaker Meeting House

SPSC Statement, 18 November 2015

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign is appalled at the depth of inhumanity(1) of the ISIS killers who callously slaughtered 128 and critically injured 100 innocents in Paris. Citizens enjoying a Friday evening's entertainment are now needless victims to barbarised killers driven by their own agenda and thirst for power.

We distinguish, however, genuine humanitarianism from the current falsified and dangerous, highly selective compassion that refuses to oppose all terrorism, all murder and violation of all innocents. We should allow no exceptions. There can be no real progress until we grieve not only for the dead in Paris but the dead in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Palestine and Syria. One example from countless others was the 1,200 individuals "callously" killed in Gaza last summer by the Israeli military (2) armed and financed by the governments of the US, Britain and France(3).

Those driving war after war in the Middle East are endangering all of us due to policies pursued in the past by our governments. The result is that the brutal, unending war Bush and Blair unleashed on the peoples of the Middle East has come yet again to the streets of Paris(4). It is not unreasonable to visualise links between foreign invasion and domestic terrorism and that Britain may face similar acts of extremist violence here unless we stop bombing and occupying other countries(5), stimulating reactionary attacks instead of finding humanitarian solutions.

It is inevitable that the UK government will use the events of Paris and the resulting climate of fear to further erode our rights and increase surveillance. Intensifying surveillance and monitoring will not, however, protect ordinary citizens from suicide bombers(6). It will also be used to reinforce Cameron’s plan to criminalise peaceful BDS campaigning against Israel’s violation of the Palestinian people, a plan explicitly aimed at strengthening ties between the UK Government, the arms industry and the Apartheid regime controlling Israel/Palestine(7). The French judiciary have taken France even further along that anti-democratic road of criminalising peaceful protests.

Peace will be impossible on the Northern shores of the Mediterranean – and beyond - as long as British and French forces bomb the Southern and Eastern shores – and beyond. We also cannot forget that NATO members support Israel in its ethnic cleansing and periodic massacres of Palestinians, and the state terrorism of the Saudi and Egyptian regimes, and the exploitation of oil from the region.

We have a choice; we can join with the governments that have brought us to this perilous situation(8), or we can fight for our own safety and our children’s future by supporting justice for all the victims of the aggression of our own governments, including the Palestinian people. To fight we need to understand and acknowledge the way in which these extremist groups were created, who armed and financed them, and acknowledge that murderous actions by our states and governments generated barbaric reactions and recognise the resulting problems for civilians all over the world.

It is a tribute to the humanity of the Palestinian people that they can distinguish between the crimes of Western governments and us, the people of these countries, and have appealed to us for solidarity(9) by supporting the growing international BDS campaign for BDS. SPSC will redouble efforts to build on the international BDS campaign and to send a message for justice to those under the bombs created by Israel, Britain, America & France.

Join us to make that message stronger.

 

NOTES:

1. The  Scottish Government Minister Humza Yousaf used similar language in condemning the Israeli “depth of inhumanity that we have witnessed over civilian deaths in Gaza”.  

2. Amnesty International, 5 November 2014. Israeli forces displayed ‘callous indifference’ in deadly attacks on family homes in Gaza

3. http://www.waronwant.org/stop-arming-israel

4. The head of MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, emphasised the link between foreign invasion and domestic terrorism.

5. The Intercept, 6 November 20914. Some of the countries bombed by the US since 1980

6. Washington Post, 12 January 2014. NSA phone record collection does little to prevent terrorist attacks, group says

7. The Herald, 3 October 2915. Councils to be banned from boycotting Israel and UK defence industry

8. Ignoring Einstein’s observation that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

9. Available on the home page of www.bdsmovement.net