Gordon Brown MP is Patron of an openly racist organisation, worked to criminalise free speech for supporters of Palestine
As Scottish civil society declares increasingly in favour of Palestinian rights, Gordon Brown remains a Patron of the racist JNF (Jewish National Fund) and a signatory of a Declaration to criminalise free speech on Israel and Palestine. The London Declaration on Combatting Anti-semitism was the work of now-disgraced ex-MP Denis MacShane who resigned from Parliament over issues of personal corruption and mis-use of public funds.
Edinburgh 21 May 2013
A Patron of the JNF
In a recent letter (15.05.13), the UK Charity Commission committed to investigate the discrimination openly practised by the JNF (although it is still refusing to remove JNF charities from the register of charities). Gordon Brown and Tony Blair remain Patrons of this racist organization, even after David Cameron, sensing the indefensible and toxic nature of the JNF's activities, has resigned from that position and Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have declined the invitation to become JNF Patrons. 70 MPs have called for an investigation into the activities of the JNF and the Stop the JNF Campaign has been endorsed by the Scottish TUC, and the Iona Community among others.
The Church of Scotland is due to debate on Thursday a recommendation from its Church and Society Council to oppose Israeli occupation, dispossession and "apartheid", and to support the right in law of Palestinian refugees to return to areas from which they were driven.
Gordon Brown, on the other hand, talks of the Zionist ethnic cleansing that started in 1948 and goes on till the present in Israel as an "extraordinary struggle...of people to create this magnificent homeland." Like Tony Blair, Brown claims his Christian principles lead him to support the activities of the State of Israel that dispossess Palestinian Christians[R1] and Muslims to expand a "Jewish State".
Shortly after becoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown became an Honorary Patron of the JNF UK, the UK wing of an Israeli para-statal body, i.e. an organisation that acts on behalf of the Israeli Government to keep land in inalienable Jewish ownership within Israel, for the exclusive benefit of Jews. The JNF openly discriminates against the one million Arab citizens of Israel, effectively excluding Muslim and Christian inhabitants from living in all but 7% of the land surface of Israel. The JNF plants forests to obliterate all signs of Palestinian villages that have ethnically cleansed and razed in 1948 and after. Its sham "ecological" credentials have led to the Scottish and UK Green Parties and Friends of the Earth adding their endorsements to the Stop the JNF call.
The JNF is involved in land projects and settlements [R2] in the West Bank territories illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, making Gordon Brown further complicit in war crimes.
Imagine if Christians or Muslims could not buy or rent houses in most of Kirkcaldy or most other Scottish cities, towns and villages! That is the actual situation in Israel today where the JNF enforces a policy of land for exclusively Jewish settlement and prevents Muslims, Christians or other non-Jews from leasing or renting. Will he resign as a Patron of the JNF? Will he issue a statement condemning any of the above?
Opposition to free speech
The London Declaration on Combatting Anti-Semitism was issued on 19 February 2009 and urged that "calls for boycotts" of Israel be made "illegal". This would make the 600,000 strong STUC guilty, the UK and Scottish Green Parties, and the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council.
The Declaration called for UK media to oppose anyone who concluded "that the...State of Israel is a racist endeavor" or any "comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis". The first effort comes up against the hard fact that belief that Israel is a racist project is widespread and for many it is an inevitable conclusion from a starting point of democratic values.
As for "comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis", Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer spoke at meetings across Scotland flagging up the similarities between the de-humanisation he and other Jews suffered in Nazi Germany in the years prior to World War II and the intense racism and structural apartheid many commentators observe in Israel today.
The London Declaration in fact extended state protection to Zionist political ideas and strove to criminalise democratic critiques of Zionism, for example, the proposition that Israel should become a state of all its citizens, rather than one which privileges Jews around the world over native Palestinians.
The Declaration called for pro-Zionist political positions to be "a basis for training material for use by Criminal Justice Agencies". On 25th February, less than a week after this sinister Declaration was adopted, Gordon Brown signed on behalf of the British Government and called for other heads of government to follow his lead. On March 2nd, five days after Brown signed and made this exhortation, the Edinburgh PF lodged charges of "racially aggravated conduct" against five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign who had protested against Israeli Army-sponsored musicians more than six months earlier in Edinburgh's Queens Hall.
The truly sinister, although also absurd, implications of this Declaration and the Edinburgh PF's charges of "racially aggravated conduct" against life-long opponents of racism became apparent when the claim was made in April 2010 in open court in Edinburgh that the mere uttering of the words, "End the siege of Gaza" or "Genocide in Gaza" should be "racist", i.e. a criminal offence. The clear implications of the PF's efforts to convict on this basis would have been to make all Palestine solidarity illegal. Luckily, Sheriff Scott gave short shrift to this attack on free speech, dismissing all charges as ridiculous. He also understood the abyss separating support for human rights and racism, something the PF had worked hard to conflate. "The procurator fiscal's attempts to squeeze malice and ill will out of the agreed facts were rather strained", he said.
On March 25th of this year an Employment Tribunal reasserted this distinction, robustly dismissing a claim by the Director of Academic Friends of Israel that a union member had been a victim of anti-semitism following the adoption by the 120,000 University and College Union of policies in support of Palestinian human rights. The ruling by Judge A. M. Snelson, Mr. A. M. Grand and Lady Sedley noted that underlying the claim of anti-semitism lay "a worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression, principles which the courts and tribunals are, and must be, vigilant to protect". And so must we. Gordon Brown should be held to account by his constituents, for absolutely no-one else can do this. The sinister document he signed and urged other heads of government to sign was a crass attempt to criminalise all effective solidarity with the Palestinian people.
- Does Gordon Brown MP still think that calls for boycott should be criminalised?
- Does he think the Church of Scotland will be anti-semitic [R3] if it adopts a boycott position?
- Does he think Israel should be a state of all its citizens, or a state for Jewish non-citizens in Kirkcaldy and around the world?
- Does he think citizens of the UK should be free to live anywhere, regardless of ethnicity or religion?
- Does he still stand by the entirety of the London declaration on Combatting Antisemitism he signed.
Gordon Brown's speech to the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) on 21 July 2008
This effusive and repulsive speech is worth listening to in full. You will hear no reference to Israeli crimes against the Palestinians. In the speech, he addresses "the people of Israel" (who does he mean by this phrase?) as "men and women of idealism and bravery" on "the stories my father would tell" about "the achievement of 1948". He assures his audience that "history sides with those who fight for liberty". "To honour our truest ideals" he finds inspiration from Winston Churchill, Menachem Begin who organised the atrocious massacre of civilians in Deir Yassin, and Tommy Lapid, Deputy PM to the butcher Ariel Sharon.
He praises Israel's 'world famous hospitals' with no mention of Israeli bombing of hospitals in Gaza.
Scottish Government helped Israeli company deal with boycott "threatening future of Eden Springs UK"
Documents obtained by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign show how a subsidiary of an Israeli company operating in Britain turned successfully for help from the Scottish Government to deal with what the Israeli company called “a wave of protests...that is threatening the future of Eden Springs UK”. The contract cancellations had created a “pressing situation” for the subsidiary of the giant Israeli multinational water cooler company.
The letter we have obtained, under Freedom of Information legislation, is from the Eden Springs’ Business Development Director to the Director of Scottish enterprise, and reveals a fear of the growing boycott of Eden Springs. The writer seeks a meeting with an official of Government-funded Scottish Enterprise to obtain “advice or assistance to stem undue harm” to the Israeli company, namely how to avoid further “termination of Eden Springs’ public sector contracts as a result of this boycott”.
The timing is revealing; the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign had launched a campaign in 2007 to inform the public of Eden Springs’ criminality and had secured a steady rate of contract cancellations. Partly as a result, Eden Springs closed their depot in Loanhead in November 2008.
Israeli massacres in Gaza during New Year 2009 then led to student occupations and sit-ins across the UK; during these protests, all the Scottish student groups raised demands during their occupations for their university to end contracts with Eden Springs. Thousands of angry protestors heard the SPSC message to channel their anger into boycott of Eden Springs.
Less than six months later, while the traumatised survivors of Operation Cast Lead were still struggling to survive amidst the rubble of their Gaza homes, MSP Alex Neill of the ruling Scottish National Party offered his support to the Israeli company to cope with the damage caused by the growing boycott. A meeting was quickly arranged between Eden Springs’ management and two un-named representatives of the Scottish Government, who were “happy...to help” Eden Springs by “providing support”. On January 5th 2010, a meeting took place between Eden Springs’ UK Managing Director Jean-Marc Bolinger and Scottish Minister John Swinney.
The Swinney meeting with Bolinger took place just two months before Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond called publicly for Israel to be economically sanctioned to pressure it to end its crimes. During international uproar concerning Israeli misuse of British passports to carry out the murder of a Palestinian official in a Dubai hotel room, the First Minister told a TV audience: "This has implications for example in trading relationships—you can't have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in".
Despite the First Minister’s speech, the Scottish Government the following year gave £200,000 of Scottish taxpayers’ money to Eden Springs, some of which will end up as profits in Israel, taxed there and freeing up state funds for military aggression and further dispossession of the Palestinian people.
The Scottish Government is financially supporting the business plans of the Scottish subsidiary of an Israeli settler company, Eden Springs, which includes public proposals to promote the products of another Israeli settler company, Soda Stream, which is headquartered in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Adumin in the occupied West Bank.
Despite the Scottish Government’s actions, the boycott campaign against Eden Springs is continuing to grow with, for example, the Scottish TUC and the UK National Union of Students adding their endorsement.
This struggle is a marathon rather than a 100 yards sprint. On the one side, Eden Springs is an Israeli multi-national operating across most of Europe, backed by the Scottish Government. On the other is a modest campaign, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, entirely made up of volunteers, working in their spare time to support the Palestinian freedom struggle and the Palestinian call for boycott of Israeli companies.
The alarm in Eden Springs' own correspondence at the growing boycott campaign will give added confidence to solidarity campaigners to redouble our efforts to bring this company to book for its crimes.
The correspondence also gives the lie to those Zionist voices raised to deny the effectiveness of the SPSC’s boycott campaign against Eden Springs. The company’s worries were kept from public view while the Israeli Ambassador claimed that "The calls to boycott the Eden Water factory in Scotland have not at this stage actually harmed sales, and we are working so that sales will indeed not be hurt." The Jerusalem Post repeatedly accused SPSC of “fabricating” the entire story. This line was maintained despite mounting evidence and despite Eden Springs hiring PR company Weber Shandwick in a damage limitation exercise.
Eden Springs tries to conceal its status as a subsidiary of an Israeli multinational for the understandable reason that Israel is a toxic brand for most people worldwide, including most Scots. One Israeli-owned company, the Caledonian Hilton Hotel in Edinburgh threatened to sue SPSC on the explicit grounds that SPSC publicity stated that they are an Israeli company; "the type of allegations as circulated in your leaflets [is] incredibly damaging to the hotel and its business."
The BDS campaign needs to prepare for the next round. This will demand maximum cooperation across the UK through the Boycott Israel Network (BIN) to ratchet up the pressure on an Israeli company we now know to be vulnerable. Internationally, the World Social Forum-Free Palestine in Brazil in October offers an opportunity to develop the case for selecting Eden Springs as a priority target of the BDS campaign Europe-wide.
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
7 April 2012
The Eden Springs letter claims falsely that:
- “some inaccuracies have been circulated...regarding the ownership of Eden Springs”
FACT: Eden Springs is 72% owned by the Israeli holding company Eden Springs Ltd (Mayanot Eden) and 28% by Och-Ziff Capital Management Group. Och-Ziff was founded by Daniel Och, billionaire contributor and Treasurer of Birthright Israel. Arial Sharon once said that Birthright Israel was "one of the most important contributions" to the state of Israel.
- “SPSC claims that Eden Springs UK sources water from the Golan Heights.”
FACT: this is untrue. See SPSC factsheet.
The Jerusalem Post denied that Eden Springs had closed any depots in Scotland
FACT: the Eden Springs depot at 4 Dryden Place, Loanhead EH20 9HP closed in November 2008
Highland Regional Council condemns Israeli illegal occupation and siege as JC warns of "sanctions tsunami" threatening Israel
- Category: Campaigning
Highland Regional Councillors voted today in full Council to condemn “the Government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of Palestine’s East Jerusalem and the West Bank and for its continuing illegal blockade of Gaza”. The Councillors, departing from UK Government policy, also welcomed “the decision of the United Nations on 29 November 2012 to grant ‘non-member observer State’ to Palestine.” This decision of the Council provides a basis for current work across the region to extend the BDS campaign.
19 December 2013
Scottish Zionist leaders reacted to the impending vote in their usual irresponsible and reckless manner, defending Israeli crime by manipulating the fears of Scottish Jews. Three days before the vote, Scottish Council of Jewish Communities spokesperson Linda Martin warned darkly in the local press of possible physical attacks on Jews if Israel was criticised.
Ms Martin claimed somewhat disingenuously that “The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has no collective view on Israeli policies.” Their claimed neutrality towards Israel’s crimes is manifestly untrue, however, since SCoJeC’s leaders never criticise any Israeli massacre and miss no opportunity to smear criticism of Israel with wholly fabricated claims of anti-semitism. These antics have laid SCoJeC’s leaders open to severe criticism from within the Scottish Jewish community.
Ms Martin (left) is not only dishonest; she is extremely reckless. She claims on behalf of SCoJeC who claim to speak for all Scottish Jews that she is “concerned at recent research findings that reveal verbal and sometimes physical attacks on Jewish people in Scotland because of their perceived identification with Israel”. Such efforts to implicate the Scottish Jewish community in the crimes of the state of Israel have been vigorously repudiated by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. She also claims that “disproportionate criticism levied at Israel by some politicians makes people feel alienated and vulnerable.” There is, however, no reputable research in the public domain that Scottish Jews are “physically...attacked because of their perceived identification with Israel”. If this were proven to be true, rather than manufactured by committed Zionists, Scottish PSC would vigorously condemn such violence. Perhaps Ms Martin can share her evidence with the public, bearing in mind that Zionists have a long record of exaggerating and welcoming real anti-semitism to support their efforts to persuade Jews to emigrate to Israel/Palestine. Political Zionists, open supporters of Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing, also whinge loudly and claim 'anti-semitism' to deflect the severe criticism their racist and violent ideology merits.
Highland Regional Council covers over a third of the Scottish mainland and is the seventh out of thirty two Scottish councils in population size.
While the Council stopped short of supporting BDS on this occasion, the Council vote took place without any preparatory work beforehand and thus casts a very bright light on the current state of British opinion at local government level. Zionists are acutely aware of the pariah status of Israel in popular opinion across the world and throughout the UK. How much longer will Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and the Charities Commission be able to protect the apartheid state from popular opinion as Israel crosses red line after line of sustained criminality? Only today the Zionist editors of the UK Jewish Chronicle warn of Israel's fears of a "sanctions tsunami" which Israeli Government advisors have warned "possesses strategic significance, and may develop into a comprehensive existential threat within a few years".
The lessons, therefore, are clear for those who support Palestinian freedom from Israel's mass and casual killings and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people - organise across Scotland, the UK and internationally to build the BDS campaign that is the ONLY thing that scares the killers and ethnic cleansers.
19 December 2013
- Category: Campaigning
FIRST LIST OF REASONS :
SPSC launched in Scotland the Palestinian call for boycott of Israel and has worked with some success to promote it. SPSC built support for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel into a mainstream position in Scottish politics. We co-founded the broad-based Boycott Israel Network (BIN).
As a result pf this work,
- an Israeli diplomat complained: "Every appearance by an official Israeli representative in Scotland is like a visit to enemy territory."
- According to the (admittedly idiots at) the Israel Information office in Scotland, SPSC "seems well-funded...its activist leaders are knowledgeable, expert in exploiting any situation for sniping at Israel..."
We are not 'well-funded'!
SPSC consistently opposed the effort to conflate opposition to Israel with anti-Semitism. Successes here include:
- Scottish court ruled that opposition to Israel is not to be confused with anti-Semitism. This victory ended effort by Edinburgh PF to criminalise all Palestine solidarity.
- 6,000 books published by Zionist leaders of SCoJeC alleging SPSC was anti-Semitic had to be pulped following legal action.
Cultural boycott: SPSC
- organised vigorous protests against Israeli State-financed Batsheva dance troupe at the 2012 Edinburgh EIF and worked with partners to extend those protests UK-wide into every Batsheva performance, and even to Italy..
- successfully campaigned to get the Edinburgh International Film Festival to return sponsorship money from the Israeli Embassy in 2006 and again in 2009,
- protested performances inside and outside by 'Distinguished IDF (Israeli Army) Musicians' at the 2008 EIF. Similar protests of the Jerusalem Quartet followed elsewhere.
Economic boycott: SPSC
- initiated and maintained the boycott campaign against an Israeli settler company, Eden Springs, who complained to the Scottish Government they were "being targeted by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign [and] a wave of recent protests...is threatening the future of Eden Springs UK."
- highlighted Veolia's role in providing services to illegal Israeli settlements, leading to Leith Community Festival rejecting their sponsorship in 2010. SPSC obtained a strong legal opinion to neutralse the claim by Edinburgh City Council legal officials that Thatcher-era legislation made boycott activities illegal.. Veolia were silently dropped by Edinburgh City Council.
Countering pro-Zionist economic boycott in UK: SPSC campaigned against banks working to damage Palestine solidarity efforts.
- We campaigned successfully with Friends of Al Aqsa, a Muslim pro-Palestine campaign, to force a retreat by Royal Bank of Scotland from its threat to withdraw banking facilities from the organisation, and
- We flagged up and, with others across the UK, stopped Lloyds TSB's threatened withdrawal of banking facilities from the charity Interpal, who send humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Sporting boycott: SPSC
- joined others in forcing the Israeli cricket team to withdraw from their Glasgow games in 2006
- protestedIsrael's Under-21s football team in Hamilton when over 500 protesters 'upset' the off-duty soldiers managing, coaching playing for Israel
- vigorously protested the Israel v Scotland Women's game at Tynecastle
Racist JNF (Jewish National Fund): SPSC
helped build large protests at every gala fundraising event of the JNF (Jewish National Fund) at the Glasgow Hilton. These events stopped after 2008. SPSC co-founded both the UK and International Stop the JNF Campaigns.
Legal fights: SPSC
faced legal attacks , successfully defying threats to sue from the Israeli-owned Caledonian Hilton, the racist JNF. The 'SPSC 5' saw off the effort by the Edinburgh Procurator Fiscal to effectively criminalise all Palestine solidarity as 'racist'.
In other campaigns SPSC
- initiated and led the successful campaign to elect Israeli political prisoner Mordechai Vanunu as Rector of Glasgow University in 2004.
- secured the support of a majority of MSPs for a motion "expressing Scotland's disgust at their [Palestinians'] treatment at the hands of the Israeli Government".
supported protests against visits by Israeli diplomats to Edinburgh and St Andrews Universities
The situation in Palestine continues to worsen, with continuing dispossession, mass imprisonment, house demolitions, illegal settlement building, burnings and killings by the Israeli State
British Government complicity with Israel is total and the Scottish Government has financed an Israeli settler company, Eden Springs, with £200,000 of taxpayers' money.
SECOND LIST OF REASONS: (the bad news) SPSC remains too small to achieve our goals. We need your active support
- some of your energy, however much or little you can give, on a regular and sustainable basis.
- some of your intelligence to solve together some of the many problems and difficulties we face.
- your skills – don't doubt that you have some and that we can benefit from them.
- a little of your money – we have no paid employees, we never have enough money to achieve all our aims.
I want to join Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
- Category: Campaigning
Edinburgh Thursday 22nd November 5.30pm
Vigil at the Mound, Princes Street – bring candles, placards, banners
- Lobby at the Scottish Parliament, Thursday at 1pm
- Rising to the challenge in 2011 - a year of campaigning
- Israeli death squad personnel join Scottish ‘war on terror’
- An Activists' Guide to Exploiting the Media by George Monbiot
- Scottish Trade unions stand in solidarity with all Palestinian political prisoners and supports campaign to boycott G4S
- Trade unions
Scottish PSC have campaigned on university campuses for a numbers of years and have active members in several university student groups.
In the last few years Scotland, like the rest of the UK has seen a new wave of student activism in response to the Westminster coalition austerity measures and autonomous student groups have proven the model for healthy student activism in general and Palestine activism in particular. Scottish PSC has welcomed these developments and works closey with the student groups in Scotland and salutes their mobilations of students and youth in support of Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike under the umbrella name We Are All Hana Shalabi.
Currently there are functioning student groups at:
Glasgow Caledonian University
Students at universities such as Aberdeen, Robert Gordon and Strathclyde are also active and looking for others to join them.
To learn more about We Are All Hana Shalabi click on the image below.
- Coming events
- Press releases
Scottish PSC branches
- Scottish PSC priority campaigns
- Jerusalem Quartet
- Edinburgh - EIFF
- Complicit companies
- Eden Springs
- Agricultural produce
- Co-op UK
- Arms companies
- Challenges to Blockade
- What is BDS?
- Is it effective?
- In Scotland
- Scottish Councils