by Mick Napier
Chair, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
15 July 2012
Being Jewish in Scotland, a survey of Scottish Jewish opinion funded by a Scottish Government grant of over £21,000, found that there was virtually no anti-Semitism in Scotland amidst a rise in anti-Zionist political activity across the country. The results of this survey give the lie to those Zionists who have claimed that vigorous criticism of the State of Israel can, even inadvertently, lead to an increase in anti-Semitism. Determined opposition to the crimes of the State of Israel, or to the colonial project of Zionism in its entirety, is a political position based firmly on the promotion of universal human rights, including opposition to racism in all its forms.
The Jewish Telegraph, a politically-committed Zionist weekly, reports that "Jews still feel safe and welcome in Scotland, according to findings of a major new report." According to Being Jewish in Scotland, "many people told us that there was very little or no antisemitism in Scotland".
Virtually all "respondents and focus group participants felt very positive about living in Scotland". One respondent noted in particular the healthy attitude of Scotland's mosques in helping a young man who had swallowed the notion that the crimes of the Israeli state were endorsed by Scottish Jews. "It says something good about Scotland, about the local mosque's view of the situation in the Middle East, that his views were transformed because of going to the mosque." Debby Taylor from Dundee reported that "It's been great... Scotland's a darn good place to be a Jew".*
The respondent who noted that, "There is growing intolerance regarding Israel in Scotland" confirms Scotland to be in line with broader UK and international trends over many years towards an entrenched popular view of Israel as a pariah state. The findings are welcome and I can only imagine they sit ill with those who carried out the survey, SCoJeC – the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, whose leaders have a history of whipping up often imaginary anti-Semitism, possibly to encourage emigration from Scotland to Israel/Palestine.
SCoJeC have in the past claimed that the decline in the number of Jews in Scotland was due to rising levels of anti-Semitism and the equally alarmist and equally Zionist Mark Gardner of the CST (Community Security Trust) claimed that "Statistically things are worse" in that some people "feel far worse than they felt previously" as a result of "aggressive and extreme" pro-Palestinian activity. "Clearly something worrying is happening in Scotland," agreed Martin Bright, political editor of the Jewish Chronicle.
A 2006 SCoJeC submission to a Parliamentary Committee had claimed "that Scottish society is becoming more antisemitic, and significantly raising the level of fear." After going a step too far, however, the entire run of 6,000 copies of one SCoJeC publication (susidised by the Scottish taxpayer) had to be pulped as libellous for its claim that "Jewish students have reported that they feel persecuted and insecure on campuses and that the situation has worsened in the last year. This results from publicity campaigns that demonise Jews by organisations such as the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign."
In addition to clear fabrications, one piece of real evidence was produced; SCoJeC brandished their "proof" of rising antisemitism in Scotland, "A recent example is a poster depicting Orthodox Jews comparing nuclear missiles to 'Kosher Sausages'. The offending
cartoon (see below) is clearly aimed at the cover-up of Israel's nuclear weapons. SCoJeC's cliam that this is one of the 'worst' examples of anti-Semitic materials in Scotland can be seen to inadvertently endorse the conclusion of Being Jewish in Scotland that we live in a country virtually free of anti-Semitism.
The Scottish First Minister felt compelled to dismiss such ridiculous scaremongering, saying he did not believe the Jewish community was under siege nor "that it feels itself to be under siege" as SCoJeC claimed.
The report notes some incidents of genuine anti-Semitism, though from the material published so far these seem to be the preserve of swastika scribblers working in the dark, i.e. the domain of cranks and those remnants of the extreme right who have not aligned openly with Israel.
Regrettably, SCoJeC can't resist recycling some invented calumnies that serve to promote their sinister agenda of conflating support for Palestinian human and national rights with hostility to Jews in Scotland. Such inventions are a staple of Scottish Zionist politicos: SCoJeC's leaders have been caught fabricating anti-Semitic activity, as has Zionist MSP Ken McIntosh and others.
An anonymous respondent in the survey claims that "when I lived in Edinburgh, I was harassed several times by pro-Palestinians in Edinburgh city centre...Now, I do not feel safe to publicly wear a kippah." I am very confident in asserting that this respondent is being untruthful, on the grounds that virtually all "pro-Palestinian" street activity in Edinburgh is carried out by SPSC members who would not tolerate such behaviour. If, however, he wore a kippah, a nun's outfit or a top hat to defend Ariel Sharon and the dropping of white phosphorous on Gaza civilians, then that would colour the situation somewhat.
Another respondent, claims: "I sometimes feel afraid of stating openly my background and beliefs. In the streets, I would be extra cautious to do so. I am more afraid at the university campus." Given that some Zionists complain that they feel threatened on campus by a rise in anti-Zionist political activity, or even claim that the wearing of a Keffiyeh is in itself "threatening", we need to take such "fears" with a pinch of salt. It may be no more than the usual Zionist slight of hand.
A modest degree of political awareness and commitment enables us to distinguish between the criminality of the State of Israel (or the militarism of the British State) and hostility to the citizens of that state. Some of the mass of people, however, who are increasingly enraged by Israeli ethnic cleansing and mass killings, including the killings of children, project their anger at Israeli State criminality onto Israeli citizens. George Bush, of course, labelled any opposition to US militarism as "anti-American". Thus, the report by one Israeli tourist: "In a recent stay in the Scottish Highlands when I was asked where my accent was from, when I answered, I saw the look of disgust on the man's face – a man who a second before that had chatted to me kindly about various subjects. ... Now, I sometimes say I'm Turkish or Italian rather than Israeli."
There was a time when a South African accent was something ugly, where the response to the individual was marred by association with the brutal apartheid system in force in South Africa. Some of us, of course, knew of white activists against the apartheid system and saw beyond the accent. An Israeli accent today is in much the same category South African speech used to occupy, whereas a South African today is in no way tainted in public perception by association with an evil system of racial segregation.
There will come a time when Israeli tourists the world over will no longer meet with the disgust of the man whose Highland hospitality was strained by anger at Israeli crimes.
In the meantime let us agree that the results of the Being Jewish in Scotland survey align Scottish Jewish opinion with that of the wider public as articulated by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond: the Scottish Jewish Community should not "be judged or affected by the policies of Israel. The Jewish community is not liable for those policies. It is possible to be critical of Israel without being anti-Semitic."
Best-selling Scottish author Iain Banks spoke for many when he told his "agent to turn down any further book translation deals with Israeli publishers" and urged all in the creative arts to do "everything they can to convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation, preferably by simply having nothing more to do with this outlaw state."
The results of the Being Jewish in Scotland survey reveal Scottish Jews seeing "very little or no anti-Semitism" and "rising levels of "anti-Zionist political activity". Scottish PSC will continue to work to maintain the former and accelerate the latter. Help us.
Edinburgh, 15 July 2012
*All the more regrettable that Debby's parents left Dundee and now live in Bersheeva in the Negev, an area where Israeli ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians is in full swing, with the JNF using bulldozers to destroy Palestinian villages in the ethnic cleansing programme that has been going on for over 60 years. From being equal citizens of Scotland , they are now citizens of a 'Jewish State' that privileges them over non-Jews